I have a friend, Ian, who walks into a kitchen and immediately judges his friends on the type of salts they use. Luckily enough, I always pass this test with flying colors. Most chefs have a plethora of salts in their pantry. I have a huge storage box full of only salts and dried peppers. There are the perfect pyramids of Maldon, pink Himalayan salt blocks, the coarse rock salt used for Brazilian barbecue and Ben Jacobsen's pacific Oregon salts. These days, and for the rest of my days, I'll be using Sicilian sea sea salt in my cooking. The good shit; the hand-harvested, unfiltered, mineral-rich, gritty, sparkly kind of Sicilian sea salt from Trapani and the island of Mozia.
On the west coast of Sicily, in the province of Trapani, there are some of the oldest salt marshes in Europe. The ponds fill up with water in the springtime. With the powerful African winds (we witnessed this on our bike rides, believe me) and the strong summer sun, they slowly dry up and form rocks that get ground up into fine crystals. The coastline from Trapani heading south towards Marsala is dotted with glittering saltpans "Riserva Naturale Saline di Trapani e Paceco" protected by the WWF.
On my #CHEEKYbici trip with Silvestro Silvestori, we drove into Sicily via Messina then west to Trapani. We started the cycling trip down the west coast right past these beautiful salt pans. I stopped to take photos of the old mills and dipped my fingers into the ponds to taste just how salty they actually were. We had such a lovely time riding down the windy coast from Trapani and on to Menfi. Here are some photos of the trip and a beautiful greenhouse we passed along the way.
*Sicilian sea salt from Trapani is available on gustiamo.com with my discount code "cheekychef"