Liz and I love experimenting with different flavor concepts to come up with new and interesting spice blends. It's an incredible thrill, after much trial and error, to finally get that perfect symphony of herbs and spices to work together to create something new and fun. When we go into the kitchen to test things out, most of the time we have a basic idea of what we want our blend to ultimately be. We'll either have a cuisine we'd like to cater to (ie. Chinese, BBQ), or we'll have a specific flavor type in mind (ie. sweet, hot, savory.)
On rare occasions, we'll have just a fun name in mind and literally try to build a blend around that name. This third instance can lend itself to some really off-the-wall flavors that rarely make it to final production. (Although I'm still beholden to "Honey Cocoa Cayenne." Maybe some day!) Finally, there are times we just start mixing herbs and spices together to see what we come up with.
When we have a blend that we think might be a contender for production, we try it out with various dishes. A spice blend that may work wonderfully on a hearty meat such as beef may not play as nicely with more delicate foods like fish or veggies. We end up eating many different variations of a blend and oftentimes will shelve an idea if it's just not working. We give samples of idea blends to friends, family and customers to give us feedback. My palate tends to appreciate the spicier side of a blend whereas Liz likes things a bit more savory and sweet.
As is is in every strong relationship, compromise must play a key role.
I play guitar and I approach making a spice blend in a similar fashion. A musical chord is a group of 3 or more notes that, when played together, harmonize with one another to essentially create a new sound. There is what's called the "root note" which is the primary note that is heard when a chord is played. The other notes played are harmonizing notes that essentially support and accentuate the root.
So how does playing chords on a guitar translate to making a spice blend? Well, when we set out, generally we want at least one flavor to be the root note: the prominent herb or spice. We want the other flavors to act as harmonizers, supporting, elevating, and enhancing the root.
For instance, our blend Sweet Heat's root note is the spiciness of the cayenne pepper. It is the strongest flavor that comes through initially. The harmonizing notes come from the brown sugar and celery seed which come in to change the flavor profile after that initial heat has subsided. Combine those ingredients with other harmonizing notes like onion and garlic powder and you have the perfect chord of flavors that all play a role in creating the overall blend.
Liz and I have an absolute blast making blends for people to enjoy. All the hard work and effort we put into creating flavors is worth it a million-fold when we're able to share our creations with awesome people who appreciate what we do!Make sure to follow us on Instagram #WaywardGourmet and Twitter @WaywardGourmet. We'd love to hear what you think of our blends!