Urban Sproule Sea Salt

Urban Sproule is New York city’s first ever rooftop sea salt.  Started by Sarah Sproule in the summer of 2012, this solar evaporated salt is completely hand made on a rooftop salt farm and Certified Kosher.  After noticing a gap in the local food market, Sarah started experimenting with making her own sea salt. What started as a fun hobby quickly became a working business, consisting of weekly meet ups with local fishermen Glenn and Charlie from a small Long Island fishery –American Pride Seafood. New York has never been home to a hand-harvested rooftop salt — until now.

Urban Sproule is identifiable by its relatively uniform grain size. Their firm, yet delicate crystalline structure lends a briny punch to food. If you adore flake salt like  Icelandic Flake or Halen Mon Silver, this is a great one to explore.  A tad less refined and snappy, this salt is a lighter and more delicate version of our Bali Kechil Pyramid.

If today is your day to pay homage to winter, do so with Urban Sproule. Briny, boxy crystals work beautifully on dark leafy greens like kale, collard, turnip and swiss chard. Think crispy kale salad with pepitas, bacon, olive oil and a sprinkling of this salt.  Or serve up your winter collard greens, sauteed in Burro Soresina and olive oil and topped with pickled onions, shaved manchego, with a touch of Urban Sproule.  Delicately salt your roasted vegetables like sweet potatoes, parsnips and carrots. Or take your reverence for winter one step further with a heaping bowl of elk chili or buffalo stew and a pinch of Urban Sproule.

 

From Sarah, owner of Urban Sproule:

What started as a fun experiment making local sea salt quickly became a full fledged rooftop salt farm. I was holding weekly cooking demos with the Union Square Greenmarket preparing seasonal dishes. At the end of every demo, before the tasting, I would finish the dish with some kind of salt; a typical salt that you could pick up at any NYC corner store. The recipe would usually start with an ingredient like butter from Millport Dairy or sunflower oil from Cayuga Pure Organics, only to be finished off with the aforementioned salt. I was so proud of every ingredient in each dish, not necessarily because of how it was cooked, but because of the fact that I knew where everything in that dish came from; potatoes from Berried Treasures Farm, the kale- from Lucky Dog Organics or the Womanchego cheese from Cato Corner Farm. Everything had a story, except for the most basic ingredient, an ingredient that every human on earth consumes and that to me, seemed to pose a problem. I wanted to season this wonderful food with a wonderful salt, so I set out to make my own!

I employed the help of local fishermen Glenn & Charlie of American Pride Seafood to gather water while fishing 30 miles east of Montauk, Long Island. It only made sense to us that our water come from the same environment that the freshest fish at market call home. The ideal weather in September led to the first big harvest- 15 pounds of pure raw local sea salt in October 2012.

Word spread quickly and NYC’s first ever Rooftop & Raw Sea Salt was sold out! I quickly responded to the inventory dilemma like any Manhattan dweller would; build up, not out and the salt production was doubled. An 8×12 Evaporation House with rows of shelving now hold 500 evaporation trays of sea water that are filtered throughout the period from evaporation to crystallization. Every tray is then harvested by hand and the crystals are sun baked, on organic clay tiles that are locally made, and a few lucky ones are infused with seasonal ingredients from local farms. Every salt crystal is grown and hand packaged in New York City.

 

Want your own Urban Sproule? Find it at The Meadow’s online store.

Fleur de Sel for the streets of New York

The cover of The New Yorker hit the ball out of the park with Peter de Sève’s drawing of a chef sprinkling fleur de sel on the snowy sidewalk outside his restaurant. Mina Kaneko and Francoise Mouly from The New Yorker’s Culture Desk desk posted this interview with de Seve: “Putting together a cover like this is a little bit like cooking,” says Peter de Sève about his image, “Just a Pinch.” “Having the right ingredients is one thing, but knowing how much to put in is just as important. At first, I sketched a regular guy in the foreground spreading salt from a big bag, and the chef in the background adding ‘just a pinch.’ By the third sketch, it became clear to me that I didn’t need the other guy. With the right body language, the chef would say it all.”

My mother wallpapered (literally) the kitchen of my childhood house with New Yorker covers, and they have been with me my whole life.  But this is my favorite one ever.

Himalayan Salt Tequila Shot Glasses

Why put a perfectly good drink in a Himalayan salt tequila shot glass?  (These salt cups have become an instant hit, sold individually and in sets of four.)  First off, salt cups are not just for tequila shots.  As a matter of fact, mescal is better yet… and better yet are cocktails with a bit of sugar in them. Which brings me to the answer of my questions, of why in tarnation would you want to put a perfectly good drink in a pink salt tequila shot glass?

Tequila, mescal, cachaca, or other fiery boozes are great quaffed from with Himalayan salt shot glasses because the mineral zing of the salt miraculously mellows the sensation of fieryness.  Salt opens up all the lush flavors locked in the alcohol and makes them available to your taste buds, and the fiery fierceness falls by the wayside.  In addition, salt cups hold their chill beautifully, so a sipping tequila from a salt shot glass is simply refreshing.

These reasons alone certainly justify the purchase of a set of two or four or twenty four Himalayan pink salt shot glasses for your merry making.  But try them with sweeter drinks, or with a bit of sweetener on the rim of the cup, and you will really see some flavors fly.  Mint Juleps, margarita shots, Spanish coffee… to name a few.  I offer a handful of recipes in my Salt Block Cooking - 70 Recipes for Grilling, Chilling, Searing, and Serving on Himalayan Salt Blocks.  They give you the fundamentals.  But you can experiment on your own. 

