Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

TC All-Stars double dip,a TAR female first and a set of Santa sitcom moments

This week's round of Top Chef All-Stars was a little less dramatic but still high on tension. Everyone was divided into groups of four in the Quickfire challenge with a two-part assignment.

They began with a mise en place relay race to break down three ingredients(lamb,garlic and artichoke) and when the first team finished,a fifteen minute window was opened to create a tasty dish with these items before time ran out.

The team that won was made up of Spike,Richard,Tre and Stephen,whose lamb chop with three different takes on artichoke wowed guest judge David Chang. Immunity was not granted but each team member was given five grand as their reward,not too shabby.

For the Elimination,the chefs stayed in their teams but were going to compete against each other with one dish apiece. A knife pull determined which of the four top NYC restaurants each group would be dining at and then later returning to in order to make their own version of that place's signature cuisine.

The prize for this round was a six day stay in New Zealand but the stakes were greater as two chefs would be on the chopping block this time around. The owner of each restaurant would also tasting their meals as well;when it rains,it really pours.

One of the chosen restaurants was Townhouse,which has modern American food,and Antonia did very well with a peas and carrots puree along side a seared scallop. It was a little salty but the flavors were strong enough to take her to the winner's circle here.

Angelo joined her,with his play on the French Asian fare of Ma Peche. He took quite a chance adding white chocolate to his plate of fish offerings and a touch of chorizo but that daring combo tasted great and won him some brownie points but not the main prize.

That honor went to Dale T,for a breakfast spin on wd-50's experimental food. Instead of using the gastro chemistry tricks that kitchen is known for,Dale chose to simply be inspired by the actual food but go with what he knows.

His sunny side up egg dumpling with braised pork belly and milk-bacon ramen went over like gangbusters,especially since wd-50 owner Wiley Dufresne is ,according to Anthony Bourdain,"an egg slut"(not my words,just reporting the facts,folks!)

With Bourdain back on the Judges' Panel,everyone seemed to mind their manners and not get as confrontational as before. Even Fabio was not as touchy but certainly not happy about his Ma Peche plate putting him on the Bottom.

His best defense was that he wasn't comfortable with this type of cuisine and that awkwardness showed in Fabio's roast lamb with lemongrass ricotta and plum sauce. It was too heavy handed a dish to fit into Ma Peche's light French Asian menu.

Tiffani F tried to emulate the high tech wizardry of wd-50 by using liquid nitrogen to freeze and smash her summer heirloom melons but the results were a disaster of flat flavors. She landed in the Bottom Four as well.

Kudos for a honest effort there but it didn't really enhance the food which is the whole goal of that school of culinary thought.

On the other hand,she did better than her season one cohort Stephen who was sent off to pack his knives. Stephen was thrilled to dine and cook at Marea,a favorite Italian restaurant of his,but the coho salmon with black Mission figs and fennel pollen just didn't have the right flair.

Joining him out the door was Dale L,for overplaying the whimsy factor in some of Townhouse's menu. He has an offbeat take on food to begin with so this seemed like an easy win for Dale at first.

Unfortunately,the popcorn,peanuts and French toast that shared a plate with his veal was ill balanced indeed. I thought he would've lasted longer but hey,you never know.

Next time,wackiness ensues as the chefs scramble for equipment during the Quickfire challenge. Hope they're careful or someone might get hurt(again!).

Congratulations are in order to doctors Nat and Kat for being the first all female pair to win The Amazing Race this season. It was tough going for a few moments,since Nat(who's afraid of heights)had not one but two up in the air challenges to get through. They did gain a good lead after that and rode that train to a well deserved victory.

It was nice to see these ladies win,especially since the strength of their friendship really shined through during the whole run of the race. Coming up early next year is another Amazing Race All Stars,which should be fun to see. In the meanwhile,happy holidays Nat and Kat,you truly deserve it:

Speaking of the holidays,with so many shows taking a break for the season,I thought it would be fun to round out our TV Thursday time with a look at a couple of Santa Claus bits from the Ghost of Sitcoms past. First up is from season four of Roseanne,where Rosie gets to be the Santa at Rodbells,to make some extra Christmas cash.

Jackie teams up as her helper,Mrs. Claus,and their combined personalities work out pretty well in the kid wrangling department but Roseanne is thrown for a loop when the mall bookseller introduces herself as Darlene's new friend. Bit of a shocker in her stocking but things worked out in the end,as is the way of most Christmas tales:

The Golden Girls had a Nightmare Before Christmas,as their travel plans were derailed by a desperate for attention Santa that held them hostage at Rose's Grief Counseling Center. Even with their sad and soggy state upon heading back home,the ladies managed to make merry at a diner on Christmas Eve and returned the favor to the owner who helped them realize that they were amongst family after all:

For the last but far from least Santa sitcom clip,Reba felt gloomy about the falling away of her family traditions on Christmas Eve as everyone else made new plans. However,a chat with a self proclaimed Santa at a local soup kitchen seemed to jumpstart her spirits and despite the rejection of her Christmas cookies,Reba's holiday wish eventually came true,as I hope everyone else's does no matter what your celebration is:


AMERICAN IDOL: The new season will be starting in January,with Steven Tyler and JLo sitting next to Randy to judge a new crop of singing hopefuls. Not sure if things will ever be the same after Simon but you have to at least give the audition rounds a fair shot:

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