“We have two rules: We don’t go out on Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve,” says Elizabeth Blau, seated at a table in her restaurant, Honey Salt. By “we,” she is referring to her and her husband and business partner, Kim Canteenwalla, chef and co-owner of Honey Salt. The husband-wife power couple met 14 years ago while working in the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. They live in the Lakes with their 8-year-old son, Cole, and dogs Wink and Fenway. They will celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary in June.
With busy schedules, the couple admits it can be challenging to keep the romance alive. Still, their level of commitment shines through. They both try not to work on Sundays, and they say that a mutual love of travel, exploration and all things culinary keep them bonded. They also agree that Blau plans fantastic vacations to their favorite destinations, such as the One&Only Palmilla in Los Cabos, Mexico, or Blackberry Farm in Tennessee. Other favorite spots include Viceroy Anguilla and Hawaii.
The ladies restroom at Honey Salt is wallpapered with key cards from hotels they have stayed at all around the world.
“We continue to travel, and we continue to find new places,” Canteenwalla says. This summer, they are looking forward to taking Cole to Europe. “We really covet our time when we’re not working,” Blau says.
Other touches of nostalgia throughout Honey Salt give greater insight into the couple’s lives. Blau gave Canteenwalla the marble buffet table from which the chef expedites completed dishes as a gift. The main dining room feels like a cross between a New England-style restaurant and an elegant home dining room. “This is an extension of our home. Come in, sit down, have a drink and chill out,” Canteenwalla says. Two large farm tables with chandeliers add to the intimate, romantic charm.
Blau says it’s sometimes great to work with her husband, like when the couple has had opportunities to visit Dubai or Singapore together for business. She also admits that it sometimes can get a little exasperating. But the good times outweigh the bad.
“Like any other married couple, there are plenty of things we disagree on,” Blau says. If there is a conflict, the tall brunette says she tends to get her way. But when it comes to a clear vision for their company, Blau & Associates, they effectively see eye-to-eye. “Working together as husband and wife, you have to have a clear platform in terms of quality of product,” Blau says.
It seems to be working. Honey Salt opened three months ago, and so far it has been a locals favorite. One faithful patron has already dined at the restaurant 19 times.
The couple works together to create a romantic dining atmosphere. Canteenwalla and his team compose and execute the cuisine, while Blau’s expertise and favorites show up on the menu as well. The Ipswich fried clams and fresh-baked, brown-paper-bag apple pie were Blau’s idea. The concept for My Wife’s Favorite Salad came from some of Blau’s beloved ingredients: duck, pomegranate and a poached egg.
“There’s not one thing on this menu that is not something that Kim and I like to eat,” Blau says.
My Wife’s Favorite Salad
8 ounces pre-cooked and picked duck confit
4 free-range eggs
4 ounces pomegranate seeds
4 ounces pine nuts
6 ounces mixed greens
2 ounces chopped crispy duck skin
4 ounces orange segments
4 ounces pomegranate vinaigrette
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Soft-poach eggs in simmering water until set. Warm the duck confit in an oven. Toss all other ingredients together in a large bowl and plate. Top with a poached egg and some crispy duck skin.
½ shallot, chopped finely
1 ounce cider vinegar
1 ounce zinfandel vinegar
1 ounce pomegranate molasses
1 ounce pomegranate juice
10 ounces olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Place shallot, vinegars, pomegranate juice and molasses in a bowl. Season with salt and black pepper. Whisk in olive oil.