Salt And Pepper From The Reluctant Trading Experiment | Highland Park, IL - Tasting Table Chicago

Exceptional Icelandic sea salt and Tellicherry pepper from Highland Park's The Reluctant Trading Experiment

"Most people don't think too much about pepper," says Scott Eirinberg of The Reluctant Trading Experiment.

Fortunately for us, Eirinberg isn't most people.

Though a series of life's twists and turns, including a persuasive Indian friend, the Highland Park resident found himself as an importer of organic Tellicherry peppercorns ($7.50 for 2 oz.) from Kerala, India–fragrant black spheres that have us grinding our peppermill with abandon.

"It seemed crazy to start a company for peppercorns, but I just couldn't believe how good they were," says Eirinberg.

Although our spice collection ranks among our most prized possessions, it had never included top-notch black pepper–we once swore off the stuff for a month after a particularly biting batch of nondescript peppercorns ruined a meal. Now, we're hooked on Tellicherry.

Green Tellicherry peppercorns | TRTE's packaging

That aforementioned Indian friend lives near the pepper farms and helps Eirinberg buy his peppercorns directly from the growers. We've taken to grinding them coarsely as a garnish for soft-scrambled eggs, grilled vegetables and simple pastas like carbonara and cacio e pepe.

Eirinberg's recent trip to visit salt producers in Iceland led to a second product: flaky, crunchy, pristine salt from Arctic waters ($10 for 4 oz.). It's harvested at the base of glaciers and processed using naturally hot geyser water–and it's booted our former go-to garnishing salt off the counter.