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Maldon Salt

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Maldon Salt

by Jenise » Sun Sep 24, 2006 4:31 pm

Long a fan of sea salts and fleur de sels, I've bought and tried many. and from the grays of Normandy to the pinks of Australia's Murray River, I've liked all but one which was so excessivly salty I had to use it very sparingly, which defeats the whole thing as far as I'm concerned. I prize these salts--which for the unintiated are typically sprinkled on top vs. mixed in--as much for texture as for taste.

But I'm a newcomer to Maldon Salt, the very white salt from England (I remember being told this is its natural color). A former habitue of this site was a big fan, so I can't plead ignorance as an excuse, it's just something I didn't get around to finding and buying until recently when I was getting low on whatever it was I was using at the time--there's always a crock of special salt on the countertop tray that also holds the pepper grinders and raw sugar. And I'm sorry I waited so long to get around to it.

BECAUSE I LOVE THIS SALT! It seems to have both a lower salinity and larger crystals--actually, they're flakes--that impart a delicate crunch (for me, the most captivating texture on the planet) to whatever they're sprinkled over, like the orange honeydew melon I just ate for lunch. This salt is, for my tastes, a step above most, and it has made this season of home grown tomatoes and splendidly ripe summer melons feel like I've discovered fleur de sel all over again. I prefer it to all the rest.

Which I would at any price but here's a bonus: it's cheap. IIRC, I paid less than $10 for this good sized box (maybe a pound?--I can't check because the box went out when I emptied it into my crock) which makes it about half the price of the lowest priced salts I've bought from elsewhere.

Splendid product, highly recommended.
Last edited by Jenise on Mon Sep 25, 2006 11:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Maldon Salt

by Karen/NoCA » Sun Sep 24, 2006 9:05 pm

Jenise,
I just checked my boxes of Maldon, they are 8.5 oz and I paid $7.95 each for them. So, if you got a pound for 10.00 that is great. I buy mine at the Oakville Grocery in the Napa Valley. They mail it right away after I place my order. I've been using this salt for about 3 years. Love it.
Like you, I love to try different types of salt. Right now, I have a lemon infused salt and a coarse smoked salt that I am playing with.
I ran out of the Maldon in my wooden salt box I keep by my stove, and decided to fill it with Brittany Natural Sea Salt. It is a coarse salt, grainy and moist, more like a salt you would sprinkle on at the finish.
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Re: Maldon Salt

by Mike Filigenzi » Mon Sep 25, 2006 12:45 am

I'm a big fan of Maldon's, too. For the price, it's the best stuff out there. We use it for most of our finishing and we put it in a grinder for table use.

Another one we came across recently is one called "Salfiore di Romagna". It's a flaky Italian salt (and please, no jokes about "flaky Italians" in general) that's made for the Pope. It's priced a little higher than Maldon, I think, and not quite as good. But it is fun to tell people that they're using Pope salt...


Mike
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Re: Maldon Salt

by ChefCarey » Tue Sep 26, 2006 3:12 pm

This kind of esoterica is where "foodies" start losing me. Sorry, folks, but most folks tastebuds can't tell the difference between the taste of salt and pepper.

Oh, I cook with sea salt and have it for the table, too.
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Re: Maldon Salt

by Stuart Yaniger » Tue Sep 26, 2006 3:57 pm

Texture counts for a lot. I wouldn't use this for salting pasta water, but for sprinking on top of things, it's great, noticeably better than run-of-the-mill salt.
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Re: Maldon Salt

by ChefCarey » Tue Sep 26, 2006 4:37 pm

Stuart Yaniger wrote:Texture counts for a lot. I wouldn't use this for salting pasta water, but for sprinking on top of things, it's great, noticeably better than run-of-the-mill salt.


Yeah, yeah, I know...if the local Penzey's guy is to be believed, though, none of his customers can tell the difference between th e$6.00 gray sea salt and the $35.00 exotics. Of couse, that's off the record. I like kosher salt for the texture myself.
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Re: Maldon Salt

by Jenise » Wed Sep 27, 2006 2:43 pm

ChefCarey wrote:This kind of esoterica is where "foodies" start losing me. Sorry, folks, but most folks tastebuds can't tell the difference between the taste of salt and pepper.

Oh, I cook with sea salt and have it for the table, too.


Chef, you've been in the kitchen too long. Buy some Maldon salt--it really IS different.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Maldon Salt

by ChefCarey » Wed Sep 27, 2006 3:51 pm

Jenise wrote:
ChefCarey wrote:This kind of esoterica is where "foodies" start losing me. Sorry, folks, but most folks tastebuds can't tell the difference between the taste of salt and pepper.

