Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cleveland: Market Garden Brewery & Distillery

At first glance, The Market Garden pushes all the right buttons for me. The space is full of energy, I hold the guy in the kitchen in high esteem, the barman has an excellent track record, and they brew their own beer. If there's a match made in heaven - this is it. I knew I was going to like this place. Wait, scratch that. I was going to love this place.

I don't know who put together the space, but whoever it was - they absolutely smashed it. Like an erupted volcano of seating oozing from the center of the restaurant (as it should), stools line the bar, high boys fill the front room, side walk tables run along West 25th, booths march along the side of the space as you make your way to the outdoor biergarten where there is even more seating.. With the exception of the sidewalk tables, which are probably the least desirable due to the closeness and intensity of the traffic on 25th, all of the other areas feel very connected to the overall energy of the place.

Warning: with hard surfaces and lots of people comes a very high noise level. If someone in your crew is sensitive or becomes a complete asshole if they can't hear everything - SIT OUTSIDE. Noise is an issue.   For my money the biergarten is the place to be. Period.

So the space is rockin'. What's the grub like? In a word? Middling.

I think the world of Michael Nowack. When Chef Sawyer left Bar Cento and tossed him the keys to the 'vette, he could have easily totaled it. He didn't. He's quietly continued to crank out thoughtful, well crafted food for the Cento faithful.

In terms of flavors, it just doesn't seem to have carried over across the street to Market Garden. I don't mean to make it sound as though the food is bad - it isn't. I will, however, say that it lacks the kind of imagination and flavor that I had come to expect from Bar Cento. I've been to MG three times and just can't get behind this food. The three trips have included The Mustard & Buttermilk Fried Chicken (I think boneless, skinless chicken breast), The Chorizo Joe (surprisingly bland), and probably the best of the three The Cuban sandwich. I don't know what the story is, but there is a lot of room for improvement. The menu descriptions led my mind to expect something better than I got - and that's never good.

The Pretzel typifies the whole experience for me. Your "snack" consists of a braided pretzel that measures no longer than eight inches long (about the size of a small loaf of free bread at any restaurant, or one of these bagel-like twisty things they sell at Dunkin' Donuts). In fact, it is more like the free bread you get at any restaurant, than it is a proper pretzel's chewiness. Also included are a small dollop of whole grain mustard,and a quenelle of soft cheese. The price? $6! 'Twas the kick in the groin to say the least.

Well, they do brew their own beer. How was that?

I'm all for locally brewed beer. I love craft brew, but I just haven't been impressed with most of the beers I've had here. Of everything I've had, the Pearl Street was probably my favorite (it helps that it was 93 degrees outside when I was drinking it). The Hop Soup and Cluster Fuggle fall short of what I would expect from a beer that is supposed to pack a hoppy punch and goes for $6-6.50 a pint. I think it's a tough sell at that price point. Do I expect 120 minute IPA? No. I realize this stuff costs money to make, and it's being made in small batches, but if I bought it at the store I don't think I'd be compelled to go back for more.

My take is this: Market Garden will never want for customers simply because the location will continue to be fed out-of-towners and those who think "food is food" and "beer is beer". The space is going to pay dividends for years to come (and I'm guessing they're probably paying handsomely for that right). I haven't completely written these guys off, I mean they've been open less than 6 months, so my hope is that they find their mojo and elevate the food and the beer. I'll be dropping in every so often to see if things change course, and as I do, I'll be more than happy to add to this post to reflect any changes in noise level or flavor. I believe in the chef. I believe in the brewer. I believe in the owner. But as of right now a choice has to be made: setting or flavor? You can't have both.

The Market Garden Brewery & Distillery
1947 W 25th St Map
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 621-4000

The Market Garden Brewery & Distillery on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Plain Dealer Cleveland Pizza Playoff

Let's talk about the Plain Dealer's Pizza Playoff. As you can well imagine, I was pretty excited about the Plain Dealer's Pizza Playoff when I first read about it about a month ago. Set up like an NCAA March Madness bracket, readers of the Plain Dealer and Cleveland.com nominated sixty-four of their favorite pizza places in what I'm guessing is the paper's circulation area. The top 16 shops were then put into four specific geographic areas. For the first few rounds, leading reader vote getters progress to the next rounds until there is a final eight for a panel of judges to vote on. Once it gets to the judging stage, pizzas are tasted from the respective finalists and a victor is crowned.

