Though people no longer have to cross continental boundaries to sample exotic flavors, the average spice rack still tends to lack diversity. At the Spice & Tea Exchange of Annapolis, a staff of flavor-seeking specialists stocks gourmet seasonings and spices, cooking herbs, sugars, and sea salts to expand their customers' cooking horizons. In addition to fresh herbs and flavorings, the team designs signature seasoning powders that infuse dishes with medleys of chili, savory hints of cheese, or the essence of smoke. They also carry an assortment of gourmet teas, which are good to keep around the house in case a local king decides to stop by.
Ten Thousand Villages in Alexandria is Northern Virginia's oldest Fair Trade retailer. Located on upper King Street since 1994, it has become the preferred source for gifts and home decor for many loyal customers in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax County, DC and beyond.
Part art gallery, part cocoa bar, Artfully Chocolate was established in 2007 when owner Eric Nelson quit his job as an executive in order to pursue his artistic passions. Needing a little something extra to draw attention to his shop and unwilling to sound a tornado siren after every purchase, Eric called on the services of friend and chocolatier Rob Kingsbury. Kingsbury instantly infused the colorful gallery with the sweet allure Eric was seeking.
Today, the duo's handiwork takes center stage inside two different locations: Eric's masterpieces parade across the walls, and Rob's expertise reveals itself in sips and bites of decadent drinks and pastries. They also host tasting classes, including a wine-pairing class and chocolate-tasting class.
Swing's caffeine artisans craft signature blends of globally sourced, locally roasted java that have garnered a bouquet of awards and accolades, including a spot on Zagat's Buzz-Worthy Coffee Options in DC list. Fill thirsty mugs with a craft-roasted blend such as the Diplomat ($14/lb.), a dark brew that deftly negotiates sweet notes of baking chocolate into bold sips that evoke sensory portraits of leather and pipe tobacco. The Nicaraguan Los Papales ($16/lb.) teems with vanilla and malt flavors, and the Espresso 90 ($14/lb.) jolts sleepy gray matter awake with a Northern Italian roast with notes of cherry, pomegranate, and “Reveille.”
From foodies to celebrities to trend watchers, the buzz around Pinkberry has been sweeping the world. Excitement was high from the very beginning, when in 2005 Pinkberry opened its first store in West Hollywood, California. The demand for the swirls of yogurt was so great that Pinkberry was dubbed "the taste that launched 1,000 parking tickets" by the Los Angeles Times. Undeterred by parking regulations, people were drawn in by their cravings for the yogurt, the abundance of toppings, the bright and energetic store design, and the kind smiles of the staff. With more than 220 locations in 18 countries, Pinkberry is now one of the most-talked-about premium frozen yogurts in the world.
Starting with a base of nonfat, hormone-free milk and nonfat yogurt, Pinkberry's artisans incorporate live, active cultures into the mix to create a healthy, refreshing treat. The original yogurt is always available, but staffers also swirl seasonal flavors throughout the year, such as strawberry, cookies 'n' cream, and cherry. The selection of fresh fruit also rotates with the seasons and is cut daily in each store. Other toppings, such as honey-almond granola, dark-chocolate crisps, swirl pearls, and italian caramel, allow customers to create an inspired flavor combination every visit.
If you’re looking for a quick stop to pick up some cheese, Cheesetique is not the place. That’s because everything in the store—from the eye-catching cheese wheels to the aromas of uncorked wine—encourages guests to linger, creating an ambiance typical of a Parisian bistro. The shop functions as both a boutique and a café, with staff splitting their time between serving up their award-winning mac 'n' cheese and cutting wedges of cheese to order. The staff has curated a menu of 300 American and European cheeses, each of which are available for sampling. But the best way to sample the vast selection is with a cheese-tasting board, which, when paired with a complementary wine and smattering of charcuterie, creates a mouth explosion larger than that of demolition dentistry. Though their wine and beer list is as imposing as their cheese variety, the staff has segmented the list into easily identifiable categories such as malty bocks, bold reds, and sparkling rosés.