Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Top Chef gets more than meats the eye,Mad Men showdowns and a leap of faith that determines the fate of a TAR team

The Quickfire challenge on Top Chef this week had a nice pop culture favor to it,as the chefs were asked to make a gourmet TV dinner based on a well known TV series. Kevin's show was The Sopranos and his meatballs with polenta pleased both Padma and guest judge Paul Bartolotta enough to get him a win,plus his meal will be included in a line of TC frozen foods.

Bryan Voltaggio came in second with a meatloaf and mashed potato entree inspired by M*A*S*H,a smart idea,in my opinion. Mikey I's Seinfeld food was a flop,due to his having never seen the show(Dude,there are reruns!)and his meal having nothing to do with the sitcom at all. Eli was no better,getting Gilligan's Island and not adding any coconut! I don't care if the show is "twenty years before my TV time",again,reruns!

On to the Elimination Challenge,where everyone had to cook a dish for the judges and several guests at Judge Tom's restaurant,Craftsteak. All the chefs were like"Cool,a steakhouse challenge!",forgetting that like a M. Night Shyamalan movie,there's always a twist.

Judge Tom introduced them to special guest judge Natalie Portman,who was bringing her friends along for the meal and by the way,she's a vegetarian! Sweet irony,folks. So everyone had to make a vegan plate,offering up some type of protein equivalent to make it an entree course.

Most of the dishes offered up were rather slight in portion. Michael Voltaggio put out a banana polenta with an asparagus salad and Japanese tomato sashimi,which he seemed to think would knock them all of the park. It was well received by the diners with a mix of "huh?" and "pretty tasty" that apparently Michael V was going for.

Next to him in the winner's circle was Eli,with his eggplant confit,lentils with garlic puree and radish salad. At least the eggplant gave some texture to the plate,but it looked more like an appetizer that a main course to me.

The winner was Kevin,who was the only chef out of all of them who gave the diners a hearty meal. His duo of mushrooms with smoked kale(which Natalie Portman loves)and turnip puree and candied garlic may not have been pretty but it was a satisfying dish.

Michael V. spewed some sour grapes in the aside interviews,griping how Kevin made such a "basic" dish that he could've pulled off first year in cooking school. Well,if it's so basic,buddy,why didn't you make something like that,hmm?

He's shown himself to be such a grim faced SOB over the past few weeks who shows little pleasure in actually making food for people to enjoy(his brother is not as bad,but competing directly against Michael draws him close to the edge)that I hope he doesn't make it to the Finale. A Top Chef is someone who others would want to work with and for,plus be inspired by and Michael V. is none of those things here.

On the bottom again was Robin,who made a visually appealing plate but the food was very salty. She was happy about doing a vegan challenge but chose to use ingredients that she's never worked with before like fresh garbanzo beans and stuffed squash blossom,not a smart move there.

Jennifer was along side her,due to her charred baby eggplant with braised fennel and tomatoes that barely qualified as a full dish. It's a shame because Jennifer can cook amazing food and work well with others but she gets incredibly tense when the smallest thing goes off that it affects her plates. She served up her verjus nage sauce table side and her hands were shaking so badly that even Stevie Wonder could see her coming and want to duck.

Mikey Isabella wound up packing his knives and going home for his roasted leeks that were a mushy mess and raw to boot. He blamed that on a problem in the kitchen but those suckers looked vile during his stove time and the carrots and fingerling potatoes on the side weren't good enough to make for that. I think that he really went home for his "whatever!" attitude about the whole thing.

Next week,there's going to be a TC reunion dinner and with Marcel at the table,things will get very heated indeed:

The Amazing Race was still in Dubai when a major breakdown between one of the teams occurred,over a water slide of all places. The task before going to the Pit Stop was to go down the "Leap of Faith" slide at a seaside hotel and Mika was terrified of heights(why anyone who has such a fear signs up for this show to begin with)and totally freaked out. Her boyfriend Canaan didn't help matters much by yelling at her and almost shoving her down the slide twice!

Canaan got mad at the Globetrotters for adding a little fuel to the fire,but the guys were way behind and needed to get their chance to get ahead as much as Mika and Canaan did. Besides,Flight Time and Big Easy have been very fair and generous players on TAR and I'm glad they're still in the running:

There were a couple of major confrontations on Mad Men this week,the big one being between Betty and Don over his past. Betty decided to face off with him about the evidence of his Dick Whitman life locked away in his desk(why Don didn't destroy some of that stuff after Pete tried to blackmail him that time is beyond me)and lucky for him that his schoolteacher sweetie,who was out in the car, didn't decide to knock on the front door and make things a thousand times worse.

It was a quite a moment for both characters and altho,Betty seemed more upset about Don having another wife than anything else,she showed some real strength with him while revealing some sensitivity toward his plight. How their lives will go on after this,it's hard to tell:

A briefer and more satisfying showdown happened between Joan and her loser husband Greg,who was whining about how he "did everything he was supposed to" and still couldn't become the big league surgeon that he planned to be. Joan's a pragmatic gal but even she has her breaking point and proved it right over his thick head. Good for her!:


LEGEND OF THE SEEKER: Season Two is coming up soon,starting November 7 on a syndicated station near you. The plot line this time around will be based on Terry Goodkind's Stone of Tears and loads of new developments are on the horizon,along with a few familiar,if unwanted by some,faces:

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