What do I think about this?

Let's start with the good. If you read Dine O Mite! with any regularity, you're painfully aware of how much I love pizza. No matter where they're located or what the place looks like, I'm pretty much game at least once. Mom and Pops are a must and this contest did a pretty good job of providing some names I wasn't really aware of. *As a side note I'll be updating the Cleveland map to reflect markers for those that made this list.* I think this is great news for a lot of these smaller or newer places that don't typically advertise (Dan Joyce's Sweet Basil comes to mind. The guy doesn't advertise. Doesn't offer discounts. Just cranks out solid pies). Deserving or not, I think this is a shot in the arm for the local guys.

What could possibly be bad about this? I take issue with the voting. I absolutely abhor popularity contests with all of my being - that is what this is for the first few rounds. They have sold a fair amount of ad space and I have received a bunch of emails (from restaurants) suggesting I vote for their pizza - every 12 hours!. Really? I mean come on. Let the chips fall where they may. Pizzazz in Mayfield went so far as to make this offer:

"You can vote every 12 hours! If Pizzazz SOM wins 1st Place, we would like to show our appreciation for your support by offering $2 off any large Pizza".

Wow!!! Two bucks?!?!? Where the hell am I going to spend it all? How much is that in Mugabian dollars? One registered user should get one vote for that round. Period.

I also don't like the small sample of judges for the in person tasting part of the last few rounds. A five person panel? Campy Russell, Dan Malley, Michael Heaton, and two PD readers? I'm sure the restaurant would be more than happy to spring for a few more pies if it meant a larger sample size of judges for the finals. I understand Michael Heaton, he wrote many of the articles in the introduction of the event. Wouldn't the inclusion of all the PD staffers that worked on it combined with readers from the various geographic sections make more sense? The truth is, a lot of people have obviously spent a lot of time writing for and voting on this contest, I think they can do a little better than just five judges. I know I'd put a little more stock in the results if included more people.

I love the idea. As someone who spends a lot of time traveling for my job, pizza is a constant interest to me. My pizza roadmap is actually this gorgeous list put together by the people at Slice. *Warning very slow to open, but worth the wait. It consists of the 64 best pizzerias in the entire country. There are obvious exclusions, but the biggies are all there. Had this been in Food and Wine it would have been widely talked about., but it wasn't - it was buried in an issue of Rachel Ray magazine. My point is, I now have a Cleveland list, that people thought enough to vote on - even if it was every 12 hours in hopes of a $2 inducement.

All told, I think this is great start for people that want to explore different pizza shops in Cleveland (I know I will). I have no doubt a great pizza is going to ultimately be picked. (Prediction: It won't be Rascal House.) I just wish the crowning of the winner was more reader inclusive than it is. After all, they did all the work for the first few rounds.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cleveland: Don Ramon

Americanized Mexican. Is that an accurate description of the lion's share of Mexican restaurants in the NEO? The chips are from a bag. The salsa is from a jar. The margaritas come from a machine. The kind of hole-in-the-wall places you find in SoCal just don't exist in these parts - at least the parts not named Painesville. I'm not suggesting it's necessarily a bad thing, it's just that there's a homogeneity to the whole idea that doesn't yield a whole lot of creative inspiration.

 El Storefront

The recently opened Don Ramon fits into the typical Mexican that most Clevelanders are accustomed to. The space itself is surprisingly large. I thought it was fairly large until I went to wash my hands and realized it was double the size of what I originally thought it was. The tables have individual themes hand-painted on them and then covered in urethane. If you must know, I sat at the USA table. 

Chips and salsa spun onto the the table before I even had my jacket off. Our service was friendly and efficient. I should note that it helps we were there on a Sunday night after 7:30 - not exactly prime time anywhere in this city. With a cold beer in my hand and chips at fore the waitress took our orders. Chorizo Pollo for me, and Shrimp Quesadilla Rellena for the bride.

Before you could say "Yo quiero Taco Bell," the food came out. (I don't really like Taco Bell, it's just that that's about the same amount of time it took for the food to come out - fast.) My dish was basically a mixture of chorizo, chicken strips, and cheese, with a side mound of rice and refried beans. The chorizo made it interesting, but it was what it was. Regina's shrimp quesadilla was pretty heavy on the cheese, and also was, meh.

