1.12.11 Salt Seller

Salts 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife
Salt is in the zeitgeist. Although the stuff has been around literally forever (read this book on its fascinating history), it's being particularly fetishized at this moment. No fewer than 3 people gave me salt this holiday season, bringing my collection to 18 different types! A couple of the gifts came from the same store: The Meadow, on Hudson Street in New York City. Jennifer Turner Bitterman and her husband "selmelier" Mark Bitterman founded this boutique in Portland in 2006. It specializes in salt, chocolate, flowers and wine (though on a recent visit I noticed only bitters; more on those later). The assortment of salts is truly mind-blowing. From Bengal Blue to Smoked Red Alder, there are more than 100 types, sourced from all over the world. The most instantly striking thing in the store are blocks and slabs of pink Himalayan salt, big translucent pieces for cooking and serving food. You can arrange sashimi on a chilled brick of the stuff and watch the edges of the fish turn pale and firm as it actually cures right there. Or heat a block on the stove or the barbeque and grill thin slices of flank steak for a unique and delicately salty flavor. I can't wait to try this!
The meadow 790 xxx
the meadow is a sunny sliver of a shop on hudson street
Salts2 790 xxx
from left: curry, haleakala ruby, celtic, ginger sea salt, iburi jio cherry and soy salts
The Meadow's collection of salts is sold as "finishing salts." Essentially, this means you aren't supposed to lob great handfuls of it into your dishes. The flavors range from subtle to quite intense and are meant to be layered atop a dish as a final accent.The Iburi Jio Cherry, for instance, is a Japanese smoked sea salt that has a richly smoky, almost bacony aroma and flavor. At $31 for a teensy jar, you want to use this wisely. Why so expensive? It's premium quality sea salt that's collected from the unpolluted, deep sea waters off the shores of the Oga Peninsula in Akita Prefecture in northern Japan, then slowly crystallized in a large pot over a fire of pure cherry wood for three days. It was inspired by this prefecture's famed iburi-gakko, a smoked and pickled daikon radish. Artisanal, baby. The result is rich in magnesium, calcium and potassium, which add to its complex flavor. It's heaven sprinkled over steamed Japanese rice; over chocolate ice cream it's insane.
Avocado 790 xxx
lunch is avocado on a spelt cracker finished with soy salt
The chocolate-brown, pleasantly chunky soy salt is deliciously crunchy and the perfect counterpoint to buttery avocado. Other great mediums for letting the flavors of salt shine through are buttered bread, cucumbers, chocolate and mild cheeses like ricotta and cottage. Stumped for other places to sprinkle your salt? On soups, scrambled eggs, fish, grilled meats, ceviches, popcorn, fruit (melon with salt is sublime; so are mangoes and apples, for that matter), yogurt (I used the curry salt for this and it was amazing), salads, etc, etc.With beautiful citrus in full swing now, here is a simple and classic cocktail you can customize with one of your new finishing salts.SALTY DOGmakes one drink2 ounces gin4 ounces fresh grapefruit juicefinishing salt, like Taha's Vanilla or Maboroshi Plum or any good quality sea saltlemon or lime wedgeSwipe the rim of a cold rocks glass or wine glass with a wedge of lemon or lime. Coat the rim with salt.Shake grapefruit juice and gin together over ice. Pour the whole thing into the salted glass. (I like mine served on the rocks.) Squeeze in a bit of lime or lemon and toss in the wedge.


I also just read about the benefits of Himalayan salt for bone strength - some say it's better than just taking calcium
Ann on January 12, 2011 at 10:16 am —
I love this store and had no idea they opened a shop in NYC. They are very helpful which is nice because the array of salts are dizzying, (makes me wonder if they have smelling salts too). I use the Himalayan daily andI just bought a Maldon Smoked salt to try (the pale pink crystals are shaped like tiny pyramids). I also like using the ginger sea salt on rice.
Suzinn on January 12, 2011 at 12:47 pm —
OMG! I am so buying some of this now. We only have about 8 salts. I feel so inadequate!
rob on January 12, 2011 at 2:05 pm —
Rob, you'll get lost in the descriptions of these salts. I highly recommend the iburi jio cherry; it blows other smoked salts out of the water!
laura on January 12, 2011 at 5:06 pm —
I recently received some Himalayan salt cups from Sustainable Sourcing https://secure.sustainablesourcing.com and I think this drink would be perfect served in one!
Jessica on January 16, 2011 at 2:42 pm —
Ooooh, Jessica, I love the cups! Guess you don't need to salt the rims on those!
laura on January 16, 2011 at 3:51 pm —