In a nutshell: Our hand-picked allspice berries come from Jamaica, an island in love with this all purpose spice and where its used to add depth to the famous Jerk seasoning.
The best quality allspice comes from Jamaica, where the pimento tree (pimento doica) grows everywhere and is used in spicy Jamaican patties, bread and cake mixes and the wonderfully mouth-watering Jerk seasoning mixes that flavour the BBQ Jerk pits in Boston Bay and all over the island. They also use Allspice leaves and logs to flavour the cooking of Jamaica's famed jerked pork and chicken dishes. Hand-picked when still unripe and green in July or August, the berries are dried in the sun until they turn a deep brown colour.
Allspice is native to the West Indies and to Central America. Aptly named, containing the same volatile oils as pepper, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon, it is one of those all-purpose, versatile spices that's made its way into all sorts of global cuisines - Scandinavian pickled herrings, meatballs and spiced pastries, Greek rabbit and beef stifados, Caribbean stews and cakes, American smoked deli meats and pickles, Middle Eastern meat dishes, Spanish escabeche and good old English spice mulled wine mixes. In Turkey, allspice is known as yeni bahar (‘the new spice’) and is used to season rice, kebabs, and vegetable dishes. We love to spice our milk with allspice berries when making béchamel and add to all sorts of venison and beef stews and BBQ rubs.
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.