Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Top Chef D.C. does some country cooking,The Next Food Network Star takes everyone to lunch and more True Blood trouble

For the Quickfire on Top Chef this week,the cooking contenders were given live Maryland blue crabs to make a tasty dish from. Ed won immunity for the next round with his jumbo lump crab with a Thai basil and a mango cucumber salad. Using Asian flavors was a little risky for him but that gamble paid off nicely.

For the Elimination,everyone had to work as one big team to create a six course meal for forty people at an organic farm in Virginia. They had to prepare the food outdoors and were not given any idea of what ingredients would be available to them(other than fresh items from the farm and a portable pantry in the back of one of their cars).

Since this was a six course meal, everyone decided to pair up with the person they had partnered with for the last challenge(that did not thrill a few people there). Andrea and Kelly teamed up again,with Andrea's grilled pork loin with garlic and five spice rub that went very well with Kelly's five spice roasted apples and beets.

Andrea was nervous about the pork cooking fully on the open grill,so she sliced it into four pieces before cooking,a wise move there. Kelly even had extra time to make a dessert(strawberry rhubarb crisp with basil cream)and that landed her and Andrea in the winners' circle for this round.

Kenny and Kevin also had a nice pairing,with Kevin's broccoli couscous complimenting Kenny's hot and sour curried eggplant. Kevin had planned to make a cauliflower couscous but his bowl of cut up cauliflower took a tumble off of the prep table(it was close quarters out there)and his substitute turned out to be a happy accident for the diners. Kenny won the challenge,which cheered him up considerably(a lot of egos flaring up early in the game,particularly between Kenny and Angelo).

In the Bottom Three was Stephen,for making a salad that had two dressings on it. Two dressings,are you serious? When you serve that up in a bowl,it becomes a gloppy mess,not to mention that you had three hours to make something and the best you could think of was a salad?

Next on the chopping block was Amanda,for a "country vegetable minestrone" soup that a)didn't have pasta,which any minestrone has to have and b)veggies that were unevenly cut,which means that they didn't cook evenly and made a muddled mess of tastes in your mouth. Anyone whose has eaten homemade soup knows this and yet,Amanda kept babbling away with lame excuses at the Judges' Table. Between this and her sherry chicken for schoolchildren,I would've sent her home.

Timothy,however,packed his knives for his lackluster turnips and potatoes with honey. It was too simple without any sign of culinary inspiration for the judges but I still think that either Stephen the Salad Spinner or Soup 101 Amanda should have gone instead. Oh,well,next week gives all of them a fresh start as they are offered up some off the wall items to chose and cook with-should be strangely good!

Paula Deen was the special guest star on The Next Food Network Star this week and she introduced the contestants to their main challenge,running a lunch truck. Brianna and Serena had to team up here and surprisingly enough,won the challenge. Those two tend not to get along but their concept of "Two Chix and a Truck" clicked together like peas and carrots.

Going home this time was Paul,who did well with Herb in their "Paul & Herb's Wraps" lunch menu but their two over the top personalities made folks uneasy in line,plus Paul did a weak job in the earlier challenge to present a product in front of an audience.

Between his occasionally off putting humor and lack of true focus,it was past time to say goodbye to Paul. It wasn't an easy choice,since Brad was also in danger of being cut for his continuing lack of momentum and Aria seems to have plateaued in her personality and presentation. I hope those two can step it up soon:

There are subplots galore in this current season of True Blood,so in the interest of brevity,I'll be focusing on the two that concern me the most so far. First up is Tara,whose hook-up with Franklin Mott has turned from one night stand into a rather deadly encounter of the worst kind.

In addition to being glamored by Franklin into telling all she knows about Sookie and Bill(even to the point of Franklin pulling some puppet master tricks on the phone to help him hunt Sookie down),Tara has been snatched off to Mississippi as his intended vampire bride.

So not of the cool-Franklin might want to rethink siring Tara there,due to her innate level of fury bound to rise up and bitch slap him for his nasty treatment of her as soon as she gets the upperhand:

Also troubling is seeing Bill do his best to impress his new king by "procuring" a meal for the two of them and Lorena by luring a sad stripper into their limo for a one way ticket to pain for her.

I know Bill is doing what he has to,in order to be convincing here,but between coldly breaking it off with Sookie over the phone(with an eagerly eavesdropping Lorena on the line)and that poor girl getting chomped to pieces,this was hard to watch for me,folks.

Well,the vampire life isn't always pretty and even tho Bill has to give Tara the cold shoulder for practical reasons in the next episode,I hope he finds a way to help her out of the tough spot she's in:


DESIGN STAR: Another team challenge had the designers using a flower to inspire their approach to designing a studio apartment. Sad to say that between Nina's boring repetition of murals and Dan being sent home for letting the girls turn him into their personal carpenter,things are quickly turning bland this season. We are seeing more chitchat and less actual design work than in the past,which is the reverse of the appeal of this show.

Maybe the contenders should take a page from original DS winner David and a note from Elvis by having a little less conversation and a little more action in creating their designs,please:

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