Sunday, December 8, 2013
Location: 172 Middle St.
How long in the city: Since mid-October
What's it all about: Salts to dress up your food and salts to pamper your body
Top seller: Black truffle salt (try it on fries)
Most unique item: The 500-pound salt lamp. Salt Cellar owner Don Tydeman had planned to sell it but changed his mind because it took too much work to get it into the shop and mounted on its setting of brick and wood.
If you've walked past the corner of Middle and Market streets lately you may have been intrigued by the solid hunks of pink in the store windows on the lower level. Because the signs in the window let you know this retail space belongs to The Salt Cellar, you likely surmised that the elephant lights and candle lamps must be made from salt - but not any kind of salt you've encountered before.
Head down the stairs and into the store and you'll learn plenty about Himalayan salt both for cooking and for pampering your body, such as:
Salt at this establishment comes in up to 50 different flavors, including Applewood Smoked (which smells exactly like a campfire), Espresso (think about sprinkling it on ice cream), Toasted Onion (goes well with veggies) and Ghost Pepper (100 times hotter than jalapeno).
Salt lamps, which come in all sizes and shapes, are said to give off negative ions that counteract the positive ions that are said to be put out by electronic equipment. Tydeman says people who use them have also reported better respiratory conditions and that they sleep better.
Salt cutting boards and tablewear allow you to prepare and serve food with seasoning - literally.
Salt is created slightly differently from country to country but the time-worn tradition includes flooding clay-bottomed fields or ponds with sea water, and waiting for the sun and wind to evaporate the liquid so the salt is left behind.
Tydeman and his wife, Judit, got the idea for the first Salt Cellar, located at 7 Commercial Alley in Portsmouth, after traveling around Eastern Europe and learning the benefits and uses of salt. In addition to the wonderful and diverse tastes of infused salts, they also experienced the practice in Salzburg, Austria of breathing air treated with salt particles to help decongestion.
Much brainstorming and many Post-it Notes led to the opening of the Portsmouth location in Nov. 2011. About a year later came the Portland store, complete with display shelves made from blocks of salt, signs with catchy sayings about salt, rows of salts and salt products to be tasted and tested and the 500-pound salt lamp in the center of the space which may or may not make you breathe easier, but is impressive all the same.
Here are a few more things you'll find at the Salt Cellar:
Karen Beaudoin is an online editor for Maine Today Media and contributes two blogs to the company's websites.
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