BALLOON SHAKERS BY MASAYUKI KUROKAWA
$80 FOR TWO; MERCHANT4.COM

The "In" Flavors
These little-known chef favorites add a sense of adventure to even the old reliables.

WILD FENNEL POLLEN

What to Know: If Tuscany was distilled to a spice, it would be this rare, pricey powder, which smells like anise with ethereal oomph.
When to Use: Add a dusting to risotto or pasta.
Where to Buy: zingermans.com, $30 for 45 g


CURRY LEAVES

What to Know: Unrelated to curry powder, they infuse whatever they touch with way more fragrant, citrusy flair than bay leaves.
When to Use: Simmer a handful in any Indian-tinged dish.
Where to Buy: ethnicfoodsco.com, $4 per oz


URFA BIBER

What to Know: One-note red-pepper flakes have nothing on these dried Turkish chilies with their gentle heat and smoky, raisiny edge.
When to Use: Sprinkle over roasted red potatoes minutes before they're done.
Where to Buy: formaggio-kitchen.com, $6 for 4 oz


RAS EL HANOUT

What to Know: In just a few years, this North African blend (cubeb, rose petals, and ajwain) went from obscurity to ubiquity.
When to Use: Rub on lamb chops before grilling.
Where to Buy: worldspice.com, $2.25 per oz


JAVANESE LONG PEPPER

What to Know: It looks like a miniature pinecone and tastes like black pepper, but with twice the intensity.
When to Use: Grind and use as you would black pepper.
Where to Buy: buyspice.org, $30 for 5 oz


MEXICAN CINNAMON

What to Know: The sweet canela, used in many of the best Mexican restaurants, puts the bitter rods sold at the supermarket to shame.
When to Use: Steep a stick in milk for rice pudding.
Where to Buy: melissaguerra.com, $5 for 4 oz


The Spice Girl

Europe's had the monopoly long enough on food writer Laura Santtini and her progressive seasoning line, Easy Tasty Magic. Starting this month, her Taste #5—an umami paste of anchovy and porcini mushrooms—and her book, Easy Tasty Italian, will be available on amazon.com

Read More:
A Master Class in Pasta
Cooking with Curry
The Best Things on Sliced Bread