Remember the days when salt meant only the fine white stuff that poured from the blue cylinder? When I was a kid, I had never heard of sea salt, much less tasted sea salt flavored with coconut marsala.
Thanks goodness I’m not a kid anymore.
A few months ago, a friend walked into our home and stuffed my hands with little jars of colored salts. “Here. You have to try these!” In the midst of welcoming people, I nodded and smiled, looking askance at what appeared to be specimen jars filled with odd flavors. The salts were shoved to the back of the counter by the pile of arriving food and people’s drinks splayed haphazardly about the kitchen. It was only days later that I remembered the salts.
“Bloody Mary?” I said to the Chef.
“That sounds weird,” he harumphed. (He has a sort of stubborn wall up about new food sometimes, which I can tumble down, eventually. And it also allows me to use harumph as a verb.)
“Yeah, but think about it. Tomato, celery, cayenne pepper. You love those.”
A few days later, I opened the Nicoise olive salt. Give me an olive, any time. I was poaching eggs for breakfast. At the last moment, I crushed some of the salt onto my eggs, leaving the Chef’s bare. He noticed, right away.
“Want a taste of mine?”
He loved it. So did I.
Every salt in the Secret Stash collection, at least the ones we have tried, brings a surprise kick to the foods we make, a sort of ohhhhhh! in the mouth. That’s because they’re not flavored salts. They’re infused with real food: vanilla beans; lemon zest; dried lavender; cumin; fresh pineapple juice; ground cardamom. Because the folks who make these salts are dedicated to doing this right, they don’t use any preservatives or un-recognizeable ingredients. And no anti-caking agents, which is good news for those of us who are gluten-free. These are safe.
The people behind Secret Stash? Two folks, partners who worked in a Seattle restaurant that has now folded. Even in these economic times, they are trying hard to do what they love, live a life of food, and make a few moments taste better. Hm. Sounds like someone else I know. Of course we like them.
But the salts really are the story. The Chef ended up liking the Bloody Mary salt, after all. We’ve sprinkled a bit of vanilla salt on top of creme brulees for a surprising bite. I like lavender rosemary salt and jasmine rice. But I always go back to the nicoise olive, especially on the top of bread I’ve baked, just before pulling it out of the oven.
Food just tastes better with salt.
For those of you in Seattle, the Secret Stash folks have a stand at the Sunday Ballard farmers’ market. If you’re not from around here, then you can order on their website.