‘The Meadow celebrates the elemental essentials of the table by exploring the variety and nuances that ennoble and inspire us. We welcome our customers with expertise, passion, and a desire to share our interests in food and culture. Through this simple mission we strive to make an indelible mark, one table at a time.’
We have been fans of Mark Bitterman – known in the industry as a ‘selmelier,’ a world expert in sea salts – for some time, so it was no surprise to us that one of the highlights of our trip to New York last month was a visit to his beautiful shop, The Meadow. His book Salted: A Maniefsto is one of our favourites.
As soon as we walked in, we knew we were going to be there for a while. We were met by a vibrant and colourful array of fresh flowers, aromatic bitters, serious chocolates and world-renowned salts. What was there not to like?
Clearly our first job was locating our products on the shelves, but we were soon distracted by row after row of patterned paper-wrapped bars of chocolate, glass corked jars of exotic seasonings, tiny engraved wooden boxes of salt, creamy goat’s milk caramels, and vase after vase of fresh scented flowers.
It was the cabinet of bitters which really caught our attention though, and indeed, it is these intoxicating liquids which are the subject of Mark’s latest book, Bitterman’s Field Guide to Bitters & Amari. Abe, the knowledgable guy who looked after us in the shop, gave us a quick potted history.
Traditionally, bitters were tinctures made up of plants supposed to have medicinal properties. The best known is probably Angostura bitters – originally developed as a remedy for stomach problems in the nineteenth century. Certainly in America, bitters are now experiencing a revival, and every bar worth its salt (ahem, sorry) will have several in stock to add balance to their cocktails.
We tasted the tiniest drops of bitters flavoured with everything from dandelion root to hops, cardamom to celery, and finished by tasting three different types of Grenadine to sweeten things off.
Back at home we ordered Mark’s book, and were not disappointed when it landed on our door mat. As well as guides for making your own bitters, seriously good cocktail recipes and some very interesting history, it has a handful of eating recipes – Bloody Mary Gazpacho and Lemon Cardamom Bittered Ice Cream Sandwiches are two of our favourites.
If you’re hungry for more, we can heartily recommend Mark’s Drinking Chocolate recipe, made with our vanilla salt, or his books make excellent Christmas presents. Bottom’s up.