Spice is the Life

Local Company Stays Local

Even the paperwork is infused with the aroma of spices at Attar in Harrisville. Huge bags of cinnamon bark from Indonesia and spicy peppercorns in five colors are just part of the brew that fills the air on bagging days.

Melissa Spencer and her husband Erik Hood recently purchased the wholesale spice company formerly located in

Jaffrey. What they really purchased was the intelligence behind the operation that was run for 40 years by Richard Martin. As an ethno-botanist, Martin traveled the world, from the rain forests of the Amazon to the lavender fields of France, building a list of trusted vendors.

The offices and warehouse for Attar are now on Spencer's property in Harrisville. Huge bags of spices and herbs are received and parsed out in smaller packaging for wholesale shipping to restaurants and shops throughout New England. This summer Spencer plans to grow herbs on their 10-acre plot for fresher, or more a local, product that's sustainably grown.

Besides the edibles, Attar distributes lines of medicinal herbs that she plans to expand. Attar essential oils are sold to soap makers and perfumers. Spencer blends potpourri mixes for wholesale distribution, too.

Has she traveled to the far-flung locations where these spices are grown? No, but she adds, "I would love to see a cinnamon tree in Indonesia someday." She carries both korintje cinnamon from Sumatra, excellent as sticks, and Ceylon cinnamon from Sri Lanka, known for its delicate flavor and fragrance, perfect for baking.

Although Attar is a wholesale operation, Spencer will allow individuals to order with a $50 minimum. Spices do lose their flavor and she recommends that they be stored in sealed containers and replaced at least yearly.

- Susan Laughlin

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