February 24, 2011
In December, I had the opportunity (and pleasure!) to sit down with Graciela Schmukler, one of the proprieters of Especias ~Kler, located in the heart of the trendy Palermo district in Buenos Aires.
A couple of years ago, Graciela's son, Daniel (an Argentinean-American friend of ours who lives here in Denver whose wife is behind Maria Empanada) mentioned that his mother was the owner of a spice shop in Argentina's bustling capital. He thought I would be interested–and he was right! I was immediately intrigued. And then I fell in love with ~Kler.
Have you ever wanted to pursue a dream? Something you're passionate about, and even as you spend many years doing other things, (a job or raising a family, maybe) that dream is still in your mind, held until the timing is right? ~Kler is the culmination of a dream held by two Argentinean sisters.
The shop got its start when spicy siblings Graciela and Edith settled down after years of traveling and living abroad. While Graciela lived in the US and raised her three children, Edith traveled to far off places in the Mediterranean and Middle East. She was so inspired by the open-air markets she found on her adventures that when she returned home, she collaborated with her sister (recently returned to their hometown) and the two opened ~Kler.
~Kler is derived from their last name, Schmukler, and is unique among the shops dedicated to gourmet foodstuffs in Buenos Aires. The pair's passion for cooking is what makes the shop so diverse–it's the starting point for everything they do. And they strive to share new flavors they've discovered with patrons of their shop.
The shop is a spice-lover's fantasy for home cook and professional chef alike. The store stocks bulk spices (like paprika, ginger,and cardamom) and aromatics (like lavender and rosemary) and also creates exclusive blends and rubs to introduce customers to new flavors and cooking ideas.
~Kler carries a number of condiments–olives, oils, vinegars, and pastes–to inspire cooks and round out the meal. An impressive variety is available–from unusual mustards, jarred peppers and artichoke hearts, and Middle- Eastern delicacies items. ~Kler's staff is eager to assist with your needs and questions, to bring their knowledge to the consumer, and to share their dream.
Sweets are also on the menu–macarons, honey, chocolates (aka bombones–the term for truffle that doubles as a term of endearment). There are also candied nuts and homemade jellies–and not your garden variety line-up, either: rose hip jelly, spaghetti squash jam, and 'Ofelia's' orange marmalade, among others.
Are your tastebuds awake yet? Because if you're too tired to cook, ~Kler offers a line of 'Casi Listos'('almost ready') foods, including soup mix, risotto, curried vegetables with rice and 'Imperial Lentils' that come in a neat little package spiced and ready to cook in less than a half hour. They're a quick and easy way to introduce something new like lentils or curry to the average weekaday dinner. If you need a gift for your favorite foodie; teapots, spice shakers might be just the thing.
And they cater. The sisters will create a gourmet spread according to the needs and tastes of your event, be it custom gift baskets or a smorgasbord for a holiday party. The duo is committed to creating a wonderous atmosphere, inviting clients to explore new tastes from around the globe while stocking the highest quality ingredients. Can you see why I'm in love? ~Kler is a dream come true!
If you're looking for a little love, ~Kler is on facebook, and their website (in Spanish) is spectacular. Poke around and read some of their featured recipes, or join Club ~Kler for discounts and updates on new products.
It's definitely one of my first stops on my next trip to Buenos Aires–hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Bulnes 1815 (CAP 1425)
Buenos Aires, Argentina 05411