Worth One's Salt
From fleur de sel to kosher, which salt is best?
Category: Sea Salt
Serving Suggestions: For finishing salads, an accompaniment to bread and olive oil.
This large-grained "small batch, artisan produced" sea salt from Bali performed best on the steak, where its uniquely square grains provided a savory crunch to the meat. But the giant crystals were ineffectual on the fries, where one taster was inspired to quote the .38 Special lyric, "Hold on loosely, but don't let go!" Some found the large grains simply "too much."
Big Tree Farms' geometric crystals resemble flawlessly formed cubes of broken glass. The recycled brown paper packaging boasts stories of well-intentioned American organic farmers heading off to sunny Bali to maintain "the ideals of sustainability and cultural preservation." Yeah—sure. Note: They also sell the salt in jungle-chic coconuts and burlap bags. Feel good about yourself when you spend nearly $1 per ounce of salt! You're supporting cultural preservation!
Category: Fleur de sel
Appearance: 9 (with an added 2 point bonus for fragrance)
Serving Suggestions: Salad topper, fresh vegetables; sprinkle on meats before serving.
Pull the cork from Camargue's cylindrical container, and a waft of oceanic flavor tickles your nose. This fleur de sel was a triumph on the tongue, where one taster said it was "strong and pure and warm like a Santa Ana wind." Overall, it provided a "fresh flavor" to the pasta sauce, but one taster loathed its "gritty, sweaty" taste. Camargue helped make "a nearly perfect French fry" and, as was said by one carnivore, "Now, that's the salt for steak."
The moistness of this salt probably explains its strong appetizing odor, but it also means that the crystals frequently stick together. The packaging, with its cork top and pastel colors, suggests a delicious French country market; but at $2.16 per ounce, is it worth its salt? With the dollar bottoming out against the Euro, it's at least cheaper than going to France.
Dan Crane is a writer and musician living in Los Angeles. He is the author of To Air is Human: One Man's Quest to Become the World's Greatest Air Guitarist.