Experience No.028 in Australian Traveller’s 100 Greatest Australian Gourmet Experiences

What Ian “Herbie” Hemphill doesn’t know about herbs and spices wouldn’t fill the stigma of a saffron flower. Recognised around the world as a legend and foremost authority on the subject, he’s the son of Sydney’s first herb and spice providores, and his earliest memories involve the drying or curing of herbs and spices in Dural.

“An innovative and timely idea now very well known.” – Alla Wolf-Tasker

In 1997 he opened his specialist herb and spice emporium in Rozelle in Sydney’s inner west.

To visit Herbies is like entering a tiny magical hidden kingdom. The shop occupies the front two rooms of a typical miniature Rozelle terrace. The smells elicit an immediate Pavlovian mouth watering and the stomach starts to rumble in hungry anticipation. The number and quality of the spices on show is overwhelming. But that’s only half the story to Herbie.

To Herbie, the greatest part of his own spice emporium is the imparting of knowledge. Nowhere else are you going to be so thoroughly educated about where a spice comes from, how to store it and what dishes to add it to. Herbie has also published the most respected book on the subject, “Spice Notes”, which has been hailed as one of the 100 most important food books of all time by US foodie magazine Saveur.

Where: 745 Darling St, Rozelle, NSW. (02) 9555 6035, www.herbies.com.au

Did you know: Ninety percent of the world’s saffron comes from Iran, however Herbie says the best quality comes from Kashmiri. But be warned: Herbie says there is a massive market in fake saffron so, beware imitations.

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