This One Is for the Guys

Dining with Duvall by With Lynn Duvall

We procrastinators prefer to think of ourselves as spontaneous.

So, if you're being spontaneous about Father's Day, you might need a couple gift suggestions. For those who are not "last-minute" types, you can use these ideas for an upcoming special occasion.

My daughter,Gretchen, gave a subscription to Chile Pepper to my hubby Bob for his birthday. When the magazine arrived, I expected to see sear-the-roof-off-your-mouth recipes and a host of ads for chili sauce. I was wrong about the recipes, right about the sauce.

Editor in Chief Marie Dalby explains that the magazine is devoted to the zesty life, not just zesty flavors. In the April issue, the magazine focused on Mediterranean regions, including Italy, Cyprus and Morocco.

The Mediterranean cookware photo spread featured a shiny Turkish coffee grinder which produces a super-fine grind and a distinctive stew pot from Morocco with a flat bottom and a conical, high-hat top. The earthenware pot is practical for tangine, a traditional Moroccan stew, but it's also an interior decorator's dream. It could be proudly displayed in the kitchen and used for any braised meat-vege or stew recipe.

The magazine is targeted at men, but the women in the house will enjoy it, too, especially since the recipes are not searing. Many are for soothing side-dishes. The American-style Easter article featured "finger food that's fun for all generations." Visit the Web site at www.chilepep for subscription information.

Remember the time when I was nattering on about the Pork Board five-ingredient recipe contest? I mentioned that the board had consulted Mark Bittman, author of "How To Cook Everything," for a sample recipe. I eschewed the recipe, but I went over the top on "How to Cook Everything," claiming it is the new kitchen bible, replacing "Joy of Cooking." Well, I stick by that.

Since then, Bittman and I have become acquainted. I had lunch with him and asked a few questions about the taping of the second season of his PBS television show. The first season is now airing on PBS stations nationwide, but I recommend purchasing the DVD of the first season's 13 programs with the accompanying cookbook. It's less stressful to chose your own viewing schedule, and you can watch more than one 30-minute program at a time.

On the show, Bittman challenges famous chefs across America. He goes into their kitchens, helping them to make a dish. Then, Bittman prepares his own, simplified version. His column in The New York Times tags Bittman as "the minimalist." On the show, he lives up to the name, proving he can capture the concept or flavors of a complex, gourmet restaurant specialty, delivering a tasty, easier alternative.

I've shown the program to several men, who praised it. They agree that this is not standard fare. Bittman has a relaxed, low-key style with these all-star chefs. He puts them at ease and brings out their best. Some of the chefs could not carry a show alone, but sparkle under Bittman's spell. It's a new, unique food program that is exceptionally appealing to men - even men who don't cook. Visit the Web site at

Cookbook lovers will relish the fascinating, behind-the-scenes introduction to the companion book, as well as 125 recipes for both the chefs' specialties and Bittman's versions. I could make a meal in the time it takes me to remember the show and book title: "How to Cook Everything: Mark Bittman Takes on America's Chefs." A promotional package for the DVD and the cook book includes free shipping ($34.95 for both). To order call 800-429-2003.

Now that we've covered a couple gift suggestions, here's an idea for celebrating - take Dad to Dish.

La Canada's Dish has recently been cited as "Best Breakfast" on several Web sites.

"Regular diners already have their favorites on the breakfast menu. We always offer specials, I think the chef will do some fun ones for Father's Day," said Kevin Finch, Dish co-owner.

I've tried some of the excellent lunch-dinner entrees on the new summer menu and would chose those meals over the breakfast rush.

Last week, I went to watch bartender Dave Benari prepare Dish's Kumquat Martini. I compared it with a recipe for Kumquat Crush, obtained from my server at Parasol Up, a lounge in the new Wynn hotel in Las Vegas. Two very different drinks. Both delicious. The crush requires some expensive, illusive ingredients. It is the best drink I've ever had, but not everyone loves kumquats as much as I do. Even fewer want to pay $12 for the crush at Wynn.

Kumquats are in season, so if you celebrate Father's Day at home, try the kumquat martini. Don't forget to whip up some kumquat fizzies for the abstainers and the kids.

Write Lynn Duvall at or in care of the Valley Sun, PO BOX 38, Number One Valley Sun Lane, La Cañada, CA 91012-0038.

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