Maldon Sea Salt

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

I recently opened a new box of Maldon Sea Salt, poured some into my “salt bowl” and out came this huge salt crystal!  It’s the biggest one I’ve seen since I’ve been using Maldon, which is about 3 years.  Those who know me give me a “hard time” about my “paraphernalia”, as they callit, that I pull out of my purse at restaurants.  It’s actually a baggie with Maldon Sea Salt in it, but I’ve received a few raised eyebrows when people see me pull a baggie partially full with this white stuff.  But I never go anywhere without it.  You have to try it, and then you’ll understand too – there’s no other sea salt that comes close to it.

What makes Maldon Sea Salt so special?  The company is run by 4th generation Osborne family (since 1882) and is one of only a few companies producing salt in England today.  It is the only company that still harvests salt in an Essex England, an area which experiences low rain and high winds, making it ideal for harvesting salt.  The salt is hand harvested in the traditional manner which also leads to its special flavor and is free from artificial additives and doesn’t have a bitter after taste.  Maldon also utilizes the ancient craft of panning salt.  The low lying marshlands of the Essex coastline produce salty water which is trapped in the marshes on the vegetation.  The high winds and sun begin the evaporation process which starts the crystallization of the salt water.  According the the Maldon website (www.maldonsalt.co.uk), “Purified seawater is evaporated in large stainless steel pans, using many of the traditional skills handed down by generations of salt-makers. The salt crystals are hand harvested daily using traditional long handled rakes, a process known as ‘drawing the pans’. The characteristic, pyramid shaped, flaky crystals are unique to Maldon Salt and are recognised the world over as the finest salt available.”

There has been much controversy between table salt and sea salt, and there’s a lot of research out there which makes it confusing when trying to determine what is “good” for you.  Basically, our body needs salt – the sodium and chloride in salt does the following:  regulates blood pressure, is essential for brain and nerve function, helps with metabolism and digestion, and is crucial for adrenal function.  Basic table salt has been heated to very high temperatures which may alter the chemical structure of salt (NaCl).  It also has been chemically cleaned or “purified” and has anti-clumping agents added to it, and in some parts of the world, fluoride has also been added.  So it’s basically 97.5% salt (stripped of the natural minerals and elements found in sea salt) and about 2.5% other chemicals.  So, we do need salt, but if you are going to eat it, choose wisely.

Maldon Sea Salt can be found on Amazon.com, or in William Sonoma stores, and can also be purchased directly from the company in England.

Cheers!

Advertisements

We Can Always Count On Whole Foods

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

In our challenge to find good food this past weekend in Orlando, we ended up making quite a few trips to Whole Foods.  We are always assured of finding good quality healthier food there.  And, since we weren’t familiar with the local coffee shops, Whole Foods provided a great alternative to Starbucks.  I can easily spend quite a bit of money in Whole Foods, but I always walk away inspired by the variety of products that I can’t find elsewhere.  Take for example, the chunks of parmesan cheese imported from Italy (of course).  It’s the best I’ve found, and I use it in my minestrone soup, fresh tomato soup, and on our fresh cheese plate with Michigan honey, olive oil, bread, and crackers.  If you’ve never drizzled honey on top of cheese along with some bread or crackers, you must try it.  I got the idea from a wine bar in Grand Rapids, Michigan, while out with friends (the Reserve).  A couple of the recipes I use, also call for simmering the rind of the parmesan cheese in the soup, so this particular cheese works for that as well.  Whole Foods also has a pretty good wine selection (although not much in terms of Michigan wines – we’ll have to work on that!), so we stocked up on some wine while there.  This weekend they had some new products in the pasta section, so I picked up some heartier, different shaped noodles, and made spaghetti with them that night for dinner.  Although I make spaghetti quite a bit, the new pasta gave a different (and delicious) twist on a good ole stand by.

