Christmas time is just around the corner and from now until the holidays, I thought I’d share some great gift ideas for the cook in your life. Home cooks don’t always treat themselves to special purchases. If you’re like me, you have to wait until your friend and world-traveling attorney, Wayne Halper brings you back a special gift–sea salt from Slovenia! Wayne is the Global Legal Counsel/Head of Worldwide Business Development for the amazing Slovenian vocal group Perpetuum Jazzile (check out their video with over 18 millions views here), so he travels there several times a year and generously shared his bounty with me. This particular brand is pretty famous- Piranske Soline from the Piran community on the Adriatic coast of Slovenia.
Piran salt has a great history. It’s produced using a 700 year old tradition with only traditional tools, the forces of nature, and the man-power of the salt-pan workers. I really like the flavor of it. While this may sound crazy, it doesn’t taste as salty as another brand of sea salt that I had in my spice cabinet.
Let’s start with the basics about salt. Our bodies need it to survive. It helps make our food taste good. The history of the world is intertwined with salt–from using it as a form of currency, to food preservations, to creating dynasties, wars, and taxes. So, the little girl under the umbrella represents a storied history dating back to ancient times.
‘Made with sea salt’ is the buzz phrase on boxes and bags in the stores right now. From potato chips, to crackers, to chocolate-it’s everywhere. I prefer the taste of sea salt to table salt. I cook with both, using the more affordable table salt when boiling water for pasta or dishes that need to cook for a while. But for a finishing salt, I like sea salt for the flavor. From what I understand, there’s not really a difference in the amount of sodium in sea salt and regular table salt. It’s more a matter of taste, texture, and processing. Sea salt is not processed, contains trace amounts of minerals, and has no additives, while table salt is processed with a non-clumping agent added in, as well as iodine.
Fancy sea salts from around the world can be a little pricey, which is why they make such a great gift for the cook in your life. You can purchase the Piran sea salt here in the states from http://www.soline.si/en/shop/food-programme/salt-and-saltrelated-products/piran-salt-with-designation-of-origin-in-linen-bag-1kg_2.
And if you’re looking for a great place to visit overseas, I can’t recommend Slovenia highly enough. We’ve been there a couple times on work trips when Charlie was touring there…I got to be his roadie! It’s a beautiful country, with fantastic food, and the people are as kind and generous as it gets. It’s a small country so you can see it all and they have a little bit of everything to explore-from the ocean, to the mountains, and everything in between. There’s lots of history, too.
And if you’re lucky you might be there when there’s a few feet of snow on the ground like we were one year. It was magical and looked just like Narnia from ” The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe”.