My 5 Favorite Things – Mike Cook

mikes thangs

Clearly there are many things to consider when considering a question so profoundly revealing of one’s self – MYself in this case. For whatever reason, I immediately dis-qualified wine…too obvious. Let’s pretend for a minute that wine is not one of my favorite things (feels weird just writing that). These are in no particular order… except that when it comes down to it, a good taco really goes a long way.

1) Tacos – quite possibly the perfect food & my favorite thing to cook and to eat, hands down. Tacos can be so many things & there’s really no limit to the different flavor combinations that can shine in the form of a taco. So it’s a blank slate every time, a new opportunity to shoot for your own version of taco greatness. Breakfast taco? Yes. Fish taco? Yes. Bean? Pork? Chicken? Steak? Cactus? Fried chicken? Fried Oyster? Brisket? Veggie?… Yes to all and more.  A good taco starts with fresh corn tortillas. I know, it seems like a lot of work – but keep in mind we’re going for greatness here. All it takes a little planning ahead and 3 simple ingredients – Masa (look it up) water & salt – and a cast iron press & pan to fry them in (both cheap and easy to find). And let’s be clear, flour shell is a burrito or a fajita, taco is a corn shell. Fresh guacamole goes a long way too.

Fun fact – my first real cooking job was in a taco shack. Off to a good start at 18!

2) Since we started with tacos, seems that cooking is a natural segue…Yep, I love to cook – always have. I think it started with learning to cook 2 things as a kid – grilled cheese and scrambled eggs. I have a distinct memory as a young kid – maybe 6 years old or so – where I asked my mom to please make me some scrambled eggs, as I was hungry. Forever the teacher, her reply was that she would not make me scrambled eggs, but would TEACH me to make them for myself, and that’s what happened. Mom introduced an entire universe to me that day & it’s shaped my life ever since. In fact, aside from music, cooking was my first career path & I still find myself getting pulled into the kitchen when I least expect it (restaurant in the family). At this point in my life ( and for years now) I cook for myself almost every night and I spend far more time thinking about food than I probably should. Food is important though, people should spend more time thinking about it – and caring about it, and even growing it when and where they can. The world would be in a better place, just sayin.

And if you’re gonna cook, you’re gonna  need a few tools. Start with a good knife and a good cast iron pan.

3) Music – My first love. I have no conscious memory of a time in my life where I wasn’t obsessed with music. It’s vibrations, it’s rhythms, it’s textures, timbres, and sounds…I feel it physically in every fiber of my being & it permeates the most sub-conscious parts of my brain. There is not EVER a moment in my day – any day – where my brain isn’t either making beats or compartmentalizing sounds so that they can be made into beats. Rhythms and sounds are all around us all the time and my curse in life is that I can’t tune them out, so I tune them in. I grew up on MTV – from the very beginning of MTV. My super-heros were rockstars and my obsession with drums came on early.  A pair of my sticks and a couple of favorite records.. Yes, records…I know we live in a digital world but I AM an analog guy, trust me. Records sound better AND there is an experience and an intention behind an album—and the order of the songs and how they tell a story matters. That all gets lost in our “a la carte” approach to digital music. This however, is not lost on me.

Prince Purple Rain – Prince is my all around number 1 fav of all time – (maybe). I grew up mostly in the 80’s and as I said, with a healthy diet of MTV. Prince…enough said.

The other record is The Rolling Stones Let it Bleed…my personal fav Stones record. And notice in the liner notes and on the record –  THIS RECORD SHOULD BE PLAYED LOUD – words to live by in my book.

4) A good pair of sunglasses…always, every day. Even on a cloudy day.

5) Yes, home sweet home…as represented by the sunset view of the lower Manhattan skyline. That’s the sunset that I see from my apartment in Brooklyn. That’s just one day, one sunset…one example of the natural beauty that can be seen in NYC if you pay attention! I miss it when I’m not home – which has been a lot lately. I’ve been hitting the road pretty hard this spring to promote our wines and while it’s been going great & I’m truly having a blast representing our winery and our region, sometimes I really miss home…sweet home.