The food here is nothing special. There are no surprises good or bad, although some fisticuffs at the bar would have broken the quiet a little bit. With other stores around Ohio, it's pretty standard fare, and for a lot of people that's good enough. Would I mistake it for Frontera Grill? Momocho? El Tango Taqueria? No, but I could certainly take an old school guy like my dad there and he'd be perfectly content. The portions are large, and the prices are just okay, but it is a Mexican chain. Take it for what it is.
Don Ramon Mexican Restaurant and Cantina
4866 Richmond Road
Warrensville Heights, OH 44128
(216) 831-3100

Don Ramon Mexican Restaurant and Cantina on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cleveland: Tree Country Bistro

Regina wanted to give Tree Country Bistro a shot last weekend. We knew the day was going to be jam packed full of things to do, so venturing too far from home was just going to be a hassle. She felt like trying something new and we both wanted to try something Asian. My suggestion was Golden Mountain in Willoughby Hills, and her's was Tree Country Bistro. Cleveland Heights is much closer for us than Willoughby Hills, so Regina won this round. Not that I was really complaining.

The menu has a little bit of Thai, a little of Japanese, and a little bit of Korean. Typically I'm a little leery of such a place because it seems to be a "jack of all trades, master of none" kind of situation. For Coventry, the space of rather large. The decor wasn't Asian hokey or even fancy. In fact, I'd say it was no more elaborate than something you'd find at Denny's. I guess you could call it utilitarian.

Regina went straight for the Pad Thai ($8.95).Not a whole lot to report on that little dish. The portion was huge and the noodles actually a surprising sweetness to them. I opted for the Korean Spicy Pork Bulgogi ($13.95), which consisted of thin slices of pork that were stir fried and served in a spicy sauce and kimchi. The sauce was mildly spicy, not burn your tongue, fire breathing kind of stuff, but just a nice developed heat. The kimchi was spicy and more importantly funky. For my tastes - a little too funky.

I had read in some reviews that people thought the service sucked or wasn't friendly. We found that not to be true at all. Our order went in and came out of the kitchen with blazing speed. As we were leaving the kids from Case started rolling in. The place really seems to fill up just after prime dinner hours.

If your not after Bac-like ambiance, or dirt cheap take away prices, then Tree Country Bistro fills that need. A clean, no frills restaurant with decent food and great value.

Tree Country Bistro
1803 Coventry Rd
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118
(216) 321-0644

Tree Country on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I-88: Brooks' House of Bar-B-Q

In terms of highway driving, the stretch between Cleveland and Albany is pretty desolate when it comes to places to eat. While I'm sure there are some great places that I don't know of, to the casual observer making their way through the Southern Tier, things don't appear too interesting. That is.....until you get to Oneonta.

You see, just as the dread of your long drive - unless your headed to Boston - enters its closing scene, a building off to the north of the highway pumps delicious plumes of smoke at you. Three large buildings - one with hungry people, one with a gift shop, and one with smoked meats - coax you off the highway.

Brooks' House of Bar-B-Que hooks up restless vacationers and hungry locals with the regional favorite Cornell Chicken, as well as a whole host of other barbecue favorites. They sell what's called a speidie sauce which was brought to the Binghampton area by Italian immigrants and is used on sandwiches. Since Brooks' sells the sauce, I'm assuming that this is the marinade they soak the chicken in, although I don't know this for sure.

 How much meat do they go through? Well, that's the Smokehouse.

What I do know is this: If you get one thing off this entire menu - and there's a lot of stuff on it - get the chicken. Since I still had to continue on to Boston I decided to eat in my car. I ordered a half chicken with fries. As you see from the picture there is a fair amount of char on the outside of the meat. I'm assuming that the marinade facilitated some of blackened goodness. What I really found interesting is that the chicken was damned moist. Not just the meat itself, but the outside of skin. It wasn't crispy. It wasn't soft and mushy. There was a well seasoned combination of skin and char that I've never had before or since. And unlike most chicken, the skin didn't come off in one thick sheet. You could bite into it and it stayed in place.This was absolutely worth the price of admission. (The fries weren't bad, either.)

