20 October 2009
Easy Tasty Magic - cooking alchemy from Laura Santtini
A couple of months ago, a bubbly, cosmopolitan lady, called Laura Santtini, came out of London to visit Steenbergs of Ripon.
I am not sure what she expected but I know she didn't expect a specialist spice merchant - like Steenbergs - to be working out of a spice godown in rural North Yorkshire, surrounded by fields, with a small brook running close by. No salad bars, no coffee shops, just a glorious rural idyll.
Anyway, Laura Santtini had this vision of a new way of flavouring foods that she had developed out of alchemic mysteries. I think it may be her Venetian ancestry coming out in her blood; her father moved to England from Jesolo on the Adriatic Coast. Her food alchemy is a novel concept and has a lively, mythical magic, which is further enhanced by the names she has conjured up for the range and the mixes she's developed.
Easy Tasty Magic has slightly louche names like Carnal Sin, International Jerk, On the Game and White Mischief, romantic names such as Alchemic Larder, Renaissance Stardust and Venetian Stardust, together with earthy tags such as Porcini Salt, Salt of the Earth and Truffle Salt.
The rubs contain a dazzling array of specialist ingredients, for example cornflower petals, Facing Heaven chillis, larkspur, marigold, myrtle, orange blossom, peony flowers, pepperoncino chilli, Spice of Angels. And the Stardusts contain a smidgeon of edible metal flakes that spread the tinsiest bit of magic onto your food - a special blend made for us in Germany and costing about £18,500 per kilo, so when people say that saffron is worth its weight in gold, it isn't as it only costs about £650 per kilo.
It's been keeping us more than a bit pre-occupied, tracking down these ingredients, none of which come instantaneously. The jars are wonderful and they bedazzle you with their pallette of many colours.
We have been trialling the mixes rapidly over the last few months and packing and labelling away at breakneck speed. There are still a few products to complete - Salt of the Earth and the Alchemic Larder boxes - but the range does look truly beautiful and it launched yesterday in Selfridges.
It looks magical back-lit in its specially designed display unit. Selfridges have the range as an exclusive until early 2010; they can spot a winner when they see one. Laura has said that it will be available through www.steenbergs.co.uk from January 2010, which we're really excited about.
Easy Tasty Magic is another specialist own label range that Steenbergs is carefully adding to its list of customers. We already blend & pack own label spices and specialist teas for, amongst others, Daylesford, Rick Stein and The Natural Kitchen.