The World Second Oldest Profession: The Spice Trade Sets up Shop in Oklahoma City

Savory Spice Shop of Denver comes to Oklahoma thanks to third-generation Okie Able Blakley.
by Dave Cathey Modified: September 25, 2012 at 4:19 pm •  Published: September 26, 2012

For years, if a home cook, pitmaster, chile-head or gourmand needed exotic herbs and spices they were out of luck in Oklahoma City.

Their luck started changing when the Internet offered portals around the world. But the Internet didn't allow for sniffing and tasting, and blind faith erodes with each year e-commerce is around to be abused by the unscrupulous.

With the Sept. 16 arrival of Savory Spice Shop, 4400 N Western Ave., the aforementioned and everyone else not only can purchase freshly ground spices from around the globe, but learn best how to use them and develop an understanding of how to blend them.

In the fledgling Oklahoma City food scene, the arrival of Savory Spice Shop might not have the impact the arrival of Whole Foods Market had, but it is certainly the most important addition of 2012.

Variety is the spice of life

While gourmet stores are nothing new to the market, the spice selection at Savory Spice is unmatched.

Want to make your own junk-food snacks? Savory Spice offers the same powdered cheeses used to season popcorn and potato chips. It also carries Black Onyx chocolate used in a very famous brand of chocolate sandwich cookies.

What about barbecue rubs? The store carries a wide selection of rubs already made, but also carry all the spices you'll need to make your own. The same goes for chili powder and chile blends. Not to mention curries.

Folks who love spices know spices have an expiration date. That's why Savory Spice grinds in small batches.

“We also sell in small amounts so you're not stuck with too much of spice you're going to use once a year,” store owner Able Blakley said.

So, if you just need a quarter-ounce of chervil to set off a soup or fish dish, that's what he'll sell you.

Savory Spice also offers extracts, herbs and gift sets. Blakley said the store also offers competitive rates to restaurants.

Blakley also says to watch for cooking classes and demonstrations in the future. He also promises beef Wellington to be sampled in the shop before Thanksgiving.

While the new shop at NW 43 Street and Western Avenue is the 18th of its kind in the United States and has its roots in Denver, its arrival comes on the back of a young man who can trace his roots to the Cherokee Strip Land Run of 1893.

Rooted in Oklahoma

Blakley's return to Oklahoma was inevitable. That he brought with him the gift of spice is a happy residual from his time spent away from the red earth where he and his ancestors have trod for 119 years.

His great grandfather, George Washington Blakley, was a for-real cowboy. Not a cowboy with a preceding designator like “drugstore,” “concrete” or “singing”; a cowboy who ran cattle back and forth to Dodge City, Kan.

So when the shotgun blast sounded on Sept. 16, 1893, G.W. Blakley and his older brother knew just where to stake their claim in Garfield County, near what is now Douglas. There he built a story-and-half, blue-and-white Victorian clapboard farmhouse with gingerbread roof peaks. And there he began to farm and raise cattle and a family.

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by Dave Cathey
Food Editor
The Oklahoman's food editor, Dave Cathey, keeps his eye on culinary arts and serves up news and reviews from Oklahoma’s booming food scene.
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If you go

Savory Spice Shop

• Where: 4400 N Western Ave.

• When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday; Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

• Call: 314-6209; search Savory Spice Shop OKC on Facebook or go online to savoryspiceshop.com

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