Every kitchen is a little bit unique. We all bring something different to the cooking experience with our own styles and tastes, along with what we keep in our cupboards and our pantries. However, there is one kitchen ingredient we ALL have in our possession (and please let us know if this is not true of you), and that is the simplest, yet most staple of ingredients: salt.
Vancouver Island Salt Company (VISC) is a local producer of local salt. We like them because they care about producing natural and sustainable products. (And let's be honest, they produce salt... something we happen to like quite a bit!) What better sustainable product than one that is found in our very own oceans, let alone one that we use daily? We carry their Canadian Sea Salt, and have recently put their Bacon Infused Maple Sea Salt on our shelves as well. Many customers ask us how to use the Bacon Salt, so we passed that question along to Andrew Shephard, founder and owner of VISC. He tells us its a "great finisher for eggs benedict, salads, fried chicken, and believe it or not chocolate chip cookies." Chocolate chip cookies alone are delightful. Chocolate chip cookies with fleur de sel on top are heavenly. We can only imagine that chocolate chip cookies with bacon infused maple sea salt on top sounds like heaven will melt in your mouth!
Chocolate chip cookies aside (but let's keep them in mind for a dessert idea), we had the pleasure of chatting a little more with Andrew via email, and wanted to share with our dear customers a little insight into the world of a Canadian Salt producer.
The Dirty Apron - Why sea salt?
Andrew – In terms of VISC, I got into sea salt because it was something that was available, when I think about business ideas I always start by looking around at what available locally.............and since I live close to the ocean............
In terms of sea salt as a product choice, I’ve had fantastic experiences with both sea salt and rock salts, I tend to lean to which ever suits the dish I’m cooking.
Do you use salt in absolutely all of your cooking/baking?
No, I prefer not to salt most meat while cooking it, I really like to use a great finishing salt on the table to take it up a notch (ie: Blue cheese infused sea salt on rare red meat)
If you HAD to pick just one ingredient from your kitchen that you couldn't live without, what would it be? - Other than salt ;)
Pickled ginger, it’s surprisingly versatile.....I make a mean pickled ginger aoli.
Chocolate cake or french fries?
Chocolate cake......as long as it’s moist and the chocolate is real.
Sunshine or rain?
Sunshine...........and about 30 degrees please.
Is there any food you don't like or refuse to eat?
LOL, I just had a discussion about this with my wife and mother in law. I would rather go hungry and die than eat egg plant......doesnt matter how its cooked.
On your website you give a warning: "Warning: VISC Smoked Canadian Rock Salts can be deceptive, and should be used in moderation.......just ask Andrew`s Dad, who got carried away with the Maple Smoked Salt and a piece of Salmon." Can you tell us the story behind that?
Not really to much more to the story, I wasn’t actually present for this salty story, but my mother likes to poke fun at my dad for a very salty salmon meal.
What do you like best about living on Vancouver Island?
Access to everything, mountains, ocean, valley’s, city’s, rivers, people, solitude......all within a short distance.
What is the moisture content of your salts?
Not something we measure, each batch of salt is unique, and because we mandate that our sea salt is totally un-refined, we sort of let each batch take on its own personality and finish up on its own.
Chef David Robertson wants to know your opinion on whether using your salts on meat before cooking it will add moisture to it or dry it out (like table salt does).
I think David might have to give it a try and let me know the results.....I’m a City and Guilds papered chef and I was always taught not to pre salt meat.
What's your most 'unusual' salt infusion, and what dish would you recommend consumers use it with?
Dill Pickle Infused (real pickles)..............popcorn.
What led you to doing business in creating a product that is natural and sustainable?
Thats the way business is going these days, if you are starting something up in todays market place it had better be sustainable or people won't be interested.
Here's a recipe that we like to use with fleur de sel - and one you can use at home with your Vancouver Island Canadian Sea Salt. Perfect for a summer dinner with some local BC salmon, friends & neighbours, and a nice glass of BC pinot noir, like the Cedar Creek Pinot Noir.
Salmon, salt, wine, friends... four lovely things to include in your summer plans, wouldn't you say?