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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Barcelona - Jam, Salt and Chocolate galore!

My amazing boss just came back from Barcelona where he brought back three amazing food things (he knows about The Food Therapist and my obsession with food).

The first was a fantastical collection of extremely concentrated "Confitura" or "Jams and jellies". They are made by Benedict Monks in Poland ("Monges Benedictines") and transported all over Europe and Spain.

I searched for hours to find the link, but was unable. Here is the name: "Monges Benedictines - Products Artean". They are located @ Illes Balears and have a phone number, but unless you want to call Spain, it's not worth your time. I'll keep hunting for a place online to buy.

The flavors are very intense and best used sparingly and/or mixed with domestic jams to make the taste less intense. I tasted the Grapefruit, Mandarin and Melon preserves. The taste is shockingly intense and extremely aromatic. A wonderful assault on the senses.

He also brought over a sublime collection of salts. I know, I blog often regarding the assault of salt on the body, but these salts are truly extraordinary. One tiny pinch will do you.

When you open the containers you are immediately transported to a land of pure sensation and emotion. The deep and complex smells hit you the moment you open the package. And the tastes are so PURE.

First, the light taste of salt hits you...then a second and third layer of the fresh herbs rise on your tongue and do a little dance in the back of your throat before flowing into your body and making you feel warm and alive.These are the ones he brought me:

Flor de Sal Natural (Natural Salt) - name sorta says it all.

Flor de Sal Mediterranea (Mediterranean Salt) - A heady and intoxicating salty blend of rosemary, savory marjoram, thyme and oregano. You can smell and taste each and every herb. Amazing. I'm gonna use this on fresh summer salads, on fish and chicken and perhaps on a bed of olives, mozzarella balls and fresh basil with sliced tomatoes. YUM.

Flor de Sal Hibiscus (Hibiscus Salt) - Shockingly red salt made of organic hibiscus flowers. Now THIS is the salt you want to use with mild grassy cheeses, such as goat and some basic Swiss cheeses as well as rocket salads (or, in the states, 'young' arugula salad, which is European for 'rocket').

Flor de Sal Olivas (Olive Salt) - One tiny taste of this and you are transported to Greece. You can taste the feta, the olives, the sweet tang of a ripe tomato and smooth mozzarella. Yow, yow, yow. The color is a sea green and blue. A dream come to life.

Flor de Sal Sri Lanka (Sri Lanka Salt) - This one is the shit. I am telling you, when I opened up this salt and smelled the coriander, caradmom, turmeric and fenugreek, I sorta reeled. But it was when the undercurrent of chilis, black and cayenne peppers rose into the air and swam around my head like something out of my most feverish Bollywood fantasies, I realized I had found my salt. I can tell there are also cloves and cinnamon in there as well. I can't WAIT to cook up some outstanding vegetarian Indian dishes soon!

It's worth the time and money to buy these online. The official site is not very efficient, so go to this UK link to buy:

The last food item he brought back was this heady chocolate infused with European flavors I've never had before. The company is called "Cacao Sampaka" and are located here:

Unfortunately, they are not in the states and only in Berlin, Tokyo, Barcelona and other European countries. But they are worth ordering through their site.

They have many different chocolates, but here is a sampling:
  1. Single bean origins
  2. Dried fruit and nuts
  3. Cocoas and spices from the Americas
  4. Herbs and Flowers
  5. Liqueurs
  6. Fruits and preserves
  7. Truffles
  8. Gastronomic innovations
I tried deeply rich chocolate with balsamic and fresh mint; one with caramel and peanut and one made with deep dark cocoa. The flower collection looks amazing, as does the fruits and preserves. The deep, rich dark chocolate is top notch, as is the very subtle flavors infused inside.

As with much of European cuisine, the tastes are very simple and considered in the entire dish, not as a stand alone. American's love big, bold and brassy foods full of sugar and salt, but not Europeans. It's so refreshing to taste such a deep, dark chocolate and THEN taste the other layers of taste.

There you go! A tiny taste of the culinary treasures lurking in the side streets of fabulous Barcelona!

Mikey Bryan
Your *Spanish* Food Therapist

1 comment:

  1. the salts....never knew there was such a thing :) What a nice boss :) :)