Salt Archives

a little wooden cabinet of shelves, the shelves are filled with labeled vials, the vials are filled with salt

Artisanal Bamboo Salt Chest, $125

As faithful readers (which I think might only be Blake Nelson) know, salt might be ground zero in the food wars. Used by real people to season and preserve their food for centuries, readily available and cheap, salt has nonetheless been made artisanal and precious and particular by foodies who can’t leave well enough alone. Salt happens to be one of the few things Meatball and I really know about food—remember the time we figured out that Scrabble Cheez Its have less salt than regular Cheez Its all on our own?

And salt isn’t just for food! You can use it to spite the devil, disinfect your wounds, clean your house, test to see if eggs are bad, and about a million other things, including protection againt demons:

When the devil is knocking at your door, do you really want to be messing around with your $125 Artisanal Bamboo Salt Chest?

Somebody Has a Dictionary!

painting of sir francis bacon

Verily, it is he. Sir Francis Bacon.

Time magazine’s Josh Ozersky on sub-par bacon:

Even more depressing is the fact that these flaccid slices are found sprawling, like rotting seaweed, atop the very sandwiches that promise veritable meatgasms upon consumption — the giant, multilevel calorie bombs that you see think pieces written about.

What’s the opposite of a think piece?

Brooklyn Finally Gets a DIY Winery

When I got off the train yesterday I was handed a flyer. This in itself is not exceptional—in my neighborhood you are likely to get flyered for anything from the local craft collective to one of the 4,563,847,543 shows happening on any given night. But this flyer was different. It was a flyer for a winery.

I admit that I thought for a minute about which of my friends could have the wherewithal to execute an elaborate prank, gambling on when I might be getting home. However, upon further inspection, the leaflet for “Brooklyn Winery” is all too real.

Join the community at the Brooklyn Winery where you can make your own wine from grape to glass. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, our winemaker and winemaking staff will guide you through the process to craft a great wine. Stop by, taste some wine, get your hands dirty, and become part of a unique experience in Brooklyn.

It’s not just a winery, it’s  a DIY winery.  After several all-caps texts to various people, I looked at the price list, which ranges from $5,700 for a barrel that will yield 300 bottles that are all your own,  to the “Community Package,” where you buy part of a barrel for $300. You also get to design your own wine label. What a great creative outlet!

They have a lot of info about the land where their grapes are grown, etc., but nothing about the workers who will actually be picking the grapes and making the wine. That’s the problem I have with the artisanal obsession and the ingredientism–it ignores the people in the food chain, the ones who are preparing the wild salmon, or bagging the organic groceries, or picking the apples.

Also, hello, recession? Hello, NEW YORK CITY? If I wanted to live in Napa, I would. I just know the English Major Cheese Shop is in on this.

End Times

You know what my favorite food is? Crackers. CRACKERS! All crackers—Saltines, Triscuit, Wheat Thins, Wasa, Carr’s, rosemary-flecked whatever—all crackers! I love! One time in 1994 I house sat for my friend Jill and she filled the cupboard with crackers and it was one of the best weekends of my life. She even left me some Escorts! Escorts are the brie of crackers!

However, at the grocery store today, I did notice a certain gourmand air to the cracker aisle, which filled me with trepidation. I should have just grabbed my Wasa and made a break, but instead I reached out to pick up a box of “Pain Rustique Flatbread Crackers,” which, on its own, is not too bad.

Then I looked at the back of the box and saw the SUGGESTED WINE PAIRING. Apparently one ought to enjoy one’s “toothsome” Pain Rustique with a Sauvignon Blanc and some “suave chevré.” Dear God, they’re in league with the English Major Cheese Shop. The box also requests that you “Please enjoy responsibly.” Presumably they mean the wine but I can see someone going on a Pain Rustique binge and doing something regrettable. Where do you think the whole crackers in bed thing came from?

Suggested musical pairing.

Shut Up Foodies Mystery Pig!

I was in the English Major Cheese Shop today, getting out of the wind and looking around. And then! I espied this delightful confection on offer.

