May 21, 2013 #1135 The Many Colors of Salt
The oldest seasoning in the world is also the most important. And that would be salt. Most of us grew up with the blue Morton's salt box, but many of us have graduated to the more interesting sea salt and kosher salt. But that's only the beginning of the story.
We've asked Liz Nuttal of En Olivier to join us to explain the wide variety of salt available. En Olivier (off Falls Road, just opposite Princeton Sports and near Attwood's, 410-823-6457) is one of our favorite stores. They carry an amazing assortment of super high quality olive oils and balsamic vinegars, along with a tempting collection of gourmet treats. Specialty salts are a specialty, and Liz brought an entire lineup of exotic salts for us to try.
Alaea is the traditional sea salt of Hawaii. It bears traces of reddish iron oxide absorbed from the local clay. A coarse grained salt, it is excellent on roasts and in rubs.
Bolivian Rose comes from the Andes and is the number one gourmet salt. Soft pink color, mild in flavor, loaded with traces of mineral flavor.
Fleur de Sel de L'ile de Re is the best of the superb French sea salts. Large crystals bring a real punch of salty flavor, so a little goes a long way. Unsurpassed as a finishing salt.
Himalayan Pink does come from deep in the mountains of Nepal, and can range in color from off-white to deep pink. Some call it the purest salt available. Medium grained with a strong nuanced flavor.
Murray River is a delicate, pink flake salt from Australia. Very mild and unobtrusive, it is a good finishing salt that doesn't call attention to itself.
Trapanni Fiore de Sale from Sicily is one of the world's oldest continually mined sources of salt. Large grained and intense, it is prized by chefs around the world.
Danish Viking Smoked is a very dark grey salt that delivers the flavors that it promises. The smokiness persists in a recipe and is useful to give a slight smokey nudge to food.
Halen Mon taha'a vanilla salt comes to us from Wales. The large brown flakes of salt are moist and indeed redolent of vanilla. But don't try to use this salt to add vanilla flavor! It would take a ridiculous amount to get the job done. Still, it does have enormous presence in a dish.
Hanalei Jade, another Hawaiin, does have a pale green cast to it. Super fine and quite mild, it is a good choice when you need to be sure your salt is going to melt away.
All of these salts and many more are available at En Olivier. Stop in and indulge yourself.