Christini’s Ristorante Italiano, Orlando, Florida

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

My husband and I went to Orlando on a last minute getaway for our anniversary.  Each time we go to Orlando we take advantage of the myriad of choices for great food and wine.   Friday night we chose Christini’s, Ristorante Italiano, our favorite Italian restaurant.  Owned and operated by Chris Christini, this restaurant is the most awarded Italian restaurant in Central Florida.  It appears to be a favorite of many celebrities and dignitaries that pass through Orlando, as you can tell by the many photographs lining the restaurant walls – photographs of Mr. Christini with Michael Douglas, Janet Jackson, and Tiger Woods, to name a few (and there are many, many more).  Although he didn’t request a photograph with us, he did not disappoint us with the amazing food and great service.  The picture doesn’t do it justice, but I ordered Melanzane Parmigiana (eggplant parmesan) and my husband ordered Spaghetti Al Pomodoro.  If you are ever in this area, I highly recommend it (reservations strongly suggested).

Introducing Nancy Smorch – The Foodie Bitch

 

It’s tough being a Foodie Bitch. I say that somewhat jokingly. But there is definitely some truth to that statement. Bread I used to use all of the time for sandwiches is no longer tasty to me. I used to be happy with Bubble Bee Tuna for tuna salads. Now I only like imported tuna from Italy in olive oil. Parkay margarine used to be my margarine of choice. Now I only use organic butter – preferably raw and from cows pasture grazed. Chicken used to be my “safe choice” out at restaurants. Now the only time I will order chicken at a restaurant is if I know the farm where it was raised. I used to prefer skim milk – to save calories, of course. Now I go for whole raw milk, whenever possible (yes, I have owned a “share” of a cow in order to have access to raw milk). I used to think olive oil was olive oil. Now I search for a specific taste of olive oil – preferably from Italy (which is where my favorite, Middle Earth Organic olive oil is from). I used to think that all blueberries taste the same. Now I so look forward to blueberry season in West Michigan to enjoy some of the best blueberries on the planet. I used to serve Aunt Jemima’s maple syrup at family weekend “slumber parties”. Now I only serve either Michigan or Vermont, Grade B maple syrup. If you want anything else at our house, you’ll have to bring your own. I used to use the microwave oven for cooking and re-heating all of the time. They’ve been banned from our house for years. Now I relish the days that we use our wood fire pizza oven for cooking homemade pizza. Oh, and don’t even think of trying to throw a couple of lady fingers in a bowl along with some mascarpone cheese, cool whip, coffee liquor, and a maraschino cherry and calling that Tiramisu!

What other name would you use to describe me? Foodie Bitch is perfect! I really am a nice person – not “bitchy” at all. But over the years I have done a ton of research and experimenting with food. And, yes, maybe it is a little bit more challenging at times to be me, a Foodie Bitch. But, I tell you, I am so grateful that I am a Foodie Bitch and there’s no way I would choose to live any other way! Food fascinates me – the history behind it, the beauty of it, the purity of it, its flavor, its influence on the economy, its shaping of a society, and its manipulation and degradation by those only interested in increasing their profits with absolutely no concern for the well being of those who eat such foods or the implications on the natural world that this manipulation causes (that’s a huge discussion in itself!).

So, am I this way to be difficult, or snooty, or to impress people? Absolutely not! I am this way because I know what goes on in the food industry and I feel that my family and I and those that come to our home deserve to be nourished – physically, emotionally, and spiritually, by food that is not only good for you – but also tastes amazing. Too many people have never experienced what food is meant to taste like, so they go along eating tasteless, mediocre food, void of nutrition, their whole life, and not knowing the joy, the health, the excitement, the inspiration, and the nutrition that can come from great food. Fortunately I have “seen the other side” and I won’t settle for anything less for myself, my family, and my friends.

My intentions with this blog is to educate, empower, and inspire you to allow yourself to connect with the beauty and art of good food so you too can live a healthier life through better food and a more inspired life through the unveiling of the many miracles of food.

So, if I walk out of a restaurant because I see a Gordon Food Service truck pull up, or if I refuse to buy the Superman Ice Cream because of all of the artificial food colors in it, or if I pull out my baggie of Maldon’s Sea Salt at a dinner party, or if I ask the waiter at a restaurant if their pasta is homemade, I’m really not trying to be difficult or “snotty” or judgmental (well, not too judgmental anyway). I have merely become educated and empowered and inspired. I have merely become, well, a Foodie Bitch!