Fathers Day

davidandbarbara1950sWhen I was nine years old, my parents told me it would be fun if I made them breakfast in bed every Sunday. I was such a geek, I didn't know they were pulling a Tom Sawyer on me.

At first I practiced with something easy--scrambled eggs. I worked up to over-easy eggs and was very proud when I could plate the eggs without breaking or overcooking the yolk. My sister, Barbara, didn't like to cook. She could be coaxed into helping me with some of the prep, but she wasn't happy about it.

In time my mother felt I was ready to take on the El Dorado of breakfasts: an omelet. The first time I had one, I thought it was so great. The outer crispness contrasted with the custard-softness on the inside.

My mom taught me to use a big pat of butter to prevent the omelet from sticking to the pan. She made savory fillings, using a tasty piece of sausage, some mushrooms, spinach, and a bit of cheese. At times she'd switch gears and put something sweet inside, like fresh strawberries she'd cooked down into a compote.

For Father's Day one year she showed me how to make my dad's favorite filling: crisp bacon, sauteed potatoes, and cheddar cheese. Because he had an Eastern European sweet tooth, he liked his bacon dusted with sugar.

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dinner.jpg My father got me laid – twice. I’ll get to the food part in a minute.

The first was a cute, spunky doctor who worked with him in his Radiology department in a VA Hospital on Long Island. She told me she was in Los Angeles and my father had told her to call me. She added, laughing, ”Like for a good time.”

"Come on up", I said, "I’m in Benedict Canyon.  I’ll make you dinner." We bonded on my living room couch. Later, in the early hours of the morning I thought, “Gee, thanks, Dad.  A nice present.  And, it was my first doctor.”

The food. Growing up in a tiny town in upstate New York there weren’t any restaurants, just a luncheonette where if you asked for an egg salad sandwich the owner began by boiling an egg. The River Tavern Bar and Grill had a bar and no grill but in the summer you could get a pizza pie and in the winter they would defrost one for you.

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porkbelly.jpgSo what to cook for Father’s Day? Pork belly sliders have been all the rage for the last few years. Made über popular by food dude David Chang of Momofuko fame, this dish has popped up on menus throughout the US. And we know the French and the Germans also love their various preparations of this cherished cut of swine. However, truth be told, this deliciously rich delectable treat has been cooked in China for eons.

But certain restaurants exploit the average human being’s addiction to fatty pork – you know which ones I’m talking about – these joints know their patrons can’t get enough of that heavenly mix of tangy sweet fatty meat all sauced up in basically a fancy hamburger roll, so they price these little ditties as if they were serving Kobe beef (even though belly is rarely more than 3 bucks a pound, if that.)

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Here is this year's list of Things We Love for Dad...

APPLE TV - $99


Stream MLB games, Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, and all your iTunes purchases. Plus they can turn their Mac or iPad screen into a big screen TV wirelessly.

Man Made Meals: The Essential Cookbook for Guys


Steve Raichlen's new cookbook. We just can't get enough.

4G USB Cufflinks - $100


Stylish, yet useful. A little Bond tech for the nerd in your life. You never know when a data-retrieval emergency will hit.

Waterproof Ipod Shuffle - $140


Great for swimmers, beach-goers, and dudes who sweat a lot. Add a pair of the best goggles to complete the gift.

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makers46Even though my father doesn't drink it, bourbon just seems like the quintessential spirit for dad. In my visit to bourbon country, I learned the distilleries were all pretty much family ventures, though now mostly owned by conglomerates. Even if you don't drink bourbon, a visit to this beautiful part of the country outside Louisville is a treat.

I was a guest at the Maker's Mark distillery in Loretto which feels more like a national park than anything else. Historic wooden buildings with touches of their trademark red are set against a lush green backdrop. The tour of the distillery is very worthwhile. It's so old fashioned and small scale you might be surprised, I loved seeing the buckets of yeast and beautiful copper distillation pots.

Maker's Mark is made from corn, barley and local wheat. It is smooth and has featured prominently in my recipe development efforts. It has a sweetness and rich caramel and toffee notes with a hint of citrus.

If you like Marker's Mark, try 46, which is also made from Maker's Mark, but is aged with more specially charred oak staves, it's a bit higher proof but still mellow and has more spice and vanilla to it.

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