Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Spice Lab: Gourmet Salt Collection Review


 

The Spice Lab is a family-owned business operating out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In 2009, an entrepreneur by the name of Brett Cramer decided to make unique, handmade Christmas gifts for his friends and family which utilized some of his best skills -- woodworking and gourmet cooking. He created his own wooden stands out of scrap lumber and filled the stands with tubes of exotic sea salts. These presents were so well received that Brett began creating them for the purpose of selling them. This led to the creation of The Spice Lab website, where Brett started to expand his collection of sea salts. In 2010, The Spice Lab became a direct importer of salts and spices and in 2011, Brett and his wife were really able to devote their time to a growing company with a growing number of employees. 

The Spice Lab has become one of the best sources for gourmet salts and spices that are exotic, flavorful, and unique. They currently offer over 180 different sea salts from 30 different countries. They have the largest selection of gourmet sea salts from a single source. Besides salts and spices, The Spice Lab also offers a variety of special gift accessories, including lamps, salt grinders, shot glasses, spoons, bath salts, etc. Besides being wonderful gifts, products from The Spice Lab are great for any cooking enthusiast, whether you are an amateur or even a chef at a five-star restaurant.

The Spice Lab's Sea Salt Collections are award winning, in the eyes of many different companies. In 2012, The Spice Lab won the sofi Silver Award from the Specialty Food Association and Scovie Awards for Outstanding Food Gifts. The company was also noted in several magazines, including Oprah Magazine.

Himalayan Salt Mortar & Pestle -  Food Grade

Here are just a sample of the wonderful products that The Spice Lab has to offer which are not featured in this review:

Accessories
  • Stainless Steel with Wooden Handle Truffle Slicer
  • Classic Smokehouse Wood Chips
  • The Smoking Gun - Cold Smoke Gun
  • Himalayan Salt Mortar and Pestle
  • 8x8x2 Himalayan Salt Cooking Plate - Brick
  • Small Wooden Bamboo Salt Spoon 
  • Microplane Gourmet Salt Shaver
Gift Collections
  • Himalayan Salt Tequila Shot Glass 3" Tall
  • The Chili Head Salt Collection (4, 6, or 11 tubes)
  • BBQ Smoked Sea Salt Collection (4, 6, or 11 tubes)
  • Hawaiian Aloha Salt Collection (6 or 11 tubes)
  • Large Flake Finishing Sea Salt Collection (6 or 11 tubes)
  • The Mixologist's 11 Tube Salt Collection
Fun Foods
  • Premium White Truffle Oil (3.2 oz)
  • Black Truffle Honey (4.5 oz)
  • Cuisine R-Evolution Molecular Gastronomy Kit
  • Pure Spanish Saffron La Mancha (1.5gr)
  • Infused Olive Oil Collection
  • Whole Black Summer Truffles in Jar
  • Siphon R-Evolution
  • Mojitio R-Evolution
Peppers and Spices
  • Tasmanian Mountain Pepper
  • Ground Cinnamon
  • Pink Pepper Berries
  • Tellicherry Highland Pepper
  • Cubeb Pepper
  • Grains of Paradise, Malaguetta Pepper
  • Ground Turmeric
  • Ground Coriander
  • Herbes De Provence
  • Monk's Pepper
  • Wild Harvest Oregano
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Sweet Hungarian Paprika
  • Smoked Spanish Paprika
  • White Malabar Highland Pepper
 Salts
  • Tropical Hibiscus Margarita Salt
  • Spanish Saffron Sea Salt
  • Persian Blue Diamond
  • Cyprus Chipotle Pepper Infused Sea Salt
  • Spicy Bloody Mary Sea Salt
  • Italian Black Truffle Popcorn Sea Salt
  • Maine Apple Wood Smoked Sea Salt
  • Spanish Chorizo Sea Salt
  • Smoked Serrano Pepper Sea Salt
  • Utah Red - Jurassic Rock Salt
  • Ghost Pepper - Naga Jolokia Infused Sea Salt
  • Paragon Australia Sea Salt 
  • Lake Grassmere Sea Salt
  • Bolivian Rose Sunset Sea Salt
  • Qab-nab Taab "Mayan Sun"
  • Sal del Mar "Flor Blanca"
  • Saffron Salt Flakes with Pushali 
  • Kentucky Bourbon Smoked Salt
  • Bourbon Vanilla Bean Infused Sea Salt
  • Alps Mountains Salt - Bergkern
  • Red Sea Salt
  • Murray River Pink
  • Green Mamba Spiced BBQ Grinder Salt
  • European Crystal Rock Salt
  • Yellow Sun Salt Flakes
  • Black Pyramid Salt Flakes - Black Pharaoh
  • Trapini Sea Salt
  • French Caviar de Sel
 Any products from The Spice Lab can be purchased online through their website, on Amazon, or in one of these select stores:  Detox Market (CA), Oaktown Spice Shop (CA), O'Live A Little Import & Gourmet's products (CT), The Cook's Kitchen (FL), Hill's Kitchen (Washington DC), Culinaire (WA), Living Green Fresh Market (FL), Gateway (IO), Kelly Roberts Balanced Living Health & Wellness (MD), Debra's Natural Gourmet (MA), Art of the Table (MI), Cape May Olive Oil Company (NJ), SEED387 (NJ), Samantha Chait (NY), Ideal care pharmacy (NY), O Live Brooklyn (NY), Boerne Epicure Gourmet Market (TX), Caviar & Bananas (SC), Newton Farms (SC).







