What is your favorite thing to cook?
I like to experiment and try lots of new things, that's why I'm cooking my way through Michael Symon's cookbook. If forced to pick just one thing I guess it would be BBQ. I love to smoke pork butts and ribs and experiment with other dishes on the grill. I make all my own rubs, slathers, and sauces from scratch using the highest quality chilies, herbs and spices from SpiceHound at the Coit Road and Tremont Farmers Market.
How about your least favorite thing to cook?
I wouldn't say it's my least favorite thing but my biggest challenge is cooking fish. Cooking through Michael Symon's book has helped me come along way, but I still worry about over or undercooking fish whenever I make it.
What is your favorite local restaurant and what is one you are dying to try out?
We eat at Bar Symon more than any other restaurant because we love the food, it's close to home, and our 14 month old is welcomed with open arms (literally, the waitresses love her!) but Dante is probably my favorite restaurant right now. Dante is putting out some amazing food. Menu 6 tops the list of restaurants I'd like to try (I loved Boulevard Blue in that space) and I'd really like to make a return trip to L'Albatros.
Music and food go together so beautifully. You are hosting a dinner party, what would be on your playlist?
I am usually too busy cooking to worry about music (and most of our guests don't have the same musical taste I do) so I let my wife pick. My personal play list would include music from The White Stripes, MGMT, Kings of Leon, O.A.R., Bloc Party, Modest Mouse, My Morning Jacket, and The Raconteurs.
What would you choose to be your last meal on earth?
More important than the food would be that it would be shared with my family and friends. For the food, I'd invite my favorite chefs and ask them each to prepare their favorite dish, paired with my favorite craft beers and wine.
What are you currently reading?
My blogroll! It's tough enough for me to keep up with all the great food and sports blogs I follow. I don't have time for books unless I'm on vacation.
What is your favorite Kitchen Gadget?
My VitaMix. I got one last fall and use it almost everyday when I am home. It's great for making smoothies, fruit/veggie juices, soups, sauces, peanut butter, milk shakes and so much more.
Do you have a signature go-to dish?
Pulled pork is my go-to dish for a large crowd. Locally raised pork butt slowly smoked over applewood for 12 hours served with Carolina style BBQ sauce, my spicy coleslaw, and some jalapeno cheddar cornbread.
What is your favorite thing about the Cleveland area?
I am a complete Cleveland homer. I've had opportunities to leave for great opportunities in great cities multiple times but my family and friends keep me here. Cleveland is an under appreciated city with world class restaurants, museums, theater, parks, a Great Lake, and 3 major sports teams. It also has a low cost of living and minimal traffic, two things that keep me from moving to Chicago. It is extremely frustrating that the leaders in the area cannot put their selfish agendas aside and develop and grow this city into what it really could be.
Do you have a favorite meal from your childhood and do you cook it today?
My favorite meal was my Mom's lasagna. I rarely make lasagna but thanks for the reminder because I love it and should make it more often.
Top 3 Movies of all time?
I'm not all that into movies and I haven't been to the theater in over a year. When I do watch movies, I am a sucker for stupid comedies like The Hangover, Zoolander, and Old School.
What was your happiest moment in life?
God has blessed me with a wonderful life full of happy moments. The couple that come to the top are the day my daughter Isabel was born and the day I married my wife, Beth. If the Indians, Browns or Cavs ever bring home a championship, that would probably round out the top 3.
Where do you do your grocery shopping?
I buy as much as I can from local farmers and farmers markets. My favorites are Bluebird Meadows (pasture raised pork & beef, also eggs) and Plum Creek (humanely raised veal, chicken, duck, turkey, and plenty more). This is the third year we've belonged to a CSA. We receive bags full of delicious produce, fruit, eggs, meat and more from Plum Creek every week. I also like to go to the Homerville Food Auction to buy in bulk for freezing and canning. I get most everything else I need from the Westside Market and Heinen's.
Do you have Culinary Resolutions that you would like to accomplish this year?
I am cooking my way through Michael Symon's cookbook Live to Cook and blogging about it - www.livetocookathome.com. I started off well but have stalled a bit as of late.
I did a short blog about it here: http://www.livetocookathome.
Here's a link to the original recipe in Food & Wine: http://www.foodandwine.com/
Bacon Scallion Horseradish Mustard
1 cup dry mustard
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped cooked bacon
1/2 cup finely chopped scallion
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons dried tarragon
1 teaspoon creamed horseradish
Mix the mustard and the vinegar in a non-aluminum saucepan; let sit 30 minutes for the mustard to dissolve. Whisk in the sugar, eggs, and tarragon. Cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and is very hot to the touch. Do not boil. Stir in the bacon and the scallions. Immediately remove to a bowl or decorative glass jar and cool to room temperature. The mustard may be kept tightly covered in the refrigerator for several months.