 It looks burnt - it's not. It's delicious!

I've been four times. The second trip I had a momentary lapse of reason and decided to expand my horizons with the chicken and ribs combo.Though a little heavy on the sauce, I thought the ribs would be perfectly acceptable at any local barbecue spot. More than acceptable, actually - exceptional. But I have to say, a trip to Brooks' that doesn't involve as much of that fabulous chicken is your stomach will hold is...well....a downright travesty. The flavor : dollar ratio is heavily skewed toward flavor.Get a full order of chicken!

This little oasis in upstate New York is a pretty isolated for a straight up road trip. I would suggest that if you have a reason to be in the area, or on your way to Cooperstown, you would do well to stop by for a tour of Ommegang Brewery a couple miles south of the Baseball Hall of Fame. In terms of breweries, it certainly is an impressive place architecturally.The Hall of Fame ain't half bad either.

 I've not been to Phil's House of Chicken in Endicott (not far off I-88 near Binghampton someone needs to learn how to type. A) It's I-86 - not I-88. B) It's Binghamton - not Binghampton.), but word is that this is the classic example of Cornell style chicken. A project next year should bring me through these parts again, so I'll make sure to report back.

Brooks House of Barbeque
5560 State Highway 7
Oneonta, NY 13820
(607) 432-1782
Brooks House of Barbeque on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 17, 2011

Columbus: Pistacia Vera

The macaron is an obsession of ours. In my travels I have found myself slipping into LA Burdick in Cambridge, just before closing, so I could take them home the next day. I've made special arrangements to pick up macs around 5:30 am at Mille-feuille near Washington Square. A final send off from San Francisco has been marked at the boarding gate with the two of us polishing off a box from Paulette (or what is now called 'lette). And I have been to Pistacia Vera right as it opened, so I could surprise my wife when I came home from a conference in Ohio's capitol.

Connoisseurs? Sure. When done well, which isn't as often as you'd think, they are truly incredible.

The shells are finicky. You can do everything correctly, and for no reason whatsoever they just don't seem to behave. Hollow tops, dense insides, small to non-existent feet, too hard, too soft, there is a whole list of things that can go wrong and an equally long list of reasons why. They really are a lot like a golf swing - seemingly simple, but a million things can go wrong.

But this post isn't about how to make macarons, it's about our favorite in Ohio.

Housed on the edge of Columbus' timeless German Village in the old Reiner's Donut Shop, is a sleek French bakery called Pistacia Vera. The old Reiner's name is still attached to the rear side of the building that faces E. Hoster Street. When the weather is warm, there are tables and chairs set up out front.

 Old pictures from Reiner's, framed inside an old donut box

Inside you'll find a very simple, clean interior that showcases their vast array of offerings. While they are very well known for their macs, I can honestly say that most everything I've had has been just as well crafted and delicious. Some of my favorites have been the sable, bitter sweet fudgie, and chocolate chunk pistachio cookies. Although I've never had them, PV also offers favorites like croque monsieur, quiches, and other French breakfast favorites, as well as coffee drinks.

 The Counter

But it's really about the macarons, right? First off, they're a pretty substantial size. They certainly aren't as ridiculous as the ones I've had a J. Pistone in Cleveland ($4 a piece and a good 3" in diameter, but probably my favorite in Cleveland). But they aren't as small as the traditional size which usually measure somewhere around the size of a quarter. I'd say three small bites and they're gone. A pretty good size if you ask me.

 The Case (look at the frothy feet on those things)

Our favorites are the pistachio (I think they make those shells out of ground pistachio instead of typical almond flour, which makes for a very pistachio-y mac), the maple walnut, caramel pecan, passion fruit (very, very good), and the mocha. The pumpkin spice and chocolate peppermint are pretty overpowering. Those two are really the only ones I would straight up avoid.

The shells are pretty consistent from density standpoint, and are not overly sweet. The fillings are also not overly intense and seem to be firm enough so as not to squirt out the sides, yet soft enough to easily bite into.

Pistacia Vera is certainly part of a rising tide that is raising all boats in the capitol city. In a town that was once a bastion of chains (and in a lot of areas, still is), a local food scene is picking up some major steam here. This little bakery is a must see if you are in the area. They offer a high quality product, with an equally high execution, at a great value.

