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The answer to that question depends upon who's answering and the purpose it will be used for. There are delicate, floral varieties and those with strong, sweet, spicy flavors. As a general rule, you won't find the best at a grocery store, you'll have to go to a specialty purveyor to find top quality spices.
I've had great luck with Penzey's brand of spices, including cinnamon.
Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.
This won't help on the brand front but if you can get Saigon or Vietnamese cinnamon, go for it -- has wonderful fragrance!
Believe it or not, I get my cinnamon from Cinnabon. I don't buy the buns, but I do love the spice.
I love the Vietnamese cinnamon from Penzey's, the smell is incredible!
Dittoes on the Penzey's Vietnamese cinnamon It was one of the first spices I ordered from them when I first received their catalog. They sell it in volumes of 1 ounce through 1 pound.
You may have to experiment a bit to find one you like, but it's important to buy any spice or dried herb from a purveyor where there is rapid turnover so that you are assured of a fresh product. Penzey's is terrific of course and as mentioned, grocery stores tend to be not great in this way.
I have found that the organic cinnamon from the bulk dispenser at my local Whole Foods is great and cheap in comparison to buying anything in a jar (with the added benefit of being organic). I only go to whole foods for a few specific items and this one is high on the list.
Yes, Penzeys sells fresh, top-quality cinnamon and other herbs and spices -- but at almost twice the price of other, equally good, specialty spice dealers. Someone has to pay for the endless stream of catalogs they send out once you're on their mailing list (and it won't be me). You can read about the different cinnamons available here:
While I most often reach for Vietnamese cinnamon, I keep a jar of Ceylon on hand for Mexican dishes and a bottle of Korintje for baking, especially if it's someone else's recipe which could easily be overpowered by substituting the much-stronger Vietnamese.
Thanks, ChefOno, for the info on The Spice House. Just spent a while on the web site. That is where I will place my next order!
Thanks for all the feedback. I just bought Vietnamese cinnamon from Kalustian's in NYC. Hope it's as good as the Penzey's - although I will buy from there next time!
Oh! I have been looking for a good cinnamon purchase [ and a reason to go to Kalustian's! ] :)
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My personal favorite is Vann's Saigon Cinnamon. I order it online from www.vannsspices.com
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