Salt, the new olive oil?

The New York Times puffs specialty salts as the major new secret ingredient of chefs in the know. What a bunch of hooey. Everyone knows salt is where it’s at. Even a simple home cook like me has four different kinds of salt in the kitchen—regular Morton’s table salt and kosher salt for dishes I don’t care about or cases where I need fine salt (I don’t have a salt grinder), a can of La Baleine Sea Salt for intermediate uses, and a bag of Flower of the Ocean sea salt from the Baker’s Catalog for truly advanced recipes.

Okay. Maybe I just made their point.

Improvisation: Spring farfalle with ham, peas, and asparagus

Tonight (the second night after our dogs’ spaying and neutering) neither of us wanted to cook much. On the other hand, there were the remains of an eight-pound ham shank in the fridge, calling out to have something done with it. Something had to be done.

Lisa went to the store and came back with farfalle and asparagus. A bag of frozen peas came out of the freezer, and a sprig of sage from the garden. I steamed about 2/3 lb. of asparagus while I cooked onion in olive oil and a little butter until it was translucent and slightly browned around the edges, then browned diced ham and added minced sage. When the pan showed signs of browning in the bottom, I added a splash of an excellent Oregon pinot gris, then added the peas (still frozen) and the asparagus (steamed, chopped into 1-inch pieces), and added a little more olive oil.

We ate the ham, asparagus, and peas over farfalle with a little extra olive oil (or butter), sea salt, and grated parmigiano reggiano. I doubt this was an original recipe—I’ve probably eaten something like it before in a restaurant—but it was put together with no guides but our senses and experience, and turned out really well.

Myst-style UVA walkaround

Forgot to point to this one. The first Google result for "west lawn" leads into a fascinating set of photos by Joel Winstead around University of Virginia and William and Mary landmarks. The cool bit is the Myst-style navigation (e.g. click on the left side of the photo to turn left, click on the bottom to go back, etc.).

My only gripe is that the author stopped with just two buildings at Virginia. I’d love to see the following:

  • Going all the way down the lawn, with the ability to look at (or into) each Lawn room
  • Inside Cabell Hall, all the way down into B-012 (the historical rehearsal space of the Virginia Glee Club) and up onto the stage
  • Inside Clark Hall, and up onto the roof and inside the old skylight(if they haven’t closed all the paths one could take to get there
  • Through the Monroe Hill tunnels
  • Into the basement labs in the Physics building
  • Plus the ability to “walk” (virtually) from one building to another

Of course, all this work suggests that the project should really be distributed. Hope to see it continue.

Quick music notes