Oh, I cook with sea salt and have it for the table, too.


Chef, you've been in the kitchen too long. Buy some Maldon salt--it really IS different.


Are you saying the heat has affected my brain and thinking? Huh. Where's my Uzi?
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Re: Maldon Salt

by Jenise » Wed Sep 27, 2006 3:59 pm

Oh, damn, Chef's blown his lid again. RUN! RUN!!!!!
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Re: Maldon Salt

by Hoke » Wed Sep 27, 2006 6:28 pm

Good timing, Jenise!

We were doing a seminar with John Ash yesterday, entertaining a group of Chefs from Canada that were visiting. Ash was doing his incredible "Sauces and Wines Pairing" seminar (you would soooo love it!), and talking about how chefs can alter any dish to accomodate pretty much any wine. So with a sauce that was a trifle off with a particular wine, he passed around a box of Maldon, informing all that this was his favorite salt and a must have in his kitchen, and instructing us to put just a single flake on a piece of bread dabbed with the sauce (a too-sweet sun dried tomato sauce), and then retaste the wine.

Eh, voila: it made all the difference in the world, and brought the sauce into balance with the wine. Or the wine into balance with the sauce.

I use Maldon to perk up some of my foods, more as a topping than anything else.

Lately, I've been using a Truffled Sea Salt that I found. It is superb lightly dusted on fresh-grilled white fish. Just enough aroma and flavor to notice, but not to overwhelm the fish.
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Re: Maldon Salt

by Jenise » Wed Sep 27, 2006 6:39 pm

Hoke, I love this. A few weeks ago the effect of salt on wine came up as a dinner topic. Most at the table believed it was benign, that salt in food makes no difference whatsoever in the perception of sweetness or balance in wine. I was in the minority that thought it did--in much the way it changes the way the way I perceive the flavor of the Maldon-enhanced melon I was eating when I posted this.

Cool that Maldon is John Ash's favorite.

Mike--nice to meet another fan. I can't imagine beating the Maldon, especially at its price point.

Karen--my box was probably the same size as yours. Whenever I've seen Maldon it's always been in the same size box.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Maldon Salt

by Bob Ross » Wed Sep 27, 2006 7:01 pm

That's interesting Hoke. I wonder if Ash has changed his opinion on salt -- or perhaps refined it.

There's a Pantry section in his Cooking One on One, where he discusses salt. He mentions that different salts have different tastes -- "There are substantial differences in the flavor of various sea salts depending on origin. Some have a strong mineral taste, while others taste of seaweed, and still others are almost sweet. Most tasters (including me) prefer sea salt to ordinary table or mined salt. It simply seems to have a more complex flavor."

He suggests a taste test between mined and sea salts. He also makes a case for Kosher salt.

"My recommendation then is to go with either sea salt or Kosher salt. They are interchangeable in cooking, but in some recipes I've specified one or the other, just to encourage you to try using more than one kind in your kitchen!"

I cooked through Ash's entire book with great delight, and used sea salt and Kosher salt as he specified (at least in my portions of the meals). Didn't see much difference, frankly.

But, a previous frequent poster on FLDG was a champion for Maldon salt, and I've used it ever since I read one of his tributes to the stuff. It puzzled me that Ash wasn't more specific about his favorite sea salt -- I'm delighted to add a footnote to my copy of Cooking One on One, and check the next edition to see if he is more specific in the future.

Thanks -- I'm delighted to have anticipated Ash on one tiny point -- there weren't any others. :-)

Regards, Bob
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Re: Maldon Salt

by Hoke » Wed Sep 27, 2006 7:22 pm

Bob: I don't think Ash has refined his position on salt (good one, that, by the way :) ). He was in a small group of pros, so he was being specific when he reccoed the Maldon. He has believed for some time what you quoted him as saying, that sea salt is in almost every instance preferable to mined salt.

He put it more bluntly in our seminar: he suggested throwing out any boxes of mined/processed salts if you have any in your kitchen. I'd feel safe subscribing to him the idea that mined salt is negative for food flavoring.

I'm in danger of putting words in John's mouth, but I'd say he wasn't more specific in the book because not everyone has the same availability of product. And not everyone has the same taste reaction to everything: John would be horrified at the idea of mandating a choice, because he believes he can't tell people what they like. Only they can choose which sea salt is preferrred by them. That's what I think, anyway.

Jenise: You might have been in the minority in that group, but you'd definitely be in the majority in a group of pro chefs---you know, the people who are more than cooks, and spend time thinking about the essence of what they are doing. Ash firmly, devoutly, believes that salt has a major effect on flavors, and he shows us exactly what he believes in the seminars.

