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February 24 will be Spice to Table’s last day in operation. We talked to Gomez why she's shutting down, the difficulties of being a restaurateur, and about her new line of teas and spices, DYAD.
Thrilling news for Indian food lovers: Asha Gomez, the creator of Spice Route Supper Club, is going into the restaurant business. Her place, called Cardamom Hill, is scheduled to open this fall at 1700 Northside Drive, in the same Berkeley Heights shopping center as a Little Azios outpost. (She’s taking over the former space of My Girlfriend’s Kitchen.)If you’ve been to a Spice Route dinner, you’ll know what makes this venture particularly exciting: Gomez concentrates her cooking on the specific flavors and dishes of her native Kerala, the southwestern-most state of India. Kerala has for centuries been a major port of the European-African-Asian spice trades, with longstanding Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu culinary traditions that often overlap.
Every food writer eventually develops obsessions, and India tops my list of preoccupations. I daydream about spending months there, wandering from state to state and learning recipes from home cooks who keep specific, regional traditions alive. Restaurants can offer some worthy examples (I went looking last year), but, as I’ve complained before, the menus too often get muddled into a ubiquitous mishmash of too-creamy Northern dishes, cooked in bulk and devoid of soul, and twenty versions of mediocre dosas from the South.