Dining in college can force gourmets to cope with disappointment.  Dining halls, while reliable, must cater to the least adventurous palates, often leaving their food safely mild.  Restaurants in college towns often forgo bold flavors and cultural authenticity for late-night, comfort-style options.  Even dorm cooking presents its own assortment of culinary challenges, inexperience with cooking to lack of quality ingredients.

But there is hope for food lovers at Princeton; Jon Hauge and his team at Savory Spice Shop have you covered.  Savory offers the broadest, freshest assortment of spices and rubs in Princeton, with choices ranging from classics like ground cayenne and pink Himalayan salt to more unusual offerings like Peruvian chile lime seasoning and ghost pepper salt, one of the most popular items in the store.

The store opened three years ago, in November 2011, and represents a passion project for Hauge.  Nearly five years ago, while visiting family in California, he met family friends who were interested in expanding their small spice shop into a national endeavor.  Looking for a change of pace, Hauge eventually opened one of the first shops in the Savory Spice chain, which now boasts 32 locations nationwide.

Today, the shop provides ingredients to many popular local restaurants and has grown to stock hundreds of items.  Upon entering the store, customers are greeted by the most aromatic air in town and a more colorful array of spice than most have ever seen.  While many spices can be purchased online or at local grocery stores, Savory distinguishes itself by providing a far fresher selection.

The secret behind the shop’s ability to provide high-quality ingredients stems in part from its affiliation with the Savory Spice chain.  To maintain freshness and flavor, Hauge says that the shop turns over its inventory approximately once every few weeks.   Savory purchases raw ingredients in bulk and grinds them periodically at local locations, preserving flavor integrity and providing customers with an alternative to more generic options.

Perhaps the best part of this particular shop is the staff.  Savory‘s staff is adept at serving all customers from complete novice cooks to culinary aficionados.  Whether you know exactly what spices you want or have no clue where to start, Hauge and his staff can recommend you the appropriate spices.  And, if you’re unsure, every spice in the shop has a sample shaker, so you can taste each item in the store before making any purchases.

With Savory’s help, you can make seasonal pies with one of their six available cinnamons or mix your own artisanal hot chocolate with an impressive collection of dark chocolate. Perhaps you’re looking to add some intense flavors to your homemade or dining hall-provided food. In that case, Savory has some of the best harissa and chiles that I have ever tasted, not to mention the store extensive stock of salts, which includes two types of Hawaiian sea salt (my personal favorite).

With fall in full swing and winter rapidly approaching, Savory is a must for students looking to revive their stagnant palates.  Regardless of if you’re on a meal plan, in an eating club, or struggling to feed yourself enough calories a day as an independent, Savory has options that can elevate your life from painfully blasé to mind-blowingly flavorful.  That might be an exaggeration, but food is, after all, the essence of life, and good food always leads to happiness. If you’re looking to diversify your diet, Savory Spice Shop ought to be your new mecca.