Thursday, September 02, 2010
Top Chef D.C. reaches for the savory stars,a True Blood cliffhanger and Mad Men's Peggy calls a bluff in the buff
It's getting down to the wire on Top Chef D.C.,as the remaining six chefs scrambled to make the final rounds. For the Quickfire challenge this time,each one of them had to pair a wine offered up by Dana Cowin(editor of Food & Wine magazine)with a complimentary protein.
Angelo managed to reclaim some of his earlier mojo and won a trip to London with his sauteed foie gras with fennel salad. This was the last high stakes QF for the season,so Angelo's win here was a real confidence booster for him.
The Elimination challenge asked the chefs to cook a stylish dish that could be freeze dried for astronauts,using a few of the guidelines provided by the space program's nutritionist. Sugary foods don't travel well in space,plus big chunks of anything are another no-no but spicy flavors get an A-ok.
The completed dishes were served at the Goddard Space Center,to the judges(including special guest Anthony Bourdain)and several NASA folks along with living legend Buzz Aldrin. The winner would have their food made for the next space shuttle flight and get to watch one of the two upcoming launches in person.
All of the food was so well done that even Bourdain wasn't able to whip out a snarky comment or two there. The most drama he did have was a couple of disagreements with his good buddy Eric Ripert(they do really like each other,according to Bourdain's latest book,Medium Raw)over the quality of certain plates.
Ed's yogurt marinated lamb with couscous croquette impressed Bourdain with it's authentic Moroccan flavor but Ripert thought it was an overworked dish. While there were a few concerns about how well the dish could be converted for outer space consumption,everyone at the table seemed to like it.
There was also a clash over Angelo's ginger glazed short ribs and pickled mushrooms with a pea puree(what is it with pea puree this season?). Ripert thought the whole thing was too acidic and Judge Tom complained about the strong sweetness of the ginger,which was one of the culinary concerns for this challenge.
Bourdain,however,loved it and Angelo had another back to back win,sending him off to the finals which will be held in Singapore. It's the first time a Top Chef finale has been set overseas,so that should be pretty amazing to check out.
As to who would not go to Singapore,I thought it might be Kevin. He chose to serve a New York strip steak with onion rings and a corn puree,wanting to give the astronauts a taste of homestyle comfort cuisine.
A nice idea and the food was great but keeping the onion rings crispy in translation would be tricky,not to mention that Bourdain felt Kevin was playing it safe with his food choices there.
Surprisingly,Tiffany was asked to pack her knives and go. While her pan seared halibut with coconut curry and jasmine rice had a very pleasing fish sauce,Ripert was perplexed by the pea shoots on the plate.
There was a touch of disconnect in this dish,due to the lack of mussels that Tiffany had planned to add to the plate. Unfortunately,the mussels froze solid in the fridge during prep,which killed them and rendered that element unusable.
I was sad to see her go but on the other hand,Tiffany did win 20 grand and a trip to Paris,thanks to those high stake QFs,so she'll be able to start off her upcoming marriage with style. She will be missed,regardless of that. Best of luck to you,Tiffany,in all of your future endeavors.
Next time on Top Chef,the rest of the gang will be fighting it out to get a spot in the Final Three over in Singapore and that should an exciting as well as educational experience for all concerned.
This fourth season of Mad Men has been intriguing as we watch the new ad agency of Sterling Cooper Draper Price struggle to keep above water in such a competitive and changing marketplace and with a nifty win at the Clio awards last episode,things appear to be looking up business wise.
For some,at least-Peggy has a stronger presence at SCDP but she's still trying to get more respect,not only from Don but her own staff as well. When sent to a hotel with the obnoxious and supposedly sexual liberated new art director Stan to finish up work on a campaign over the weekend,Peggy is tired of hearing the jerk call her a prude and challenges him to bare it all,literally.
In the end,he turns out to be all talk and is the first one to flinch. Peggy has a long way to go in the battle of the sexes here but this small victory(especially small on Stan's part,if you know what I mean)is definitely worth savoring for now:
The cruelest bit of business on the last episode of True Blood is that HBO is making us wait until September 12 to see the finale. *Sigh*You know,some of us will be home this Sunday night and would've like to cap off Labor Day weekend with a True Blood viewing party-just saying!
Anyhow,they did deliver on ending things on a real cliffhanger as Eric convinced Russell to drink Sookie's magic blood in order to step out into daylight safely. While Russell was willing to try,he insisted on Eric going first. In true Viking warrior fashion,Eric agreed,knowing that the daywalker effects of fairy blood were temporary at best.
While it's reasonable to assume that Eric will probably survive his sun scorching, who knows what will happen next as more and more plot twists reach their conclusions such as Hoyt's crazy mother popping up again(I knew that annoying new girlfriend of his reminded me of his mom for a reason!)and Sam having a major emotional breakdown there. Oh well,this should make for a truly riveting finale,particularly to see if both Eric and Russell go out in a real blaze of glory:
THE EMMYS: Congrats to those who won last Sunday,such as Mad Men for Best Drama,Betty White for her SNL stint and Top Chef in the Outstanding Reality Competition category.
If you're disappointed in who won,lost or wasn't fully represented at the Emmys this year,I offer you this amusing interactive "choose your Emmy Winner" series of humorous clips,courtesy of It's Just Some Random Guy. Just click on to the links placed within this video and see such genre favorites as True Blood,Lost and Dexter take some top honors and a few punch lines at their expense:
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