Mezze & Dolce

Light Mediterranean Meals Paired with Ample Dessert

Inspiration: La Boite a Epice (New York, NY)

Lior

I’m starting to think that trading in spices automatically makes you nice. Like, really nice. There’s the guys at the Oaktown Spice Shop, where I spend most of my shopping and shmoozing time (more on them later this week). And then there’s Lior Lev Sercarz, the owner and chef of La Boite a Epice, a small shop in Hell’s Kitchen that specializes in gourmet spice blends.

I first learned about La Boite on my 30th birthday, when Jacque bought me Ana, the blend named for one of our favorite chefs, Ana Sortun. Ana combines sumac, rose petals, and sesame seeds. I have served this blend as my most consistent salmon rub for several years (now I use Ottolenghi’s dukkah – also to die for). For my 32nd birthday, Jacque bought me Sercarz’s new cookbook, The Art of Blending, which takes you on a journey through the creation of his 40 unique spice blends, provides a comprehensive recipe for each, and suggests more simple uses for the busy home cook. But in order to put the cookbook to good use, I actually needed a few of his blends in my pantry. So on a recent NY trip, I decided to meet the spice wizard himself and pick up a few treats.

La Boite feels more like a workshop than a store. Maybe it’s Lior’s smock or the deep inhalations of spice, but it just feels like a place where important culinary work gets done. Lior spent an entire hour with us, chatting about spices, cooking, and his work with chefs and food companies. His goal for home cooks, he said, was to get them experimenting with the different blends. So, I took my cue, bought a few blends, and Jacque and I started experimenting. See below for what we did – maybe it will inspire you to buy a few blends, too! –jaime

IsphMishIsphahan (limon omani, cardamom): Roasted asparagus with salt & oil, then sprinkled a generous helping of Isphahan on top.
MishMish (crystallized honey, saffron, and lemon): Baked sugar cookies, using the Mishmish as the “sugar.”

AppolGalilGalil (verbena, white cardamom, sage): Combined it with panko and pistachios for a chicken shnitzel-like coating.
Apollonia (cocoa, orange blossom, pepper): Roasted yams tossed with oil and Apollonia. Also used it to top “sugar” cookies.


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4 comments on “Inspiration: La Boite a Epice (New York, NY)

  1. Alan Stewart
    October 22, 2013

    I first want to add that I really enjoy your blog and recipes. I have shared the link with numerous other food enthusiasts. But I must add, that I too went to La Boîte thinking I was going to Mecca. But I must add that Lior Lev was one of the most rude people I have come across. He was absolutely unhelpful and not communicative. Maybe because I am not in the industry, but a near dilitante. Additionally I found his cookbook absolutely self agrandizing and self promoting.

    It is most unlike any experience I have had at Oaktown spice store where Peter is as sweet, helpful and approachable as your favorite uncle.

    Just my two cents and personal experience. It maybe fair to warn your readers.

    BTW I took your hummus class at Oaktown and we are delighted with your recipe and ideas. I probably make it every other week – and play with the spices – which is not possible with Lev.s mixes. – which are also are costly!

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    • mezzeanddolce
      October 24, 2013

      Thanks for sharing your opinion. We’re sorry to hear that you didn’t have a good experience meeting Lior. We’re far from “insiders” in the food world and truly had a great visit. We couldn’t agree with you more about our friends at Oaktown Spice Shop. In fact, we like them so much, we sent them a box of the cookies we shared in today’s blog post! Thanks again for sharing your views and for being part of the M & D community. And definitely let us know if you’ve discovered any particularly delicious spice combinations that go with the hummus! We’re glad you enjoyed the workshop and plan on doing more in the future.

  2. Pingback: Dolce: Curiously Spiced Cookies | Mezze & Dolce

  3. Pingback: Za’atar Buttermilk Biscuits with Honey Butter | Mezze & Dolce

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This entry was posted on October 22, 2013 by in M & D Inspiration, Northeast.

About Jacque & Jaime

Jaime and Jacque are two gals who discovered a mutual passion for Mediterranean flavors and ingredients and never turned back. They started Mezze & Dolce to share this love, their recipes, and their inspirations with the world. Follow them at www.mezzeanddolce.com.

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