Tara is a Kitchen Assistant at Zingerman's Candy Manufactory.
I love cooking with (and growing) herbs and spices. In fact, it’s an interest I’ve had for a very long time. In college I visited markets in Colombia and Ecuador for a research project on ‘Spices of the New World Tropics’. Over the years I’ve done a lot of experimenting with different spice flavor combinations (with and without success at times).
My current favorite spice to experiment with has been our wild fennel pollen from Tuscany. I love the exotic flavor it lends to fish, chicken and especially pork. Most recently I found a wonderful combination combining it with our Urfa pepper
from Turkey, ground ginger and sea salt as a rub for pork roast or spare ribs—a favorite lunch of many of our staff.
"Given that fennel seeds (which are derived from cultivated fennel) cost [a quarter the price of fennel pollen], we wondered if the wild pollen could be worth the splurge. When we compared the two... we understood the hype: The delicate crunch of these golden granules and their remarkably complex flavor featuring hints of licorice and citrus and a honeyed, marshmallow-like sweetness overshadowed the fibrous texture and one-note licorice taste of the seeds."