Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Top Chef makes it to Maui,AHS:Coven conclusion and Downton Abbey's Isobel rising

Part One of this season's Top Chef finale began last night, with the Final Three being introduced to their fourth contender from Last Chance Kitchen.

It was Louis,coming off of an eight in a row winning streak,who joined them in Maui to perform the last Quickfire challenge that would win one of them ten grand.

The challenge was to make something innovative with Spam,a popular menu item in Hawaii. This has been done before on a previous TC season and it's kind of hard to have to pull off a redo,if you ask me.

Well,Nicholas managed to earn his first and last QF win for his Spam broth that pleased guest judge Sam Choy. Before the Elimination Challenge was announced, two announcements were made:1) this would be a double elimination and 2) the winner of this challenge would receive an advantage for the second half of the finale. Not too much pressure here,do you think?

For the Elim, each chef had to use "canoe crops"-foods transported by canoe in the traditional Hawaiian fashion. That gave them an assortment of starchy veggies such as sweet potato and proteins of fish,chicken and pork to work with.

In addition,the food had to be cooked outdoors and during the prep time, a brief storm appeared which impacted a few of the dishes that the judges,including a very pregnant Judge Gail, had to sample.

Louis and Nina wound up choosing the same fish(opah) for their plate,which caused her to worry about how her food would hold up under such a culinary compare and contrast.

Turns out her worries were unnecessary, due to Louis' fish portions having consistency issues. The flavors of the sweet potato and coconut sauce on the fish were great yet with some folks getting half cooked fish while others had well done knocked him out of the running. 

Nina's opah had taro root and coconut puree with a spicy kick that was almost too much for some of the judges.

However,her dish shined in comparison to Louis,so she'll be in the Final Two next week! I am really happy for her and my only regret is not Nina is not going up against the other great gal in this competition.

Sadly, Shirley was asked to pack her knives due to her pork dish being overly sweet. Part of the reason for that is a good portion of the tumeric puree made for the plate had to be dumped(it was watered down from the unexpected storm during prep).

She was the only one to cook a meat,which could have given her an edge but lead to her defeat instead. *sigh* Team Shirley is mournful today.

That leaves Nicholas to face off against Nina next week, While his opakapaka with crispy chicken skin had a little too much jalapeno for some, at least his fish came out evenly.

While I would've much preferred Shirley or even Louis(who did fight hard to earn a place back in the game), I am confident that Nina can take the whole shooting match here. Best of luck to both chefs and high hopes for a good finale!

American Horror Story: Coven had their finale last night as well, starting with a musical number by Stevie Nicks(I kid you not) and the battle to select the Supreme ended up with Cordelia taking the throne of power. Fiona did make a last minute visit,with a nicely done farewell to her daughter and a fitting fate awaiting her in Hell.

I did suspect that she might be the one tapped for the dubious honor here(especially in the next to last episode during a vision Cordelia had where her demise was markedly different from the other potentials) and the whole ending had sort of a shiny happy feeling to it,except for poor Misty Day and mean bitch Madison,that is.

This is the first season that I've ever watched AHS(which is heading for a fourth and possibly fifth go-round),so perhaps the rambling tone of the story telling is to be expected.

However, as much as I liked many of the crazy diva moments of the show and pleasantly surprised by some twists and turns(Queenie surviving her head shot a couple of episodes ago was one), I feel a tad let down. Perhaps my expectations were too high here yet I still think that if the plot points had been more concise and a few of the queen bee antics toned down, we might have gotten a season well worth the early hype and imagery that sold it hard to new as well as regular fans:

 With the Anna assault business coming to a head on Downton Abbey(glad Bates got Mrs. Hughes to let him in on what was up there) for the moment, let us a take a moment to consider Isobel Crawley's current character arc.

As Matthew's mother, it is only natural that her grieving process be very different from Mary's and one other thing that each lady has in common with this rather sad connection is that each of them has to find a way to re-enter the living world.

Friends and family,particularly Dr. Clarkson, have urged her to go back to her charity work and she's done so,slowly but surely. An unexpected source of encouragement is our dear Dowager Countess Violet, who can't help but debate with Isobel over her methods of social improvement while going along with some of them just the same:

Isobel's emotional struggle to reconnect to life are a small part of the show but her quiet stoicism is admirable, plus I like the idea of her and Violet becoming cranky old gal pals together.

 Granted, watching her former daughter-in-law considering the notion of romance again can be painful but Isobel has enough good sense to let Mary find her own way in that department without packing her any bags for a guilt trip.

Part of me wonders what she would think if Tom and Mary were to hook up(all three of them have loss of a loved one in common, not to mention both Tom and Mary are single parents right now) because I wouldn't be surprised if that happened. Knowing Isobel, she'd probably be the only Crawley supporting the match, if that is in the cards there:


THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: Ding dong,Katherine is gone but not completely. As expected, she used that body swiping spell of her long lost daughter's to take over Elena's body but her original casing is apparently needed to make the exchange permanent. That's going to be a problem tonight as Damon has already dug that grave(he's so fun when he's in "I don't give a damn" mode!):

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