‘Basil pesto is our most popular product’, Duska tells me, ‘but so is the Pumpkin and Macadamia Dip. Oh, and our harissas have a very loyal following!’

I’m at the stall chatting about Spice Palace’s cornucopia of delicious, exotic foods. It strikes me, as I observe the coming and going of customers, many clearly regulars, that pretty much all the stock vibrantly and vividly displayed is popular.

Spice Palace has been around for a long time, but properly came into its own as a purveyor of local, seasonal and made-from-scratch products after Duska and husband Rob took the business over in 2009. They’d moved down from Brisbane, where they met, intent on ‘getting into food and markets.’   ‘It’s our life’, Duska goes on to say. ‘We both have strong values about sharing good food – and one of the best things in life is food and sharing it.’ Rob had been editor for Delia Smith’s cooking magazine in London; Duska’s mother was a caterer and ‘great cook’. They had both travelled extensively, Duska nannying and cooking on yoga retreats. ‘I learned to make hummus in Israel’, she says.

At their property in The Pocket, whose large garden yields much of the produce ending up in their dips and sauces, spice mixes and pastes, the couple toil away, often doing ‘big ten-hour days.’ Everything is gluten- and dairy-free, devoid of preservatives, they roast and hand-grind the spices themselves. The dukkahs (macadamia and chilli, classic hazelnut) also include a chocolate one, which Duska says is ‘popular this year.  It’s great on pancakes, ice cream, sprinkled on top of yoghurt and fruit.’ I come away with a heavenly harissa, however   – Smokey Rose Chilli – with at least five ideas in my head for it!

Spice Palace is at New Brighton every Tuesday from 8 – 11am and Mullumbimby every Friday from 7 – 11am

Victoria Cosford