Spice And Everything Nice

Feeling piquant in Spokane Valley. Plus, taking and baking in Coeur d'Alene.

Spice And Everything Nice
Mike McCall
Spicy offerings at Spokane Valley's Spice Traders

Jan Love and her husband, Bill Coyle, noticed some gaps in the Spokane Valley food scene. So the couple set out to fill a niche that wasn’t present in the Valley, or many other places in Spokane for that matter, and Spice Traders Mercantile was born.

Opened in conjunction with their other business, Plantland Nursery, Spice Traders offers up specialty wine, teas, salts, spices and beer in bottles and growlers. Then there’s the vinegars and oil.

Situated in the heart of the shop are 16 shining metal basins imported from Italy. They hold the shop’s line of specialty infused olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Aged for 25 years, the texture is that of thick syrup and unlike the tartness of other vinegars, these are sweet with rich caramel undertones. They also feature classic infusions like pomegranate and some more obscure ones like chocolate mandarin.

Because of their flavor and quality, their uses extend beyond the realm of salad dressings. Love says that the vinegars play out beautifully as dessert toppers, especially cheesecake. All vinegars and olive oils are available for tasting, and customers can fill their own containers on the spot directly from the basins ($16 for 12.5 oz, $4 for pre-poured 1.67 oz).

Beyond the vinegar, Coyle says that he is most excited about the salts they carry. Ordered through a Portland salt shop called the Meadow, the salts come from around the world, each containing their own unique flavor, says Coyle.

Spice Traders carries a bounty of quality products and Coyle and Love have invested the time to learn about them. As a plus, Coyle says they’re trying to keep prices low to gain more momentum in the Valley. The area has a lot of potential, and food is one way to get there.

“We kind of think of it as our own separate little city out here,” says Love. “And I think there’ s a lot of room for cultural things and for people to explore out here.” (Tiffany Harms)

Spice Traders Mercantile • 15614 E. Sprague Ave. • Open daily • spicetradersmercantile.com • 315-4036

Forget Papa's Pie

The mention in the Coeur d’Alene Press might have gone unnoticed — new pizza place opening soon — had it not been for three little words: take and bake. You know: melt the cheese and crisp the crust in your very own oven. No awkward front-door moments with the pizza-delivery dude.

Take-and-bake blends the best of two dining philosophies — take-out convenience and homemade goodness. And industry numbers for take-and-bake are rising faster than warm dough, according to Nation’s Restaurant News. Pioneer Papa Murphy’s leads with 1,200-plus franchises across 37 states and Canada estimated at more than $585 million annual sales.

Yet Sandy and Ron Riggs aren’t fazed by Murphy’s kingly status. They opened their own take-and-back joint, a “mom-and-pop place,” says Sandy. “To us, it’s about family, our customers ... good ingredients.”

From 2000 to 2003, the Riggs owned Blondee’s Deli in Coeur d’Alene. The daily grind prompted a bit of a break for the two 60-somethings. But the pair jumped back in the business when they opened Sandy's Take and Bake Pizza earlier this year.

Twelve standard pies are available in three sizes. The medium ($13) is 13 inches across, the large is 15 inches ($14), and the family is 17 inches ($16). Classics include a sausage, pepperoni, mushroom and olives pie, appropriately named “the Classic.” The menu also features an all-meat pie, a Hawaiian, and a garlic chicken. The Mediterranean overflows with toppings like fresh spinach and savory feta cheese.

Unusual variations are Chicken Cordon Bleu, with Canadian bacon, and the Mexican-inspired “Fiesta,” with beef, tomato, red onion, black olives and both cheddar and mozzarella. “The Spicy Hot” brings the temperature up, with sausage, jalapeno, pepperoncini and crushed red pepper.

A build-your-own pizza option and assorted salads round out the menu offering, which may someday include in-house baking for a slight up-charge. If so, it would be similar to CdA’s other non-chain take-and-bake pizza place, Valentino’s.

Sandy’s is taking some competitors’ coupons and is looking into pizza-by-the-slice, both ways to increase foot traffic, meaning more work for her. “I’d rather work than sit home,” she laughs. (Carrie Scozzaro)

Sandy’s Take & Bake Pizza • 1735 W. Kathleen Ave., Coeur d’Alene • Mon-Sun 11 am–9 pm • (208) 765-0888

Riverfront Eats @ Riverfront Park

Tuesdays, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Continues through Aug. 20
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Carrie Scozzaro

Carrie Scozzaro spent nearly half of her career serving public education in various roles, and the other half in creative work: visual art, marketing communications, graphic design, and freelance writing, including for publications throughout Idaho, Washington, and Montana.