“Please pass the salt” becomes a bit more complicated when sitting across the table from Leisha Jones and Lisa Trifiro. The owner and creator, respectively, of Orcas Alchemy (etsy.com/shop/orcasalchemy), Jones and Trifiro turn the yes-or-no query into a multiple-choice conundrum with their collection of chef-grade artisan salts, including roasted garlic, smoked serrano chile, Thai ginger and the exotic black truffle salt, which, at $19 per 1.5-ounce jar, is considered the most expensive salt in the world. And, boy, does it taste like it. Potent and addictive, the salt is harvested from the Mediterranean Sea in Trapani, Italy, then combined with hand-picked black truffles and laced with edible flakes of 23K gold. Sprinkle that on your popcorn.
But the salts can’t run off with all the credit. The Orcas Island company also creates artisan sugars, all priced under $10 for 3.2 ounces, in a variety of tastes, such as the tart-yet-rich raspberry or the gentle star anise, with a flavor slightly reminiscent of old-style licorice that absolutely demands introduction to a warm snickerdoodle. Orcas Alchemy packages its products in delicate jars capped with tissue paper and tied with color-coordinated cord. The jars of salts and sugars rest on a fluffy bed of grass green confetti inside chocolate brown boxes, suggesting the illusion of rare jewels in a treasure chest. Can you say, “Perfect Mother’s Day gift”?
Trifiro started the company in 2009 with the help of her husband, Matt Trifiro, a professionally trained chef and former CEO of 1000markets.com, an online marketplace specializing in artisan merchandise that was acquired last year by Bonanza.com. Early this year, she sold Orcas Alchemy to Jones, her friend and fellow culinary conspirator, who plans to expand its retail presence at local shops in the San Juan Islands, as well as operate a booth at the Orcas Island Farmers’ Market. Mainlanders can seek out the black truffle salt at Seattle Caviar Company (2922 Eastlake Ave. E; 206.323.3005) or order much of the line at Orcas Alchemy’s Etsy website.