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Best Place to Taste 12 Varieties of Ground Pepper (2012)
Gold Leaf Spices & Tea
8 W Gabilan St., Salinas
Habanero, New Mexican chile, take your pick. This narrow shop, lined with aromatic and colorful culinary delights, offers a global selection of spices, more than a hundred teas and a dozen flavored olive oils. Not enough variety? Develop your own tea or spice blend, and owner Terri Madrid, who got the idea for the store in a dream, will keep your proprietary blend on file. Loaded gift baskets with elegant tea pots are an added bonus. It’s a touch on the pricey side, but for those with sophisticated and/or adventurous kitchen tastes, the sheer amount of inspiration provided makes it a worthwhile investment. Madrid loves to talk spice and tea, so plan to sit for a while at the antique tea bar, which might have inhabited a less mellow space before; a hole on top looks suspiciously stiletto-sized.