In a nutshell: This cassia bark is harvested from a rare 30-year old tree in Sumatra, delicious added to stews, roast pumpkin and Moroccan tagines.
This exceptional cassia was harvested in the village of Tungkar on the island of Sumatra. It comes from an extremely rare 30-year-old tree: it is usually harvested from much younger plants. It bestows an uncommonly intense flavour with a slightly more pronounced bitter taste. In Sumatra, where its also called kayu manis (sweet wood), one piece is generally added whole to slow cooked dishes, a little like we would add a bay leaves to stews or daubes. Cassia, also known as 'false cinnamon' or 'Chinese cinnamon', is the dried bark of the cassia tree. Sticks of cassia are dark-coloured and hard, and are often sold in North America as cinnamon. Though its fragrance is less complex than that of true cinnamon, cassia is a rich spice, equally well adapted to both sweet and savoury dishes. It is essential in the preparation of classic apple pies, cinnamon rolls and it is great with oatmeal or French toast. In the Middle-East, cassia is often used to perk up grilled meats and in Morocco they add to pigeon or chicken bistilla and lamb tagines. We like to roast pumpkin slices with ground cassia bark and add to greek-style lamb meatball mixes and rabbit stifado.
About Épices de Cru
Épices de Cru began in 1982 as a catering partnership between Philippe and Ethné de Vienne. Their mission was a kind of “cooking pot anthropology:” learning the secrets of family cooking around the world and applying these techniques to the needs of hungry Montrealers. The secret, they learned, was spices. Over the last two decades, Philippe and Ethné have searched for the world’s best spices, accompanied by their children, Marika and Arik. The de Viennes believe in direct sourcing spices: visiting growing regions, spending time with growers, and developing personal relationships that last decades. In 2004, they officially opened their first spice shop in Montreal’s fantastic Jean Talon market– it’s since become a mecca for foodies from all over the world. I first visited in 2008 and have been buying and using their spices on a regular basis ever since that first exciting visit. They steadfastly maintain that they do nothing original, only facilitating the exchange of culinary common sense from one place to another. But, what they do is simply quite brilliant - by providing us with the finest quality ingredients, and their superb spice mixes, we can all experiment with unusual spices and recreate delicious recipes from around the world.