A recent entry in the insanely popular blog Stuff White People Like pegs sea salt as something that, well, stuff white people like. Not really. This Mexican enjoys the flavorful seasoning, as does anyone who ever might taste it. And, after, you try the pecan tarts offered at Old Vine Cafe in Costa Mesa, you'll live your life covered in it so you can spend your days licking it off like a cow and their rock.
It's not yet listed on their dessert menu, and the brothers McDonald that run the place were recently handing them out as complimentary treats to eaters one recent Thursday night. My chica and I enjoyed them so much that we paid for more. They're small enough so that you can easily swallow one, but don't be a glutton and space it out over three bites. A dollop of light cream on top, pecans mushed into a wonderful paste, and a firm mini-crust housing it all--simple enough. But the genius is in the butterscotch sauce on the plate, and the sea salt sprinkles placed in opportune spots.
Butterscotch is a great flavor: sugary but firm, the oak of sweets. It plays well off of the cream and pecan paste. The sea salt ties everything together, and then some. Since it's combined with a sauce, the grains of the seasoning bunch up, forming an almost-cream that will grit your teeth but which you'll let sit on your tongue so that your saliva will dissolve it just so and you'll begin to swoosh. Swoosh! Let the sea salt trick your palate, make it open more to soak in more sensations. Chef Mark better start offering this every day, the better to let you forget your sad, sad life, if even for a bite--it's that bueno, broders.
Oh, and no need to describe what I had at Old Vine--it's Old Vine, one of the best restaurants in Orange County. 'Nuff said.
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Old Vine Cafe, 2937 Bristol St. # A102, Costa Mesa, (714) 545-1411; www.oldvinecafe.com.