You may remember our interview with Mark Bitterman a few months ago, where he explained the simple truths of salt and let us taste several varieties in his beautiful store. Today we're back to give you a peek into this delightful shop. It carries all of Mark's essentials. Find out what this bon vivant considers the necessities of life.
Hint: these items are not on the USDA food pyramid.
Mark Bitterman, owner of the Meadow and author of Salt, considers salt, wine, chocolate and flowers the essentials in life, that's why he sells these items at his store. Walking into this gem of a shop, on Mississippi Ave in NE Portland, is like being transported into a sensoral vortex. Once you're in there, it's hard to leave. The salts are unexpected and very pungent, flavored with things like cacao, lemon and Japanese plums. Then there's the bright bunches of flowers giving off a heady perfume. Finally, it's the chocolate bars and wine bottles, their packaging and promise of what's inside, that dazzle me into a headspin. This shop is fantastic for gifts, and you may end up with a few purchases for yourself. Oh hello lavender bitters, I must have you!
Speaking of bitters, the Meadow also carries a very broad selection of the delicious (and somewhat mysterious) beverage tonics. It is here that I purchased orange bitters, now a trusty addition to any type of gin cocktail, my favorite being an old-fashioned swizzle. I make this classic drink with gin, lime, sugar and a dash of the orange bitters.
If it's chocolate that you desire, The Meadow has you covered. The shop carries bars, truffles, and all manor of cocoa confections from near and far. French bars mingle with local caramels, next door to cacao nibs from Venezuela right by salted chocolates The Meadow whips up. There's a great variety, and the artfully designed labels will be sure to seduce and entice. Watch out!
Chocolates, wines, flowers and bitters aside, the biggest reason to visit this charmed shop is for the salt. With a true schmorgasboard of unique finishing, artisan, cooking, brining and curing salts, one really can get lost in the magnitude of options. Luckily, there's tasters for each type and helpful staff to guide you through. For me, it was helpful to have a shopgal give me the lowdown, then point out her favorites. This was a great starting point, and now that I've established a few favorites of my own, I'm able to add to my repetoire with each visit. I'm lucky to live within walking distance of this remarkable place. If you are making a visit to Portland, put this sensory experience on your list.
The Meadow has recently opened up a New York City sister shop, located on the West Side, almost at the edge of the Hudson River.
Have you been to the shop in New York City? Or the original location in Portland? Did you fall in love with the place?
• Visit The Meadow online: The Meadow
Related: Selmilier Mark Bitterman: 5 Simple Truths About Salt
(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)