The Tasting Barrel and My COVID Lockdown Experience
"The Spaniards sailed around the world not for religion but primarily for spices. Humans are primarily motivated to make life better."
I vividly remember this history class to this day. My professor in the Ateneo would always stress to dig deep and understand the intent and motivation of humans in order for us to completely grasp the past.
I've always carried these words with me whenever I traveled. I kept an open mind for scenery, gear and food. These were the top 3 components for any new experience for me whenever I went to new palces.
I started Urban Traveller because travelling was my passion. I've always wanted to curate gear to help people move seamlessly, safely and smoothly. Enter March 2020 and COVID-19 happened. For the first time in like 8 years, I couldn't travel and explore to see sights and meet friends old and new. So I took the time to explore the last factor I've always cherished - food.
I explored the kitchen in search of creating and experiencing new dishes. I downloaded recipes (Tasty by Buzzfeed works!) and started learning.
One thing I did learn is that spices elevate dishes to a whole new level. Sometimes a simple dish with fresher and better ingredients can already make a big difference in the taste of a dish. I love experimenting with Paprika, Thyme and Garlic as they prove to be very versatile when it comes to combining with any main ingredient.
As I went down the rabbit hole of cooking (I'm still learning btw), I remembered the idea taught to me by my history professor and so I searched all of my files, photos and travel related catalogs in order to look for the best spices. This is how I found Burlap and Barrel.
Burlap and Barrel offers ingredients direct from the farmers themselves. The spices are known to be single origin as Ethan, the founder of Burlap and Barrel, believes that spices are heavily affected by origin and its underlying conditions (temperature, soil fertility, care of the farmer etc..). As a result, being single origin allows Ethan to better ensure the quality of the product for the following reasons:
1.) Consistency - Spices are not mixed with others from different parts of the globe. Ensuring freshness and consistency
2.) Traceability - This allows you to see how the spices are cared for and what the conditions are of the farm. At the same time you get to meet the farmers behind them and how they are negotiated in good faith and equitable trade.
I've been playing around with these spices since June and so far the best ones I've done are the following:
My top favorites out of the whole range:
1.) Smoked Pimenton Paprika - This one is leaps and bounds way better than any supermarket brand that I've tasted. The flavor is full and vibrant plus the aroma feels the air the moment you open it.
2.) Wild Icelandic Kelp - This was recommend to me by Ethan. He describes it as an alternative to finishing salt that brings an umami flavor. I've tested it with popcorn, wings and fries and they are a god-send. I will never have popcorn without kelp ever again.
3.) Royal Cinnamon - I'm not much into baking but I did try this one with coffee and milk! Its amazing and full of aroma. I can see why it is in their top 3 best sellers.
If you need to know more about the founder of Burlap and Barrel then I recommend watching this video from Epicurious
So what's next us? We'll be rounding out a new section on the website/store called the Tasting Barrel where we'll curate awesome new taste, spices, sauces and even Tea. I can't wait to share with you more and more of the things I love. What I have in store are:
2.) Hot Sauce
3.) Tea leaves
I hope you find this area exciting and that you can continue to share this journey with us here at Urban Traveller. For more snapshots of what I do you can check out my instagram @ashowofhans