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.
Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’
Posted August 8th, 2010 by Chris
Filed under: Chicago, retail
We are very proud to be part of the exciting launch of City Provisions Deli in Chicago, Illinois. Cleetus Friedman is mastermind behind City Provisions, and we think his concept will be well received when it opens later in August 2010.
As you can see from picture gallery in the link, Beyond the Shaker salts will be part of the amazing retail selection Friedman has assembled. I especially enjoy the idea of a pre-made picnic basket near the train line that heads to Ravinia. We wish Friedman all the luck in the world and can’t wait to stop by and see the local and sustainable foods he has to offer. City Provisions Deli is located at 1816 West Wilson, 773-293-2489.
Posted January 25th, 2010 by Chris
Filed under: Chicago, event, merchandise mart, news, unrefined salt
Had an amazing weekend at the Chicago Merchandise Mart (dang that thing is big) Gift and Giving Show. Thanks everyone that came out to meet us and taste our distinctive unrefined salts and handmade blends. Chef Eric and our wonderful Chicago representative, Janelle (email@example.com) did Beyond the Shaker proud with lots of in-person time for potential retail sellers.
The show goes until until January 26th so feel free to stop by and try some of the ridiculously simple gourmet offerings that Chef Eric has whipped up with Beyond the Shaker unrefined salts and handmade blends. The most interesting revelation from my time at the show was a. there is a lot of ‘get rich quick’ products out there (fancy desserts in a fricking preservative-filled bottle that you can make at home in your microwave…uh, no thanks!) b. folks are concerned about sodium intake, and c. fear of the strength of the economy, especially in the midwest, continues to shackle growth.
To point c., it is time to take a stance and jump in with both feet. We are in an incredibly unique situation in time and economic history, so rather than tucking away funds under an aged mattress, use that money to grow and build. Enough. I say this not as a producer, but as a consumer. We have languished for long enough, and now is the time to move forward. Come on! And heck, unrefined salt is a great cause (health, culinary, and otherwise) in many ways, so spreading the word by purchasing or reselling our products cannot be half bad, right!?
Anyway, here is another picture from the show. Enjoy!
Chef Eric Talking Up Our Gourmet Salts
Posted October 17th, 2009 by Chris
Filed under: Chicago, natural, refined salt
Living in Chicago, it is almost impossible not to notice the giant “Morton’s Salt” sign brazen across the cityscape view. This is the center of a polar opposite world standing in stark contrast to Beyond the Shaker. Coincidentally, this mammoth factory is mere blocks away from my condo but surprisingly I have never driven past it…UNTIL TODAY!
As I neared the factory, that must have been sitting on at least half a city block of land, I was in shock at how large this production facility is…especially up close. Driving by it from high atop the highway that circles Chicago does not do the sheer size of the place justice. The other characteristic that surprised me was truly how much this facility was an actual factory (the way that I had envisioned at least such a salt factory to be…not being an expert, I honestly have no clue). If you look closely at the photo I shot from the car on my iphone, you will notice forklifts moving pallets around which presumably contain refined table salt in one of its stages of processing. In fact, I was partially expecting to see some little oompa loompas scurrying to and fro amongst amongst the giant salt works of the factory floor (for you info buffs, oompa loompa is defined by the Urban Dictionary as a girl/woman who wears too much fake tanning solution…which seems fitting for some reason).
We at Beyond the Shaker are not in the business of preaching about the health benefits of naturally occurring sea salts versus processed table salt. In fact, we do not even believe refined salt is in the same category, nor is it a competitor to our all-natural products. That being said/written, we do receive from time to time questions about the differences between our salts and refined table salt. And so here is our take on it: The real distinction between the naturally harvested unrefined sea salts at Beyond the Shaker (our Pure Foundation Collection) and the other stuff a.k.a., refined table salt, is in the name…simply put, refined salts endure intense commercial processing to make them more suitable for mass production and consumption.
