Around the world with salt

You may remember our blog post on 24 May announcing the salt and beer pairing evening at Morgenster Estate?  HL online got the scoop from the genius behind the idea, Executive Chef Craig Cormack, who has some more salt pairing tricks up his sleeve. In this extract written by Craig himself, he shares some insight about the world of food and wine pairing and educates us about this basic, yet oh so important, mineral...  

Salt {NaCI} - Alchemists refer to Salt as the 5th element

One of the reasons people came to the coasts was for salt. The Egyptians were the first to evaporate seawater methodically to extract salt. Did you know that this mineral is divided into the following groups?:
  • Sea salt harvested – natural evaporation
  • Sedimentary rock – under ground lakes and rivers
  • Volcanic – lava and mud
  • Pan salt – saline enrich waters in dessert like areas
My passion for salt has been a 4 year journey, firstly needing to come up with a topic for a demonstration for a food show, this has now become a passion and an obssession to aquire as many salts that are available. I am currently trying to research as much information as I can on the subject. I currently have 65 salts from around the world, however, there are over 100 salts from over 150 countries. I hope to be the first in pairing food with different salts, and creating dishes which have been designed for a specific flavour and taste - not only to fit a flavour profile but also to pair with a wine. This is a challenge because, as we know, salt dominates food. The following is the format of the dinners that I host - I do 4 to 5 dinners a year at our restaurant or at wine farms. We serve canapés based on cooking with salt served with an arrival drink, followed by a tasting in a wood panel of 6 salts, along with history and information on the subject. Before each dish comes out on the 5 course menu, I do an introduction on the dish and the technique used, based on recipes of over 2000 years old. I have currently started importing salts and retailing them at the restaurant. The salt range is called Amoleh. I am also in the process of trade marking my concept to safeguard my experience.  

Salt and its relationship with wines: Salt, food and wine pairings

Below are some guidelines for food and wine pairings that you should take note of:
  • When food is paired with wine, your wine shouldn’t taste different after tasting the food.
  • The taste of food and the wine flavour should be balanced and neither one should dominate the other - the wine should remain unchanged. If it does change it is not a match. One then has to change the food or the wine so as to create harmony.
  • Salt is both good and bad for wine – it can improve or destroy wine. Salt can also cut through foods, sometimes giving the wine a flat taste, losing the flavours of the wine and making it insipid. It can also accentuate tannins and alcohol. Sweet wines can also be paired very well with salt. Moderately sweet wines compliment salt. Cabernet Sauvignon stands up to salt well, as do young and acidic wines, and those with a bit of wood.
  • Food and wine pairings are a very personal experience, however, there are a few guidelines which need to be taken into account.
  Do visit us at Morgenster for a unique salt and food pairing to experience it for yourself - later in the year we will be doing whiskey and salt pairings, followed by champagne in spring and cap classic in summer.   Craig Cormack Executive Chef Sofia's at Morgenster Estate 021-847-1993   Note: As mentioned in the July issue of House and Leisure Don't miss out on a unique tasting experience with Craig starting this month - he will be hosting a Fleur Du Cap unfiltered wine pairing with salt from all around the world. It will be part of a 5-course dinner held at Die Bergkelder, Stellenbosch, on the last Thursday of every month. To book or for queries contact Nadia Ferreira on 021-809-8025 or email In addition, Craig and the Clover Demo Kitchen will be entertaining with food at the Stellenbosch Wine Festival, on 28-31 July.  Culinary themes are set to include "Hot Love in Here" and "Magical Mushrooms".  We think that sounds intriguing and not to be missed! For more information visit or call 021-886 4310.