This is your source for information on premium, unrefined, gourmet salt. Here you will find an ever-changing smorgasbord of entries by
our staff and guest authors about their experiences and love for gourmet salt, references to salt in the news and on the web, and salt application and tasting ideas.
Archive for August, 2009
Posted August 26th, 2009 by Lindsey
Filed under: Alderwood Smoke, Bolivian Rose, brussels sprouts, Chef's Blend, Farmers' Market, Garlic Shallot, Himalayan Pink, Hot Habanero, Murray River, recipe
A basket of fresh brussels sprouts from the Farmers’ Market
Mmm, brussels sprouts (not brussel sprouts, as thought by many). This poor vegetable is loathed by millions of children who are forced to choke it down before being rewarded with dessert. But this disrespected member of the cabbage family has recently been updated to celebrity status. Instead of an overly boiled staple served with equally overcooked pot roast, brussels sprouts are experiencing a renaissance. Take, for example, Iron Chef Michael Symon and his new Detroit restaurant, Roast. I could go on and on about the virtues of this fantastic, meat-centered restaurant, but this post is about the vegetables. One of the non-meat stars on Chef Symon’s menu is the fried brussels sprouts side dish. Deliciously crispy and slightly sweet, these crispy treats are well salted, almost like mini-cabbage fries.
I experienced my rebirth with brussels sprouts last Thanksgiving. The grocery store featured brussels sprouts on the stalk, and I couldn’t resist this cool looking veggies. After exhaustive research, I settled on a recipe that combined sauteed bacon, apple cider vinegar and shredded brussels sprouts. The salty bacon, combined with the sweet, cabbagey brussels sprouts and the tart and tangy cider vinegar…this will be a new, permanent fixture on the Thanksgiving table. But after Thanksgiving, I forgot about brussels sprouts. Until two weeks ago.
While strolling through the Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning, there they were. These perfect, tiny, green orbs. They were much smaller than the fall brussels sprouts, but they looked equally delicious. And a wonderful sauteed brussels sprout dish sounded like a great compliment to pork or chicken off the grill. I took my precious little globes of goodness home with me to experiment.
First up, sauteed. I couldn’t resist the lure of bacon. The bacon/brussels sprouts combination is so enticing. Chop two to three slices of bacon and cook until the fat has melted and the resulting bacon bits are crispy. Remove the bacon bits with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat behind. Start by chopping off the ends, then slicing the brussels sprouts in half from top to bottom. Lay the brussels sprouts cut side down in the pan with the bacon fat, adding olive oil if there is not enough bacon fat left for all the sprouts, and cook for three to five minutes, until the cut sides are brown and beginning to carmelize. At this point, I season generously with one of the milder salts. For me, Murray River is the go to. I love the light, flaky, texture and perfect salt flavor. It melts quickly into a dish and isn’t overpowering. Add about a cup of water to the pan, cover and cook until the brussels sprouts are tender to the tooth, but not mushy. At this point, I uncover the pan to let the rest of the water boil away, add the bacon bits back in and quickly splash of about a tablespoon of apple cider in the pan, tossing the sprouts to coat. Finish with more Murray River or Garlic Shallot for a little extra crunch (Bolivian Rose provides a delicious crunch, too!) This is such a tasty side dish, my mouth is watering.
The following week, I wanted to try something different. Both Ina Garten and Mark Bittman’s How to Eat Everything have roasted brussels sprouts recipe. Roasting is very simple and requires less attention than sauteing. This time, I started with olive oil in an oven proof pan, and again laid my brussels sprouts cut side down in the pan for three to five minutes. Once they started to carmelize, I added about five cloves of garlic and put the pan in the oven at 400 degrees for fifteen minutes. Your cooking time will vary tremendously based on the size of the brussels sprouts, but the goal is dark and crispy on the outside, tender and delicious on the inside. Salt generously with a Beyond the Shaker salt that compliments the crunch; I like Himalayan Pink or peppery Chef’s Blend. For a salty, smoky treat, Alderwood Smoke is a fantastic choice or you can spice them up with Hot Habanero. You can dress this dish up a little with a drizzle of good balsamic vinegar, but they are truly perfect just simple and salty.
Posted August 20th, 2009 by Chris
Filed under: Chicago, news
Thanks to Penny Pollack and Jeff Ruby, the Dining Editors of Chicago Magazine, for their shout out to Beyond the Shaker in the “Links to Do” segment of the magazine’s “Dish” e-newsletter.
If you are not already a subscriber, we would highly recommend it since this is a great newsletter for all things food and Chicago (which is saying a lot).
