What’s for dinner? Is it a new Moroccan dish you’re trying out, slowly simmering over the stove, or an old stand-by noodle entree needing some new life? Whatever you cook, it’s the addition of herbs and spices which bring each food to their fullest flavor.
Oh, snap! The recipe you are drooling over on Pinterest calls for a Tandoori Masala but your home spice cupboard is fresh out. Don’t fret! Buck’s Spices and Gourmet Pantry in downtown Olympia can help.
The tiny storefront of this apothecary may look reminiscent of a store found in Diagon Alley straight out of the Harry Potter series, but inside the store’s shelves are a treasure trove and sensory paradise for local and worldly flavors.
Inside the Apothecary (Image: Richard Schmitz)
Still looking for that Masala? No problem. Are you creating a vegan brunch and can’t find Indian Black Salt, or Kala Namak, to add to the tofu scramble? You know, the one that tastes vaguely like eggs? Again, not a problem. These exotic spices along with hundreds of others line the shelves of this herbal shop.
Housed in the same location on Fifth Avenue for the last five decades, Buck’s Spices has transformed itself several times over the years. Originally a tea room back in the late 1960’s started by Anne Buck, it has also encompassed a garden supply store, a dog biscuit bakery, and a parcel drop-off business.
“Buck’s landed as the spice apothecary it is today sometime in the early ‘80’s”, explains Scott Smith, or his professional name, Scotty Sounds. Smith took over running the store about three years ago after Buck stepped down. She continued to come into the store every day until she passed away in October 2019, at the age of 94. Currently, her son Beau Buck sees to the business, working to continue his mother’s vision.