Saturday, February 20, 2010

Fort Myers, Florida (Part 8) - Our Visit to Sea Salt in Naples

I'm sure you're wondering what "Sea Salt" is in the town of Naples, besides of course the actual salt.  Well, we were wondering too.  Diane had decided that she wanted to buy a few more of those delicious Norman Love chocolates to take home for family and friends and when checking online, she found out that they were also sold at a place called "Sea Salt" in Naples.  We weren't sure if it was a store or what, and didn't really have time to look it up before we left.  We didn't even write down the address, but Alice thought she had a good idea of where it might be, since there are a few well known shopping areas in the town.

After the rest of our adventures in Naples, we decided to try to find Sea Salt, so we drove around 5th Avenue and 3rd Street with our eyes out for a sign.  Finally, we decided to ask a couple of women who were walking down the street.  They didn't live in town, but said they thought there was a restaurant named Sea Salt somewhere on 3rd Street.  That was the case and soon we were walking up to the door.

When I saw how welcoming the outdoor terrace was, I was disappointed that we hadn't given it a try for lunch on such a beautiful day.  Oh well, too late for that now, but at least we could track down the chocolates we were looking for.

Well, it turns out that in addition to chocolates, they also have a little shop inside that sells all manner of treats, including - you guessed it - sea salt.

Now this wasn't just any old run of the mill boring white sea salt.  The owners, Venetian chef (that's Venice, Italy, not Florida or California) Fabrizio Aielli and his wife, Ingrid have collected dozens of flavor-infused salts. And our first surprise was that Fabrizio himself offered to let Diane and I sample a few!  He was so enthusiastic about every detail of our tasting.  I wish we had had more time to savor his descriptions delivered in that wonderful Italian accent, as well as the flavors and the moments of discovery.

He let us try Lemon Twist, Chipotle and Ghost Pepper infused salts.  The Lemon would have definitely been delicious on any kind of fish, chicken or even vegetables.
 Of course, I enjoy lemon flavor on most anything so this was a special treat.

  Next we tried the Chipotle, which had a smoky southwestern flavor reminiscent of our familiar Arizona spices. Obviously this would be great on Mexican food, but also pork, beef and so much more.

And for the big finale, Fabrizio took great care to explain that the Ghost Pepper from India, is recognized as the hottest pepper in the world and that it was wise to use it very sparingly. I was actually familiar with it, since our friend Jay is a big fan of hot spices and has been trying to buy some seeds so he could raise his own Ghost Peppers.  So, knowing what I know about those peppers, we made sure to have some water available to douse the heat after we tasted this unique salt flavor.  When I tasted it, I actually took only one grain of salt and that one little piece felt like it was burning thru my tongue.  It wasn't horrible, but I don't think I would use it very often in cooking, if at all. In fact, I think it was quite daring of Fabrizio to even consider using it on his dishes.  I imagine that there's an elite audience for it.

Soon Fabrizio was told that he had a gentleman waiting for an appointment and although he appeared to enjoy our little adventure much more than the thought of his upcoming meeting, he had to say goodbye.  We were so appreciative of the time that he took to share his passion with us.  Diane bought a small bottle of the Lemon Twist and we headed for the door.

And our last surprise was seeing this adorable dog waiting at the table for Fabrizio to come for his meeting.  I'm assuming it belonged to him because he was watching him so intently and waiting so patiently for his master to join them.

So that was our last big adventure in Florida and what a fun little detour it was!

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