Top Grain

It all started with a little poke. Hawaiian poke, that is.

In 2008, Aaron Eckburg and his wife Liz Eckburg were vacationing in Maui, when the self-proclaimed gastronome decided to seek out the best of the island’s raw seafood dish. The chef’s secret ingredient? Locally crafted salt. The Eckburgs were hooked.

Fast-forward to today and the couple is now educating Valley residents about salts and salt pairings as the owners of go lb. salt, Arizona’s only purveyor of artisanal salts.

“There are so many misconceptions about salt,” Eckburg says. “Salt is an integral part of life. It’s what we should be using to season our food, to preserve our food, and to make our food taste better.

“But salts are like wines or anything else you pair with a meal. There’s a measure of thought that needs to go into what salt to use with what food,” he adds. “There are more than 130 different unrefined salts that are crafted or mined around the world, and they’re not all equal. Each is uniquely suited for certain foods and certain uses.”

The Eckburgs began go lb. salt in 2011 with seven salts. They now offer 18 varieties, including 12 smoked and unsmoked salts from around the world; four Himalayan pink aromatic salts that are micro-melded with premium herbs and spices; and two infused salts, which are among their most popular products. The Black Truffle Salt is an Italian/Mediterranean fleur de sel blended with black truffles, and the newly released Sriracha Salt, is a premium Pacific flake sea salt flavored with the fiery red rooster sauce.

Another top seller is the Facon Sriracha Seasoning, companion to go lb. salt’s original Facon, the world’s only all-natural, organic, vegan-friendly, gluten-free bacon flavoring.

And this past March, the pair took their love of salt and pork products one step further with the launch of the aptly named “Bring Home the Bacon,” a line of locally grown and cured, thick-cut, artisanal bacon in four flavors: Applewood Maple, Savory Herb, Black Truffle, and Chocolate, which is infused—not coated—with organic chocolate and vanilla flavors.

Valley residents can find go lb. salt’s products—as well as peppercorns, raw organic cane sugars, organic cocktail rimmers, meat rubs and seasonings, kits to cure your own dry-aged beef and, of course, bacon—at the Fountain Hills Farmers Market Thursdays from October to April and Saturdays year-round at the Gilbert Farmers Market. The Eckburgs are even working on bringing their bacon to local grocery store shelves in the very near future.

So just what is it about this briny seasoning that brings out Eckburg’s inner “selmelier” (think sommelier of sodium)?

“I want people to stop using bad salt,” he says. “Kosher salt and table salt are not, in my opinion, salt. They’re not healthy, and all they do is add that somewhat chemically salty note that we’ve become familiar with. Unrefined salts accentuate the natural flavor of the foods. Like we tell everyone who comes to the markets, happiness is just a lick away.”

go. lb. salt

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