I finally had a chance to visit World Spice at Seattle's Pike Place Market. I have the owner's reference/cook book which I posted about last week, but I'd never had the opportunity to peruse the store. It was quite a treat, if not slightly overwhelming. While it was fun to browse, I'd really love if I could shop there for my regular supplies, popping in when I was planning a specific recipe and wanted fresh ingredients to prepare it. The whole premise of such a market is that you can't "stock up" because flavors will deteriorate and diminish. So I bought a couple of items that I thought would be most likely to last in my pantry, and be most likely to get used up while still in their prime: cassia cinnamon sticks, cumin seed, tallicherry peppercorns, and an experiment: Cypress black lava salt.
I chose this salt because of it's incredible appearance: tiny square pyramids unlike any other salt crystals or flakes I've seen. The flakes are large as far as salt is concerned, (but small for a pyramid!) - about 5/8". They crush easily into flakes that are more appropriate for garnishing food, but the preserved pyramids are quite fascinating to behold. To further exoticize the look, the color is a dark charcol.
The flavor is salty as you would expect, but with a volcanic acidity and a not-unpleasant but still noticable ash-y taste that makes sense given that it's from lava rock. The ashiness is almost like an underlying smokiness. I haven't yet determined what I want to pair this salt with. While the highlights are obviously "saltiness" it contains enough other subtle flavors that I think it needs to be served with a dish that will really be complemented by this salt's specific profile. Post if you have ideas!