As the Earth approaches its end Tim Christian craves its salt and is not disappointed. He went to the far flung lands of Carlton for his latest food review and urges you to do the same.
The date was Friday the 18th of August 2023 and the world was ending.
I had been assured by that paragon of reliable information, the artist formerly known as Twitter – now passing itself off as X (fill in your own joke about Elon Musk being obsessed with his exes) – that this was the date that Nibiru – a supposed disastrous encounter between Earth and a large planetary object – would finally make its near-miss of Earth, reverse the magnetic poles and cause all manner of apocalyptic upsets. Shunning the earnest advice to make my way to “the caves” I instead decided to bow out from existence in the best possible way, by having an extra half an hour for lunch and visiting somewhere I’ve been meaning to try out for some time, before it was too late.
This is how I ended up contemplating planetary annihilation and eating some exquisite food at the Salt Of The Earth deli in Carleton.
Sitting a little way outside of the main urban area of Blackpool, Carleton has never exactly been a focal point for activity – its ‘centre’ consisting of little more than a string of businesses around a crossroads on the way out of Poulton. However, this unassuming locale is home to an establishment that has been consistently lighting up my social media feed with some downright fantastic-looking dishes – a welcome trend in really good-looking and imaginative food cropping up in and around the Fylde coast. Couple that with an onsite art gallery/shop and you get a spot that has been nudging its way up my must-visit list for some time now.
The interior is cozy and comfortable, exactly the sort of place you’d imagine sells delicious, locally-sourced food with a side of art. A cluster of tables is surrounded by plants in pots and old tins, lots of artwork and a shelf of books to read and swap. Picking up some lunchtime trade, it was busy, but not uncomfortably so and even in the small space Salt of the Earth managed to avoid feeling crowded or awkward. Not wanting to take up an entire table in a small establishment in the middle of lunch, I perched on a window seat and checked out the menu.
Offering a varied and desirable selection of brunchy fare, Salt Of The Earth is keen on serving fresh and locally-sourced food, adding their own spin on a number of favourites and a few more adventurous choices, as well as a range of coffees, teas, other hot and cold drinks and a few wines, beers and cocktails for the boozier end of the brunch scale. Obviously, I had Insta-researched my options before arrival (my lunch break demanded it) so already knew my order. Today I would be enjoying one of the specials on the menu – their masala eggs – spiced scrambled eggs served with locally-sourced tomatoes, yoghurt and chilli toast and a builder’s brew (Yorkshire Tea Gold, very fancy).
As always, it’s the little touches that add up to a great experience and my brew came out first – a proper-sized mug (with the bag in! Excellent!) with a very cute miniature milk churn and a cheeky little homemade biscuit. After not too long of a wait, the food came out as well, and what food!
Instagram always adds that little glamorous sheen that’s hard to capture but if anything this looked even better. The masala eggs looked silky and delicious, the toast toasty and the yoghurt clean and fresh, but the surprise stars of the show were the tomatoes.
It’s a rare and wonderful treat to have high expectations so resoundingly exceeded, but that was absolutely the case here, and I swung between wanting to devour the whole thing at record speed and forcing myself to slow down and savour every last forkful.
Something that needs to be kept in mind here is that I’m not a massive fan of tomatoes but ’tis the season and these were something else. These were genuinely the most delicious tomatoes I had ever eaten, rich and overflowing with depth of flavour, giving a real umami hit while still retaining their sharpness and light. And there were so many of them! Almost as much of a main feature of the dish rather than a side to the eggs. Every element complimented the dish with the overall effect making far more than the sum of its parts. It’s a rare and wonderful treat to have high expectations so resoundingly exceeded, but that was absolutely the case here, and I swung between wanting to devour the whole thing at record speed and forcing myself to slow down and savour every last forkful.
Fortunately, I could distract myself from my urge for rampant demolition with another very attractive little touch. On the counter where I sat was a sketchbook, with each page separated into sections with drawing prompts for the customers to fill in. There hadn’t been many takers, so I flipped through for something suitable for my meagre talents and sketched out a fort (channelling my nerdy/academic background and trying to present a relatively accurate wooden motte and bailey and an oh-so-amusing take on the prompt to draw an armpit). A couple of the staff had noted my efforts and were pleased to see the book being put to use, one of them pointing out their own (actually very good) sketch of the front of the deli itself. It was a small feature in the dining experience, but an utterly charming one.
Feeling more than satisfied with my meal, I nevertheless took a moment to consider the cakes on display at the counter – it was still the end of the world, after all. Again, I was spoilt for mind-boggling choice at the all-killer-no-filler selection arrayed before me. Eventually, settling for a lemon drizzle cake, I dived in and the result was pure bliss; sticky, moist and sharp. like lemon drizzle cake should be, with a touch of meringue topping adding a perfect balance of sweetness. The impending doom of humanity has never tasted so good.
Disappointingly, the earth has not been struck down by a passing celestial body, so the sharp juxtaposition of delicious food and total Armageddon has lost its sheen and I will be forced to return to Salt of the Earth to try and recapture that magic. You shouldn’t wait for the end of the world though, make your way over there and get stuck in as soon as possible to see for yourself. This is definitely a new favourite spot that I’ll be back to again.
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