At the Farmers Market: Hepp’s Salt Bar – Calabasas Patch
There are tapa bars and taco bars, margarita bars and martini bars. Have you ever heard of a salt bar?
Patch came across one at the Calabasas Farmers Market last Saturday, featuring premium gourmet salts from far-away corners of the world.
Owner and president Brian Hepp left the corporate world before stumbling upon the salt-bar idea. “I wanted to start something novel and unique,” he said.
He started Hepp’s Salt Bar in January 2011 with eight kinds of salt in three farmers markets. He now carries 19 salt varieties and has a presence in 12 farmers markets all over the Southland.
A salt for every dish
All the premium gourmet salts are 100 percent natural with no additives or anti-caking agents, according to Hepp, who tests all of them in his kitchen. They come in different colors, textures and flavors.
“Some are good for cooking while some are good for finishing or garnishing a dish,” said Julie Bartleson, a staff member.
There are eight kinds of cooking salts, including the Sel Gris de Guarande from the coast of Brazil. “This is what I would suggest to people who are looking for a low sodium variety or if they are just looking to replace their table salt,” Hepp said.
The other cooking salts include the Alaea Hawaiian salt, which is good for roasting, grilling, spice blends and soups. Another cooking salt variety is the Bolivian Rose, which is suitable for seafood, sauces and brines.
The 11 finishing salt varieties include the black truffle, “the most flavorful salt in the whole world,” according to Hepp. Composed of Italian sea salt mixed with dried black truffles from the Abruzzi region of Italy, this very popular salt is the perfect garnish for egg and pasta dishes.
Fleur de Sel is another type of finishing salt. It is best used on vegetables, salads and roasted meat dishes.
Hepp was quick to point something out about salt usage. “There are no hard and fast rules in cooking. We merely have suggestions for using them based on our own experience,” he said.
All the salt varieties are Kosher, except for one. Averaging $5 for a 3.5-ounce jar at the farmers markets (higher prices online include shipping), the salts came from Hawaii, the Himalayas, Brazil, Bolivia, France, Cyprus and Italy.
Get your salt fix
When asked about his plans, Hepp said, “We’ll continue to add and scout for more varieties as we get more feedback.”
“So far, the response has been encouraging and phenomenal,” he described the responses he’s been getting in the different farmers markets.
Get your salt fix at any of the 12 farmers markets around the Southland or order online.
The Calabasas Farmers Market is open from 8 am to 1 pm every Saturday at 23504 Calabasas Road, across the street from the Sagebrush Cantina.
May 30 2011