If I had to list the top 10 reasons why I love my job, I’d say one of them is because I get to attend recipe-tasting parties during my normal workday. I was beyond excited when the Spice Islands team got together to try some of Matt Armendariz’s delicious contributions to the Spice Islands Flavor Explorer Blog™ – and we did it right here in the office test kitchens of Spice Islands!
On the MattBites party menu? Vanilla Challenge winner Jamie Miller’s Vanilla Butter Poached Halibut with Ancho-Orange Drizzle followed by Matt’s Pistachio and Saigon Cinnamon Custard. The air in the office smelled of sweet vanilla and spicy cinnamon, which drew people to the kitchen to ask what was cooking in hopes of receiving an early invitation to try the delicious dishes (del-ishes?).
Just as I was about to take my first taste of the halibut, I stopped to take in the aroma of Spice Islands Pure Vanilla Extract. It was in there – sweet, aromatic and complex, without a drop of added corn syrup. The ancho-chile drizzle over the halibut was the perfect balance of spicy and sweet, with the vanilla extract balancing remarkably well against the mellow citrus flavor. It was clear to me (and to the rest of the team) why this recipe was the winner. On to dessert …
Anticipation for the Pistachio and Saigon Cinnamon Custard began the day we went out to lunch with Matt in New York City and had a yummy dessert that combined cinnamon and pistachios. I remember everyone looking at Matt, hoping that he was thinking what we were thinking, but he was already a beat ahead of us.
“I’m going to make this dessert using Spice Islands Saigon Cinnamon,” he said. Sigh of relief. I couldn’t let this be my last encounter with these flavors.
Months after that experience, I was finally sitting in front of a cute little ramekin holding this decadent dessert, which was topped with a crown of sweet cardamom whipped cream. The spicy, hot and sweet flavor of Spice Islands Saigon Cinnamon stood proudly against the pistachios and paired incredibly well with the cardamom cream. The flavor difference of the Saigon Cinnamon was undeniable, and a perfect pairing with the vanilla-featured entrée. What a treat!
I can’t wait for the next party.
Until next time,
Vicky Escrojin – Associate Brand Manager
Spice Islands Trading Company