Tucked into the charming row of historic buildings on St. Charles’ Main Street is a little spice shop with a lot of flavor. It’s hard to believe that Olde Town Spice Shoppe’s two small rooms can hold the myriad spices, sauces, mixes, teas and snacks on display. It’s a good thing owner Carol Hurst is incredibly organized.

Shelves are thoughtfully labeled by purpose, so you’ll find all your baking needs or canning spices grouped together, gourmet salts are all in one spot, and grilling goods are given their own cabinet. Positioned throughout the rooms are towers of canned products, mostly made in-house, as well as tables displaying quick party mixes or great gift ideas. Sampling stations let you try before you buy, and because Hurst really knows her stuff, the products on display are too tasty to deny. You’ll drop in for a jar of cinnamon and leave with enough dips and snacks to host a poker tournament.

You’ll also see a lot of regulars milling about the shop. Chefs from the nearby culinary school are there in search of inspiration, barbecue enthusiasts are stocking up for their next grill-off, DIYers are getting the goods to make pickles, root beer, cheese and more. The shop’s low-salt and no-salt spice mixes draw a following, as well as the locally made products they sell, including honeys, dip and soup mixes, sauces and salsas.

“The store is like a dream pantry for our customers,” says Hurst. “While the name says Olde we have a very modern approach to food. Whether you’re getting started with the basics or seeking out exciting ingredients like beer powder or dry vinegar, we have something for you. If you eat, you’ll like our shop.”

Olde Town Spice Shoppe, 334 S. Main St., St. Charles, 636.916.3600, oldtownspices.com

Three Housemade Must-Haves

(all pictured above)

| 1 | Pigs in the Garden is great for last-minute get-togethers. Simply whip up this dried bacon-veggie mix with sour cream and mayonnaise for a salty, savory and slightly tangy dip. It’s perfect served with cut veggies and cold beer.

| 2 | Of the store’s many canned products, the cherry butter stands out for its sweet-tart complexity. In fact, Hurst says local chefs buy it by the case. It makes a tasty topping on waffles and shines as a substitute for balsamic glaze.

| 3 | Olde Town’s Greek seasoning is one of the store’s most popular blends. It’s superb on grilled chicken, but get creative and use it to rim the glass of a Bloody Mary. While you’re at it, grab the housemade dilled green beans for a garnish.

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