His spiel (condensed as much as I can condense it) is that if you focus on the basics of what is happening with the phenomena of taste, reducing it to the essentials, a good chef has a six-holstered 'gunbelt' he/she can use to adjust any dish to better accomodate a particular wine. And notice I said 'accomodate', not create the so-called perfect pairing.

These are, according to Ash, the original four basic tastes, sweet, sour, salty, bitter, to which he has added umami and pepper (which can be construed as either capsaicin or pepperene, hot peppers or black pepper). So, armed with these six basic elements, the chef can adjust any dish to a certain amount.

And salt, he maintains, is very much a critical ingredient in foods, and serves to alter and influence any dish. For gosh sakes, anyone who has every over-salted a food knows that!

Ash's primary example of how salt can influence wine is simple: if you add salt---carefully, and with moderation---to a dish you can actually lower the effect of harsh tannin in a young red wine, thereby smoothing it out.

With the other basics, he shows how you can use citric acid to soften over-aggressive high-acid wines like Sauvignon Blanc, or temper a red wine, rounding out the fruit, by adding a little sugar to the food. (Hint: A lot of the commercially popular red wines these days have sugar contents higher than people might think---to make them rounder, plumper, softer, milder.)

But back to salt: you and Ash are mosdef in the same philosophical camp. You should invite him to dinner. He would crush those naysayers with his merciless logic of food. :D
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Re: Maldon Salt

by ChefCarey » Thu Sep 28, 2006 7:14 am

Hoke wrote:I'm in danger of putting words in John's mouth, but I'd say he wasn't more specific in the book because not everyone has the same availability of product. And not everyone has the same taste reaction to everything: John would be horrified at the idea of mandating a choice, because he believes he can't tell people what they like. Only they can choose which sea salt is preferrred by them. That's what I think, anyway.

:D


I think you have come very close to what I was trying, in my maliloquent fashion, to say.

Foodies obsession with the esoteric pretty much prices most of the populace out of the "good food" game in terms of both cost and availability.

The only salts in my building carry either the "sea" or "Kosher" labels. They are both quite affordable and widely available. The bicoastal populace, with some few similarties to the bipolar populace, has in their markets a much wider variety of product. Don't even tell me about the Internet as many of the students I have had over the years don't have access. Motsly rural folk.

Folks, I've done seminars for welfare mothers, Boy's (and now, Girl's) Clubs , spent several years teaching inmates how to cook and we cook once a month for a bunch of old broads here. Trying to get these people to cook and eat real food. If I sprang some of this stuff on them they would flee for the realtive safety of the canned food sections of the supermarkets never to return to the fringes. I think there is a certain elitism among foodies that really turns off the common cook. (Yeah, I *can* do it, too.)

I make a point in my books of avoiding ingredients like defecated coffee beans, hummingbird tongues, Dorchester Nagas and Maldon salt.

So, bear in mind when I get a little grumpy with foodies, this is where I'm coming from.
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Re: Maldon Salt

by Bob Ross » Thu Sep 28, 2006 10:12 am

"I'm in danger of putting words in John's mouth, but I'd say he wasn't more specific in the book because not everyone has the same availability of product."

As usual, Hoke, there is more than a grain of truth in what you write (as it were). I've re-read the entire Pantry section, and that is his consistent approach -- quite general comments about a wide variety of foods. His section on rice is prototypical.

Thanks for catching me up. :-)

I find your exchange with Jenise fascinating and instructive -- many thanks to you both.

Regards, Bob
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Re: Maldon Salt

by Jenise » Thu Sep 28, 2006 11:26 am

So, bear in mind when I get a little grumpy with foodies, this is where I'm coming from.


Chef, be as grumpy as you want, and I understand completely where you're coming from with regard to your students, but pardon me if I object to you mentioning the word 'elitism' in this thread. If we were talking about this product because we were a bunch of lemmings who bought this just to be fashionable, you'd be right. But when we talk about it because we've compared it to other products and found it has superior qualities that make our food taste and feel better in our mouths? That's not elitism, that's just using our heads. And if we can afford it? That's not elitism, that's just life. I couldn't have afforded it when I was 20 years old, either.
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Re: Maldon Salt

by ChefCarey » Thu Sep 28, 2006 12:05 pm

Jenise wrote:
So, bear in mind when I get a little grumpy with foodies, this is where I'm coming from.


Chef, be as grumpy as you want, and I understand completely where you're coming from with regard to your students, but pardon me if I object to you mentioning the word 'elitism' in this thread. If we were talking about this product because we were a bunch of lemmings who bought this just to be fashionable, you'd be right. But when we talk about it because we've compared it to other products and found it has superior qualities that make our food taste and feel better in our mouths? That's not elitism, that's just using our heads. And if we can afford it? That's not elitism, that's just life. I couldn't have afforded it when I was 20 years old, either.