What is it? Why is there a little man with a ladder astride a marzipan pig? (Note: I think it is a man for probably all the wrong reasons but it could be a woman or a trans individual.) What does it mean? Is he using the pig for transport? Is he going to stand on the pig and use the ladder to get somewhere? Is the mushroom on the front of the package a clue? Perhaps the pig found some truffles in an attic?

I asked the nice young novelists behind the counter and they puzzled over it with me. “I think he is a chimney sweep,” one offered. “That’s why he has the ladder.” I refrained from shouting CHIMNEY SWEEPS DON’T HAVE LADDERS THEY HAVE BROOMS, SILLY ENGLISH MAJOR, and brought my little man and his pig home. Why shout? I have a blog. Also, when I got home I realized there was some merit to his theory. If you have no soul and don’t think Mary Poppins is a definitive authority on chimney sweeps.

At home, freed from the package, my little man is even more alluring.

I know that in Germany marzipan pigs are given at Christmas and New Year’s as good luck symbols. In junior high German, our teacher, though not big on declension, loved to teach us idioms and I remember  “Ich habe Schwein gehabt,” means “I’m lucky!”

But that does not account for the top hat, the ladder, the catsuit. Maybe he is a burglar?

Before the explainers bore us to death, I’m proposing a contest. Whomever writes the most creative and thoughtful story that encompasses the pig, the man, and their accoutrements will win! Something! To be determined!

I looked on the Carstens-Marzipan website and didn’t see them, btw. Also, I already ate the pig and it wasn’t that good. (TWSS)

May the best pigtale (AHA YES) win!



It’s like something Tyrone Power’s pirate character would have called for in The Black Swan before he took a huge swig from a stein, or a mug, or whatever pirates call their stout-drinking vessels.

Nanette Maxim, describing a Blood Orange Tart with Salted Caramel Sauce on Also, I almost wish that “slashfood” was people writing fanfic about food. Almost.

The English Major Cheese Shop

I like the Bedford Cheese Shop, I really do. The people who work there are really nice and they have many expensive snack foods that I enjoy looking at and even occasionally buying. That said, their famed cheese descriptions have gone from cute to dear-god-just-write-your-novel:

“If this cheese were a person, it would be a cigar-smoking, loud-mouthed, high-stakes roller with poor bathing habits”

“Gives your mouth the sensation of licking a damp carpet of grass.”

“This is the cheese of rodeo cowboys, professional wrestlers and other American heroes. And you too will feel like an American hero when you eat Vermont Shepherd Reserve.”

“Smells like a drunken sailor on shore leave, and it’s just as randy.”

Worst of all, they attract the kind of clientele who appreciates such descriptions and so when I do go in there I am forced to stand in line behind some guy who needs to taste 25 cheese in search of one he ate on spring break from Brown that tasted like virgins and strawberries, with a touch of dirty youth hostel linens.


Case in Point: Salt

Link: Case in Point: Salt

Complete with English-major-turned-foodie descriptions:

“Master In-Shan’s Oyster bamboo salt 9x smells like something dragons must use to season their victims before eating them”

And one that must be quoted in its entirety:

If salt were beer, Murray Darling finishing salt would be the frothy head of a crisp Lager. It starts as snowmelt from the Australian Alps descending to the Murray Darling basin, where a combination of low rainfall and high evaporation have created high concentrations of salt in the groundwater.

Murray Darling Australian finishing salt’s pink-tinged crystals (much peach-rose-pinker than in the photo!), which gain their color from carotene produced by algae that lives in the underground brine, have a cotton-candy texture that imparts a sense of ineffable lightness. The flakes have a note of sweetness, and are uncannily un-salty. This, together with the low moisture content and fine texture, position Murray River as more of a topping than a salt.

Unless used on a dry surface, such as goat cheese or scantily dressed greens, Murray Darling finishing salt should only be applied at the table, just before eating. Strangely, given its superlative subtlety, it is unabashedly elegant on that rare caprese salade made from explosively ripe back-yard garden tomatoes, sweet basil, and springy-yet-yielding bufala mozzarella.