Fathers Day

to-dad-on-fathers-day-with-dog-in-convertible-print-c10327714.jpg My late grandfather, Daddy Bill, was tall and skinny and uniquely dedicated to his habits and interests. He was a very snappy dresser – I vividly remember a purple wool sport coat that he once wore to Grandparents’ Day at my school, impressing my female teachers enormously – and he loved cars and taking painting classes and going swimming at the beach, even (or especially) when the water was way too cold, even for polar bears. But what he really loved was food.

Daddy Bill’s birthday was March 25th, and he liked to celebrate at breakfast. My brother and I were frequently on spring vacation during the latter half of March, and we usually spent the break in Florida with our grandparents. Therefore, we often had the privilege of celebrating Daddy Bill’s birthday with him, which is how I acquired some rather expensive tastes at a very tender age.

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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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shermanfamily.jpg We never really celebrated Father’s Day, perhaps, because, as the saying goes, every day was something akin to Father’s Day.  My Dad was both a simple and extraordinary man who enjoyed a good meal, a great ball game, and being with his family.  He was happiest when we were all home in our small upper west side apartment, doing whatever together.

There wasn’t a Sunday morning that passed when I didn’t wake up to the warm fresh smells of H&H bagels and fresh Zabar’s stacked up on the kitchen table. Although it was barely 9 am, my dad had already been to the City Athletic Club for a workout, a steam, and then back uptown to purchase the raw materials for breakfast.

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stevedadIn many families, grilling and barbecue are rites of passage. Son or daughter reaches the age when he or she can handle fire without disaster. Dad passes the tongs and secret family recipes and a new barbecue generation is born.

Well that’s how it works in theory, although in my family, my mother did the grilling and my father kept strangely silent on the subject.

So in honor of Father’s Day, I asked three barbecue masters what their fathers taught them about barbecuing and grilling. Whether you’re teaching or learning this year, Happy Father’s Day! You’ve earned it.

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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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