There's a cool new place to shop in Maplewood, and the city didn't have to forcibly displace an entire neighborhood to get it to move there.
We're talking about Penzeys Spices, which is to spice as Nordstrom's is to retail clothing -- a place shoppers will go out of their way to find. One of my most sophisticated local foodie correspondents was almost breathless when she got her first teaser postcard a couple of weeks ago, and now I see why.
Three distinct grades of saffron, five of cardamom, seven different colors of peppercorns (not to mention an entire new vocabulary to learn -- e.g., "mesh size," the fineness of the grind of pepper). Bunches of subcontinental and Southeast Asian specialty spices (somewhat ironic, given that the store is located very near the original space for Shalimar, one of the great pioneer Indian restaurants in St. Louis). Spice mixes, soup bases and flavor extracts.
Based in Wisconsin, Penzeys now has nine retail outlets, with the Maplewood store located at 7338 Manchester Rd. Store hours are 9:30 a.m-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and until 5 p.m. Saturday; the phone number is 314-781-7177.