Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rocco's Dinner Party enjoys an Italian family feast,Food Network Star visits Cougar Town and True Blood's magical new season

The theme for Rocco's Dinner Party this week was Italian Family Dinner and two of the early contenders happened to be related to each other. Twin brothers Nicola and Fabrizio were ready to go mano e mano but Ninamarie's boldness in using a makeshift smoker for her lamb chops in the kitchen knocked out of those boys out of the running.

Guests for both dinner parties included Real Housewife Caroline Manzo,boy band alumnus Joey Fatone,comedienne Tammy Pescarelli and TV hostess Sara Gore,who had a special menu request.

She's watching her weight,so she very nicely asked the chefs to offer a carb-free,high protein dish that she could have for each course. A last minute request to be sure but one which does come up at many catered events.

Ninamarie served first,turning the informal dining room into a representation of Little Italy which went over better than expected.

Some of her dishes included grilled asparagus with braised pancetta,zucchini bread and eggplant caponata along side fire roasted red peppers. While she did deviate from most of the traditional methods of Italian cooking,her food was appreciated.

However,Ninamarie did not make any separate plates for Sara Gore,who had to pick through most of that meal to find something suitable. At least she was able to enjoy the veal Milanese that had peaches and cherry tomatoes served with it.

Fabrizio chose the terrace for his party,making it resemble a nice Tuscan setting that wowed everyone. He was also thoughtful enough to make sure that Sara had food she could eat without depriving the rest of the guests a hearty meal.

One of the favorite dishes from that party was polpettine,meatballs prepared without bread. I had no idea that you could make meatballs that way and they're one of my all time favorites. Must look that up!

That thoroughness is what earned him the win,in my opinion,since Fabrizio's pasta course and fish dish fell flat. His lasagna with bechemel sauce was deemed flavorless and the branzino afterward wasn't much better. If Ninamarie had only taken the time out to offer Sara Gore a diet option or two,she might have claimed this victory instead.

Next week,Rocco gets a little concerned about the casualness in the kitchen and the proof appears on the plate in more ways than one. Hope that works out for the new batch of chefs on deck here!

After an opening challenge involving Kellogg's products with Iron Chef Michael Symon as the guest judge,the gang at The Next Food Network Star had to tackle another team work deal.

Their task was to make lunch for the cast and crew of Cougar Town,with each group tailoring their dishes to the needs of their designated diners. For a moment there,it looked like the obnoxious Penny might be going home due to burning the cheddar sauce for her mac and cheese,which for some strange reason she seemed oblivious to.

It was one of the Justins who went home,lucky for her. Justin B and his bland monotone delivery combined with the lackluster couscous that he made proved that he was not ready for prime time just yet.

His counterpart,Justin D,may not have much more of a shelf life in this competition either. He seems constantly overwhelmed,plus not getting Susie enough quinoa(two bags,buddy,for a hundred or so people? Seriously,what is up with that?) was not cool. Not done on purpose,but still not cool.

Next time,a Fourth of July feast is underway with special guest Guy Fieri at the helm and a good number of personal fireworks lighting up as well. Holiday meals can make tension rise to the surface,especially when no one is making a real effort to keep them down to a slow simmer:

The fourth season of True Blood started off in Fairyland,where Sookie was surprised to discover an old acquaintance was already there,not to mention her grandfather Earl,who went missing over twenty years ago. He was just as shocked to see Sookie,since the last time he remembered seeing her was yesterday....

The rapid passage of time is not the only thing that one has to worry about in Fairyland. Queen Mab and her crew insist upon the new arrivals eating their "lumminaire fruit",which if you know any basic mythology is a bad idea.

Sookie tried to be subtle about warning her granddaddy that they needed to leave but telepathy amongst magical folk is easy to pick up on. Soon enough,the enchantments faded away,in part due to Sookie using her mojo on Mab and every mortal present had to make a run for it:

When Sookie did get back to Bon Temps,she discovered that a year had passed with a lot of changes since she last saw the place and that everyone thought she was dead at the hands of Bill(who gave her a smooth cover story for her disappearance).

Jason is now a cop,keeping check on Sheriff Andy's little V habit as well as the werepanther kids from Hotshot. Bill appears to be the new vampire ruler of Louisiana,Sam is in an anger management group made up of shapeshifters and Arlene is fretting about the potential for evil her baby son has.

Tara has undergone quite a major overhaul with her life and personality,as she now resides in New Orleans and works as a cage match fighter(a suitable occupation for her strong temper there)under the name Toni. She also has a new love interest in Naomi, another fighter in the ring and a steadier handle on her quick to anger impulses.

There was a time when instead of calmly cutting a pathetic lech down to size,Tara would've bitch slapped him and wound up in jail by the end of the night. This mature level that she's reached is great to see and I hope we get more of it:

The main highlight of this season will be witches,particularly the coven that Jesus is so eager to have Lafayette become a part of. His hesitation is sensible but probably won't last for long,with their lead enchantress showing signs of being able to reach higher levels on the mystical plain than expected.

For now,it's Sookie and Eric time,as Eric revealed to her that he is the mysterious new owner of her house and can come and go as he pleases. He may want to watch his step there,since Sookie is very familiar with vampire habits by this time and even those guys aren't safe in their sleep:


HGTV DESIGN STAR: A new season begins this July,with a new night(Mondays,thank goodness-too many good shows are playing on Sundays)and a new mentor in the form of S1 winner David Bromstad. This show definitely needed an upgrade after last season and this should do the trick nicely:

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