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We do a lot of cooking and baking this time of year--as well as buying foodie gifts. So we're psyched for the one-stop shopping at Silverlake's Spice Station, the boutique that improves our gifting as well as our own holiday meals.

Hidden down a narrow brick pathway off Sunset Boulevard, Spice Station has the feel of a voodoo shack. Walls are made of reclaimed wood and lined with little apothecary jars and labels noting spice origins and uses. A go-to spot for East Side cooks since it opened in 2009, the place does brisk business in by-the-ounce sales of hundreds of spices (most around $3 per ounce) from ajwain seed to wasabi. The staff are full of advice, like the suggestion that we serve mineral-rich Himalayan pink salt on our holiday table and offer guests chewable anise seed as a digestive aid.

For holiday gifting, we're loving new sets comprised of metal pallets of nine spices in glass-topped tins. The Indian set ($65) has indispensable subcontinental flavors including turmeric, fenugreek and two masala blends. The baker's set ($60) includes orange peel, cocoa, Saigon cinnamon and more--including vanilla-bean sugar, one of more than a dozen infused sugars at the shop.

The shop customizes any gift, including mini sets of any three spices in a tin tower. It's the most useful under-$20 secret Santa gift we've ever given.

Spice Station, 3819 W. Sunset Blvd.; 323-660-2565 or

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