Pistacia Vera
541 South 3rd Street
Columbus, OH43215
(614) 220-9070

Pistacia Vera on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Westchester County: JT Straw's Bar and Grill

You can go most anywhere in the Five Burroughs and have no trouble finding good to excellent pizza. I've even had no problem with finding excellent pies in Nassau, and even Suffolk counties. However, when I'm up in Westchester it is a serious bitch to find really good pizza. I'm not saying it's impossible - it's not - but you have to drive around a little bit, and at 6 or 7 o'clock in that neck of the woods - it isn't a pleasant task.

I was on Chowhound looking hard for a good pie. While many recommended some of the low hanging fruit like Tarry Lodge in Port Chester (which is very good, but not the kind of place I like eating alone at), or that I was going to be closer to Colony Grill in Stamford (which is also very good, but I wasn't in the mood for bar style pizza).Someone mentioned a hole-in-the-wall place called JT Straw's Bar and Grill' in Port Chester. They they claimed that it was a neighborhood bar that sold excellent wood fired Neapolitan pies.

I had to see this for myself.

Very rarely, if ever, do you see "hole-in-the-wall bar" and "wood fired Neapolitan pizza" in the same sentence. As I drove past Tarry Lodge I thought to myself, "Well, if this ends up being a dead end, at least I can pick something up from TL and take it back to the hotel."

As I pulled up to the spot it was pretty obvious that this was definitely a neighborhood bar. By the looks of things, I was feeling pretty pessimistic about what I might find in the pizza box. The interior is dark with a U-shaped bar (completely filled with the after work crowd) and booths flanking each side of the bar. The interior fairly spartan, but clean.

The bartender passed me a menu from which I ordered what they called a “Traditional” Italian Margherita Pizza. As with most pizza hunters, if you're getting wood-fired - the Margherita is the only measuring stick. It's really the only constant one can judge a truly decent pizzaiolo by. One beer later, the pizza was done and I was headed out the door.

Pizza on Hood
I put the box on the hood of the car and took this photo. If it's not cold out the "pizza on the hood" shot always yields some good light. The cheese was flowing like magma due to the water that was releasing from the fresh mozz. The dough was charred perfectly and held up pretty good under the wetness that was on top. There was no way I could take this back to the hotel, it would have been a soggy mess by the time I got there. I often find with a good 12" Neapolitan pizza, that if you eat the whole thing it seems to be the perfect amount of food without feeling stuffed. This is that type of pie.

At the end of the day it's a very solid pizza at an incredibly reasonable price of $10! Try walking out of Tarry Lodge for that. Ain't gonna happen. If you find yourself near the Westchester/Fairfield line - stop in. It's not the "best ever" (whatever the hell that means), but it's pretty damn good, and represents an awesome value.

JT Straws Bar and Grill
435 West Main Street
Port Chester, NY 10573
(914) 937-9695

Jt Straw`S Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hawai'i: A Saigon Cafe (The Restaurant without a Sign)

Clay Pot Pork

This picture was taken in Wailuku, Maui, so I don't really expect any of you to hop on a plane and head here, but I need some help. A Saigon Cafe makes this absolutely killer dish called Clay Pot Pork. You can order it in a number of different spice levels (I get the hot), but it is one hell of a fantastic bowl of meat. My question is: Does anyone make something like this in Cleveland?

I think the restaurant as a whole is relatively comfortable and clean. It's certainly not fancy, but isn't dirty either. The waitstaff tells well rehearsed jokes. (If they were delivered by anyone else they wouldn't elicit so much as a giggle, but these guys get away with it.) During our last visit everything else we ordered here was middling, but this Clay Pot Pork keeps me coming back. Here is a more in depth review from a few years ago. I think it makes for a great lunch place, since the prices are a little lower and the portions are about right. If you come for dinner, you might find that it probably isn't as good a value and might walk away disappointed.

If anyone can help out with a rec here in Cleveland on where I could find this little monster, I'd greatly appreciate it.

A Saigon Cafe
1792 Main Street
Wailuku, HI 96793

(808) 243-9560

A Saigon Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 3, 2011

Bangkok Thai Cuisine

The two of us are certainly fans of Thai. While I can't say that we are necessarily aficionados of the cuisine, I can say that we do enjoy eating it. On the whole, I think for the most part, Thai places do a good job at what they do. That being said, I don't think there is a vast departure between what is being done at one place versus the other. For me it essentially comes down to the value, cleanliness, and service at a given place that sets it apart from its other competitors.

