I’ve been spending a lot of time experimenting with sea salt lately. Grilling fish with Meyer-lemon infused salt, adding a pinch of rosemary salt to pinto beans, making a vinaigrette with a smoked sea salt, sprinkling fruit or popcorn with dashes of this or that. A few weeks ago I took the Sea Salt Workshop at the Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes. Held the first Saturday of every month, at a cost of $70 per person, the workshops are led by the resort’s chefs.
Executive chef Bernard Ibarra was the guide of the workshop that I, along with other local food writers, enjoyed on a bright and glorious Southern California morning. Terranea harvests its own salt, from the sea that was just a few hundred yards from where we stood. The all-glass Sea Salt Conservatory, adjacent to the Palos Verdes Ballroom Terrace, was built in 2015. Chef Ibarra described the process of collecting sea water—100 gallons at a time—straining the salt through filters and then drying it out on three troughs that are exposed to the sunlight. As the water evaporates in just under two weeks, what’s left behind are beautiful piles of salt crystals. The salts are then flavored with rosemary, sage, lemon or lavender. Some is smoked.
We eventually moved on to the salt pairing, tasting grilled pineapple, dark chocolate, cheese and wine coupled with just the right salt. It was revelatory. Best of all we got to take home samples of the salt, which is why I’ve been spending so much time in the kitchen of late.
The Sea Salt Workshops can be customized for groups. For more info, visit terranea.com.