Taste­ful gift­ing

What’s the only host­ess gift you need to give this hol­i­day sea­son (and is guar­an­teed to out­shine a bot­tle of wine or a bou­quet of flow­ers)? Amy Grief has the an­swer: sea salt.

National Post (Latest Edition) - - LIFE BY DESIGN -

Host­ess gifts that stray be­yond wine or choco­lates in­evitably end up buried deep in­side junk draw­ers. But not this sea­son, be­cause we’ve got the best idea for a small to­ken of your ap­pre­ci­a­tion: sea salt.

Fancy salt is a lit­tle lux­ury most peo­ple wouldn’t buy for them­selves. It’s some­thing your hosts will keep front and cen­tre on their kitchen counter and reach for over and over again, re­mind­ing them of your im­pec­ca­ble gift-giv­ing abil­i­ties. If you don’t know your hosts and their tastes well, sea salt is a safer bet than wine or choco­late, since it’s gluten-free, ve­gan and suit­able for house­holds that are lean­ing into the low- or no-al­co­hol sip­ping trends.

Un­like ev­ery­day kosher salt, sea salt is used spar­ingly to fin­ish dishes and desserts to give them a lit­tle ex­tra zing. The Chate­laine kitchen team uses it in its pesto-bur­rata salad, salted caramel ice cream and dou­ble choco­late brownie cook­ies.

Sea salts are pricier than their ta­ble and kosher salt coun­ter­parts, but as a gift they’re as af­ford­able as a bot­tle of Mer­lot. A box of Mal­don Sea Salt Flakes (the stan­dard for chefs and food­i­etypes) goes for about $ 10 and can eas­ily be found on­line and in spe­cialty gro­cery stores. If you’re re­ally am­bi­tious, you can flavour it your­self us­ing chili flakes and pa­prika, lemon zest or herbes de provence, and then pack­age it up in a Ma­son jar and fes­tive bow.

Le Sau­nier De Ca­mar­gue Fleur De Sel is another trusted brand ( with its own nice pack­ag­ing), and Wal­mart sells it for $10.

If you pre­fer to buy Cana­dian, there’s a bur­geon­ing home­grown sea salt in­dus­try. The com­pa­nies are still quite small — the New­found­land Salt Com­pany in Bon­av­ista and Pure Sea Salt in New Har­bour, N.L., cur­rently take or­ders via email — but many ship across the coun­try, mak­ing it easy to or­der a few jars or gift sets to bring to your next hol­i­day party.

Be­low, a few Cana­dian sea salts you can buy on­line.

TIDAL SALT

This Hal­i­fax-based com­pany fills lit­tle jars with sea salt straight from the At­lantic. For a rus­ti­clook­ing gift, go for a sam­pler box ($20), which in­cludes three dif­fer­ent flavours of sea salt.

tidal­salt.ca

VAN­COU­VER I SLAND SALT CO.

This B. C.- based busi­ness sells a va­ri­ety of salt prod­ucts, in­clud­ing clas­sic fleur de sel and flavoured salts. The Canada 150-themed gift set goes for $38 and features salt in a beau­ti­ful range of colours, thanks to flavour­ful mix-ins, such as berries and kelp.

visaltco.com

SALTWEST

Van­cou­ver Is­land’s SaltWest sells 40- 50- gram bags of sea salt — in­clud­ing Flor de Sal, Cana­dian So­lar Sea Salt, roasted gar­lic and onion and sweet smoky maple — for $6.50. Not only would th­ese be great as a host gift, but you could use them as party favours or stock­ing stuffers.

saltwest.com

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