Lately I've become obsessed with spices. As the winter drags on and the snow piles up outside, there is a longing for flavor that seems to permeate the stomachs of New York City. In the kitchen of Chestnut where I cook, Carla the pastry chef and I sigh with boredom at the sight of more apples and citrus fruit. My cure for the tedium of peeling and zesting, chopping and macerating, is to add exciting spice and flavor. My flavor of the week is smoked salt.
I use natural smoked salt, which is evaporated sea salt and wood smoke. The aroma is subtle but powerful, conjuring a bonfire on the beach or the warm aroma of the fireplace. When I touch some to my tongue I instantly think of the smell of Santa Fe, New Mexico in winter where everyone burns piñon wood in their fireplaces and the city is bathed in the delicious and unmistakable scent.
Smoked salt is usually added to savory dishes, but Smoked Salt Caramels are the bomb, as anyone who has tasted Token Confections' Chocolate caramels with smoked salt knows. Last week I added smoked salt to key limes that my friend Noah Berland hauled up from Florida for me, and this week I'm experimenting with adding it to grapefruit.