I believe that is the first thing I ever heard my friend John Adler say to me... the things we remember. (He is now an awesome chef, having worked at Blue Hill at Stone Barnes, Per Se, and now at Franny's in Brooklyn. If you are not an East Coaster, those are AMAZING places to have worked.)
Anyhoo, I am writing this entry solely because of salt. And I think I have mentioned these before, only I haven't posted that blog yet (yes, sometimes I write in advance and save it for a day I am hungover, ill, have made a frozen pizza, or some other form of brain-dead.)
I have always been more of a sweet-tooth girl. Bring on the chocolate, the mints, the ice cream, the cake, the ice-cream-cake... you get the idea. I love french fries, but really I only need a few to satisfy my craving. When I want salt, I usually go for a couple corn chips with salsa or some such.
THIS however, is a whole other world of salt. It is the manna of salt. The mecca of salt. And yes, I got a birthday-in at Per Se when John was working there and had any number of different fancy salts, ranging from white to gray to pink and volcanic this-that... but I say the hell with those!!!
These salts are fantastic, and if you are only a mediocre cook, they can change your LIFE!
Or at least your perception of your own skills.
Let me start over with a little background. About two years ago, my sister-in-law gave me a trio of flavored "finishing" salts for Christmas. I was skeptical, because so many "flavored" salts and oils are full of chemicals and just don't come out right and aren't worth the high blood pressure. Also, they said not to cook directly with them, but rather to "finish" you meal with them. I thought, but then how do I cook beforehand without making the whole dish too salty? Because I can't imagine cooking meat without salting it at least a little beforehand. Well, to my amazement, these salts were superb, and it all works if you are a bit sparing with your kosher salt starting out.
Katie (Sis-in-law) gave me a trio of Niçoise Olive, Bloody Mary, and Lavender Rosemary finishing salts. And they are all 100% natural. No chemicals, just dehydrated ingredients mixed with quality sea salt. I have not begun to figure out all the ways in which to utilize them, but they have opened a new world of cooking for me when I get stuck.
For example: pork tenderloin. I love pork tenderloin, but it seems to be one of those dishes that you either need a really elaborate marinade for, or everyone just tells you to use garlic and rosemary. Well, Mike and I only like our rosemary in small doses, so that isn't the best flavor solution. And neither do I like to do a generic gravy over it because you lose some of the delicacy of flavor and texture when it's just buried under white wine and shallots. It may as well be chicken then.
But the Lavender Rosemary salt is delicate and also complex, and so makes the meat take on new depths.
And no, I'm not getting any kickbacks from them.
I just recently went back to their website and discovered they had come out with a few new ones. Admittedly, there are a few I will shy away from, not really feeling them (*Cumin Pineapple Chili?!?! ). However, there are OTHERS that I ordered right away. Namely:
Truffle salt (soooooooooo good, but really strong. Not for the faint-hearted truffle-like-er)
& Chorizo salt - there aren't words. There just aren't.
*I take it back. That one now sounds really good on some outdoor grilled meat. Hmmm...
Now, a story:
There was this restaurant down-the-shore (yes, a Jersey phrase) called Europa's that my family would go to some Summers. And the only thing I remember about it was ordering the Spanish Sausage appetizer. It was literally just little discs of chorizo in garlic oil, and it was sublime. Of course, I was 8, so I had no idea what chorizo was, or that I was just eating a sliced up sausage. I just knew I really liked that dish.
The same goes with this salt.
I made a pork tenderloin tonight, very simply, and then used my two new salts as dippers for flavor, just to experiment.
My kitchen will never be the same again.
Neither will my blood pressure.
I'm going to have to decide each day whether I can have miso soup or if I'm going to make dinner with the flavoring salts, because I'm going to OD on sodium if I do both.
And like an ASS, I ordered the chorizo salt in the tester 1 oz. size, instead of the usual 3.5 oz.
WHAT WAS I THINKING?!!?!?
Anyhoo, if you cook, and if you like salt, go forth. Go forth and order these amazing salts, and thank me later. Because you will*.
*Note: I have only tried the ones mentioned. If you order the Apple 5 Spice or Cherry Pistachio and think they are not up your alley, do not blame me for sending you there, because I don't know about those first hand. I have only tried the 5 I mentioned, and I enjoy them all greatly. And if you don't like the ones I mentioned... what is WRONG with you???
**Bloomberg and whatever Brooklyn FOOL is trying to ban all salt from food in NYC: You are wrong. You are absurd (hello, ever tried to bake without salt?) and you really need to try these salts and instead just do some damned cardio!