Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, April 29, 2010

TAR teams have a puzzling experience,Idol sings Shania and TC Masters make a Modern Family meal

In this last round before the Championships on Top Chef Masters, the five chefs recruited here-Debbie Gold,Jody Adams,Rick Tramonto,Maria Hines and Susur Lee-were given making creative fruit plates as a Quickfire challenge.

This was also a high stake QF,so the winner was automatically placed in the Championship round along with receiving five grand for their charity. Jody won the top honors here,for her fig and walnut tart with pomegranate syrup and zabaglione on the side.

The Elimination challenge was to make a favorite family meal in a modern way and serve it up as lunch for the cast and crew of Modern Family,a popular sitcom that I've never watched but have heard good things about. The chefs were encouraged to make food that would please as many tastes as possible,a reasonable request considering that there were a number of kids in the cast included at the lunch tables.

Jody followed up her fruit plate with braised chicken thighs served with mushrooms and semolina. It went over well for the most part(I think Julie Bowen from Modern Family was a little confused about the sides)and got some respectable points from the judges and the diners. The main flaw seemed to be that it was over salted slightly,which can kill a dish fast but fortunately wasn't lethal this time around.

Rick Tramonto had been a guest judge on regular Top Chef,so there were high expectations for his food. His escarole with white beans and sausage was a real crowd pleaser but the big debate was whether or not the truffle oil added to the beans could be tasted enough.

The judges also quibbled about the "modernness" of the dish-while I've never eaten that particular meal,some things are good enough on their own merits without fancy changes being made. True,the challenge was to update the flavors but Rick appeared to me to want to make a plate that he knew everyone would enjoy across the board and in that,he succeeded.

The big winner for this challenge was Susur Lee,who was peeved that his "east meets west" fruit plate didn't go over well with the QF judges(Gail Simmons and a professional food photographer). That motivated him to bring his crossover culinary style on even stronger for the Elim with a roast chicken with farce curry(farce in this case meaning a type of stuffing) and mint sauce,with polenta and grits,plus a tomato jam on the side for vegetarians to go for instead.

Despite the powerful heat of the mint sauce,the dish went over well with one and all and earned Susur the last spot in the Championship round that begins next week. Those should be fun,especially with a Quickfire challenge that tests their teamwork as well as their cooking prowess. Let the games begin!

On the latest leg of The Amazing Race,the teams were given an additional Road Block(which means only one member can complete the task)in Shanghai,which was daunting for many reasons. They had to complete a giant puzzle in an outdoor stadium and then handed the finished pieces to the folks cheering them on the stands. If the puzzle was done correctly,the flipped over pieces would reveal a section and seat where their clue could be found.

It was rough going,with gusts of wind scattering the pieces several times and Team Buddy Cop wound up coming in last. Lucky for them,this was a non-elimination leg so they're still in the race.

The guys will have to deal with a Speed Bump for the next go-round and they'll need plenty of luck(as Team Cowboy seems to have in abundance) to stay on the path towards the million dollars. They're a good team but occasionally over confident at times. They have a good shot at being in the Final Three,so perhaps this small setback will help them stay focused:

It was Shania Twain week on American Idol,yet the fellas seemed to do much better than the ladies with this particular playbook. Lee pulled off "Still the One" very handily and even Aaron wasn't half bad with "You've Got a Way"(he still bores me to death,however).

I know that Big Mike landed in the Bottom Three yet again,but for the life of me,I can't figure out why. His take on "It Only Hurts when I'm Breathing" was breathtakingly beautiful and I do agree with the judges that Mike had a nice Luther Vandross vibe going there. The guy is an old school romantic,something which is really needed on the music scene these days. If Big Mike makes it to the finale,we may have a couple of major heart stopping moments on deck from him:

On the girls' side,Crystal did a good but not great performance of "No One Needs to Know"(hey,you can't knock it out of the ball park every time,okay?)and a sad farewell was bidden to Siobhan,for her less than stellar take on "Any Man of Mine." As much as it pains me to do this,I have to hand her a Sanjaya award as a parting gift.

It wasn't that she didn't sing the song well,it was the lack of spunk that sunk Siobhan's ship here. I listened to the original version but even before I did that,it was obvious that Siobhan was being too ladylike with the Miss Independent energy that the song needs to carry it off.

She's a true talent so I'm sure this won't be the last we see of her. My advice to Siobhan would be to buck up a bit more when given criticism and not to overly rely on that powerhouse scream of hers. You're a lovely singer,sweetie-let your confidence level rise and ring out:




SAD NEWS FOR SEEKER FANS: Word on the street is that the show will not be granted a third season,due to it's parent company finding no takers for the series. This is really a crying shame,since Legend of the Seeker has been a great little fantasy series that has grown in leaps and bounds with characterization and plot development.

Yes,I know that there have been numerous changes from the books,which have irked some of the fans but honestly,you guys need to get over that. Look at True Blood-that show has more creative freedom,due to being on HBO,and has tweaked plenty of elements from the books upon which it was based(changing races of certain characters, adding new ones,keeping someone alive when he was supposed to be killed off,etc)and both the author and most of her fan base are thrilled with the way the show's been going.

Why? Because even with the alterations,the original theme and intent of the source material is still there. The same hold true for LOTS,and a little more love would be useful here in the show's hour of need.

Some of the fans are not giving up on LOTS without a fight,planning to increase the petitions to save the series. Perhaps this is a losing battle but,hey,stranger things have happened and maybe with more of an outcry from the audience,someone might listen and seize LOTS from the jaws of cancellation. It's worth a shot,so go for it,true believers!:




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