Good points all. Elitism retracted.
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Re: Maldon Salt

by Bill Spohn » Thu Sep 28, 2006 12:18 pm

Salt - a touchy subject.

I use very little salt and I enjoy food that way. I use it selectively when it really makes a difference - coarsely ground on a slab of seared foie gras, for instance.

I believe that many people over-use salt when it really adds little to the taste of the food.

It drives me crazy when I see restaurant patrons receive a plate and without tasting it, start to pour on the salt. (Were I the chef, the temptation would be to salt the hell out of it and when they tried to send it back after their addition as too salty, refuse.)

It drives me a little crazy when waiters wielding enormous pepper grinders ask me if I want pepper. I feel like telling them to send it back to the chef, and ask him if the food was sent out with insufficient pepper, and why. I don't do that, for fear that it might return with more than pepper added..... :roll:
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Re: Maldon Salt

by Jenise » Thu Sep 28, 2006 12:26 pm

Oh, come on. Remember, I eat with you (tomorrow!), and I've seen poor Manny stand there for like five minutes with his BAPM (Big-Assed Pepper Mill) trying to put enough pepper on your salad. And the salt bowl is always empty when you leave. Are you trying to tell us you were just tossing it over your shoulder? HMMMM? :shock:
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Re: Maldon Salt

by Bill Spohn » Thu Sep 28, 2006 1:13 pm

Jenise wrote:Oh, come on. Remember, I eat with you (tomorrow!), and I've seen poor Manny stand there for like five minutes with his BAPM (Big-Assed Pepper Mill) trying to put enough pepper on your salad. And the salt bowl is always empty when you leave. Are you trying to tell us you were just tossing it over your shoulder? HMMMM? :shock:


Your mind is obviously befuddled with drink, my dear. To the point of halucination if you think you've ever seen me salting anything. :D

I almost never use any salt. I do sometimes allow a sprinkle of pepper, but with the inner thoughts as outlined above.

Manny will not be with us tomorrow - doing a special event at Tinhorn Creek Winery. He will attend electronically by cell phone should the staff be in any doubt about how to order the wines. You could do them a favour by not posing difficult decisions by bringing anything obtained on your recent Chinese junket.... :shock:
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Re: Maldon Salt

by Jenise » Thu Sep 28, 2006 1:18 pm

Hullucinating? No, the other 'H' word--harrassing--just making $#!t up to make you dance. No, you never use salt. And thank goodness no one at this restaurant ever wanders around with a pepper mill, an affectation that, like you, I rarely appreciate. Hmm, that might make a good thread.

Manny's doing the event at Tinhorn? Friends wanted us to go to that with them on Saturday, in fact we almost did go, but we bailed because we have so much to do around here.
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Re: Maldon Salt

by Bill Spohn » Thu Sep 28, 2006 1:20 pm

Jenise wrote:Hullucinating? No, the other 'H' word--harrassing--guilty. No, you never use salt. And thank goodness no one at this restaurant ever wanders around with a pepper mill, an affectation that, like you, I rarely appreciate. Hmm, that might make a good thread.



Now if I can just cure him of the execrable habit (shared by many other restaurants) of serving a so-called palate refresher - a too-sweet sorbet - half way through a meal. They should call it a palate cloyer....
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Re: Maldon Salt

by Jenise » Thu Sep 28, 2006 2:42 pm

Bill, does he do the sorbets often? I can only remembert one--like you, I have found most too sweet to do the job they are supposed to do earlier in the meal. At someone's home, though, I was once served a cucumber sorbet that struck just the right note, so it can be done.
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Re: Maldon Salt

by Bill Spohn » Thu Sep 28, 2006 3:05 pm

Jenise wrote:Bill, does he do the sorbets often? I can only remembert one--like you, I have found most too sweet to do the job they are supposed to do earlier in the meal. At someone's home, though, I was once served a cucumber sorbet that struck just the right note, so it can be done.


He NEVER does them in any dinner I arrange, nor does he do dessert.

With other dinners, the organisers seem to expect it. I had a right battle as a director of the Vancouver American Wine Society trying to get the arranger of a winemaker's dinner to pass on the sweet slop, but the consensus was "People will expect it". My response was that people for the most part haven't a clue what they want and if you passed out Tootsie Rolls right before serving the best wines of the night, 99% of them would dutifully wolf them down.

BTW, I am way behind in notes but will post on Mas Daumas and on 1978 Barolos as soon as I have time, as well as on my Okanagan trip.

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