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Selmelier sel·me·lier (noun): An expert in gourmet salts who advises customers on salt varieties, flavor profiles, and food pairings.

A recent article in the Guardian on gourmet sea salts quotes Alison Lea-Wilson, founder of the Halen Mon Anglesey Sea Salt company, on the growing market for for artisan salts and the emergence of selmeliers:

When the Lea-Wilsons started 15 years ago, business experts said there was no market for artisan sea salt. But over a decade in which many people have become more interested in what is on their plates, the company's success – demand has always outstripped supply – does not overly surprise them. "There are even restaurants in America that employ 'selmeliers' to advise diners on which salt to choose for which dish," says Alison.

The most oft-cited selmelier is Mark Bitterman, the author of Salted: A Manifesto on the World's Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes and the owner of The Meadow, a gourmet shop in Portland, Oregon, that specializes in specialty salts. An Associated Press story profiling Mr. Bitterman and his devotion to salt noted his status as a selmelier: "Using the language of wine, Bitterman talks about salts that are 'unctuous,' that impart 'spiciness' or 'butteriness.' He refers to a salt’s 'meroir,' the qualities it derives from its ocean, and calls himself as a 'semelier.'"


Belgians Protest By Eating Fries in Underwear

Belgium has gone 249 days since its last election without forming a government. As a protest, a group of Belgian students ate fries in their underwear.


Dawn of the Dekopon

A secret consortium of growers has brought Japan's Dekopon, a huge seedless mandarin, to California.


Zinfandel Guy Parodies Old Spice Guy

A new video to promote the 2011 Paso Robles Zinfandel Festival in Paso Robles, California, parodies the Old Spice ads with a swaggering connoisseur of zinfandel (as opposed to a bare-chested promoter of deodorant).

Via Eater.


For Homemade Pizza: Steel, Not Stone

According to Nathan Myhrvold, author of Modernist Cuisine, you are better off using a thick (custom fabricated) sheet of steel than a pizza stone when making your own pies at home.


Building a Better Pair of Tongs

Even fans of tongs (and they do have their arch-enemies) will acknowledge a flaw in their design: the propensity to mess up your kitchen work surface every time you set them down. Dreamfarm's Clongs offer a design solution: the tongs feature a notch in the handles that allow the business end to stay off the counter when at rest.

Stainless steel with heat-resistant silicone tips. $14.95 at Dreamfarm.


Saveur to Launch Restaurant Reviews

In its March issue, Saveur magazine will launch restaurant reviews penned by notable food writers.


Study: Vegans at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease

Despite their total avoidance of animal fats, vegans may actually increase their risk of developing blood clots and atherosclerosis.