SA. VA. Import/Export

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Fresh spices are important. I usually turn to places like Penzy’s and the Spice House for decent spices that haven’t been on the grocery store shelf for a year. The quality of products from these commercial vendors is reliable, and certainly acceptable for everyday use. If you’re looking for a special place with truly exceptional world-class spices, however, I recommend SA.VA. in Italy.

All of SA.VA.’s spices are flown to Italy from Madagascar. Most companies ship spices in (hot) boats. SA.VA. transports spices in climate controlled airplanes, so they are amazingly potent and fresh. It’s always a treat to sample some of SA.VA’s spices. Today I’ll look at six: pink peppercorns, coriander, dill, fenegreek, nutmeg, ground ginger, and voatsiperifery peppercorns. Here are my previous SA.VA. notes.

First up, these brilliantly colored pink peppercorns. Light and delicate kernels that have a crispy skin, not solid like black peppercorns.  Intensely sweet, with a bright citrus flavor.

This coriander has a distinct, lemony aroma. The flavor has citrus and cedar notes. Beautiful whole seeds.

Dill seeds are used in breads, for pickling, and as a salad dressing. There is a sharp dill aroma, and the flavor has notes of caraway. It delivers a slight menthol tingle.  The seeds a have a light, crispy texture.

Caramely, buttery aroma from this fenugreek really wallops you in the face. The deep golden seeds are slightly sweet, with butter and toffee flavors. It has been delicious in my curries and middle-eastern soups. Highly recommended.

This ginger has a delicate, sweet, and spicy aroma. It has a mild flavors, with an astringent note and very light heat. Great in pumpkin pies and seasoning for pork sausage.

Breakfast Sausage Seasoning (1.5 tablespoon per pound/500g): 1/4 tsp salt (add another ½ – 1 tsp to meat); ¼ T white pepper; ½ T sage; ½ t SA.VA. ginger; ¼ T SA.VA. nutmeg; ½ T thyme; ½ t marjoram, 5-10 small hot chilis (I used SA.VA.’s fantastic pili pili chiles).

Average sized nutmeg with a pungent aroma. Extremely oily inside, it forms a fine paste when grated. One seed yields around 1/3 – 1/2 tsp of grated nutmeg. I also used this in pumpkin pie and sausage seasoning (see recipee above). Highly recommended.

Voatsiperifery is a type of wild (not cultivated) peppercorn that grows exclusively in Madagascar. They only grow at the very top shoots of the pepper vines. The dried pepper retains its stem, which gives it a unique appearance. It tastes like black peppercorns. Low heat. Earthy, woody, slightly tangy.

All of these spices are available from SA.VA.’s online shop. I highly recommend the pili pili chiles and cumin, as well.

Madagascar cumin

Madagascar cumin, SA.VA. Import – Export, 5 for 30grams.

Cumin is a favorite ingredient in my kitchen, and a key spice in Mexico, India, and many other food cultures. To satisfy my need for bulk cumin, I usually buy a 1kg (2.2lbs) bag that lasts about a year. I compared SA.VA.’s cumin to my usual stuff, and found a huge difference in quality. SA.VA.’s spices are transported by plane, rather than hot containers on a ship, to ensure maximum taste and freshness.

SA.VA.’s Madagascar cumin is an earthy tan color, and has a rich, even floral, cumin aroma.  I ate a bit of SA.VA.’s Madagascar cumin and compared it to my bulk cumin. Raw, SA.VA’s cumin has a pleasant taste. In comparison, the bulk cumin is dry, bitter, and has a carroty vegital flavor.

I evaluated it further in chili powder, some Mexican dishes, and chicken Andoulle sausage. All had a nice flavor, though it really shines where cumin is a feature flavor. SA.VA.’s cumin is by far the best I’ve ever sampled.  In a side-by-side comparison, the sharp contrast with my usual cumin really surprised me. Try the comparison for yourself.