Although we can’t specifically comment on the suggestion that there is a connection between the names of our salt blends and ‘types of pot’ (see, if you were a Dish subscriber, you would be so in on this joke), we can say that our customers have told us Beyond the Shaker gourmet blends are so darn delicious they could almost be addictive (yes, putting aside all debates about if pot is actually addictive, I think you get the point…it is just a loose analogy).
Anyway, thanks again Chicago Magazine! We at Beyond the Shaker are pleased as punch to be part of the incredible Chicago food community.
Posted August 20th, 2009 by Chris
Filed under: Traverse City, wholesale
Black Star Farms
More great news! You can now find Beyond the Shaker salts and premium blends at Black Star Farms, one of our favorite locations in northern MIchigan with an amazing selection of wine and fine food products.
We are excited to add another wonderful location to the growing list of retail spots where you can purchase our salts.
So get out there, enjoy the rest of the summer (as the weather starts to finally remember it IS summer), drink some wine, and visit Black Star Farms (and geez, don’t forget the salt)!
Posted August 19th, 2009 by Lindsey
Filed under: Chanterelle Vanilla, cravings, flavor, Fleur de Sel, Herb Garden, Hickory Maple, Himalayan Pink, Murray River
Veggies go great with salt!
Why do I crave salt? From time to time, everyone experiences cravings. Cravings can be influenced by culture, by the seasons, by your particular taste buds. A craving may signal a certain nutritional inadequacy or deficiency. My cravings typically tend towards savory foods, and I often crave salt. But why? Why do we crave salt? There is a biological theory, but I have another theory too.
Intense salt cravings can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition such as an adrenal insufficiency. Salt cravings can also mean your body is lacking something that it thinks it can get from salt, such as certain minerals that are found in salt. But wait, there are minerals in salt? Well that depends on the kind of salt. Regular table salt has been processed to remove its natural minerals. Therefore, if you are craving minerals, processed salt will not fulfill what the body desires. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Beyond the Shaker Pure Foundation Salts such as Himalayan Pink and Murray River contain naturally occurring minerals that the body associates with salt.
I have yet another theory why we crave salt. Because it makes our food delicious! Many of us live in a bland, underseasoned world. What we crave perhaps isn’t salt, but rather the bright, vibrant flavors that come alive to us when salt is used properly. What we crave is chicken that tastes like chicken. We want chicken that was raised on a farm, eating grass and seeds and bugs. A chicken that is not only cooked properly but seasoned well to highlight its juiciness. Salt is the light that illuminates those flavors. Simple Fleur de Sel is enough, or you can elevate it to the next level with Hickory Maple or Chanterelle Vanilla. What we crave is a tomato. Not a mealy, watery red vegetable from the grocery store, but a beautiful, meaty, sun-ripened tomato that was grown in natural soil and raised with water and sunlight. A tomato that has been seasoned with Murray River or Herb Garden Blend, perhaps splashed with a little aged balsamic vinegar.
Our cravings are a signal, a mental response to the bodies needs or desires. Sometimes, they are biological. But often they are more primitive. The need, in fact the hunger, for something more, something better, something to satisfy both the palate and the soul. Salt soothes the craving and nourishes the body.
Posted August 16th, 2009 by Chris
Filed under: Chicago, news
NBC Chicago Article
NBC Chicago mentions the Beyond the Shaker launch and website in its “Around the Town – Food & Drink” feature on its website. Thanks Wendy Wollenberg for the kind words and coverage! Make sure to indicate you are “intrigued” if you are able to get over to Wollenberg’s story.
And watch for more exciting news from Beyond the Shaker over the next couple weeks as we continue to be added to retail locations across the Midwest.
Posted August 12th, 2009 by Lindsey
Filed under: Farmers' Market, French Herb, Garlic Shallot, recipe, zucchini
Zucchini is yummy.
One of my culinary obsessions (besides salt!) is the Farmers’ Market. The bounty of fresh fruits, vegetables and meats inspires me to get in the kitchen and experiment with new ingredients. Vegetables that I ordinarily find less than appealing call out to me as they sit in large piles, overflowing the folding tables at our local Farmer’s Market. One of the vegetables that I ordinarily eschew on my plate is zucchini. Typically, zucchini is part of some mixed vegetable medley served by a restaurant that doesn’t particularly care about its vegetable side dish. This zucchini sits limply and blandly next to a delicious protein that has been lovingly crafted by a caring kitchen staff. Then the vegetables, as an afterthought, are steamed, seasoned with a few dried flakes of thyme and shipped off to my plate, to be pushed aside for the food I actually want to eat. The lack of seasoning combined with a mushy, watery texture…ugh, zucchini.