I was lucky enough to receive the Gourmet Sea Salt Sampler Collection Number Two to review, so that I could share my opinions with you. The Spice Lab also offers other Gourmet Sea Salt Collections with various numbers of tubes. My sea salt collection contained the following four salts: No. 40  Himalayan Crystal Pink Fine Grain, No. 13  Hawaiian Black Lava (Medium) Sea Salt, No. 8 Hickory Smoked Sea Salt, and No. 3 Cyprus White Flake. This collection retails for $29.95.

Here's what The Spice Lab has to say about this collection: This Gourmet Salt Collection includes 4of the best tasting, hard-to-find salts in the world. These multi-pack samplers of salts are a great way to spice up your next meal, and are convenient to use and store. The collections are presented in affordable, portable, and decorative packages, perfect for kitchen countertops. They even comes with reference cards with detailed descriptions and suggestions on which salts go with which dishes, making it easy to create the perfect combination of flavors.

Himalayan Crystal Pink Salt is great for finishing and in cooking, and can be used on chicken, red meat, fish, or sauces/soups. It is mountain salt that comes from Pakistan. Carolina Hickory Smoked Salt is great for finishing, table, and cooking and can be used on vegetables, chicken, red meat, fish, and sauces/soups. It is a smoked sea salt that comes from North Carolina. Cyprus White Flake Salt is great for finishing and cooking and can be used on vegetables, chicken, red meat, fish, and sauces/soups. It is a sea salt that comes from the Island of Cyprus. Hawaiian Black Lava Salt is great for finishing and cooking and can be used on chicken, red meat, and fish. It is a coarse sea salt that comes from Hawaii.

All of The Spice Lab's Gourmet Collections come in a handcrafted wooden base (made from reclaimed cedar) and contain Pyrex test tubes with all-natural cork stoppers. Each tube contains from .7 to 1.3 ounces of salt, depending on the density of the salt. My collection also came with a special package with extra sample sized portions of different salts to test, as well as a reference card (so that you can remember what salt goes well with what type of food) and a cute wooden spoon that you can use to carefully remove the salt.  

I decided to use the Cyprus White Flake Salt and the Carolina Hickory Smoked Salt in part of a dinner that I created one night. My boyfriend and I had veggie burgers, boiled Swiss Chard, and red potatoes. The vegetables were fresh from a local farmer's stand, and we wanted to jazz them up. Though both of these salts could be used in the finishing, they can also be used during cooking, as per the reference card. Although the pictures do not show it well, we took two wooden spoonfuls of each salt to add to each pot. In one pot, I put water on to boil, and then I stuck the red potatoes in for about five minutes before I put in the two spoonfuls of Carolina Hickory Smoked Salt. I let the potatoes finish cooking and then I also added some natural butter. In the other pot, I put water on to boil, cut off the tips of the Swiss Chard, and threw that in the pot. After a few minutes, I added two spoonfuls of Cyprus White Flake Salt, and then let the Swiss Chard finish cooking. These were the only "seasonings" that I added to my vegetables.










Although I wish I enjoyed eating my vegetables plain, that generally isn't the case. I usually end up adding regular table salt and then some garlic or generic Italian seasoning. I MUCH preferred using The Spice Lab's Gourmet Salt Collection to spice up my Swiss Chard and potatoes. With just a pinch, you could really taste the flavor. The vegetables were not bland at all, and the flavor is so different from the spices that you find in the store, or table salt. It is hard to explain, but the Cyprus White Flake Salt and the Carolina Hickory Smoked Salt were rich tasting and extremely flavorful. I know the Carolina Hickory Smoked Salt would also taste great on a steak or on pulled pork, so I can't wait to put some in the crock pot next week! I know it will both taste good and make my apartment smell good. The Cyprus White Flake Salt tastes as though it could be added to virtually anything. I intend to make homemade vegetable soup and put some of this salt in. I also plan on using the Himalayan Crystal Pink Salt and the Hawaiian Black Lava Salt on some fancy fixings at my house warming party. I might use the Hawaiian Black Lava Salt on chicken. The quality of these salts is unmatched...and I haven't heard of half of the spices that The Spice Lab offers. I didn't know that there were that many varieties, but now I am intrigued! I am joining a cooking club at school (the first meeting will be in a few weeks), and I want to increase my knowledge of gourmet cooking, especially of exotic and worldly foods. I intend on bringing the rest of my Gourmet Salt Collection to one of our meetings, so we can create something really complex. 

The Spice Lab has really gotten me excited about cooking again. I love the taste of their products, and the fact that they come in the wooden, homemade stand. It looks so cute on my counter, and makes cooking with the salts very convenient. I would love to try more of The Spice Lab's salts, and even some of their spices. I tend to get my spices from a local health food store, but since they are in bulk, I have to put them into individual plastic bags. The test tube layout of seasonings would be a big help! 

Interested in learning more about The Spice Lab and their products? Check out the links below:
 

19 comments:

  1. These salts all look amazing - I think they would be fantastic in so many recipes!

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  2. What a great story! My husband would really enjoy these & I don't think he's heard of them. HELLO CHRISTMAS GIFTS!

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  3. Oh I didn't know there WAS a such thing as gourmet salts, that's awesome. I bet they are yummy!

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  4. Wow! Those look beautiful! I had no idea there were that many different kinds of sea salt!

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  5. Wow! That is really a big selection. wish we had something like that over there.

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  6. I like the gift collections. Perfect gift for the hard to shop for!

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  7. These sound delicious! I love sea salt, and flavored sea salt.... yummy! I cannot believe how many different varieties they have! So many awesome things I could cook with these! Thanks for sharing!

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  8. I've tried Gourmet Salt before but never this brand. I am going to look inot the gift collection for my sister who loves to cook.

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