Recently my husband brought home a spice from Penzeys Spices in Norwalk. It looked harmless enough. It was the Smoky Penzeys 4/S, where the so-called "4S's" stood for special seasoned sea salt. Sure, I've had smoked sea salt before, and yes, they do add great flavor to chicken, beef or fish, but this "all purpose smoky salt" touted one more tasty possibility. Upon reading the words "…even popcorn" my husband and I decided to give it a try for the Sunday night line-up.
We popped up a large batch on the stove top - the old school way - sprinkled on a generous amount of the 4/S while the kernels were still hot, and raced over to the TIVO. After the first bite, I could no longer focus on the screen. I had to run downstairs to add more spice to the crunchy corn and only then could I carry on. The salty smokiness of this seasoning is absolutely wonderful, and really turns your average bowl of popcorn into a gourmet treat. I've had a lot of seasoned popcorn, but with ingredients like smoked paprika, black pepper, rosemary, and thyme, this spice was a winner, and it's reasonably priced at $2.95 for 4 ounces.
Given the unexpected joy in this little brown canister, I went back to Penzeys to inquire about other popcorn possibilities. A helpful employee suggested I try the Brady Street Cheese Sprinkle, a "Versatile Italian-style cheese & garlic seasoning". It sounded delicious, so armed with my 2.8 ounces of cheesy goodness (priced at $7.29, or $4.15 for a 1/4 cup jar), I waited impatiently for my kids to go to bed so I could let the popping begin.
The Brady Street is a zesty combination of sheep and cows milk Romano cheese, salt, garlic, green peppercorn, and sweet basil. It had the right consistency for proper popcorn coating, and just enough spiciness and nuance to firmly differentiate it from your average cheesy varieties. It was all I could do to stop myself from licking the bottom of the bowl when the popcorn was gone.
Popcorn has become the midnight snack of choice in my household thanks to Penzeys. Watch out..one bite of these great add on spices and you'll be hooked like me. Movie night always gets two thumbs up with these two wonderful snack enhancers.
For those of you not lucky enough to live in close proximity to a Penzeys Spices retail location, they do a booming mail order business. You can cover all your spice needs by ordering from their web site.
Penzeys Spices 197 Westport Ave, Norwalk. 203.849.9085