13 May 2007

Fleur de Sel: From the Ile de Re to the Camargue


High on my list of things to bring home from Paris is fleur de sel.

Yes, I can find it locally, or I can pay a fortune for it online.

But buying it in Paris will no doubt be more economical and the jar or box will be a long-lasting reminder of our trip.

(Can you hear me knocking on wood and praying here. Last time, absolutely nothing went wrong. No lost luggage, no missed trains. A panhandler or two, but no incidents. Please, please let that be the case with this trip.)

I like the fact that much of the salt I find locally comes from the Ile de Re, which is near LaRochelle, birthplace of some of my French ancestors.

I also like when it originates in the Camargue, a place I have never visited, but plan to do so someday (armed with a good deal of organic mosquito repellent).

Fleur de sel, as everyone reading this already knows, is best added at the final moment in the food preparation process. When combined with herbes de Provence, it is an excellent means of both flavoring and wringing excess liquid from aubergines.

It is best used sparingly, too. That way each grain is a gift, an enhancement of flavor.

Do you use sea salt? Where do you find it?

20 comments:

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Of course! I use it. I brought, I hope, enough for the next 5 years from Paris last fall. That's just insurance. When we make our next reservations, I'll give it all away.

Mimi said...

Tanna! I'd forgotten you were in Paris last fall. That's a lot of salt!

I really hope I do not have to wait two years between trips next time.

Jann said...

Well, you know I stock up on this stuff........I use it everyday and I pick it up whenever and wherever i can. It's one of those special things I enjoy bringing home to give to people as gifts....it tucks in the corners of your suitcase really well...you must be getting really excited to leave soon.....yipee!!

Lydia said...

Lately my favorite has been not from France (gasp!) but from Portugal. I buy it online at Zingermans.com.

Mary said...

I have some of the portuguese stuff from Zingerman's as well. My brother used to work as a baker there and he gave me thirty pounds of it for Christmas a while ago. I won't be running out very soon. I also have some from Greece that a friend of mine brings back when she visits family there. There's also the salt that I got in France the last time I was there and then the recent purchase of some smoked salt. I'm a total salt junky.

Mary
www.ceresandbacchus.com

Mimi said...

Jann, I have packed plenty of bubble wrap for such purchases.

Lydia, I will try Zingerman's salt for Portugal. I love Zingerman's, of course.

Mary, 30 pounds? Wow.

Pepper said...

Ha, you remind me of my trip to Paris when I brought back some sea salt as a culinary treasure (along with some Mariage Freres tea) and later was very deflated to find the exact same salt at my local discount grocery.

Drink some tea for me while you are there!

pom d'api said...

Yes !! I love l'ile de ré and I love very very Paris. Igo naxt week on mondays with my sisters

Toni said...

I have not used it, sorry to report. But now after reading about it on this post, I am ready to go find some!

I have been to the Carmague, and yes, you must go armed with the best mosquito repellant you can find! It's an odd place, I think, and not one I dream of going back to.

When do you leave?

breadchick said...

Yes...Oh yes I use it (sometimes I just wet the tip of my finger and dip it in to smell the sea!). I brought mine back from Paris in the fall. The poor guy in customs must have thought I was nuts because I had 3 containers of it ranging in the brilliant white to the smoky gray.
Before bringing it back, I got it from Williams and Sonoma.

Betty C. said...

I use it and buy the basic one at the local supermarket. BTW, it seems to me it's called "fleur de sel" and not "sel de fleur," although that could be a regional variation.

Also check out all of the excellent flavored salts available in France -- although my favorite brand is an Italian one!

Mimi said...

Pepper, I will calculate prices carefully! The sea salt I buy is about $8 locally and the same jar is $12 online. If it is under 4 euros in Paris, I will buy it there.

Pom D'Api, it is one of my dreams to visit the Ile de Re. My husband and I are trying to figure out if we can afford to live in France for a year or so when he retires.

Toni, I leave in two days. Lukcy you! I hope to visit the Camargue, but there is just so darned much I want to experience. That;s why we think living there for a while is best.

Breadchick, I managed to get olives through last time but it was a big fuss at Detroit customs. Sheesh!

Betty, you are correct, I think. I;ll go back and correct my post - what was I thinking?

Mimi said...

OK, I corrected my error. Too much on my mind these days, I guess.

Thanks to Betty C for pointing it out!

Erin S. said...

There is a lovely gourmet food store in South Pasadena, Nicole's Gourmet Foods, that is french through and through, and, in addition to wonderfully stinky cheeses, has plenty of fleur de sel to choose from--at reasonable prices. I will miss Nicole's when I leave LA.

Have a great trip!

Mimi said...

I look forward to trying new stinky cheeses, Erin.

You cannot find them in my little town, alas...

Erika said...

Mmm. Sea salt. I use regular sea salt for everything except baking that I buy from Penzey's. I also use sel gris from Penzey's when the fancy strikes me. But during farmer's market season, it's the Fleur de Sel from the Camargue that gets my heart beating. I purchase that from Saltworks online. If you've never tried it on corn on the cob... it's wonderful!

Anonymous said...

I too like the French sea salt I have a bag of sel de Guerande trouble is that I've yet to find a good salt grinder, because of the moisture content it seems to block the grinder up. We have found a way round it by drying it in the oven. A bit of a nuisance though. Ile de Re is beautiful we took a boat trip from Ile de Oleron to see it.
Anne

Mimi said...

Erika, thanks for the tip - I'll look for that online source. I love it on corn.

Lucky you, Anne! I would love to visit Ile de Re. My husband and I willhave to bite off one section of France at a time, because I like slow travel. Unless, we can figure out a way to move there.

Kristen said...

What a great thing to bring back home.

Matt Hesters said...

You should check this out. Sel Magique. It's incredible! It's a Fleur de Sel Aux Herbes de Provence that a friend of mine imports to sell in the States. www.selmagique.com