Procrastination trips me up all the time. For some years I had been meaning to hunt down Puhoi couple John and Morag Standbrook. I was intrigued by the knowledge that they were manufacturing mustard and spices and had turned their enterprise into a flourishing business. When I finally got around to following up, the couple had disappeared.
Last week in Thames, that which was lost was found – albeit in a slightly altered state. These days, John’s time is taken up with a new job and Morag has altered the direction of the business, with an emphasis now more on spice products than mustard.
When I caught up with her at the shop, Savour and Spice in The Depot complex on Pollen Street, she was busy labeling jars of Mexican Adobo Seasoning and Lemon and Fennel Salt Rub (for pork crackling) in readiness for the next day’s market. On the shelves were an eclectic range of spices, rubs vinaigrettes (without oil), marinades, seasonings and mustards.
“The most popular products are our curry mixes,” she told me. “Malay and Vietnamese curry powders go out the door pretty quickly. Other hot sellers are the Coromandel Lemon Fish Rub, Harissa made of North African spices and Kiwi BBQ Smokey Garlic Rub. The one I am never without in my own kitchen is our Garlic & Mustard Pepper.”
Morag has always loved spices. She doesn’t profess to be a great cook, but says her mother and Nana were, and they instilled in her the love of a wide range of flavours.
“Recently John and I have become vegetarian,” she said. “It’s a much healthier way to eat. But vegetarian and vegan dishes really need spices to keep them interesting. So it fits perfectly with what I am doing.
“Experimenting with flavours in our home-cooking is the way I develop the various mixtures that make up the products. We’re both enjoying our new style of eating and feel a lot healthier,” she says.
Morag uses premium spices, which are ground and mixed in the very small kitchen at the back of the shop. There’s nothing quite like getting a product straight from the maker. I followed her lead and came away armed with a jar of Garlic & Mustard Pepper. After one taste, I’m very pleased I did.