Pickled Golden Raisins

I have developed a fail proof trick for knowing if a restaurant is worth their salt. No, it’s not the number on the Zagat plaque or the absence of patrons wearing sneakers; it’s not the brand of wine glasses, the hostess’ accent or even the restaurants address. It is something small and often over looked and that is exactly why it is so telling.

When someone takes pride in their work and considers themself an artisan it will show in the tiniest details of their craft. They won’t ever cut corners because they understand that is what causes unraveling. Salt is a vital cornerstone for every recipe, and when I say you shouldn’t cut corners with your salt, I do not mean add more, I mean use the best quality you can afford. 

When a restaurant's employees show up from the market before dawn, are happy to shell fava beans for hours and subconsciously know the exact temperature and number of seconds it takes to reach that perfect pinkness in a lamp chop; they won’t put cheap salt on the tables. It just doesn’t happen.  Whether you prefer the light grey Celtic snowflakes of salt, chunky Mediterranean crystals or shades of pink from the Himalayas, the salt will be high quality and crisp. The taste should be clear and remind you of the ocean. (Like a really clean one, not the one where your girlfriend takes her dog and has the tide coming in from Tijuana) It should only enhance the flavor of the dish; if you can taste the salt you either put in too much or need to mix a little more. I won't eat watermelon with out it.

Pay attention to the details, they make the difference. Invest in everyday items, like your key chain, your chapstick and your salt. You deserve it. 

Pickled Golden Raisins
(adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques
makes 1 cup 
1 Cup Golden Raisins
1 Cup Water
3 TB White Wine Vinegar
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
2 TS Mustard Seeds
1 TS Lemon Thyme Leaves
1 Dried Chili
1 inch Rosemary Sprig
1 TS Salt 

Toast the mustard seeds in a dry skillet until fragrant and begin to pop. Add the remaining ingredients into the pan and bring to a boil, continue to cook until the liquid is reduced by half (about 8 minutes). Let the mixture cool, transfer to the desired container and store the raisins in liquid in the refrigerator. 

Pickled Golden Raisins are a spectacular addition to roasted and stewed meats, especially lamb. Stud your basmati with them and a few buttery toasted almonds; your rice just got an upgrade. Add these to some spinach and beets, a cheese plate for your next social hour or in between the ham and cheese you grill up for your honey. You tell me the places you have found to like them.

When you come over to my house you’ll appreciate the roasted chicken and potatoes. You’ll sip your wine and wonder what magic I know that releases such a complex combination of flavors. I promise, it is nothing special, nothing that anyone else couldn’t do. Maybe it was the time I spent scrubbing each potato making sure it was perfectly clean, the herbs I added to the stock last minute, my fancy salt, or the three extra minutes to toast those mustard seeds to pickle with the raisins that are strewn between the onions that made the difference. 
I don’t know, I am just happy you are here.


  1. I'm the founder/moderator for Punk Domestics (www.punkdomestics.com), a community site for those of use obsessed with, er, interested in DIY food. It's sort of like Tastespotting, but specific to the niche. I'd love for you to submit this to the site. Good stuff!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I can't wait to try it as I have never heard of pickled grapes before :)

  3. Oh DANG!! I was redirected from the Punk Domestics site and will be going home and making these tonight. Thanks for the post!

    1. Thanks! I have been eating tiny sharp cheddar and pickled golden raisin quesadillas over my sink every night this week! So good!