Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Salt Spectrum

At a recent outing in Eagle Rock, we experienced a unique appetizer at the fine veggie restaurant, Fatty's. The dish was Roasted Name Root with three Artisinal Salts for dipping. Part of me scoffed at ordering a $9 appetizer that's basically salt and a starchy vehicle, but the curious salt lover in me said what the hell.

An artful arrangement of transculent pink, smokey grey and pristine white salt crystals arrived at our table plated in little piles with starchy cubes that could have passed for home fries. A printed piece of paper with a list of the salt varieties came with:
"Pink: Hawaii's Alaea Clay Salt
White: Japan's Jewel of the Sea
Grey: Denmark's Viking Smoked Sea Salt"

The taste variations were definitely detectable from nutty to floral to smokey, but the dish itself had more of a novelty factor than anything else. It's clear the best uses for these sublime salt options are to finish a simple dish, such as Crudites or Roasted Veggies.

If you are looking to expand your salt collection beyond Morton's and into the realm of color, there are many options at local grocers and specialty food shops. My local epicurean shop carries 12 different varieties of salt including a dark pink Hawaiian Clay Salt and a lighter rose-hued Himalayan. Williams Sonoma offers a collection of six Finishing Salts for $29.

Note: Love salt and you're a history buff? Then you have to pick up Mark Kurlansky's fascinating retelling of world history through the eyes of Salt.

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