Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, May 05, 2011

TC Masters take it slow in the fast food lane,TAR's teams will soon finish their business and not gaga for Haley on Idol

On Top Chef Masters last night,a little bargain shopping was in order as the chefs had to make an appetizer in twenty minutes with a budget of one dollar. All the ingredients they had to "buy" were laid out on a display table and labeled with various prices(18 cents for eggs,for example)with calculators on hand to keep a running total.

Naomi won this challenge,getting another five grand for her charity along with immunity for the next round. Her asparagus and bread salad with cherry tomatoes was a real hit with Curtis Stone and his guest judges,Rico and Brendan from NPR's Dinner Party Download.

The Elimination Challenge was set at a "mystery location",with the only advance instructions given to the chefs was to make an entree with a side dish for 100 people and that none of the diners would be using any utensils.

That locale turned out to be a fast food place called Farmer Boys,complete with a drive thru window. Everyone broke up into two shifts,one dealing with the front counter and the other with the back kitchen and drive thru. After a while,both groups would switch over.

Since only a small number of the chefs had any work experience with restaurants that weren't fine dining(Celina mentioned that she was on staff at Bennigans early in her career),service on either section of Farmer Boys was at a snail's pace that day.

Things got so bad that the Bottom Three were called up to the judges' table first. Alex served up a salmon taco with fennel slaw and butternut squash fritters. Salmon is not a fish that easily adapts itself to taco servings and the whole meal was pretty much a struggle along those lines.

While Celina may have had chain restaurant priors,her lamb and pork wrap with garbanzo beans wasn't finger food friendly. The pickled cauliflower on the side received some praise but the flavor profile of the entire portion reeked of the bland.

Going home,however,was George for his pork and chorizo skewers that were deemed to be "ugly" both in look and taste. The mix of clam,cucumber and olives as his side did him no favors,either. At least his charity,Water, will be getting a nice donation there.

On a more positive note,Traci wound up in the Top Three for her chicken chili verde that Curtis Stone declared was "fist pounding good." It was complimented rather well with jicama sticks and tortilla chips,an adaptation that pleased the palates of all.

Joining her in the winner's circle was Floyd,with his chicken frank wrap served with a side of slaw that was made up of cucumbers,grapes and daikon. It was one of the better wraps offered up that day and the texture of the dish was particularly noted.

The champ for this round was Mary Sue,a nice turn around since her Quickfire dish did so poorly(how do you as a master chef not realize that bacon is salty and therefore adding celery salt on top of that is a bad idea?). Her skirt steak quesadilla rocked the house and the quinoa fritters that went along side it was a risk that paid off well for Mary Sue and her charity,Share Our Strength.

Next week,the gang gets to cook for Maroon 5,right after making a seven minute meal. Let's hope the end results will be harmonious in flavor.

The next to last leg of The Amazing Race:Unfinished Business took place in Switzerland,where a kerfuffle arose during a Road Block challenge that had one team member making a chocolate mold version of the Travelocity Gnome.

Kent kept nagging poor Vyxsin so much that she got confused over which mold was hers in the blast freezer and took Flight Time's by mistake.That caused a small shouting match between the Globetrotters and the Goths,which ended peaceably enough.

Yet,things didn't go well for Team Goth,who took a 30 minute penalty at the Pit Stop for not paying attention to their last clue and taking a cab instead of walking there. As sad as I am to see them go,Kent's whining at Vyxsin(who takes too much crap off of him,from what we've been seeing these last few episodes)was hard to take at times.

With a two hour finale on Mother's Day this weekend,my fingers will be crossed for Flight Time and Big Easy,who may get a little touchy once in a while but who also give each other constant support over the rough spots:

There was sort of a "then and now" theme on American Idol last night,as each of the remaining five contenders did a song from the sixties and one from today. While Jacob came close to winning a Sanjaya award for his misguided attempt to sing a duet solo,he redeemed himself later on in the show with a knockout rendition of "Love Hurts."

That gives Haley our best of the worst this week for her version of an "unreleased" song by Lady Gaga("You and I" is scheduled to be on Gaga's new album Born This Way). The judges mostly critiqued her for doing a song that's not as well known but that is not the real problem to me.

Haley's a decent singer but let's face it,folks-she is not all that and a bag of Janis Joplin chips there. Plus,her perkiness doesn't work for every song and in this instance,she sounds a little too needy. All the jumping around she does on stage is undercut by seeing Gaga perform this song with more nuance and emotion while staying true to her piano bench-check out the compare and contrast clips to get what I mean:




LADY GAGA PRESENTS THE MONSTER BALL TOUR: Speaking of Her Lady Ship,HBO will be airing her concert on Saturday as it was done at Madison Square Garden. Songs from her playlist both old and new are set to be on deck,not to mention one hell of a stage show. Hopefully,all the little monsters who couldn't see her live can mash to this uniquely talented tunesmith that night:

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