During factory processing, rock salt or sea salt is put through a chemical transformation that strips the salt of its natural mineral content. Sea salts in their natural form can contain up to 60+ trace minerals plus countless macro-nutrients which give these salts their distinctive color, flavor and texture (not to mention potential health benefits from the mineral content).
On the other hand, the goal of such factory processing is to be left simply with a white powder that is easy to store and has an infinite shelf life. In commercial salt production, the chemical change described above occurs when rock salt is superheated driving almost all natural minerals out of the ‘salt’ leaving just sodium and chloride. Typically bleaching agents are also added in this stage of the processing to give the salt a sterile white color.
As a further step in the refinement process, anti-caking chemicals are infused into table salt to allow the salt to resist moisture content that would otherwise reduce its shelf life. Why are anti-caking agents bad (shouldn’t it be obvious that anything which is not PRO cake must be wrong?! hahaha. )? First, these chemicals interfere with the natural taste of the salt, and in fact can sometimes create a very bitter flavor which then must be counteracted by the addition of sugar to the factory processed salt. Odd but unfortunately true. Second, putting aside the fact that anti-caking agents interfere with the natural flavor of the salt, the other problem is that commonly these anti-caking agents are either alumino-calcium silicate or sodium alumino-silicate. Both chemicals can be found in household air freshners and latex paint (yummy!). There are some that say excess aluminum in the human diet can have negative health ramifications as well. Regardless, we certainly do not want these chemicals in our salt or food!
In a nutshell that is the world of refined salt for you. We are sticking with the all natural stuff, and we hope you chose to do so as well. And next time you are in the Chicago-area, feel free to drive by the Morton’s factory to see if you can spot any oompa loompas lurking amongst the vats of table salt.
Posted October 5th, 2009 by Chris
Filed under: bacon, Chicago, gourmet food, semiramis
At Beyond the Shaker we’ve had some
good ridiculously amazing meals. And of course, had some great conversations about food with fantastic friends. Mix it all together in the ideal proportions with a bit of vino (hey, we all drove and so a ‘bit’ was certainly reasonable), and you have Monday, September 28th, 2009 at 8pm CT at Semiramis in Chicago, Illinois (ok, I was a bit late to the party, so call it 8:23pm).
On that particularly rainy autumn evening (OH MAN WAS THE RAIN COMING DOWN), I was set to meet a few dynamic business owners from the Chicago-area to chat about our mutual experiences launching gourmet food companies. I was joined by Scott and Una from Fino Products, an importer of incredibly delicious Croatian olive oil sold under the San Gurmano brand, and Elizabeth, an invaluable supporter/savior of Beyond the Shaker, and the brilliant life force behind Octavia Tea, a premium loose tea company.
As soon as we were seated, Joseph, a long-time friend, and the executive chef and proprietor at Semiramis, stopped by our table to highlight some of the many delicious menu items available for our gastronomic pleasure. Seriously, if you like food as we do (and if you don’t like food, 1. why the heck are you reading this?!, 2. what the heck is wrong with you?!, and 3. how the heck are you alive?!), it certainly makes sense to have friends in the food industry!
To jump start the meal, Joseph hooked us up with tasty delights like the fresh and tangy Fattoush salad (a flavorful contrast in textures spanning from diced cucumber to crisp toasted pita bread) and the incredible Vegetarian Plate. Please let me break it down for you…try to follow, if you dare/can. Garlicky hummus? BUT OF COURSE! crazy-good tabbouleh? YEPPERS! the best darn falafel this side (or any side, really) of the Mississippi? OH GOSH YES! dolmas (putting another nested parenthetical in here probably disturbs the grammarians (oh yeah, I got some skillz in vocab), but for the uninitiated, this is a grape leaf stuffed with rice tomatoes, mint and other goodies, and then cooked in olive oil with an accompaniment of yogurt)? DOLMAS, DON’T YOU KNOW IT! and smokey eggplant baba ghannouj? YOU BET YOUR SWEET GHANNOUJ IT IS INCLUDED IN THIS FEAST OF YUM!
