Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Top Chef's French twist, a second shot of Glee and Design Star's Final Two

The theme for this week's Top Chef was French cuisine. The Quickfire Challenge had the chefs coming up with an impressive dish that had snails as the protein. The high stakes part of the deal was that the loser would be sent home(not as quickly as it seemed.

In the Bottom Three were Ashley,Robin and Jesse,whose "E.L.T."(escargot,mache lettuce and tomato)put a bad taste in the mouths of Judge Tom and guest judge Daniel Boulud. The ladies were granted one last chance with a twenty minute cook-off to make an amuse-bouche that would save them from dismissal.

Jesse lost again and had to pack her knives. The tuna tartare with gooseberries and quail egg she whipped up flopped flavor wise. I think this was a good call;poor Jesse has had problems since Day One of this season and it was best to put her out of her misery.

Kevin won the Quickfire,thanks to his escargot fricassee with candied bacon and mushrooms,and not only received immunity but was given a real food lover's treat. He didn't have to compete in the Elimination Challenge-instead,he took a seat at the dinner table with some of the greatest French chefs of our time to judge everyone else's food instead. Talk about having your cake and eating it too,folks!

The remaining chefs had two knife pulls-one that gave half of them a French sauce,the other a French protein. The sauce makers had to team up with the protein preparers for a six course meal to be served to the likes of Hubert Keller,Jean Joho and Joel Robuchon,who was declared "chef of the century" in France. Quite of like a struggling rock band having to give a private performance for Mick Jagger,Steven Tyler and any of the surviving Beatles.

Once again,the brothers Voltaggio dominated the playing field. Michael made a lapin chasseur(rabbit) that went well with Jennifer's sauce and mustard noodles.

The judges adored it and Jennifer expressed how helpful Michael was in getting the rabbit bones to her so quickly for boiling into her sauce. A nice bit of teamwork there.

But it was Bryan who won,with a warm cured trout that complimented Mikey I's deconstructed Bearnaise sauce brilliantly. Bryan and Mikey collaborated on the sauce,which knocked the socks off of the French masters of cuisine. Bryan was granted an extra special honor for this win,getting to work with Joel Robuchon for a week at one of his restaurants.

On the chopping block,Ashley and Mattin had trouble explaining why there was asparagus served with their seared poussin and ravioli(Ashley insisted on it,Mattin objected)and what happened with the veloute sauce. Judge Gail said it tasted like "bacon cream sauce",which is not as good as it may sound to some.

If there's one thing the chefs will learn from this Elimination round,it's not to mess with Judge Gail's portions. Her plate of steak from Ash and Hector was an end piece of meat that was badly sliced;she claimed that it seemed to have been "cut with an ax"-not of the good,people. Also,Ash's sauce was particularly nonexistent due to the last minute prep of the meat which sucked up all of it before the plates were served.

Hector was sent home as well-too bad,buddy. I'm not sure what's on the menu for next week but clearly the expectations on the chefs in season six is higher than it's ever been before.

The second episode of Glee aired last night,and I have to say that the show stands up pretty good so far. Plenty of advance hype has been heaped onto this series and while it does come across as a bit cartoony at times,Glee has great potential to become a real snarky heartwarmer.

The musical numbers are the show's strong point but hopefully the plot lines will be getting just as strong in order to round out the entire concept fully. This talented cast certainly deserves it:

The next to last challenge on Design Star was to make over a room for a celebrity client;Antonio wound up with Kathy Griffin,who wanted an office space created in her home for her "Team Griffin" staff. Despite her cracks about getting a straight designer,she did like the final results.

The room was tricky to work with,being rather narrow,but Antonio managed to make it stylish and efficient. The best touch,in my opinion,was the large map of America erase board he had custom made for the room which was practical and a nice display piece for that section of the wall.

Dan did a baby room for Jason Priestly and his wife who are expecting a second child. Since they knew it was going to be a boy,Dan went with a Cape Cod nautical look that didn't go overboard. He even did a lovely painting that was cleverly hung up with rope and whipped up a abstract boat mobile for the ceiling that won him quite a bit of praise from all corners.

Lonni had a guest room to redo for Tiffany Thiessen and was told to make it eco-friendly. She delivered on that,but the result was a tad bland. Also,Lonni went all Repeat-O Girl with her big focal wall design trick and the headboard she bought couldn't be installed on time.

So Lonni went home and now it's down to Antonio and Dan for the Big Two showdown this Sunday. This time,it's the judges who will be choosing the winner so it's really anyone's game at this point. May the best man win!:


THE VAMPIRE DIARIES:Yes,folks,I'm going to give this Dawson's Creek After Dark series a small bite tonight. True Blood is almost over,after all,and my vampire cravings need something to sharpen their fangs on until next season. Who knows,maybe this bloodsucking teen soap opera might become the Dark Shadows of the new millennium:

Speaking of True Blood,the season two finale is the ultimate in must-see TV. Get ready for the crazy,friends and fiends:

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