The country's most talented artisans are turning out better versions of kitchen basics like granola, honey and sea salt.
Ben Jacobsen discovered great salt when he traveled abroad after college, buying it everywhere from Denmark to South Africa. "It transformed everything I put it on," he says. In 2009, a couple years after returning home to Oregon, he set out to make his own salt: "I figured that if Maldon comes from the UK, which has a similar climate to the Pacific Northwest, this had to be possible."
Jacobsen spent the next two-and-a-half years testing seawater in dozens of spots. "The taste and salinity of the salt varied incredibly," he says. "It was the same way that terroir affects wine." He finally settled on Netarts Bay, 80 miles west of Portland, hand-pumping seawater into plastic drums that he would transport to a commercial kitchen in the city, then painstakingly collecting flakes of salt by hand with a custom-made strainer.
Within a couple of years, Jacobsen had gone from producing three pounds of salt a week to 300, and his customer list had grown to include big-name chefs like Chris Cosentino, Thomas Keller and Paul Kahan. Recently, Jacobsen Salt Co. moved its seven employees into a 3,500-square-foot workspace on the Oregon coast. But its owner has no plans to alter his low-tech production methods. "The quality has to be there," he says. "That's why we're here." $3.50 for 0.2 oz; jacobsensalt.com
Related: Small-Batch Superstars
Lessons from Salt Guru Mark Bitterman
Great American Artisans
Coffee, wine, beer, cocktails—if it’s made well and it’s potable, then F&W editors will drink it. Here's what we tried this past week.
Beheaded Rioja: According to restaurant editor Kate Krader, “Everyone needs to see their wine bottle beheaded.” At Eleven Madison Park, sommelier Cedric Nicaise removed the neck of a bottle of R. Lopez Rioja with heated port tongs.
Wedding Tea: Recently-wed senior wine editor Megan Krigbaum steeped some of TWG's Grand Wedding Tea, a black tea blended with sunflowers and pineapple.
Midtown Cocktails: A good midtown NYC craft cocktail bar? Features assistant Chelsea Morse proves it’s not a myth at Lantern’s Keep.
Northern Gin and Tonic: At the new B.B.R. in Williamsburg, I, assistant digital editor Justine Sterling, tried a savory and refreshing Northern Tonic: aquavit, Perry Tot gin, Strega, celery bitters and cucumber.
Epic Wine Dinner: Associate multimedia editor James Pomerantz drank his way through one of Pearl & Ash’s Renegade Wine Dinners. This one was pegged to a plethora of cool Californian bottles.
After a night on the line, most chefs have a go-to drink, from cheap beer to a house bartender's expert cocktail. Here, chef Jordan Kahn of Red Medicine in Beverly Hills explains why he is one of the many chefs and restaurant professionals who can’t get enough Riesling.
“German Riesling is the greatest wine on the planet,” Kahn says. “First and foremost it has the best acidity of any wine out there. Even though a lot of people think it’s very sweet, it’s never a sugar bomb, it’s always highly balanced. It’s low alcohol, which means a wonderful food wine. It has no oak, no malolactic fermentation. It’s got just the grape, the acid, a little bit of sugar and terroir. It’s super-delicious and you can pair it with basically anything.”
Click through the slideshow for a range of foods that pair perfectly with Riesling.
Related: The World's Best Riesling Wine Regions
German Wine Producers We Love
The Truth About Riesling
Follow the easy steps in this slideshow to make pizza with a chewy-yet-crisp crust, a well-seasoned San Marzano tomato sauce and fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese. The photos are taken by newly annointed F&W Digital Food Awards Winner Matt Armendariz of Matt Bites.
Related: More Recipe Photos by Matt Armendariz
Best Pizza Places in the U.S.
Fast Italian Recipes
This Old Wine
You don't have to be a hoarder or deep-pocketed auction-goer to drink well-aged wine. Here, we spotlight affordable old bottles to buy now.
2000 Château Lanessan Haut-Médoc: It's currently the prime drinking window for an ocean of good 2000 Bordeaux, but much of it doesn't offer great value. The year was hailed by critics as a near-perfect vintage, so many bottles are priced accordingly. But there are exceptions, like this one from an underrated property near the famed St-Julien sub-region.
The (Wonderful) Effects of Age: Here are a few scents you're supposed to detect in good aged Bordeaux: Leather (check), spice (here too), tobacco (in this case, a very sweet unlit-cigar note). Fruit fades over time, but there's still plenty of the expected cassis, plus dark berries. The palate is very pure, which is wine-speak meaning it's not hindered by any faint unpleasant undertones. It's just extremely enjoyable, textbook Bordeaux.
Drink It With: A rich lamb dish would be excellent, but the important thing is that it's paired with fat and protein, both of which make tannic wines taste better. The tannins in this firm, Cabernet-based bottling are at just the right level to be tempered by a nice piece of red meat.
Best Price Online: Total Wine & More in Norwalk, CT has it for a very low $19, and it's still a great buy at around $30 elsewhere.
Related: Benchmark Wine Producers in Bordeaux
Spain's #1 Source for Old Wine
A Killer Port from a Top Producer