I've been experimenting with many kinds of spice blends this past year but the ones that really captivated my taste buds were the extraordinary creations from NYC's La Boîte à Epice. Founder Lior Lev Sercarz is known for supplying his coveted spices to the likes of Eric Ripert and Daniel Boulud so naturally his proprietary blends (all 42 of them) are good enough for home chefs.
N. 19 Salvador (seafood essence, saffron, pimenton) adds a nuanced smokiness to many kinds of seafood dishes. N. 25 Escabeche, a bright and citrusy melange of lemon zest, saffron, fennel and coriander, is absolutely wonderful with roasted vegetables and poultry. The aromatic N. 37 Izak (sweet chili, garlic, cumin) is terrific on steak and scrambled eggs.
Spiked with four kinds of umami-laden seaweed, fennel seeds, and coriander, the versatile N. 41 Lula is a more intense version of Escabeche, minus the citrus. I sprinkled it on roasted beets and it turned a normal side dish into a main attraction. I can't even pick a favorite as they're all equally amazing. Yes, they are quite spendy ($15-$27) but each 2-ounce jar will last many meals. I was surprised at how little I needed for each entree but they're all pretty concentrated in flavor.