Friday, July 9, 2010

Fridays, Feasting With Friends- Featuring Dave Whittaker

"One of the delights of life is eating with friends, second to that is talking about eating.  And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends."
~Laurie Colwin 'Home Cooking'

Dave Whittaker

I am so excited to present today's Fridays, Feasting with Friends!  This is Dave Whittaker, he is a fellow Cleveland native, and also a fellow Foodie Blogger!  I stumbled across his blog one day while looking for a Michael Symon recipe and have been hooked ever since.  It is entitled Live to Cook.... at Home, where he is slowly cooking his way through Michael Symon's cookbook Live to Cook and in-turn learning some new recipes, techniques and having fun along the way.  And I am have such fun following along on his journey!  This lucky guy has had his blog featured on Channel 3, The Avon Ledger, Yahoo News and also Ohio Authority, Ohio's Premier Online Magazine {click here} to read these interviews.  The blogging world is such an awesome place!  I love that you can stumble across someone with the same interests as you do and in the process learn fun things, make new friends, and just have some great daily reading material!  My blogroll is getting larger and larger all the time- I just love it!  So do yourself a favor and add Dave's to yours today!  

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 - I started off well but have stalled a bit as of late.

One word that best describes you is: Passionate

One of my favorite recipes is one I tweaked from Food & Wine - Braised Pork Shoulder Steak with Fried Egg, Scallions, Pickled Ramps & Hot Peppers, and a Bacon Scallion Horseradish Mustard. The dish, as described by the author, is a combination of two of his favorite Japanese dishes,  donburi (meat and an egg with rice) and kakuni (slow-braised pork served with hot mustard). I followed the recipe for the most part, tweaking slightly with what I had on hand. Bluebird Meadows pork shoulder steak slowly braised in onions, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, & mirin, topped with a fried egg from Plum Creek Farm, leeks from Chef's Garden, homemade bacon scallion horseradish mustard, and homemade pickled ramps  and hot peppers, all served over rice with some of the braising liquid.

I did a short blog about it here:

Here's a link to the original recipe in Food & Wine:

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.

Dave, thank you so much for doing this interview for me!  It has been great to read and I am so thrilled to learn of two new local farmers that I wasn't aware of!  I am excited to check them out.  See you around the blog-world and maybe one day we can get the families together for dinner Michael Symon style :)  


  1. Hey I cam across your blog and your recipes really interested me! If you have a lot of good, healthy recipes, you should send them into this contest I know of. It’s coming to Cleveland on September 25-26th! I noticed your recipe and thought you would be interested. You could get great exposure for your recipes and meet celebrity cooks (Bobby Flay, Sunny Anderson, Sara Moulton, or Cat Cora). All you have to do is go to to submit one of your healthy recipes. Deadline to sign up for Cleveland is September 8th so hurry! Good luck if you decide to enter, and if not, keep posting! :)

  2. Wow, thank you Jackie! I am totally going to look into that. How exciting that would be to be a part of! Thanks for telling about it!



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