Christina’s Spice and Specialty Shop

Published September 3, 2003

Boston’s Weekly Dig

In a city where food is often the center of the universe and the streets are crawling with folks eager to bite into a piece of the culinary pie, specialty shops are an ever-growing part of the gourmet demographic.  With so many fine restaurants and upscale delicacy shops in town, I have always found it a mystery as to why spice shops are not only a rarity, but those that exist are more or less tucked into obscurity.  Enter Christina’s Spice and Specialty Shop in Inman Square.

It is no surprise that the people who brought you such exotic flavors and adventurous taste combinations as lemon verbena, adzuki bean, lavender and honey, and caramel and prune ice creams bring to the food scene a store busting at the seams with the widest selection of spices I’ve seen outside of a professional kitchen distribution company.

On my first trip the store, which neighbors Christina’s Homemade Ice Cream, I entered with the intention of simply browsing the offerings.  Inevitably, however, I left with a goodie bag of tastes and aromas from all over the planet.

The layout is extremely customer-friendly.  Several large tables with separators are the store’s focal point.  They are lined corner to corner with a plethora of spices and dried herbs, ground or whole, smoked or salted, powdered, picked and plucked from countries north, south, east and west.  Items on the tables are packaged both in translucent glass jars and in airtight plastic, the former a bit pricier, due to packaging costs.

Christina’s also sells an impressive array of condiments, chocolates, teas, coffees and other dry goods.  The store is unique in that you can get all your herbs and spices in one fell swoop, rather than bouncing, ad nauseum, from shop to shop.  You can find peppercorns in almost every color of the rainbow, saffron, smoked sea salt, curries, dried lobster mushrooms, oils and vinegars, chipotle sauce and cumin.  Dry goods are organized and shelved by country of origin and by category, such as powdered vegetables and dried mushrooms.

Prices are more than decent, considering the international selection and convenience factor.  The staff is extremely eager to share their knowledge and more than happy to provide suggestions.  Christina’s also sells wholesale to many of the Boston area’s high-end restaurants.

1255 Cambridge St, Cambridge
Open Mon-Fri 10am to 6pm, Fri-Sat noon to 6pm