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The Spice Man Can 

Getting spicy in North Idaho. Plus, sandwiches in the Valley.

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Pete Taylor is on a quest to show the world — via their tongues —what they’re missing out on.

The 30-year-old North Idaho chef is a self-proclaimed “spiceologist.”

“I understand spice. I’m a connoisseur,” he says. “I’m trying to empower people to flavor their food.”

It’s a mission that Taylor announced through a hilarious Kickstarter video for his spice company, SAVORx. The company specializes in whole spices — things like nutmeg, Ceylon cinnamon sticks, juniper berries, cardamom pods, curry leaves and other hard-to-find stuff that’s not in every grocery spice aisle. Spices are packaged in “ugly, non-translucent packaging,” he says.

“Once light hits spice, it’s just like coffee, the flavor starts to expire.”

Taylor opened his business when he was running a catering company and couldn’t find good-quality spices to use. “I’d find myself going to Costco or going wherever to buy the ingredients I needed for catering, and I’m like, ‘This sucks for a caterer, never mind for a consumer,’” he says.

And though he knows that foodies and chefs understand his cause, he’s added a twist to attract reluctant home cooks.

On each SAVORx “spice pack” is a QR code. Scan it with a smartphone and instantly get a shopping list for a specific recipe. And watch Taylor make the dish in a video.

The paella spice pack, for instance, contains oregano, saffron, Spanish paprika and Turkish bay leaves, with the exact amount of spices to make the dish at home. The point is not only to reinforce the idea of using fresh spices, but also to help consumers save money.

“If you went to Albertsons and you bought a vial of saffron and vial of smoked paprika [for one recipe] … you’d spend $40 on just spices, just to make that dish once a year,” he says.

Taylor runs the company (when he’s not working as executive chef at Cavanaugh’s on Priest Lake) with his pregnant wife, Jessica, who does the design and production work. The online fundraising campaign (they’re hoping for $12,000) will allow them to continue buying whole spices, make new recipe videos and market their company. One day, they’d like to have a retail spice store and see their fresh spices in places like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.

Hell, if you donate, he might tattoo your name on his back. Seriously. Watch the video. (Leah Sottile)

Visit SAVORx on Kickstarter.com to learn more about the company. Or visit savorx.com.

Fast Food Relief

Get off I-90 at exit 287, turn left, and you will find yourself descending into Fast Food Valley. Continue past the familiar landmarks — red boxes, pandas, golden arches — to the southeast corner of Montgomery Avenue and North Argonne Street. Here, at Caruso’s Sandwich Company, for less than the cost of a supersize beef patty combo, you can indulge in a freshly baked sourdough loaf lined with layers of mozzarella, large romaine lettuce leaves and tangy balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Vince and Chelle Caruso opened their first eponymous sandwich shops in Hayden and Coeur d’Alene. Their Spokane Valley location opened on December 19 and provides an alternative to the fried-food establishments that line I-90’s arterials.

Rebecca Estelle, an employee, says she enjoys the oil and vinegar so much that she puts the condiment on every sandwich she eats. With more than 20 sandwiches on the menu (breakfast sandwiches, traditional Reuben, classic barbecue beef), as well as sandwich alternatives (wraps, salads, pasta, soup), or manager Skylar Attaway’s favorite (pizza), it’s possible that oil and vinegar may not complement everything on the menu.

The Mozza Ball ($5.75/half, $11/whole), however, is Estelle’s favorite. So that’s what I ordered, while also tasting the Godfather ($6.75/half, $12.95/whole). With pickles, tomato, crisp bacon, tender beef and flavorful turkey, the Godfather was refreshingly filling. The meat was plentiful, the vegetables vibrant and the bread soft and fragrant. My dining companion noted that the thinly sliced meats provided ample substance. Miraculously, the entire sandwich stayed intact with each bite, an essential requirement for sandwiches like these that might be consumed on the go.

Parking can be tight during a weekday lunch rush, so you might want to try their online order system or take advantage of the free delivery service. If you choose to stay, your beverage options include draft beers ranging from Drop Top to Kokanee ($2 a pint, all day) or Campus Oaks wine ($7/glass, $26-28/bottle). The casual dining area includes booth seating, bistro tables and flat-screen TVs. Silver-toned plaques with inspirational phrases like “Do what you love. Love what you do” accent the earth-tone walls.

The Carusos adhere to those mottos, and their attitude has earned them success. (Annemarie Frohnhoefer)

Caruso’s Sandwich Company • 2314 N. Argonne Rd., Spokane Valley • Open Mon-Fri 8 am to 7 pm, weekends 10 am to 6 pm • carusosandco.com • 474-0254

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