We stopped in at Bangkok Thai Cuisine because we've heard nothing but good things about it - not just good things, but raves reviews. I am always a sucker for the impassioned testimonial, no matter how skeptical I am, if someone lights up at the mention of eating at resto, well, I'll take the bait. I've got to try it - at least once.

BTC overcomes the drab exterior of the building, with a modest yet comfortable dining room. The decoration is tastefully Thai without having some of the kitsch you get with other places. A mix of booths as well as tables for larger parties can be found throughout.

Crazy Noodles with Pork
(Looks appetizing, doesn't it?)

 Intrigued by the name if nothing else, I went with the Crazy Noodles with pork ordered hot & spicy($10.95). These were basically flat noodles stir fried with Thai chili sauce, pork, and your typical Thai veggies. For all the spice mongers out there, if you order hot & spicy it has about the same amount of heat you would expect from sriracha. It's not on the level of lip numbing, tear making Szechuan peppercorns, but there is a decent amount of heat. Luckily, if that isn't hot enough for you, there is their "Very Hot & Spicy", although I haven't had it. Please comment if you have - inquiring minds want to know. The dish overall was very balanced (and ample). It reheated quite nicely for lunch the next day.

Regina had the Shrimp Himaparn ($13.95). Her dish was a stir fry of shrimp, cashews, peppers, mushroom, sweet chili sauce, and Thai veggies. Again, just a solid, plentiful entree. We rounded everything out with an order of the Pineapple Fried Rice ($8.95). Hawai'i has pretty much ruined pineapple for me. For the life of me I don't know why order stuff with the non-Hawaiian variety. Despite my snobby pineapple ways, this too was nicely done.

For what it's worth,I have it on good advice from a vegetarian friend, that the Vegetarian Rainbow is her favorite.

 Thai Beer

Bangkok Thai Cuisine pretty much backs up the rave reviews it gets from its customers. They offer a variety of wines and decent selection of Thai, Chinese, and domestic beers. Their service is friendly and not only speaks good English, but is very adept at tailoring a dish to your likes and dislikes. The prices are in line with what you would expect to pay for Thai, and the food comes out quickly, so tables turnover rather quickly. I think this little hole-in-the-wall offers very good food at a solid value. 

Bangkok Thai Cuisine
5359 Mayfield Road
Lyndhurst, Ohio 44124
(440) 684-1982

Bangkok Thai Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pretzels at Home

Since the Browns game was borderline unwatchable, I decided to try my hand at making Sherry Yard's Soft Pretzel recipe from Dessert by the Yard. The pictures looked like the real deal. The appearance of those pictured in her book looked like the ones you kind find around Lancaster County, PA. I wanted to try and make the shiny, dark brown versions you find at the numerous Amish stores in the area.

 Soft Pretzel

Here's a link to the Soft Pretzel recipe from Sherry Yard's, Dessert by the Yard.

A few notes:

  • The recipe is well written. Follow it to the letter and you should have - at the very least - edible pretzels.
  • This recipe is more Auntie Anne's than Pennsylvania Dutch. There's a light crispiness to them instead of the chewier, dark shiny version that you find at the ballpark or from the Amish.
  • My pretzels ended up looking like the ones you see in the linked blog that has the recipe. Perhaps I chickened out and didn't cook them long enough, but I just felt if they went any longer they'd burn. Since this was my first try at pretzels, I'll continue to try and figure out how to make the dark shiny ones.
  • Each dough ball should weigh about 60 grams. These make for nice miniature snacks. They are not the big monster pretzels you typically associate with soft pretzels.
  • Find a very course pretzel salt. Kosher salt just doesn't give the same texture as the pebbly pretzel salt. It's like trying to substitute turbinado sugar with granulated - it's just not the same. The salt in my picture is actually from Hawai'i. I purchased this for Regina from The Meadows. They have an excellent selection of salt and chocolate.
Like most of the recipes in this book, you really have to carve out a little bit of time in your day to make it. This isn't something that you just whip together and throw in the oven. At the same time, this isn't what I would consider a technically difficult recipe to execute, either.