The Meadow: Salt, Chocolate and Flowers
Just a sliver of the chocolate selection at The Meadow on Hudson Street.
I’ve recently been getting into salt. The first reason is because Nathan Myrvhold told me to. He said that the only place we needed salt was on the first few bites of a dish. Once it hits the taste buds, he told us, it would filter over to the rest of the meal. Since those instructions I have completely changed my salting approach. Now I use salt right before I am about to eat, with a little sprinkle on top just before serving. It works very well. The other reason is that I have been gifted a few pots of what I call fancy salts: Maldon flakes, pink Himalayan, smoked salt, to name just a few. Now, when I travel, it occurs to me that maybe I should bring a little to-go container of my favorite salts.
Recently I staycationed at a friends in the West Village, at an apartment on Greenwich Street. The differences in surroundings were pretty remarkable. It was so much cleaner! There I said it. The Lower East Side, the place I call home, is scrappy, and funky. It's full of grubby artists and workers, and trash is strewn everywhere I walk. On Saturday nights there are so many people hitting the bars that officers on horses patrol the streets. Have I painted the picture for you?
Now the West Village, the area west of the NYU campus—and west of 7th Avenue, is clean and full of beautiful people. Every street looks pretty enough for a film set, which it probably has been. Hudson Street seems to be the place where the beautiful people shop and that's where I found The Meadow.
The Meadow sells three things: chocolate, salt and flowers. Could there be a more perfect collection of items? The first thing I noticed was the picture window stocked full of giant blocks of coral colored salt. According to the girl behind the counter, the blocks were all from the same salt mine in Pakistan. I'd only recently heard about using slabs of salt for grilling, but these were almost too pretty to char up.
Salt blocks for grilling, or pretty enough to stack in your window.
Mark and Jennifer Bitterman first opened The Meadow in Portland, and thankfully they journeyed to the east coast for their second location, which they opened in 2010. Mark Bitterman is the author of Salted, a self-proclaimed manifesto on the history of salt, so it kind of goes without saying that we should trust this guy when he decides to put a salt on his shelves. Despite the salt forward window, what pulled me in to the store were the flowers.
When I first moved to New York, which was about the time the Bitterman's opened The Meadow, I learned a sad fact: that there are no florists in New York City. Sure, they're somewhere, but they weren't where I was. The only flowers available to me were the ones at the bodegas, the farmer's markets, and Whole Foods, whose flowers seemed to die long before I wanted them to. The array of spring buds inside The Meadow were glorious, and I'm not just saying this because we've been locked in the winter blahs for so long.
Just a sprinkling of what The Meadow has for sale.
I didn't buy any flowers because I was about to leave my temporary West Village home, but I did pick up some interesting chocolates, all new ones I had never seen before. I also picked up a smoked salt that smelled heavenly. I'm planning to use it on eggs and roasted veggies. But on that note, this helpful primer on what salts to use on what foods is pretty fascinating.
The Meadow has some cool looking events, like how to grill with salt and a few tempting cocktail classes that incorporate the bitters they also stock.
And, thanks to Bitterman, in this piece on Food & Wine, I've learned that Kosher salt is a travesty to all salts. But, perhaps it's okay to use in kimchi?