Salt sates the Alchemist’s desire, transmuting food to fantasy. Thinking up a new way to deploy finishing salts to the uninitiated masses requires all the acumen and patience of a basking shark. So it is strange to me how rarely you see finishing salt out in public. The mute mineral eloquence of finishing salts make them the substance of choice for any event, bearing the potential to surpass even Champaign and Bellinis with caviar in their ability to surprise, excite, and sustain—all without pretense, pomp, or effort.
The selmelier humbly offers a suggestion: Celebrate Life with Salt. Kid having a birthday party? Grind applewood smoked sea salt on popcorn and watch the little critters play like cherubs in the boughs of Eden. Girlfriend pissed off about because you shaved with her leg-razor and then left whiskers in her sink? Offer her Japanese deep sea salt on water crackers with ginger butter and admire the quickened pulse that thrums her neck just above the clavicle. Dad buying racing leathers and setting off on a two year motorcycle trek to Argentina? Get the man a 1-pound tin of artisanal organic Portuguese coarse salt to sprinkle on the long-anticipated meals of possum mole, pan-fried quetzal, and vole fritters.
Eating happens in virtually all our social activities, so the occasions for using salt are limitless.
Below is a table-talker I put together for two superb individuals who brought modest, elegant distinction to their wedding by offering as gifts to their wedding guests little jars of Spanish glass filled with a variety of finishing salts. The table talker was arranged on tables at the reception dinner on the evening before wedding, kindling a curiosity that would not be satisfied until after the gifts were given out. While I was not in attendance, I hear the salt was a hit.
The following was printed on stiff, gilt paper, and nestled amongst chubby ramekins of select finishing salts:
Gourmet Finishing Salts from The Meadow
Salt is the prism through which the ingredients, dishes, meals, people, and cultures of the world can be experienced in all their fullness and variety. For millennia, salt has been a driving force for economic and social advancement, and an anchor upon which ancient and modern civilizations alike have been founded. The selection of salts here today represents a slice of the great diversity in taste, beauty, texture, and cultural history that gourmet finishing salt provides. We hope you will enjoy them.
These gray-pinkish crystals are ideal for the Mini Quiches, Vegetable Platter, Fennel Slaw, and Veggie Kebabs being served here today. This gourmet finishing salt plays important roles in Balinese ceremonies and purification rituals, with the power to both purify and sanctify. Bali Reef Flower is made during the dry summer months, when traditional saltmakers wade into the calm blue waters ofBali’s early morning twilight, gather sea water in buckets made from the Lontar Palm, and pour it into saltpans dug in black coastal sands. After an elaborate process of solar evaporation, transferring, and sifting, a moist and complex salt emerges. The complex crystal structure, high moisture content, nuanced color, and rich mineral diversity make this an exceptionally elegant multi-purpose salt, from broiled fish to grilled poultry to roasted pork.
These large white flakes will find the fullest expression of flavor on vetables dishes such as salad, so try some on your tomato or lettuce! Maldon also provide a beauty and sharp mineral complexity to any of the grilled dishes. Maldon is made from seawater collected fromEngland’s Blackwater river estuary, and evaporated in stainless steel saltpans mounted on an intricate system of brick flues that give the specific heating pattern required for the formation of Maldon’s massive yet parchment-fine flake crystals. This is the penultimate salt for daily use in salads, with a texture equivalent to fireworks and a crisp, balanced flavor. Crunching Maldon between the finger and thumb, letting fall the shards, and watching them assail the surface of a well crafted dish like a storm of crystal shields, is almost as satisfying as eating it.
Barrique Oak Smoked Fleur de Sel
These toasty golden grains will bring news depths of rich, warm flavors to any of the grilled the meats being served here today. Fleur de Sel is produced by ancient Celtic methods from theFrance’s Atlantic shore, and has long been held at the most-esteemed salt of European fine dining. After drying, the Fleur de Sel is cold smoked with oak chips made from French Oak wine casks (called barrique) that have completed their five to seven year task of aging fine Chardonnay. The result is a rich, complex flavor combination of mineral-rich French sea salt, seasoned French oak, aged Chardonnay, and tantalizing accents of tart wine vinegar and complex sugars. This is a superb compliment to all meat, seafood, pastas, potatoes, and anything you put on your table for breakfast.