Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Once in a while when I really have the time I like to take a walk up and down each aisle of the grocery store and scan every inch of shelf from top to bottom. It may seem strange but I often find new and unusual products that I've never seen before and really would like to try. Take, for instance, salt.

Coarse white salt and black lava salt.

When I was a kid there was just one kind of salt that I am sure most people remember and that's Morton's, with the little girl holding the umbrella. That's still around, of course, but there are so many other kinds, now, too.

A few varieties of salt.

There is flaked salt, kosher salt, French sea salt (made in the Celtic process - whatever that means) and even black lava salt from Hawaii. In a past post on Bambara restaurant I wrote of the purplish gray salt they used called alaea salt, which I have yet to find in my store. So, I have been experimenting. For baking precision one will always use the standard salt but for other cooking the coarser salts make for interesting texture and presentation. I've been using the French sea salt sel der mer gros by La Baleine on my grilled salmon. The unmistakable crunch and burst of sea flavor goes well with salmon. The black salt always gets attention, especially on white fish or potato, where the contrast is so evident. I find the black salt also has a more highly concentrated flavor.

Chocolate and salt.

Another recent development is the use of salt om chocolate. Even Vosges, the high end chocolate maker, has added a line of chocolates topped with coarse salt. The contrast of savory taste with the sweeter, creamy texture of the chocolate is fantastic. So, I would encourage you to add some extra time to your usually hurried market shopping next time and really take a good look, particularly in the spice aisle, at all of the good stuff you have been missing and may want to try instead of just using the same old stuff. After all, what delight is food without occasional experimentation?

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