You know you live in a place where people love food when the niche operations are able to thrive — the hot sauce shops and olive oil purveyors and the farm stand that sells nothing except different varieties of lettuce. In Oakland, one specialty shop in particular stands out for having filled a real void in the Bay Area’s hyper-ingredient-focused food economy. At Oaktown Spice Shop, customers have access to an amazing selection of spices — multiple black peppercorn varietals, dried and ground chilies that hit every point on the Scoville heat scale, and custom spice blends that range from the crowd-pleasing to the obscure. Even more than the variety, it’s the freshness of the spices, and the convenience of being able to buy them in small or large quantities, that makes the store an indispensable resource to home cooks, as well as a growing number of local restaurant chefs.
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