Ok, now that you have re-read that last paragraph for the tenth time, you probably have an appreciation for how much we all dug the Vegetarian Plate. It almost makes me wish I was a vegetarian. Wait…oh no…here it comes…Bacon. Steak. Bacon. Lobster. Bacon. Lamb. Bacon. Duck. Bacon. Crab. Bacon. Chicken. Bacon. Trout. Bacon. Scallops. Bacon. Turkey. Bacon. Shrimp. BACON. Drats. Never mind.
The conversation amongst the diners this evening was lively. Perhaps it was the wine, the gorgeous food, or the rain. Regardless, it was one of those special nights that is hard to capture in words. As food folk often have samples in tow, we exchanged goods like surnames – olive oil, tea and salt were strewn across our table in a rainbow of flavor (skittles be damned). The merits of packaging design, wholesale pricing, and food demonstrations were discussed in detail. The ‘why’ of the food start-ups was debated and deliberated. Philosophies of marketing were communally pondered. AND my god, was it fun.
Here I was in the epicenter of creation at the precipice of an erroneously identified dormant culinary tectonic. A gosh darn shame is that when experiencing a moment in time, the actual moment is perhaps lost, and so in a sly (oh yeah, it bordered on a 007 maneuver with freaking ‘dropped’ bread as a distraction), I texted myself “thes is fun” (misspelling included at no extra cost). Yep, a basic message to be sure, but enough to evoke at a later date/time the spark of internal excitement which was felt as I ate ridiculously good food, had amazing conversations, and witnessed the seeds of an exciting gastronomic future.
The dinner progressed, we had amazing entrees, we conversed and eventually (reluctantly) disbanded. To experience and personally understand the passion of those amongst us that work around the clock for the golden ring, whatever it may be, is something special. And so it was an inspired evening with an outline for the most simple of guides to culinary happiness – eat at Semiramis, buy some crusty bread to eat with great olive oil and an equally great salt, and wash it down with a fantastic tea. Yep. That is the ticket for sure.
Posted September 4th, 2009 by Lindsey
Filed under: Chicago, news
Chris, our founder and attorney extraordinaire, is featured in a fantastic article in the AmLaw Daily. Thank you to Francesca Heintz for this wonderful piece. We are so excited that Chris is being recognized, and that BTS has been introduced to lawyers everywhere!
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 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 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 June 22nd, 2009 by monika
Filed under: Chicago, hot dog, Windy City Celery
Chicago is proud of its culinary traditions, and no visit to the Second City is complete without an authentic Chicago-style Hot Dog. Historians trace its origins to famed Maxwell Street in the late 1920′s, where it earned the nickname “the Depression Sandwich.” A less expensive lunch option, customers got a Vienna Beef weiner with a “garden” on top – supplying both meat and veggies. Today, stands selling these legendary dogs are more prevalent in the city than any other national fast food chain.
As a Chicagoan born and bred, I have eaten plenty of Chicago-style dogs over the years, but have never made one in the comfort of my own home. When I obtained the Windy City Celery Blend from Beyond the Shaker, I knew it was time to go for it. First, the necessary ingredients:
- Steamed poppy seed hot dog bun
- All beef hot dog (steamed, preferably Vienna Beef)
- Yellow mustard
- Chopped white onion (raw)
- Sweet pickle relish (traditionally in a neon green hue)
- Sport peppers
- Tomato wedges
- Crisp kosher dill pickle spear
- Dash of celery salt
Assembling the hot dog took a bit of work – that’s a lot to put on one bun! Once all the condiments were on the dog, I topped it off with the Windy City Celery Blend. The difference here is that Beyond the Shaker’s blend is not your typical celery salt – our chef goes a step further and adds shallots, jalapenos, mustard seeds, garlic, and Murray River Salt to create a gourmet blend that will make your Chicago-style hot dog better than the original. My advice? Pick up the Windy City Celery Blend and make a hot dog for yourself! Just remember – no ketchup allowed!