If you’re looking for some inspiration in the kitchen, Spice It Up, one of Beach Haven’s newest shops located in Bay Village, has a plethora of dried herbs and spices, oils, vinegars, spice blends, baking ingredients, salts, peppers and different types of condiments and barbecue fixings to transform your bland food dishes into savory cuisine.
“There’s nothing on the Island like this,” said Regina Lotito, Spice It Up shop owner, who also loves to cook with her husband, Dan Starin, at their home in Beach Haven. “Our focus is on ingredients, to make a good meal at home. We want to provide good, quality ingredients for that experience,” she added.
|Photo by Ryan Morrill|
Born to Hula Hot Sauce, made in New Jersey, is
featured in Bay Village's newest Shop, Spice It Up.
Lotito decided to open the shop after Superstorm Sandy, when the building was damaged and its former occupants decided to leave. Starin helped her renovate the space before it opened in March.
Except for a few items that are imported from France and Italy, such as Monograno Felicetti pasta, “something you just can’t pass up,” said Lotito, most of the shop’s products are made in small batches by small companies in the United States. Many of the products are made with fresh, organic ingredients.
“Most of them are handmade by families, friends or couples who are doing something different and have a passion for what they do,” said Lotito. “You can tell by the quality of their product.”
Some of the shop’s most fanatical creations come from New Jersey, including Hank Sauce, made by two childhood friends from Sea Isle City. The different varieties, although hot, are more about flavor. The cilantro hot sauce has been “hard to keep on the shelves,” said Lotito.
Born to Hula Hot Sauce, made by Monmouth County resident Ed Bucholtz, who lost his home to Superstorm Sandy and created a “Surge of Sandy” hot sauce, is also featured at the shop. Lotito was able to get only 12 bottles of the limited-edition flavor, and most of them have already been purchased. Portions of the sale were donated to charities dedicated to helping Sandy’s victims.
|Photo by Ryan Morrill|
Spice It Up also offers options for people
to grow their own spices at home.
A few of Born to Hula’s other sauces are made with ghost pepper, a chili pepper previously recognized by Guinness World Records as the hottest pepper in the world. So far, said Lotito, there have been a few brave souls willing to purchase the products containing the scorching ingredient.
“People in town really seem to like spicy foods,” she noted. “Some of these products are hot,” she added, admitting she prefers a more mild taste.
But Spice It Up doesn’t cater just to those who enjoy spicy dishes. It also offers a variety of temperate yet flavorful items. Empire Mayonnaise, which is made by a couple from Brooklyn with non-GMO oil, local, pasture-raised eggs and local, seasonal flavors, is available in a range of exotic tastes because “who can resist bacon mayonnaise?” said Lotito.
Alaska Pure Sea Salt, a flake-style finishing salt handmade from the Gulf of Alaska, is another popular item. The blueberry salt, a seasonal flavor, is delicious on vanilla ice cream, Lotito claimed.
Beer and wine brittle made by Annette’s Chocolates in Napa Valley, Calif., also has made a big impact on customers.
“It’s the crack of Beach Haven,” Lotito joked.
Many companies, including a few hot sauce companies from New York and Maryland, are beginning to reach out to the new shop owner for business, but Lotito said she is really looking to find more local products. Stocking a unique ketchup company is next on the list.
In the future, Lotito plans to offer workshops and other hands-on classes at the shop to help people learn how to use the store’s different ingredients. A grand opening party will be held at the shop in May so attendees may sample its various products.
Spice It Up is open Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Hours will increase later in the season. For more information, visit spiceituplbi.com or call 609-492-1240.
— Kelley Anne Essinger
This article was published in The SandPaper.