Karen Pevenstein, a self-described Francophile, was at a food fair in Paris when she tasted salts that wowed her. “They were unlike anything I had ever come across,” she says. The crystals were impeccably crunchy and had subtle hints of the air and sea, but the briny flavor was mild. The salts were from a small company, Morel et Le Chantoux, run by paludiers (salt farmers) Gilles Morel and Matthieu Le Chantoux, an uncle and nephew team. They hand-harvest salt in the famous Guérande marshes in Brittany. “I could never find anything like it here,” says the Boston resident. Pevenstein is a public relations executive for a financial services company but also now works directly with the paludiers and imports their salts. “I decided to make it my passion project,” she says. She established the company Louis Sel and brings in Fleur del Sel ($13 for 4.4 ounces) and Sel Marin ($15 for 8.8 ounces). Known as the “caviar of salt,” the snow-white crystals of the Fleur del Sel is skimmed off the water’s surface, never floating to the bottom and mixing with clay and minerals. Pevenstein offers two types: Vent d’Ouest, a slightly larger, crunchier salt influenced by the west-blowing ocean wind, and Vent d’Est, with crystals smaller and more delicate because of the drier eastern wind. They can both be used for cooking or as a finishing salt. The Sel Marin is the opposite — harvested from the marsh’s bottom to mix with mineral-rich clay. Its grey crystals are then blended with organic thyme, oregano, rosemary, and other herbs and can be dusted on eggs, poultry, or vegetables, or really anything, to create a Provencal flavored dish. Available at KitchenWares by Blackstones, 215 Newbury St., Boston, 857-366-4237; Siena Farms South End, 106 Waltham St., Boston, 617-422-0030, or go www.louissel.com.
ANN TRIEGER KURLAND