The trick to using Himalayan salt shot glasses well is to mix drinks designed for quick quaffing. Liquid dissolves salt quickly. If you let your shot sit for long, it will soon become unpalatable. But done right, the salt transforms drinks that benefit from a little salt.

Salt cups have amazing thermal properties that let them stay hot or cold far longer than glass. Freezing, refrigerating, or heating them before serving opens new doors for drink design.

These pink Himalayan salt shot glasses are a slightly different model than the ones photographed in Salt Block Cooking. The walls of the cup are a little thicker, and the lip is not as rounded. The overall result is a more rustic look and feel, which is accentuated by a more substantial heft in the hand.

Though not as slim and trim, what I really like about these salt shot glasses is that they last longer and are more durable than the thinner ones. Another cool thing is they have more thermal mass, so popping them in the freezer overnight gives you one incredibly frosty-salty cup for that tequila shot you’ve been looking forward to since Monday. Also, because they are thicker they are sturdier for warm-temperature drinks like salt cup Spanish Coffee!

You buy Himalayan salt tequila shot glasses singly or in a set of four retail and wholesale, as well as other pink Himalayan salt blocks products at The Meadow’s online store.

Icelandic Birch Smoked Sea Salt


Icelandic Birch Smoked sea salt is, first off, the only birch smoked salt I know of on the American market. So it’s tempting to say, “Icelandic Birch Smoked salt the best birch smoked salt on the market!”  Which it is.  But that aside, the birch smoked sea salt a beautiful salt even among its fine peers in the burgeoning realm of smoked salts.  Icelandic Birch balances many of the best qualities of the other top smoked salts.  It is rich like Halen Mon Smoked (Welsh oak smoked–a real bad boy), and faintly sweet like Kauai Guava Smoked (cured guava tree wood, a solid enough salt, but lacking any pizazz in terms of crystalline structure), and mild like Maldon Smoked (mixed hardwood smoked, nice enough, but among the least spectacular smoked salts in terms of aroma, yet boasting Maldon’s sea salt’s magnificent crystals).  Icelandic is milder than any of those, but full bodied, able to stand easily on it’s own two feet.

But the crystals!  Jumbled grains, unpredictable, like exploded birdseed.  Gallimaufry of crystals that crackle with every bite, somewhere between a flake and a granule.  Icelandic Birch Smoked sea salt is naturally mineral-rich, putting a clean, full mineral flavor at the the foundation of the lush smoke aroma.

Icelandic Birch Smoked sea salt is awesome on less fatty proteins such snapper or cod or haddock or pork or game meats or fowl. Or starches like fingerling potatoes or salads of roasted tomatoes and wilted greens. Icelandic Birch Smoked sea salt is produced using 100% geothermal energy from hot springs in the northwest of Iceland, making it one of the most sustainable flake salts available. This salt is hand-harvested using an old, traditional 17th century method and yields pyramid-like crystal salt ¬flakes that are then smoked with Birch from the Nordic region.

You can find this salt for sale at The Meadow’s online store.

Admiralty Sea Salt

Admiralty Sea Salt crystals boast an exquisitely fine balance between microfine spark-like flakes and occasional jumbled bit of pastry-crust crumbling granules. And it tastes beautiful, too. Think salads. Every day. Most likely Admiralty Sea Salt will find its way to the center of your dining room table and stay there, until you run out.

Admiralty is made by Ricardo Valdes, whose experience as a chef shines through in the salt plays on food. It is exceptionally user-friendly.  On blanched or steamed vegetables, where the vegetables are the star of the show,  it makes barely a murmur.  On fish, it steps up and lends a mild but pronounced pungency that elevates the umami richness of the protein, becoming just enough of a distraction to elevate the dish to something more sophisticated.

Chef Valdez makes Admiralty Sea Salt from the frigid currents of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, on the West side of Whidbey Island, about 40 miles north of Seattle, Washington,.  Impurities are filtered from the water prior to the salt making process. The brine is then reduced down, and the resulting salt crystals are steamed to achieve a delicate and flaky finished product.

Admiralty sea salt is available for retail and wholesale at The Meadow. 

Osso Bucco with Sel Gris Gremolata

Osso Bucco with Sel Gris Gremalata

Man Ray. Some names were just tailor made for greatness. If my parents had thought to name me Man instead of Mark I might actually have made something of myself. Picasso. Nobody named Picasso could not be great, if you know what I mean. The name, Osso bucco has that air of irrefutable deliciousness. Veal shank braised in aromatic herbs, spices, and vegetables, a bit of wine and the incredible mouth feel of veal bone marrow that dissipates slowly through the flesh, marrying everything in buttery richness, by any other name would be as glorious. So how do you salt a Picasso?

The classic approach to seasoning osso bucco is to add sel gris up front, with the intention of letting the salt do its magic, slowly permeating the meat, helping to tenderize it and develop its flavors. In truth, the cooking method is sufficient to tenderize the meat, and the minerals naturally present in veal are enough to flavor it, especially since braising concentrates natural flavors. The cast of characters such as mirepoix (onion, carrot, celery) supporting the osso bucco don’t need salt to cook properly, though they can definitely use a touch for emphasis. With these facts and thoughts in hand, we can lightly deconstruct the immaculate osso bucco and approach salting it with a fresh perspective, salting less up front and adding a noble salt (like Piran Sel Gris) to its garnish of gremolata that traditionally tops Milanese dishes, providing us with a new name for perfection

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