Apr 11, 2013

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My 1/2 Day Vacation: Island of Sylt with SYLTBAR via Italy, Portugal and India

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IMG_5781Have you ever heard of the island of Sylt? Until a marketing company in Miami sent me a box of beautifully packaged Syltbar goodies, I had never heard of it. Sylt is an island located off the coast of Germany, near Denmark, that has 25 miles of what some consider to be the finest sandy beaches in the world.  From unspoiled dunes and dramatic cliffs to upscale boutiques and a bustling nightlife, Sylt is known to offer the best of the best.  The Sylt Island lifestyle is what inspired the line of products that were inside the box, and this lifestyle is what “set the bar” for the Syltbar brand quality.

The box contained a bottle of Italian Syltbar Prosecco, a bottle of aged balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy, a hand-painted jug of Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Apulia, Italy, and two cermaic jars – one for sea salt from Portugal and one for Tellicherry pepper from India.  For a food and wine lover like me, I felt like I had just struck gold – these are the essentials to creating delectable cuisine, alongside a nice glass of Italian Prosecco.

IMG_5776As soon as I finished unpacking these essentials, I put the Prosecco into the fridge and started searching through my cookbooks for the perfect recipe that would not only use all of these ingredients, but would also pair well with the Prosecco.  Before deciding on a recipe, I quickly sampled each of the products – except one.  Unfortunately, the Indian Tellicherry pepper was missing. I did, however, receive the stylish ceramic black jar for the pepper, but alas, no actual pepper.

From the Malabar Jungle of India, Tellicherry pepper is a product I’m very familiar with – it’s a pepper I always have on hand, and I use it more often than not.  With extended time on the vine, Tellicherry whole peppercorns (also called berries) are larger and develop incredibly rich, full, robust flavors – making it the finest pepper in the world. I’ve found that the robust, complex flavors of Tellicherry pepper are able to bring to life dishes that are lacking in flavor.  Although I wasn’t able to try the Syltbar Tellicherry pepper ($25), it’s described as having some of the finest aromas in the world, it’s naturally harvested, no chemicals added and the berries are coarsely ground to enhance the overall quality.  The black ceramic jar keeps the light out while preserving the freshness of the pepper.

IMG_5774The Syltbar sea salt ($29.99), which was naturally harvested in Algarve, Portugal, is absolutely delicious. Handmade and dried by the sun and the wind of the Atlantic Ocean, the salt crystals literally melt like snowflakes in the mouth – exactly like the Syltbar product description.  The white ceramic jar keeps the salt fresh, and has a handy serving spoon and finger-spicing lid.  Free of nitrates, toxins and heavy metals, this outstanding salt is good on just about everything. In fact, I’ve used it several times in an absolutely stellar homemade salted caramel latte – yum.

I am a huge fan of aged balsamic vinegar, and I was immediately excited when I poured a little of the Syltbar balsamic vinegar ($41) out on to a spoon.  From Modena, Italy, and aged 8 to 9 years, this beauty poured out like thick, liquid silk.  The flavors were outstanding – incredibly well balanced with a hint of sweetness.  After a my first taste, I closed my cookbook – I knew right away what I was going to make: a Caprese salad.

IMG_5770Before obtaining the simple ingredients needed for a homemade Caprese Salad (fresh basil, fresh tomatoes and fresh mozzarella), I sampled the Syltbar Extra Virgin, cold pressed olive oil ($41) from Apulia, Italy.  Oh, how I love good olive oil.  With mellow acidity and pleasing mild -yet pronounced – flavors, this olive oil was made in the traditional Stone Mill method.  Considered the “old fashioned” method, stone mills are used to crush the olives during the olive oil extraction process and are commonly believed to create better olive oils.  Syltbar chose to use two different olives, Corantina and Ogliarola, giving the oil its balanced flavor.  But it’s not just the flavor of this olive oil that I love, the hand-painted ceramic jug that it’s housed in arrived with a natural cork stopper, a wax seal and a cork sealer with a spout for easy pouring.

All of the goodies that arrived in the box are the items needed to create my all-time favorite salad – the Caprese.  Simply slice some heirloom tomatoes, add a slice of fresh mozzarella to each slice of tomato, and top it with a fresh basil leaf.  I drizzled the Syltbar balsamic vinegar and Extra Virgin olive oil over the tomatoes, cheese and basil, and then added a sprinkle of sea salt and some Tellicherry pepper I had on hand.  Outstanding as it was, no meal is complete without a glass of wine, and in this case, the delightfully refreshing Prosecco was the perfect pairing.

IMG_5785Prosecco is a grape varietal grown in the Veneto region of Northern Italy.  The grapes usually ripen late in the season, giving it crisp and citrusy characteristics – perfect for the production of dry sparkling wine.  Unlike Champagne,  secondary fermentation for Prosecco takes place in a tank, not in the bottle, which is not nearly as labor intensive – one of the reasons why Prosecco is less expensive than Champagnes.  The Syltbar Prosecco is from Treviso, Italy, and is fermented for six months.  Clean, fresh and well balanced on the palate, aromas and flavors include honey crisp apple and lemon zest. It’s outstanding on it’s own, but I positively loved it with the Caprese salad –  it was truly a perfect match.

I’m thinking some day, I may need to make it to the island of Sylt.

Visit syltbar.com

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Thanks to Alejandra Campins of CampinsMedia for sending me the Syltbar samples, which I’ll most definitely need to refill down the road – they are delicious!

caprese salad

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