Saturday, March 17, 2007

Oak-Smoked Chardonnay Sea Salt

The latest trend for gourmands? Salt! All sorts, not just pricey French fleur de sels are hot these days including everything from Himalayan pink to Hawaiian orange and black. These salts gain their vibrant colors and slight flavor variations from minerals both in natural salt flats and saltwater seas. Foodies are even learning to make their own flavored and infused salts.

My latest treat? Fumee de sel -- sea salt flavored with smoke from French chardonnay barrels. The smoke creates an intensely flavored grey salt with a smokey flavor and aroma from smoldering chardonnay casks. It's perfect for a quick sprinkle over mushroom cream sauces, potatoes, seafood, poultry, and even Caesar salad with anchovies. It's also spectacular as part of a salt and pepper crust for steaks and in Bloody Marys. I found mine at Williams-Sonoma where they call it "salt smoke" instead of "smoked salt", neither of which sound as exotic as "fumee de sel". (Thanks to Karl Benko for the pointer. He found it first!)

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Um,,, I really don't get the expensive salts at all.
It's sodium. One of the simplest compounds on earth. In fact "pink salt" and all the sea salts with colors and extra crap in them are considered "impure" in every other part of the world. And not to knock W/S - but every fat wallet - can't make an omelet - north sider crams into that place on the weekends to blow the 2nd mortgage on stuff I wouldn't allow in my kitchen in the first place.

A $400.00 toaster. Jeez, I like me some toast - but not as much as 1/2 of a college course (or a cooking class for that matter). I even live in Keystone and the joke this week is "don't go out on 82nd - tax checks just came in". It was absolute mayhem as people emptied their bank accounts on $290.00 crepe pans that will never see the heat of a burner or crepe batter for that matter.

It's catchy yes, but in my opinion it is not great basic cooking that embodies what I like most about food in the first place.

braingirl said...

I'm not advocating $400 toasters just because I linked to some salt from W/S. Sometimes W/S has stuff, you know.

Have you tried any true fumee de sels? Because they really are completely different -- it made a huge difference in both the pate I made last week and the stuffing for the bird. Sure, it's just salt, but sometimes that little extra flavor really comes through.

I feel the same about infused salts which, yes, can be made with $2.99 a box Morton's kosher salt.