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CULINARY THRILL SEEKING — Salty set brings nontraditional flavors

If I said I don’t cook with salt, you may think I’d be exaggerating, right?

But it’s darned near true that I don’t have a regular salt and pepper set. I’ve got Himalayan pink sea salt and a dozen kinds of pepper. But I do add salt to gumbo.

Now I’ve got reason to go beyond. I’ve just never enjoyed playing with salt so much as with the products I’m sharing below. The range of brownish to mauve colors look like crystals sparkling on an exotic beach and the aroma is fantastic. The packaging is just … special.

SaltWorks offers salt-of-the-earth flavors from Porcini Mushroom Seas Salt to Vintage Merlot Sea Salt. The most adorable squared off boutique glass jars with walnut wood lids come in enticing packaging and scream “stocking suffer.”

A larger set is like a patterned little filing box for larger packets of salt with recipe cards. I’m trying smoked salts in Applewood, Hearty Wood, Mesquite (in my okra gumbo) and Hickory (on popcorn). El Dorado Crispy Sizzling Chicken Wings and Salmon and Corn Chowder are two of the included recipes. —


Chanukah House

When the sample Chanukah House cookie decorating kit came from Manischewitz, I knew I had to get it to Bryan and Linda Reising.

This couple loves to create in the kitchen and also loves learning about different cultures. Cookies, icing, sanding sugar and a candy menorah come in a box to bring families together and raise awareness for PJ Library, an organization sending more than 225,000 free Jewish children’s books every month to households in the U.S. and Canada. —


Highclere Castle Gin

Victorian Orangery, botanicals grown on an ancient English estate, Highclere’s famous oats to soften the finish and the “real Downton Abbey” tie in: These are crazy notes from the press release alone. I’m in love without even tasting. Wait. Must taste.

Of course. It’s lovely. Smooth and clear with botanicals of juniper, lime flower, orange and lavender. I have a gin mentor and he enjoyed it, too. A blue bottle with the castle etched into it just adds to the whole experience. —


PortoVino Scarf Mask

Could you just imagine a face mask “review” in this space a year ago? I didn’t even really know what a wine purse was for real back then.

PortoVino has purses to not just carry wine, but to dispense it, right out of the stylish flap. Sneaky, huh? But you’ll want everyone to see their scarf mask collection. Magnolias cover my slinky mask that has received many compliments. It goes over the nose and drapes down around the neck. How Southern, to look good and protect others. —


Atoria’s Family Bakery

Their grandmother would have loved my grandmother.

Mine would make a sandwich with bread on the bottom and top it with a piece of lettuce, instead of another slice of bread, for a lighter meal.

At, read how this family’s grandma inspired Atoria’s Family Bakery in 1992. We get amazing 50-calorie flatbreads still with thoughts of her “cherished lavish recipe. These versatile Mini Lavish Flatbreads are music to her legacy,” packaging on the whole grain and flax seeds version reads.

The Cauliflower and Coconut version has 60 calories and are my breakfast favorite. Traditional will also make you happy. These are great as wraps and pizzas but I enjoy just crisping them up and spreading them with jam or breaking off a piece and dipping them in to a yogurt sauce. Consider them canvas for creativity. —



Where have these been all my life? My “choosing to eat more healthy” and “not miss a thing” life?

These rounds of cheddar, Jarlesberg and Parmesan are “just the cheese” with none of the starch, wheat, lactose and gluten you may want to avoid. It seems convenient, (yet perhaps a little insulting?) to consider this like a tortilla, but I do want you to imagine that whatever you roll into one of those, you can roll into one of these, and perhaps enjoy more of whatever that is. Bring refrigerated Folios to room temp and roll, wrap, crisp or melt. That’s it. More packaging messaging: “Creativity Awaits.” —


Darragh Castillo is a Port Arthur area foodie giving thanks for what IS great about 2020. Reach her at



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