Enter, stage right, the ogre Salt. Enter, stage left, Allora mums Felicity Philp and Kylie Brasch.
One of them carries a large (5kg), pink block of solid salt from the Himalayas. It’s for cooking. On, not with.
The other carries a natty hessian carrybag filled with glass bottles containing salt products in every possible manifestation and then some; edible, organic salt as condiments and additives, in flavours hitherto unheard of, for mealtime uses as old as time.
Felicity and Kylie are the proprietors of Salt of Life, or SOL, a home-based business that specialises in the virtues, values and veracity of the much-maligned, not-such-an-ogre, salt. Real salt, that is. Artisan salts, infused salts, and Himalayan rock salt products. And their products are something else. Absolutely fantastic, delicious and healthful.
They have to be, because Felicity and Kylie are enthusiastic exponents of nutrition through simple, whole food. Each of them has four young children; each, like mothers everywhere, wants the very best for her babies. And that begins, says Kylie, with a glint of passion in her eye, with food. Real food. Plain, tasty food. Unexpurgated, unadulterated food; the kind your mum had when she grew up on a farm, before things were tinned and packaged and dehydrated, steamed and sugared and shelved, all in the name of convenience in a fast-moving world.
Salt of Life made its debut a year ago at the Hampton Festival. Kylie (blessed with formidable PR skills) and Felicity (the food designer) teamed up with a common bond. “You don’t need to mess about with food much to maximise the flavour,” says one of them, as the other nods agreement. “Salt has always been used to enhance the flavour of food,” says Kylie. “It’s how you enhance, or don’t enhance, the salt that makes the difference to your health.”
Salt of Life sources salt that is collected in age-old ways, from salt mines of pure crystal to salt ponds left to evaporate in the sun and the residue scraped together with wooden paddles.
Every salt deposit has a signature colour and mineral content. It can then be infused with oils and herbs, or smoked in a variety of ways, to create the specific flavours that Kylie and Felicity bottle and present at their Salt of Life stall at food markets.
Which brings us back to the five kilogram block of Himalayan rock salt from the Himalayan salt mines of northern Pakistan. It’s used as a griddle for Allora grass-fed beef (in itself a culinary experience), drawing the flavour of the beef through the meat, tenderising it and lightly flavouring it with just a touch of pure, unadulterated salt. Just cook on it, scrape it and wipe it off; it will last, with proper care, for up to 200 steaks.
Kylie and Felicity are country women from rural backgrounds. They remember when food was real, and the kitchen the centre of the home, the focus of hospitality and family communication. They have created such kitchens themselves.
Words by Jane Grieve | Images by Janine Waters