Thursday, November 12, 2009
Top Chef beds down with Nigella,Mad Men's season finale escape plan and TAR's hay bale deja don't
Top Chef got right to business this week,starting with a breakfast in bed Quickfire challenge that had Padma and special quest judge Nigella Lawson waiting for some early morning room service. The winner of that was Eli,for his remix of a reuben sandwich with fried egg Benedict. He didn't get immunity but will be the only chef of this season to have a recipe in the official TC Quickfire challenge cookbook.
For the Elimination Challenge,another knife pull was done for each chef to choose a casino on the Vegas Strip as inspiration for a dish to served at a cocktail party for 175 people. They were each given time to check out their selected gambling destination and at least three hours of prep time before heading out to the party location.
Kevin went to the Mirage and came up with a wild Alaskan sockeye salmon with napa cabbage and cucumber. The best part of his dish seemed to be the tomato water,which folks were eagerly slurping down,that got him a nice spot in the winner's circle here.
The Brother Voltaggio joined him,with Byran's Mandalay Bay inspiration of an escabesche(a way of poaching/frying fish and marinating it with an acidic flavor) of halibut with parsley coulis and garlic chips. Padma had doubts about the parsley at first but wound up liking it.
Michael won the top honors here by choosing to make a gourmet version of a well known east coast favorite as a salute to his casino's theme of New York,New York. His boneless chicken wings with curry and a round of blue cheese pleased everyone's palate and Michael's prize was a bottle of wine,along with a future visit to the Napa Valley winery where it was made.
On the Bottom Three was Jen,for her "sword in the stone" dish she whipped up after visiting Excalibur. She had a piece of NY strip steak stabbed with a tooth pick with a red wine reduction sauce dribbled underneath it and the meat was so tough that Nigella Lawson joked that she needed Excalibur to cut it.
I don't get why Jen had so much trouble with coming up with something;Excalibur is basically a Vegas version of Medieval Times and the perfect thing to make would've been some cornish game hen legs with a beer infused dipping sauce. I don't even like poultry legs to begin with(more of a white meat person myself)but that seriously would have rocked the place. Jen's been on a downward slide these past few challenges(even Judge Tom noticed that)and she needs to start pulling herself together,big time.
Eli also had an easy realm of inspiration to work from,Circus Circus,and he came up with a caramel apple and peanut soup with ground up popcorn and a raspberry froth that tasted so nasty that Nigella said she had to use all of her early training in manners not to spit it back into the cup.
Judge Tom commented that it was too grainy and while Eli tried to defend his soup,he did admit that he had trouble with grinding the nuts up. Way to make your food chokalicious,Dude.
Robin had to pack up her knives and go,for her attempt at emulating the glass sculptures at the Bellagio with a poorly made panna cotta. She intended to give it a sugar candy glaze but the sugar shattered during transport.
Nigella had the best line of the night with her complaint about the panna cotta not having "the quiver of a 17th century courtesan's inner thigh." I'm laughing as I type this;who talks like that,honestly? Nigella's too much,I hope she comes back to Judge's Table next season. That was even better than Toby Young telling Jen her dish was more like"Spamalot than Camalot."
Sorry for the distraction,Robin. You did your best here and I wish you all the luck in the world in your future endeavors. At least you went away with a sense of "I should have stayed true to myself rather than try to impress a bunch of other people" and want to stay positive about this whole experience.
The Amazing Race gave this latest set of teams a "switchback" Roadblock from a past season,where one team member had to unroll hay bales until they found a clue(this time out,it was a flag). Fortunately,the farm location was also the Pit Stop for this leg,which made things a little easier.
Everyone had a tough time with this one,as Sam and Dan screamed at each other while Megan whined like crazy. The Globetrotters were the first ones to find a flag and since it was Flight Time's birthday,that victory was extra sweet.
The last team to finish up was Gary and Matt,a country father and son who seem to get along just great. Lucky for them this was a non elimination leg,so they have to deal with a Speed Bump for the next round. I'm glad they made it,those guys deserve to go all the way here:
Mad Men wrapped up their third season with a daring escape plan,after Don was tipped off by Conrad Hilton that Sterling Cooper was about to be unloaded again in another corporate slash and burn sales bid. Rounding up the best of the regular gang(including Joan,yah!)to start up a new agency was a great way to showcase the rapid changes to come within the time period,plus give a fresh start to next season.
The Draper's marriage also began to pack their boxes and it's about time,if you ask me. That relationship has been DOA for a while now and both Don and Betty need to go their separate ways(tough on the kids,but maybe it'll help them out,too,in the long run).
I hope that Sal finds a place at the new Sterling Cooper Draper Price(it might be hard with that Lucky Strike connection still on the scene)for season four but other than that,this madcap scheme was a finale worth applauding and leaves you wanting more sooner than later(see you next summer,folks!):
LEGEND OF THE SEEKER: Season Two has begun and even tho the show is not in prime time everywhere(my local NYC station plays it in the afternoon on Saturdays),it's still worth searching for on your dial. With the addition of Mord Sith Cara as a regular(facing off against Charisma Carpenter's rivel Sith sister)and the threat posed by the Keeper of the Underworld to wage war upon the living,there's plenty of thrills ahead for faithful fans to enjoy:
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