Let me preface this post with: I am in no way being compensated for writing about this store. In fact, quite the opposite. When new stores and restaurants come into town, I’m one of the FIRST in line to check them out and I’m actually giving them money…so don’t be confused. I’m spending for YOU, people! So that YOU can be in the know about all of downtown Greenville’s happenin’ spots. (Okay, no not really. It’s all for selfish reasons, but that’s pretend that’s why, okay? Great.)
But on that note…
THERE ARE SO MANY NEW THINGS DOWNTOWN! Have you noticed that?? It’s like my favorite store moved in and then BOOM! A hundred new stores and restaurants followed. That’s the magic of Anthropologie, y’all. MAGIC, I tell ya. One of these lovely additions was a spice store that I used to drive allllll the way to Asheville to go to, so I could not be more excited that it’s chosen our Main St. as its new home! (Well, I really drive to Asheville for Salsas, but this is definitely one of my “must-stops” before leaving.)
The Spice & Tea Exchange is a small chain that carries an unbelievable amount of hard-to-find spices (both whole & ground), tons of different spice blends, loose teas, peppers, salts, and even lots of cute dishes & tins to hold all your new finds. It’s easy to be overwhelmed when you first walk in, but take a few minutes to walk around and check everything out first before you move on to the best part – smelling!! You can smell everything before you buy it, which shouldn’t be that big of a deal but it’s really novel to me. Nothing is worse than buying a tasty looking spice blend at the grocery store or a specialty store and then getting it home and realizing it smells like feet. Am I right?
I typically shy away from posting recipes that contain “special” ingredients, or anything that you might not be able to find pretty easily, but I threw this caprese salad together on a Sunday evening and used one of my finds from The Spice & Tea Exchange and it was just too darn good not to share. What was that special ingredient you ask? BACON SALT. Yea, that’s right….you heard me. Bacon salt. I walked in, saw it, smelled it, and immediately purchased it. I had absolutely no idea what I was going to use bacon salt on (except rimming a Bloody Mary glass did immediately cross my mind), but I pretty much knew I had to have it. I mean, why not, right?! Another good thing about The Spice & Tea Exchange is that you can buy things in bulk (or fill up your own container) or you can buy these tiny little packets that they’ve already filled for you. The packets are seriously tiny, but they’re the perfect size to try out a spice blend or a salt and be sure you like it before really committing. And as you probably already guessed….I’m committing to bacon salt.
SMOKY CAPRESE SALAD – A Milk Truck Original!
1-2 large tomatoes (I used a ginormous yellow Heirloom just because I love the color)
A few leaves of Fresh Basil
Bacon Salt – see my notes below for more places to find it
Your favorite Olive Oil
A good Balsamic Vinegar
Slice up your tomatoes. I prefer larger slices to thin ones, but that’s really up to you. Slice your Mozzarella into pieces a little bit smaller than your tomato slice. Arrange these on your plate however you like! (I got fancy here, can’t you tell?….It was Sunday after all.)
Tear, or chiffonade, your fresh basil and sprinkle it across your tomatoes and mozzarella. Drizzle the dish with a tablespoon or so of Olive oil, then a tiny drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
Finish by sprinkling some bacon salt all over the dish. You don’t need a ton, this has a pretty strong flavor. Crack some fresh black pepper on there and enjoy!
So, obviously I love all things smoky. I mean, y’all know how I feel about Smoked Paprika. If you don’t care for that flavor as much as I do though, you can use regular mozzarella to lessen the intensity of the smokiness. But if you’re like me and you want to pump up that smoky flavor even more, try this Holy Smoke Smoked Olive Oil. I picked it up randomly at the Charleston Farmer’s Market last year, but I use it all the time. It’s great for finishing meats or even on cheeses to give them a rich, smoky flavor. Deeeeelish.
Now on to Bacon Salt – apparently there’s a whole website devoted it and what d’ya know, it’s called baconsalt.com. You can remember that, right? I’ve also seen it at Whole Foods and a few other grocery stores. But if you’re feeling crafty, this website shows you how to MAKE YOUR OWN! Definitely trying that sometime. My last fun fact about Bacon Salt? It’s a completely VEGAN product. They just smoke the salt to infuse it with the flavors that people commonly associate with bacon. Ha! Go figure. Everyone loves bacon, y’all. Even vegans.