Madagascar Cinnamon

Madagascar cinnamon sticks, SA.VA. Import – Export, 3€ per 3 sticks.

Cinnamon is a favorite holiday spice, perfect for Santa’s cookies and Christmas morning sticky rolls. SA.VA.’s Madagascar cinnamon is different from the bland, ground powder at the local market. The ground sticks have a bright, hot, citrus aroma. It makes me think of cinnamon bears or red hots. The sticks are made of thin layers, and I can crush them with my fingers and grind them in a coffee grinder — something I can’t normally do with cassia cinnamon sticks.

This cinnamon has a yellow-tan color that is lighter than the usual, rusty-red hues of traditional cassia. Its bright aroma also  stands in contrast to the typically warmer, darker smell of cassia. Because of these qualities, I initially thought this was ceylon (true) cinnamon, and not the cassia cinnamon I’m used to buying in European and American supermarkets. Ceylon cinnamon is the cinnamon of choice in Mexico, and perhaps the UK.  I wrote to Edith at SA.VA. to ask if this was ceylon cinnamon. According to Edith, I’m completely wrong:

All the cinnamon from Madagascar is regarded as cassia, although very different from the cassia usually sold in the European supermarket. So this cassia classification does not make happy the Madagascar cinnamon producers,  that would prefer another denomination, as for instance the “Madagascar cinnamon” that we’re using in our technical schedule.

Our cinnamon comes from a family farm production in the region of Tamatave (east coast of Madagascar), as I know this family very well for a long time I’ve started to cooperate with them here in Europe.

With a citrus aroma and delicate layers, this Madagascar strain is a cassia that shares many characteristics with ceylon cinnamon. It is unique in the world, and will surely add a personal signature to your baked goods.

Pili pili, SA.VA. Import - Export

Red chilis, SA.VA. Import – Export, 5 per 18grams.

These beautiful, bright red peppers are a type of Thai Chili grown in Madagascar. I use a lot of dried chili peppers, usually from Indonesia, Thailand, and Mexico. SA.VA. Import – Export’s Pili Pili peppers are the freshest I’ve ever worked with. Most dried chilis have a typical dusty, dry pepper aroma. These peppers smell spicy and hot, and have the fresh aroma of sun dried tomatoes! This is a different class of chili than I usually work with; fresh, rich, and surprising.

I sampled these chilis raw, and in several spicy dishes. They impart a fresh tomato richness I’ve never tasted from a chili before. Don’t be fooled by their size and tomato aromas, these little chilis are are fiery hot. Four chilis made a pound of very spicy Andouille sausage. If you’re a chili lover, like me, you’ve got try these amazing chilis.

sava-pepper2

Black peppercorns, SA.VA. Import – Export, 5 per 30grams.

Black peppercorns are one of my favorite spices. When Edith at SA.VA. Import – Export asked if I would evaluate some fresh spices flown in from Madagascar, I jumped at the chance. SA.VA.’s spices are transported by plane, rather than shipping container. Most spices lose flavor during transit through tropical areas in metal shipping containers.  SA.VA.’s spices are flow in to preserve the intense flavors and freshness.

SA.VA.’s peppercorns are the most aromatic and fruity I’ve ever tried. It’s not as hot or ‘spicy’ as an Indian ‘extra bold’, but it’s significantly more pungent and flavorful. Fresh ground, they have the strong pungent aroma of sassafras oil, probably from a high concentration of  the chemical that makes black pepper tasty, piperonal. Really incredible peppercorns, I can tell the difference that air transport makes. If you like black pepper, SA.VA’s fresh peppercorns are a surprising and unique treat. Highly recommended to any gourmands and foodies out there, this is a peppercorn you won’t soon forget.

Website: http://www.vanigliabourbon.net/…
Vanilla beans reviewed: 8 Madagascar planifolia “first quality”
Cost: SA.VA. Import – Export provided this sample for review.

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