So do you like salt, or do you like eating?

French Fries

I know it shouldn’t surprise me, but now and again it does. What is that you may ask? Well the blog post title is a bit of a giveaway, the answer is salt, or more specifically the amount of salt in both processed foods and in restaurant meals too.

I recently bought a chocolate cake from Sainsbury’s, what astounded me was that the salt content per 100g was higher than Ready Salted Pringles! I know people complain about the amount of sugar in savoury foods (I am looking at you Duchy) but this was a sweet thing. There I was thinking that supermarkets were trying to reduce the amount of salt they use in their products.

I am finding a fair few restaurants are not just adding salt to cooking, I kind of expect that level of seasoning, but then “garnish” the dish with even more salt. I recently had some sweet and sour squid, over the salt and pepper squid and was disappointed to find that the squid had been garnished with sea salt. Similarly the number of places that “garnish” their fries with salt, yes, I’m looking at you Café Rouge!

I am now pretty sensitive to the amount of salt I find in foods and I do find now that when used excessively detracts rather than enhances the flavour of the food I eat. So do you like salt, or do you like eating?

How much salt?

Guardian finds the salt content in some foods varies from country to country.

Salt content in some of the world’s most popular burger, snack and cereal brands almost doubles in some countries, according to new research out today.

A survey of more than 260 popular food products available around the world from food giants such as KFC, McDonald’s, Kellogg’s, Nestle, Burger King and Subway found that no single product surveyed had the same salt content around the world while some displayed huge variations from one country to another.

Read more

It can be quite amazing, well more like scary, how much salt can be found in some ready meals and fast food. Often as much (if not more) than the recommended daily amount of salt, and then some people add more salt! The fact that there is more salt added in different countries means you can’t rely on having the same eating experience as you travel around.

salt

For me personally I try and avoid salt for health reasons, but now much prefer the natural flavours of food, herbs and spices and I don’t need the taste of salt. I certainly don’t consider salt to be a natural flavour enhancer.

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Unsalted Crisps

I much prefer unsalted crisps, however I am having real problems buying them locally.

True I can buy Smiths (actually Walkers) unsalted Salt ‘n’ Shake crisps, but I much prefer the traditionally cooked crisps you can buy.

In theory Tyrells, Kettle and Burts make unsalted crisps, but though my local suppliers have other flavours they no longer stock the unsalted versions.

Tapas for a Tenner

I have been meaning for ages to visit La Tasca. I really like tapas and I really wanted to try their paella – more often then not I am very disappointed with the paella that is offered at other places.

So today I happened to be in Regent Street and popped into La Tasca for a (very) late lunch.

I decided to do the Tapas for a Tenner deal. This deal allows you to eat as many tapas as you want for just £10! The deal varies across the UK, but here it was available until 5pm, whilst in Bristol it is available from 5pm!

Tapas for a Tenner

I went for six dishes in the end.

Patatas Bravas – Fried potato, topped with a spicy tomato sauce.

A Spanish classic and a tapas favourite. The tomato sauce was spicy, but rather too salty for me. Whilst the potatoes were soft and not crispy, slightly oily. A bit of a disappointment for a dish which should be relatively simple to make. It felt like it had not been freshly cooked and left around for a while. For me tapas should be freshly cooked.

Paella de Pescado – Paella with squid, prawns and mussels, served with lemon.

This was a well flavoured dish, but again like the patatas bravas did not taste fresh, felt like it had been cooked a good hour earlier.

Calamares a la Andaluza – Deep-fried rings of squid, served with roasted garlic mayonnaise and lemon.

Now this is a dish which again is simplicity, but oh was so wrong. The rings were overcooked so were rubbery in texture. I got the feeling (and I may have been wrong) that these were not freshly prepared, but came from a packet or even the freezer. Good calamari should be cooked using fresh squid. Alas they covered the calamari in salt – if I wanted salt I would have asked for it.

Chorizo Frito al Vino – The spicy Spanish sausage, sautéed in red wine.

This in my opinion was perfect, great chorizo cooked in red wine, bursting with meaty flavours and with a great depth provided by the red wine. This one I would have had second helpings of.

Selección de Embutidos – A selection of cured Spanish meats.

Can you get this wrong, no, and La Tasca didn’t. Three slices each of three different kinds of cured Spanish meats.

Paella Valenciana – A Valencian-style paella, with mixed seafood and chicken.

A different paella to the first tapas, but a similar story.

Overall I kind of had what I expected. La Tasca is a chain (not a family run restaurant) and probably cooks to a system. I did enjoy the meal (despite the disappointing food) and the ambiance and the atmosphere was pleasant, and you have to remember this was a very busy Regent Street.

Will I go again, possibly if I was stuck and there was nothing else to choose from.