Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Top Chef D.C.'s power lunch mystery,Masterchef starts service and Tara takes control on True Blood

This week's Quickfire on Top Chef was another high stakes one,with the winner getting 20 grand and immunity for the Elimination round on top of that.

The challenge was to make a meal in miniature,tasty enough to be fully appreciated on a toothpick(the kind of bite size meals that congresspeople are allowed to accept from lobbyists,in keeping with the D.C. theme this season).

Angelo took the win here,thanks to using a cucumber cup as a last minute save for his spiced shrimp and cashew combo that was falling apart. Sometimes those old school moves can come in handy in a pinch.

For the Elimination,the chefs pulled knives to see which of the five proteins they would be cooking for a power lunch at the Palm restaurant for several news people and chef Art Smith(this was not a head to head challenge,everyone was fair game). The winner would get their dish added to the Palm's menu,plus have their likeness on the wall along with numerous others of famous patrons of the place.

Tiffany was convinced that her swordfish with olive-raisin tapenade would put her in the Bottom Three,for overcooking the fish. Everything on the plate turned out to be moist and delicious instead,placing her happily in the Top Three for this round.

Her good buddy Ed(and yes,I believe that they are just friends and nothing more than that,despite what some of their fellow chefs may say)joined her in the winner's circle with his poached lobster ballotine with a English pea and asparagus fricassee.

His choice of vegetables was a last minute replacement, due to the English pea puree Ed prepared the day before seeming to vanish into thin air at the Palm's kitchen. No one saw what happened to the pea puree but only one other person had a pea puree on their dish and he happened to make it to the Top Three also.

Alex's applewood smoked salmon on black forbidden rice was enjoyed by all but it was the pea puree that had the judges singing his praises and giving him the win here. Both Ed and Tiffany didn't look happy about that but were mature enough not to call him out on that,especially without any direct evidence.

As for me,I do think that Alex swiped that puree and here's why;in addition to not having any idea of what to do with his dish the day before yet whipping up an amazing pea puree instantly and denying that he even knew Ed was planning to make a puree(which was proven to be not true,thanks to a handy little video clip-why do people on these shows think they can say stupid stuff and get away with it? Hello,camera crew all around you!),he did something last week that made me distrust him completely.

Before food service on the last challenge,Amanda gave Alex a taste of her chicken dish and asked what he thought of it. He told her it was good but boasted in a video aside that he tasted cartilage and deliberately chose not to tell her. Not only is that bad sportsmanship but bad character as well;what if one of the folks eating her food(most of whom were their fellow chefs)got an extra big piece of that cartilage and choked on it? Badly done,sir,badly done indeed!

Alex may still be in the game for now but Andrea is definitely out,due to her swordfish with risotto style couscous being too sweet from the vanilla bean with honey mustard glaze she put on the dish.

Her open dislike of swordfish may have gotten her those knife packing instructions since it was between Kelly's severely over salted steak and Kevin's overcooked lambs as odds on favorite to be sent home. Remember,folks-over can be just as bad as under!

Next week,the chefs have international cuisine to deal with and some people are taking to it better than others. Good luck,gang-looks like a few of you are going to need it!

Gordon Ramsay's latest televised competitive culinary import,Masterchef,arrived this week and along with fellow chef Graham Bowles and wine connoisseur Joe Bastianich started to process the many hopeful amateur cooks that arrived to qualify for the competition. With the big prize being a quarter of a million dollars and having your own book of recipes published, there were a lot of eager beavers on deck for this one.

This quickly turned into an edible American Idol audition,as the likes of beer cheese soup(which looked like porridge that Goldilocks would've NOT chosen)and a greasy dish of "funeral potatoes",things were not looking good or appetizing for a while there. Fortunately,a few promising people popped up,such as Mike who wanted to showcase his skills for his family and Tracy,who wanted to honor her mother's memory by bringing her food back to life.

This show has some snarky flavor but clearly is meant to be less of a stress test than Hell's Kitchen or Kitchen Nightmares,which should be a nice change of pace for Gordon,in his US shows anyway. Masterchef seems like a savory must-see to me:

After much psycho placating,Tara finally gets her groove back on True Blood,as she pulls off an incredible escape from the Vampire King of Mississippi's lair with Sookie in tow.

Using her wiles to lull crazy Franklin into untying her before he fell asleep(not to mention a bit of a power boost from drinking some of his blood),Tara went medieval upside his head and talked her way into Sookie's guarded room,where both gals took down the dim witted were guard and prepared to haul ass out of there.

Unfortunately,their swift departure was way laid by Sookie's insistence on saving Bill from being killed by Lorena(upon King Russell's orders). Oh,Sookie,Bill wouldn't mind if you got the hell out of Dodge instead of coming to his rescue,honest! Perhaps Alcide can save the day in the nick of time there and not put all of Tara's hard earned efforts to waste(quite a bit of gore in this clip-you have been warned):

Meanwhile,Eric is running more than one game,as he pledges his allegiance to King Russell in order to save Pam from the clutches of the Magistrate. Eric switched sides not only because Queen Sophie Anne set up him for selling V but to gain Russell's trust(and possible desire),which helps in gathering information about the King's werewolf followers and ultimate goal of conquering humanity.

Eric's true motive is revenge,after realizing that Russell and his were minions were the ones who slaughtered his Viking royal family centuries ago. You really have to admire Eric for his ability to play the long game and subtle use of subterfuge in seeking the means to his end.

Russell may think that his power play with Sophie Anne is a success but he may be unpleasantly surprised by his new ally before long there. It will certainly worth waiting for next Sunday,indeed:


THE NEXT FOOD NETWORK STAR: We said so long to Serena this week,with her boring plates of pasta and over the top antics that failed to charm the judges any longer. Her singalong intro to the camera challenge was bad enough without her sad entree for the supper club challenge further compounding her errors.

The person I am most disappointed in,however, is Aria,who is feeling a little desperate about her recent flat lining performances and tried to take the wind out of Aarti's sails by interrupting her intro at the supper club presentation. The judges didn't like it but kept her in the competition anyway.

For shame,Aria,especially since that was done to you on an earlier challenge and you should definitely know better than to do that! Not cool,Aria,not at all!:

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