Put Down that Shaker: Artisanal Salt
I still remember the first time I tasted good salt. I was in my tiny city apartment with a plate of roasted baby potatoes balanced on my lap, and I sprinkled a little fleur de sel that a friend had brought from France. The potatoes burst with flavor but didn't seem "salty." I was hooked, and threw away that box of iodized salt that was lurking in the pantry. I've been collecting specialty salts ever since, and lucky for me my chef friend Joni Fay Hill just happens to have a salt company. Joni, founder and salt artist, and her business partner Denise Daclan sell incredible salts through their company Saltistry.com. Joni hand blends most of the salts herself – including the to-die-for Tomato Salt, Lime Flake, Lemon Thyme, Mushroom Herb, and Six Pepper. They are fabulous with every ingredient you can imagine - including cocktails! I had a little chat with Joni about the world of salt, but for much more info and recipes check out their website.
GG: What is the biggest misconception people have about salt?
Well, first of all it ISone of the greatest “secret” ingredients in a chef’s arsenal! I think most people underestimate how important salt is in making food taste really great. The other thing that really is misunderstood is that all salt is bad for you. Not all sources of sodium and salt are the same. As far as the body is concerned, there is no connection between the chemically-cleansed sodium chloride table salt you buy in the supermarket, which is added to virtually every processed food you buy, and the mineral rich organic sea salt available in health food stores. One can kill you; the other heals you. In fact, it's essential for life.
GG: What is your favorite salt pairing?
My favorite way to really enjoy a beautifully crafted sea salt is with an heirloom tomato. Slice a summer tomato and a sprinkle of flake salt or fleur de sel and the flavor just bursts in your mouth.
GG: What is the best way to use artisan salts in cooking?
I started Saltistry to make the "gourmet" experience accesible to everyone. Maintaining the texture and diversity of all the different salts from around the world was my first priority but then I wanted to make them more user-friendly for the non-gourmet type. By infusing a pure flavor into each salt I believe it's easier to use them because they are easier to pair with an ingredient. For example, the lime flake salt with watermelon are the perfect match while truffle salt with potatoes couldn't be a better combination. Our motto is "ban the shaker!" Which means replace your salt shaker at the table with our flavor-infused sea salts and every meal will be better than you could imagine.