Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, November 04, 2010

Top Chef: JD's tea party troubles,TAR takes a babushka break and strolling with The Walking Dead

For the Quickfire challenge on Top Chef:Just Desserts this week,the order of the day was to create an edible floral bouquet. Yigit attempted to make sugar vases for his sweet posies but excessive breakage(some of it "accidentally" by Morgan)made that plan impossible to pull off.

Morgan took the victory here,winning five grand for it since immunity is now off the table. He wasn't too inspired by the Elimination Challenge,which was to prepare a pair of treats for a tea party hosted by Dana Cowin(editor of Food & Wine magazine). The theme of the day was "Celebritea" as in using a famous couple to model your duo of sugary goodness on. Morgan's not a pop culture guy,so he was rather stumped on this one.

Another twist to the challenge was that the chefs were not allowed to have any form of chocolate in their final product. That didn't faze Danielle,who chose Conan O'Brien and Andy Richter as her sweet inspirations.

While the heat from the strawberry jalapeno cake was a tad intense and the oatmeal cookie coated in buttercream and orange blossom water came out a touch too chewy, it was still a decent pairing that earned her a few kudos from the judges.

Morgan flipped thru a magazine during shopping and chose Reggie Bush and Kim Kardashian as his celebrity couple. His almond sponge cake with apricot coulis and citrus butter cream went over well,along with the bittersweet citrus macaroon.

However,I think that Morgan's pointing out that the flavor of the macaroon represented Kim's disappointment over not getting a marriage proposal left a bad aftertaste in everyone's mouth.

Zac was the real belle of this ball,using Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards as deliciously divine inspirations.

The mascarpone cheesecake with Captain Crunch(yes,he used the actual cereal)and tarragon sugar(as in "spoonful of") was sheer bliss but the Pink Panther themed pavlova with grapefruit curd was the piece de resistance. Zac won this round,much to the displeasure of Morgan and the delight of Zac himself.

That left Yigit and Eric in the Bottom Two;both of them were thrown by the no-chocolate rule delivered last minute and it showed in their food.

Yigit's Madonna and Guy Ritchie based goodies were as a big of a flop as their marriage was,causing Judge Johnny to express major disappointment in him. For a moment there,I thought it was going to be Yigit's time to pack up and go home.

Fortunately for him,Eric's Oprah and Steadman shortbread cookies let down the judges much more. Eric seemed like a nice enough guy who just needed to shake off that "I'm only a baker" self applied setback to go further along. Best of luck to you ,buddy,wherever you end up.

Next week has the Final Four in a tizzy over truffles amidst other kitchen tensions. Top Chef All Stars is set to start in December,so this sweet season should stretch over into Thanksgiving by my calculations-hope the finale will be worth it!

This leg of The Amazing Race took the teams to Russia,where they went up against a truly challenging Detour. Classical Music had them listening to three piano compositions that they had to identify in a ball room with several pianos playing at once and Classic Cinema offered up a room chockfull of film strips to search through.

In comparison,the Roadblock seemed like a breeze,altho not a fragrant one. One team member had to don the garments of a local "babushka" and plant fifty potatoes,using a generous amount of cow dung to fertilize their row. That didn't prevent people from going the wrong way at times,even near the Pit Stop.

Nick and Vicki were way behind by the time they got to the Roadblock,due to going back and forth between the Detour challenges. Lucky for them that this was a non-elimination leg,which spared them for another run:

Halloween night brought us quite a treat with the debut of The Walking Dead,which stars Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes,a comatose police officer who awakens to a world overrun by zombies and heads off to find his wife and son.

Rick does come across a couple of survivors,a father and son devastated by the loss of the woman who was once their wife and mother and is now one of the undead reminders of the all too recent past. After learning the low down on their new reality,he decides to head for the nearest city,Atlanta,to see if he can locate more.

What awaits him there is no picnic,not for vegans at least. While there is plenty of human angst to go around,fans of zombie lore and gore will find their cup filled to the brim with ghoulish delights on this series.

What really breathes life into this seemingly typical take on the genre is the interaction amongst the living characters,such as that father's determined desire to have his wife rest in peace and his sorrowful reluctance to do so himself.

In addition,Rick is right about his family still being alive but he may be unpleasantly surprised at their reunion,since his former partner is now man of the house.

Since I'm not familiar with the comic books that this show is based upon,I don't know how long this story is meant to last. However,there is hope that The Walking Dead may turn out to have more meat on it's bones than the one trick pony of a plot line appears to be. The acting is pretty solid and with any luck,the story telling will give patient viewers real emotional bang for their buck:


THE NEXT IRON CHEF: We're down to the Final Five and with the gang going off to Vegas for a double elimination,the stakes are even higher than before. As NIC judge Michael Symon says,they all need to step up their game,even touted favorite Ming Tsai:

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