Well actually, it all started innocently enough. A casual conversation at a display table at my local farmer’s market led me to a small farmhouse and uber-green RV in the Applegate Valley. There I met up with two personality-plus, down-to-earth creatives who are making quite a name for themselves in the world of gourmet salts. When I asked Salinity Salts co-owner, Jody Van Buskirk, why salt?…she responded with “well, I’ve always LOVED salt…and butter”. Thus, a palate driven by salt led Van Buskirk, along with business partner, Laine Alexander, from crafting salt and herb blends in their home kitchens to becoming emerging players on the finishing salts scene.
Located in the bucolic Applegate Valley of Southern Oregon, Van Buskirk and Alexander work out of a small reno’d RV that sits quietly, and boldly, next to the home they share with their respective families. Charmingly named The Salt Box, it has served as production headquarters for tasting and testing their way to a popular line of finishing salts that enhance and complement the dishes of home cooks and chefs in the region. Their collective passion is creating superior blends that result from a marriage of sea and soil…high moisture sel gris from 3,000 year-old salt ponds in Guerande, France hand blended with locally grown organic herbs, spices and powders.
This nascent business, at just a year old, has developed a sensory pleasing array of 11 salt blends with real wow factor, including, chipotle, lemon ginger, the ever popular rosemary garlic, Oregon black truffle and Rogue Heavenly Blue, the latter of which is a unique partnership of ingredients with the award winning Rogue Creamery. In the spirit of the new collaborative economy, they work closely with local farms and purveyors to secure just the right ingredients that are the perfect match to their French salt.
Many thanks to Salinity Salts for an inside-the-RV peek! After tons of fun and chatter, I headed back to the office dreaming about all the ways I could put their interesting blends to work in my own kitchen. Following on a tip from Van Buskirk, The Local Dish created this recipe for peach season.
Goat Cheese and Fresh Peach “Sliders”
1 fresh baguette, sliced and toasted
8 ounces fresh artisan goat cheese
2 large ripe peaches, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut baguette into 1/2-inch slices and toast on baking sheet until lightly browned and crusty, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly. While baguette is toasting, peel peaches and cut into 1/2-inch slices.
Spread thin (or more!) layer of goat cheese on baguette, place 2 peach slices on each baguette, and sprinkle lightly with Fire! Finishing Salt. Be prepared for a major taste experience!
Photo credit: Barb Magee