Herbie's Spices (2005)

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Released 11-Jul-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Booklet-Recipe Book (12 pages)
Notes-Chronology of the Spice Trade (5 pages)
Notes-Origins of Spice (2 pages)
Notes-Recipes (6 pages)
Rating ?
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 180:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Stuart Scowcroft

Select Audio-Visual Distrib
Starring Ian "Herbie" Hemphill
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $39.95 Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Ian "Herbie" Hemphill is Australia's spice guru and the proprietor of Herbie's Spices, an online cornucopia of herbs and spices ranging from the rare and exotic to more common household varieties. His business is the largest stockist of culinary herbs and spices in the southern hemisphere. This DVD is essentially a spice appreciation course, showing the basics of herb and spice cultivation, storage and their potential application in the kitchen. In the course of the program Ian dispels many of the myths surrounding spices in an informative, entertaining and frankly spoken manner without becoming overly technical. Handy notes appear on screen at the conclusion of each section, summarising the key points and allowing the viewer to compile their own notes.

    Are you the kind of person that claims to dislike "spicy" food, but enjoys peppered steak or vanilla custard? It's interesting to think that when most people speak of "spicy food", they're really referring to hot chilli-like flavours. If you're a bona-fide curry nut, can you tell the difference between cinnamon quill and cassia bark? Whether you're a knowledgeable home cook or a curious food-a-holic, Herbie's DVD will reveal everything you've ever wanted to know about herbs and spices and their place in your kitchen.

    This disc's content is separated into nine chapters, all accessible via the main menu. Unfortunately a play all function is not included.

    1: Introduction - Ian explains his intentions with this DVD and his overall mission in terms of educating people in the simple art of cooking with spices.

    2: First Principles - This section covers the basics of spice appreciation and their distinct categories, including tips on drying, storing and grinding your herbs and spices at home.

    3: The Spice Trade - This brief chapter looks at the trade routes that were established centuries ago and dispels the ridiculous misconception that spices began as an additive to mask rotten food. This chapter includes two sections that are text only, covered in the extras below.

    4: Featured Spices - Twenty-one common spices are covered in detail here, explaining their country of origin, alternate culinary names and best method of use. These include classics such as Allspice, Cloves and Turmeric, as well as versatile Aussie spices Bush Tomato and Wattleseed. Ian also goes into some technical detail regarding their volatile oils and specific botanical properties that give them their distinct flavour.

    5: Blending & Mixing - In this section we're given tips on making our own mixed spice blends at home, using a mortar and pestle or an electric grinder.

    6: Quick & Tasty Meals - Ian steps into the kitchen and shares a few specific tips about cooking with spices, looking specifically at Curries and dry marinating. I was also very interested to find suggestions of matching wines with particular spices. Several of the recipes here are featured in the booklet.

    7: Recipes - Six pages of recipe text, all of which is included in the accompanying booklet.

    8: More Information - Herbie proudly reveals the books he has authored, his website and regular newsletter.

    9: Contact Details - The full contact details for Herbie's Spices, by mail, phone or via the internet.

    Herbie's DVD is an amazing wealth of information, and an easy reference for beginners and experienced home cooks alike. The level of culinary detail is inspiring, and the recipes are mouth watering. This is one DVD that will certainly leave you wanting more!

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Transfer Quality


    Obviously we're not talking about a large scale production by a major studio here. This is a relatively low budget production, but the transfer quality is adequate enough to convey the necessary information without any distracting issues.

    The video transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, full frame. The video appears to have been captured on camcorder, so this is essentially on a par with a very good quality home video recording. A tripod has been used throughout, but there are still a few camera bumps here and there. Unfortunately, it would appear the camera's auto focus function has been used which causes the image to slightly waver in and out of focus on many occasions.

    Colouring in both the title graphics and subject matter is bold and realistic. I didn't note any colour bleeding at all.

    MPEG compression grain is fairly consistent and can be seen around moving objects, title graphics and the like. A higher video bitrate would have been nice, but if you're watching this disc on a small display this isn't likely to be an issue.

    There are no English subtitles included. This disc is also dual layered (DVD9 format), but there is no obvious layer break or pause present.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    An English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo stream is included, and this is all that is required.

    Ian is a succinct, entertaining speaker and his spoken word is always clear and easy to understand. Audio is captured via a lapel microphone and is consistent in most respects. There are no problems regarding audio sync.

    The only melody on this disc is a short clip of generic pan flute music which is repeated at the beginning and end of each video segment.

    There is obviously no subwoofer or surround activity to report.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There aren't really any extras to speak of, however there are a few sections that are textual reference only, which I've listed here. None of the content on this DVD is 16x9 enhanced.


    The menu pages are all static and silent. Navigation is very easy and the colourful graphics and photography are excellent. As I stated above, the feature is divided into many small segments and a play all function would have been ideal for those who are viewing for the first time.

Notes - Chronology of the Spice Trade (5 pages)

    A timeline of events chronicling the development of the spice trade from the year 2600 BC to the present day.

Notes - Origins of Spice (2 pages)

    Defines the differences in herbs and spices and their ideal climates for cultivation.

Notes - Recipes (6 pages)

    As I mentioned in the summary above, there are five recipes included in text form. These are also contained in the accompanying booklet for easy reference.

Booklet (12 pages)

    The glossy colour booklet features all the recipes and contact details, as featured on the DVD. The tasty recipes include:

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This Region Free DVD is available in retail stores across Australia, or directly through Herbie's website. This is only available in PAL format at the moment.


    Herbie's Spices is an outstanding, inspiring and informative journey that will have you adding spices to your everyday cooking with confidence. Despite the low budget nature of the production, the content is professionally presented and will leave you wanting more.

    The video transfer is average.

    The audio transfer is adequate.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using DVI output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

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