Yet somehow I forget all of this when I see the beautiful, green zucchini recently harvested by a favorite local farmer. Suddenly zucchini looks appetizing and enticing, and I must buy several of them because how can I live without zucchini?!?! Then I get home, unload my bags and survey the results. Wait, zucchini? I don’t even like zucchini. What was I thinking? Okay, deep breath. Time for a pep talk: you are a fairly competent home cook…it’s just a vegetable..you know how to make it delicious. Just because some restaurant steams it to death doesn’t mean I have to treat it with such disrespect.
With trepidation, I slice the zucchini into rounds and cut it into quarters. Tasting it raw, I realize this is a delicious, crunchy, slightly sweet vegetable that has suffered an injustice at the hands of the ubiquitous vegetable medley. Now, it is up to me to remedy this travesty and treat this lovely green squash with respect and admiration. I heat some olive oil with fresh, minced garlic and added about two teaspoons of Garlic Shallot Salt. I let a little of the salt dissolve in the oil, but there were still plenty of salt crystals remaining to add the crunch I desired. Once the oil reaches a nice temperature where the garlic was sautéing, but not burning, I add the zucchini and sautée it for about five minutes. I wanted to retain the crunchy texture, but still infuse it with the garlic, salty goodness. During the last minute of cooking, I added about two teaspoons of butter, a little more Garlic Shallot Salt for good measure and a few sprinkles of fresh thyme from my garden. The result? A glorious vegetable side dish with little resemblance to the mushy abomindation I knew as zucchini.
This zucchini tasted fresh and firm, with a little extra crunch from the Garlic Shallot Salt and a smooth, succulent mouth feel from the butter. I am converted. Bring on the zucchini! Since that first experiment, I have followed the same cooking method described above with French Herb Garden instead of Garlic Shallot Salt. Reserve all of the salt for finishing the dish rather than adding some at the beginning of the cooking process. The thyme, lavender, rosemary and black truffle add a tremendous earthiness to the zucchini. This side dish is delicious with simple broiled fish or grill pork chops. This cooking method has served me well during a summer of zucchini. I’m so happy there is still time left in the zucchini season; I have more salts to try!
Posted August 11th, 2009 by Chris
Filed under: Traverse City, wholesale
We are pleased to announce that Beyond the Shaker gourmet blended salts are now available at Bower’s Harbor Vineyards in Traverse City, Michigan. Bower’s Harbor has always been one of our favorite spots to visit in northwestern Michigan, with its family run winery looking onto Lake Michigan. Bower’s offers award winning Pinot Grigio, Riesling and Chardonnay wines, and you now obtain your fill of Beyond the Shaker salts as well!
There is still lots of time left in summer, so if you can swing it, get yourself up to Bower’s Harbor Vineyards as soon as possible, and tell them the folks at Beyond the Shaker say, “THANKS!”
Posted August 10th, 2009 by Chris
Filed under: Fleur de Sel, Salt Paradox, Sel Gris
While recently dining at a new Chicago restaurant (which will go unnamed for reasons that will be apparent) I was struck by the culinary irony represented by the little glass salt shaker in front of me. So common place and at home at restaurants across the country in an almost identical form – a square-edged jar of tapered glass topped by a bulbous silver cap riddled with holes and imprinted with “stainless steel.” Yep, you have seen the one. We all have. About a billion+ times.
Even more remarkable though, is that this undifferentiated format for delivering factory processed salt has graced the tables of every quality of restaurant imaginable, and regardless of the culinary venue, the same little glass jar serves as a device to administer table salt- be it the greasy spoon diner in Wyoming, the McDonalds (with giant “play-land” attached) in the middle of Michigan, or the finest five-star restaurant smack dab in foodie mecca. It is always the same. In many ways, this icon unites restaurant customers in a metaphysical web of culinary connectivity and serves as a common marker of how to access the ‘salt’ we crave. Clearly we are more intelligent than that, and so if all of a sudden table salt started appearing in a square orange box at our favorite restaurants, my guess is that we would still be able to figure out where to find salt (hopefully).
What this all means is that the iconic jar with silver lid is not the common thread, but instead it is the contents of the vessel which ties our gastronomic dining experiences together. It is table salt itself that is the common denominator. Five star restaurant to five dollar foot long, the very same processed table salt finds its way into these varied establishments of food. Anyway, if you have followed to this point, and since I suspect to be referring to this concept often, I’ll assign it a name- the “Salt Paradox.”
For the love of god, get this guy a Beyond the Shaker Tasting packet!
