Today two of my favorite subjects were combined by one of my favorite writers about food, Judy Rodgers Salt and Russ Parsons. Rodgers, chef and an owner of SF's Zuni Cafe, is one of the most observant cooks I’ve ever met. Repetition and paying attention: that’s the essence of becoming a good cook. Judy knows the how a leg of lamb that reaches an internal temp of 100 degrees an hour after it went into the oven will be different from one that took two hours to reach that temperature. The kind of deep lamb knowledge you only get from roasting a thousand legs. Here she discusses salt, not to season food before it goes into the pan, but to transform the food well before it’s cooked. We tend to take salt for granted but in fact the ability to use salt is THE most important skill a cook has. (Is full-disclosure necessary here? Judy blurbed my charcuterie book with uncommon generosity and eloquence. And for this reason I’ll never be able to write about her for a newspaper or magazine, which is a shame, because she’s one of the most interesting cooks in the country. And she really does cook in Zuni’s open kitchen, in corduroy skirts and vivid stockings, number 2 pencils holding her long hair in a bun!)
From the big daily on the other coast, I can’t resist trumpeting a fellow Cleveland boy’s two-star triumph. Way to go, Michael (and Jonathan Sawyer and the Parea staff). You do this beleagured town proud. Stay focused.