Gourmet specialty shops in Greenwich Village are par for the course, but few are this specific. The Meadow, an entire shop specializing in salts as well as salted chocolates and bitters, turns selecting the right salt into an art.
Walking into the Meadow at 523 Hudson Street is, at first, overwhelming: rows upon rows of salt varieties tower on your right before you even notice their wide selections of chocolates and bitters. No one country dominates as a source: many of their salts are from France, but these seasonings truly come from all over the world. If you go in searching for a salt from Cyprus, Bali, India, or Slovenia, you will find it.
Despite their enormous range, the Meadow takes a balanced approach to seasoning food: “As a general rule,” they recommend, “you get the most from your food––and from your gourmet salt––by using as little salt as possible during cooking, then sprinkling your food with a finishing salt at the end.”
If you hadn’t heard of a “finishing salt” beforehand (a salt with “unique mineral, moisture, and crystal qualities” sprinkled on food just before it’s served) visiting the Meadow will be an eye-opening experience. With over 110 artisan varieties available, you’re virtually guaranteed to find a perfect match for your needs––pickling, curing, cooking, and finishing salts require different levels of moisture, minerals, and refinement.
Black Truffle Salt may be their best-seller, but don’t go in asking for the “best salt” or for a favorite. Each salt they sell pairs best with certain dishes. Arrive with an occasion or a meal in mind. That said, some finishing salts work for so many dishes that they’ve become classics. Any one of their Fleur du Sel (delicate crystals for subtle dishes), Sel Gris (moist and minerally) and flake salt (beautiful on salads) varieties are perfect starters. In fact, the Meadow offers a Salt Starter Set of six gourmet salts in 1-ounce tins.
Anyone who’s feeling more adventurous may want to try one of their blended salts. Sal de Gusano, from Oaxaca, Mexico, actually blends salt with desiccated caterpillar for a delicate but meaty flavor; other less-intimidating blends use ingredients such as saffron, chocolate, or Cherry Plum. Their sets are, again, a good way to ease into salt exploration: Whether you’re interested in Japanese salt, salt to put on popcorn, or smoked salt, the Meadow probably carries a corresponding set of jars for it.
Their selection of non-salt merchandise is no less impressive. Chocolates, bitters, and syrups are like wine in that they need expert crafting and invite the consumer to explore their subtleties. The Meadow carries about 300 varieties of dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and––of course––chocolate with sea salt, and a full table of cocktail bitters to bring intensity and depth to the next drink you mix. Even using their glowingly rosy cookware––all made from Himalayan salt blocks––lends every dish you make an new salty dimension.
If you can’t make it to the Village, no worries––the Meadow has another location in Portland, and their salts and related products are also available on their website.