Getting back to the story, the food that I was eating at this Chicago restaurant was simply incredible….for those folks that rank their meals (oh, you are so busted), this was easily one of the best dinners I had consumed in Q2 2009. And it should have been! The prices were about as outrageous as the dishes being served. It was as if the restaurant was trying to provide indisputable evidence that the saying “you get what you pay for” is completely true. The one quibble I had with the dining experience, which centered around the finest local, sustainable, organic ingredients available, was that it lacked salt. The flavors were all good, but very muted. A sprinkle of naturally yummy, yet shockingly simple, Fleur de Sel or Sel Gris would take the meal from great to
Being a salt-erpenuer (wow that was a bad one), you would think I would have loads of salt ‘Tastings’ in every little pocket on my person – just standing at the ready to correct this flavor injustice. Unfortunately, I was plum cleared out of Tastings since dinner was a stop off after having attended an event earlier in the evening (where I met several amazing food-focused companies that had launched in Chicago…more on that later). So there I was….salt deprived but knowing that my meal was on the precipice of perfection if only I could amplify the flavors and right this deficiency with the taste-force of salinity…
Posted August 9th, 2009 by Lindsey
Filed under: Bolivian Rose, chef, Chicago, Hawaiian Black Lava, Himalayan Pink, Red Alaea, restaurant, steak
Bolivian Rose Salt, looking all pink and salty.
Recently, I enjoyed a fantastic lunch at David Burke’s Primehouse in Chicago. This “modern” steakhouse celebrates all the classics with a contemporary interpretation. Unlike a typical, clubby steakhouse with its dark leather and paneled walls (which certainly has its own special place in my heart), David Burke’s Primehouse greets the guest with a cool, quiet atmosphere, illuminated by large windows and bright, modern artwork. As part of David Burke’s contemporary cuisine, he utilizes fresh, innovative ingredients. Lots of chefs do that; it’s the hip part of today’s food culture. But what did David Burke do that stuck out in my mind, that warranted a blog post? He used gourmet salt, of course.
His respect for our favorite ingredient was immediately apparent when the warm, light, airy popovers were presented to the table. A plate of delicious, softened butter studded with sparkly gems of Himalayan Salt invited the diner to go ahead, butter that popover. Not only was the popover mouthwatering and delectable, but the butter was perfectly salted with the Himalayan Salt. More importantly, this little addition, this tiny sprinkling of Himalayan Salt spoke to me. It said, this chef respects his ingredients. He doesn’t just respect the steak, but the popovers and the butter. If you’ve read the SaltScribe or the SaltGuide, you understand that many chefs and home cooks strive to use premium ingredients only to season them with chemical-laden, industrial manufactured salts. This little sprinkle of color and flavor on the butter signaled respect not only for the diner, but for the diner’s palate and the ingredients themselves. Once the appetizer arrived, I knew this restaurant was serious in its respect for salt. The silky Kobe beef sashimi lay draped over a block of Himalayan Pink Salt. The Himalayan Pink block infused the sashimi with the perfect amount of seasoning to highlight the amazing flavor. Later, I learned that not only does David Burke serve his sashimi on a Himalayan Salt block, but his steaks are aged in a Himalayan Pink Salt tiled room. How cool is that?
The next morning, I recalled each tasty, salty bite of my delicious meal while sipping coffee with the Today Show quietly playing the background. Then I heard the magical word that always puts me on high alert…Salt! Standing behind a gorgeous plate of gourmet salt on the Today Show was Chef Govind Armstrong! (Check out his demonstration here) He demonstrated a lovely salt-crusted sea bass (a perfect application for Beyond the Shaker Bolivian Rose, Red Alaea or Hawaiian Black Lava!) and chatted with Ann Curry about the importance of good salt. Ann has recently tasted and loved Truffle Salt…perhaps we should send her some of ours! As the show broke for a commercial broke, I felt extremely satisfied. We at Beyond the Shaker know in our hearts and our mouths the importance of salt. To see chefs and restaurants and mainstream morning television embrace this culinary cornerstone made me smile. And made me hungry…
Posted August 8th, 2009 by Chris
Filed under: cargo, crate, crystal, Michigan, wholesale
Crystal Crate & Cargo Storefront
Starting at the end of the week of August 10, 2009, we are pleased to announce that Crystal Crate & Cargo of Beulah in beautiful northwestern Michigan will begin to carry our full line of Beyond the Shaker salts.
Although I did not get to personally meet with the proprietor, our sales representatives tell me the store is quite unique with a fantastic collection of engaging products. Of course this sounds like the perfect store to handle our premium unrefined salts and gourmet blends, and we couldn’t be happier to have Crystal Crate & Cargo as a customer.
If you are in the Beulah area, we highly recommend you stop by the store, check out this wonderful store and say hi to our salts. And if you take a picture in front of Crate & Cargo, and we will post it to this blog!