Saturday, March 17, 2007

A Meadow on Mississippi

When I spoke with David Briggs of Xocolatl de Davide, he mentioned a new little place on Mississippi Ave. that sells finishing salts and chocolates (his included) called The Meadow. Now, when I hear about these extremely specialized stores, I tend to think of the Scotch Boutique from the old Saturday Night Live skit about a store that sells only Scotch tape. But putting aside my skepticism, I wandered down to check it out and found a simple and brightly cheery little store that sells flowers, chocolate, wines and those salts.

Husband and wife Jennifer Turner and Mark Bitterman have opened their store with an impressive selection of finishing salts, which are coarse, hand-harvested sea salts that are applied to food just before serving. They contribute both flavor and texture, since they are not only simply dried, but can be smoked over wood chips or infused with flavoring agents such as vanilla. The salts tend to be made up of flakes the size you'd find in kosher salt, though they have some that come in chunks the size of cutting boards. You can sample each kind and buy them individually or in sets. They even have one (in the picture on the lower right) that is a mortar and pestle made of pink salt for that totally unique gourmet gift.

Also featured are a few interesting black peppers, as well as the aforementioned chocolate (mostly bars of single-source or single-flavor), though I'm suspecting that with time this will expand to other specialty chocolates and truffles. Their wines tend toward the imported and interesting (vs. the usual large-production types) at what seem like reasonable prices.

It'll be fun to see them grow and change over time, and we'll see if Portland's foodies are ready to jump on the specialty salt bandwagon.

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