Ben Jacobsen has a big heart that wants to share deliciousness with anyone he can. First, he created the incredible finishing salts that are the products Jacobsen Salt Co and which elevate food all over the world. He brought artisan salt to the attention of the US chefs and American consumers. For that, we already owe him a great debt. Once you taste the hand harvested pure flake sea salt from the Oregon Coast, and all the possible flavors infused in salt, you can never look back.
It’s like that point in your childhood that you step up from American cheese to real cheese. Suddenly, this whole world you can’t believe you were missing out on has been opened up to you, full of so much possibility. Thank goodness he had the patience and fortitude to work through the messy experimental two years to figure out how to harvest salt (the first since Lewis and Clark to harvest it in the Northwest in the 1800s!) and sampling up and down the coast to find the best sea area (Netarts Bay).
Now probably the most famous artisan salt producer in the United States, Ben didn’t stop there. With the old original salt trailer, he dreamed of salvaging it to create a communal table that people would gather warmly like a family to celebrate good food, good drink, and community. Partnering with Williams-Sonoma Open Kitchen (who believed in his salts to bring it from a Northwest secret to a national offering) and with Ingredient Sponsor New Seasons Market (they were the first to turn his hobby into a business by ordering his salt), thus was born the Jacobsen Salt Co.’s SALT FIRE WATER series. The original pallet is indeed part of the table we gather at (it’s the lighter brown wood in the middle below).
I attended the third dinner of the 2015 series, which once again paired a Visiting Chef from another city with a local Portland Chef. The first dinner in April featured Chefs Nick Balla and Cortney Burns of Bar Tartine San Francisco + local Chefs Greg and Gabi Denton of Ox to work together to create a shared experience while still maintaining their distinctive food perspectives – similar to what this third dinner was. Then the second one in May was a PDX locals collaboration with Chef Jaret Foster of Foster’s Craft Cooking and Chef Kristen Murray of MÅURICE. They joined forces to create a Calcotada Dinner – a Catalonian celebration of the Calcot, a very special variety of onion that is fire-roasted, dipped in romesco sauce and eaten with one’s hands. You can see more incredible photos of this dinner experience at fellow blogger Aubrie at Portland Oregon Food Photographer , and Meredith blogging at Martha Chartreuse.
That time when we torched 40 dozen calcot and15 pounds of asparagus @jacobsensaltco and followed it up with gigantic pans of chorizo,clam & white bean stew. Thank you everyone who made it out to our 2015 Calcotada. It was utter pleasure to have you around our fire. #fosterscraftcooking #pdxeats #Calcotada #saltfirewater #pdxfood #pdxevents #eeeeeats #feedfeed #thekitchn #f52grams #lifeandthyme
My dinner brought together Ivan Orkin of Ivan Ramen of New York and Japan (his first time in Portland! Come back again please!) and the man behind the hard to get into (reservations are out at November) worst kept “secret” restaurant in Portland, Earl Nissom of Lang Baan.
Wines were poured from Brooks Winery throughout the evening.
And now, the recap of the Salt Fire Water dinner with Ivan Ramen + Lang Baan:
We started with a First course of passed hors d’oeuvres while all the guests trickled in and mingled together.
Those Bites included this Braised Beef Tongue with Dashi + Beef Broth and Scallion by Ivan Ramen. This is a house specialty that he serves at the Ivan Ramen location dinner menu at 25 Clinton in New York, and for this event he served it in shot glasses. It’s probably a lot more convenient to eat in a bowl then as an appetizer like this as I tried to shake the beef from the bottom.
The Daikon XO with Dried Shrimp and Scallop Chili Oil by Ivan Ramen is also available as a starter at the Ivan Ramen location for both lunch and dinner – you should definitely keep that in mind if you visit NY because I probably could have enjoyed a dozen spoons of these.
Lang Baan’s Earl Nissom’s spoon was Sweet Sticky Rice with Sun-dried Mud Fish, Fried Shallot, Kaffir Lime. This is a prefect representation of Thai food with it’s balance of bold flavors of salty, sweet, savory, sour, a little funky… all together in one bite.
Next from Lang Baan was Salt-baked Red Tilapia with Rice Noodles, Little Gem Lettuces and Dill.
My favorite of the three offerings from Lang Baan though were these spicy Northern Thai Lamb Tartare with Avocado and Belgian Endive, though maybe my bias towards spicy food and particularly Northern Thai food is influencing me with this choice.
Matthew Domingo, our Master of Dinner I’ll call him, gently herded us to the tables for the next four courses. You can see Ben Jacobsen and Ivan Orkin surveying the guests by that entrance to the William Sonoma Open Kitchen, perhaps talking about future plans for another get together of deliciousness…?
As we were seated, Brooks Winery’s Runaway Red was poured.
The Second course was by Ivan Ramen, and was a dish of incredible Mushrooms Casino with King Oyster Mushrooms, Baby Clams, Bacon, and Crispy Panko. I even liked the fact that we were eating these with the chopsticks as it forced us to really taste the components slowly rather than just shoveling it all in with a spoon like a food drug. Thankfully I or you can get the fix on again at Ivan Ramen’s dinner menu in NY.
For the Third course, Lang Baan was passed the baton and served a dish of Bee Local Smoked Honey Duck Curry with Cherry Tomato, Potatoes, Onion, Basil, Shallot and Coconut Rice. The Duck was sooo tender and smoky, the curry was a mix of peanut and spiciness that leaned on the side of a massamun mashed up but with deeper savoryness and heat like a red curry that could be calmed by the sweetness of the coconut rice.
The baton is back to Ivan Ramen, who presented a cold ramen (available at both Ivan Ramen and Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop in New York) in the form of Cold Lemon Shio Dashi Ramen with roasted tomato, Jacobsen Sea Salt, Toasted Rye Noodle, Dungeness Crab, and Scallion Oil.
I know many of us were wondering about the dessert listed, as it seemed like a really bizarre combination. Well, trust in Lang Baan and Earl Nissom to show us that Coconut Ice Cream with Corn Salad, Jacobsen Vanilla Salt, Purple Rice, Strawberry, Peanut, and Jackfruit is a perfect combination of textures and a worthy dessert for such a memorable meal.
For more photos, check out the Williams Sonoma blog entry for #SaltFireWater Dinner with Ivan Ramen + Lang Baan or search the hashtag #SaltFireWater on Instagram!
To sign up for future SALT FIRE WATER Feasts – click to the Jacobsen Salt Co Eventbrite Ticket site. The next one is a bargain I think on July 12 – “Eclade de Moules” – a French tradition of roasting fresh mussels with pine boughs and then eating then with one’s hands that will take place just outside the Jacobsen Salt Co. Headquarters at 602 SE Salmon St.
The $55 includes a wine happy hour, the feasting with the roasted fresh mussels, and then going inside for a communal buffet featuring Foster’s Craft Cooking as well as live music, a photo booth, and Oregon craft beer & wine. There will be two seatings, and tickets to the experience are limited to 100 people.
Menu details include
- Fire-roasted mussels with good olive oil, Jacobsen sea salt and Ken’s Artisan Bread
- Summer’s Ratatouille Gratin
- Northwest Nicoise Salad
- Cherry Clafouti
If the Calcotado dinner looked amazeballs to you, here’s you second chance for a similar experience!
What do you think of the dishes by Ivan and Earl – what do you think would have been your favorite?