Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, June 23, 2011

A look at Rocco's Dinner Party,more team action on The Next Food Network Star and Game of Throne's lasting ladies

After the Top Chef Masters finale last week,viewers got a special preview of a new cooking competition show called Rocco's Dinner Party,the Rocco in question being celeb chef Rocco DiSpirito.

We start off with three contenders fighting for the chance to pull off a great dinner party for Rocco and his friends,with their first challenge being to make their signature dish for tasting within thirty minutes. The best two out of three then compete to win $20,000 for creating the best mutual dining experience.

The winner of the first round gets first choice of dining room to serve in(intimate,formal or terrace)and to decide who goes first. Both chefs then have a party planner to consult as to how the room should be decorated and table set up in accordance with the theme that Rocco gives them for the party.

Last week's theme was a speakeasy,which lent itself easily to a party plan. This time out,it was Mystery Guest with each chef being given a dossier of hints as to what the secret guest of honor would like to eat and their preferred atmosphere.

The two gents competing here were Joel,a high school culinary teacher and King,the owner of a couple of Manhattan restaurants. Joel won the signature dish round and chose the formal dining room for his meal as well as went first.

The mystery guest turned out to be Top Chef hostess Padma,who the chefs were told enjoyed clean natural flavors along with spice and that Italy and Bali were two of her favorite places in the world to visit. Other party attendees included comedian D.L. Hughley,fashion designer Gilles Mendel and singer Babel Gilberto.

King had the intimate dining room and it was set up to be a combo of Bali and Italy,with a Vespa scooter in one corner and woven sandals for the guests to wear in place of their regular shoes instead.

The food was agreeable for the most part,with the lemongrass panna cotta dessert considered the highlight of the meal. However,the main course of rice and seafood was deemed rather safe in terms of flavor.

Joel had his dining room arranged in spicy storage style,with wooden spice holders on the table and spice racks along the walls. It actually looked very elegantly rustic,which Padma loved. He also had small chalkboards at each place setting with the question "If you were a teacher,what subject would you teach?". A good conversation starter and a nifty party idea there.

Despite some awkwardness with the service,the food went over well. Joel even made the Dijon spiced sausage for his borlotti bean stew that day,which was a real palate pleaser. In the end,Joel was declared the winner for his bold use of spicy flavors.

I like the concept of this show and so far,it's been interesting to see how a chef can whip together a fully formulated event like this. The only down note is how abrupt Rocco comes across to his contestants for most of the show.

Perhaps that's just his way but it wouldn't hurt him to be as welcoming to his chefs as he is to his guests. Next time,two brothers will be going head to head along side a New Jersey caterer to enter this upscale cook-off. Should be intriguing,to say the least.

The main challenge on this week's The Next Food Network Star was a sweet one,as two teams were chosen to make dessert items for an event to represent both Ace of Cakes' Duff Goldman and Robert Irvine.

With resentment still brewing over the last team challenge they had,Penny wound up the only gal on an all-boy's team. That team in particular had very little pastry experience,so things were not going well from the get go.

However,the girl's team was way too laid back for their own good,which reflected in the food. Mary Beth's milk shake with cookie crumble was too watery,the cupcake lollipops were gummy and Alicia's cookie dough cupcakes were so bad that most of them wound up in the trash.

Alicia,being a cupcake chef,was extremely embarrassed by this sad set of sweets and was the one to be sent home here. Next time,everyone has to cook for FN Southern belle Paula Deen and the cast of Cougar Town and a good number of them need to get their act together. Like Bobby Flay said,this is not the Fun Network,people!:

The first season of Game of Thrones has come to an end,with several set-ups for what to expect next year as Jon joins his brothers in the Night's Watch to explore in the lands beyond the Wall while Rob and his mother vow revenge against the Lannisters.

Meanwhile,Tyrion is assigned to straighten up things in King's Landing and Sansa's suffering at the hands of psychotically cruel King Joffrey is just beginning. The adventures for her little sister Arya are also about to start,as she is being taken out of the city with the raw recruits for the Night's Watch and given a boy's name as the first of many aliases.

Arya's journey makes her a few new enemies and friends,including a certain young blacksmith that her father once visited. Where their mutual path will lead them is not for me to tell but let's just say that Gendry and Arya make for a good team:

The one woman's journey that I was concerned with the most was Danys,who really had a hell of a row to hoe by the end credits. Losing her husband,baby and clan all in one stroke was the kind of thing that would've broken a weaker soul.

Daenerys,however,proved that she had the true dragon blood of her ancestors by using Drogo's funeral pyre to hatch those three eggs of hers. To the credit of the production,those newborn firebreathers looked amazing and since they play an important part in Danys' ongoing quest for the Iron Throne,I hope that the quality of their appearances are kept up. Next season should be even better than the first,now that the Mother of Dragons is ready to move forward(slight bit of nudity in this clip,you have been warned):


TRUE BLOOD: With Game of Thrones finished for now,our favorite vampire series sets up shop for a fourth season. There's plenty of ruckus to contend with,including the arrival of witches who are being lead by a certain aunt of Harry Potter's. What's a little magical mischief among friends and fiends,I ask you?:

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