Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.
When I was a kid, my family went to Valentine's Day dinner at family-run Indian restaurant in Virginia. The chef couple prepared dinner on a north-meets-south theme to reflect their unlikely romance, and the food was through-the-roof good. I've been hooked on Indian flavors ever since.
What's your least favorite food?
Cottage cheese. The curdy texture really gets to me.
What is the best thing you've made so far this year?
This year is about a week old, and already quite delicious. Merrill's brussels sprout slaw was a standout, as was a trifle made with Amanda's almond cake, damson plum compote, and vanilla whipped cream.
Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.
I burned caramels four times in a row this summer. It was like they were out to get me; I turned my head for a split second, and the whole pan was black. So much sugar, so much butter, so much cream, all wasted.
What is your idea of comfort food?
Long fusilli with spicy tomato sauce; struan toast with chevre, scrambled eggs, and chives; chocolate pudding.
Apron or no apron?
More and more, I'm using that White House apron my wife got me. My work clothes are appreciative.
What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie?
I know I said this last time, but the scene in Hook where Robin Williams eats an invisible feast has stuck with me since I was a kid.
If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be?
Nora Ephron. I hear she loves to cook, and I bet she's a fantastic conversationalist.
You prefer to cook: a. alone, b. with others, c. it depends on your mood
I'm a kitchen loner, but on the rare occasion when someone else is totally on my cooking wavelength, I really enjoy the company.
When it comes to tidying up, you usually: a. clean as you cook, b. do all the dishes once you've finished cooking, c. leave the kitchen a shambles for your spouse/roommate/kids to clean.
Lucky for me, I do all the cooking, and my wife does all the cleaning. There's nothing like sitting down to dinner with your closest friends, sipping that wine, and knowing that all the hard work is behind you.