Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, February 06, 2014

Top Chef's less than flavorful finale,Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. upping the stakes and looking in on Lady Edith at Downton Abbey

The second half of the Top Chef finale aired last night,with the last challenge being a mini version of Restaurant Wars.

 Each chef was given a local eatery to take over and create a four course menu.Since Nicholas won the prior Elim,he was allowed first choice to pick his kitchen crew from amongst their former competitors.

 He went with Brian,Louis and Jason(a rather obnoxious fella who was rightly kicked out early on) and two of his three choices were not bad. Nina chose Shirley(the bond between those two ladies is so amazing to see),Stephanie and Travis(not my ideal choice but,hey,Nina likes him).

The chefs had at least two days to pull everything together and the judges broke up into rotating teams that went to each finalist's restaurant.

Special guests joined the regular judges such as Iron Chef's Morimoto and Paul Bartolotta,lending their culinary opinions as well and I do wish some of them had been on the panel as well. For some reason, it took the judges an extra long time to chose a winner and why they went with who they did,I'm still not completely sure.

Nicholas' first dish, a hamachi and tuna crudo with green apple,tasted good but needed salt,a constant issue with his food. Even Padma pointed this out awhile back and yet, he made it this far.

I'm sorry but for someone to reach the Final Two level and still have trouble making sure their seasoning is done right,especially something as basic as salt, is just ridiculous.

 Not to mention that Nicholas kept snapping at his wait staff and at one point, yelled at someone in the kitchen loud enough for everyone in the dining room(including the judges!) could hear him. We've seen him lose his temper before and to me, that is a sign of being unprofessional.

Nina,on the other hand, went out of her way to do well here by adding two extra courses such as breadfruit with whipped foie gras butter,plus took extra time for her goat meat to be properly braised and it came out beautifully.

Her swordfish course was too busy in terms of flavor but that wasn't as bad as Nicholas' duck dish that Emeril received that was nearly raw. However,that was not the one that got her in trouble with the judges.

Dessert seemed to be the defining course,as it has been for many TC contenders before. Nina had planned on making ice cream but the restaurant she was assigned didn't have one,so she went with chocolate zeppoles instead.

Those zeppoles were served after a skewer of dragon fruit with frozen melon, a mild yet satisfying end to the meal. Yet, Judge Tom pretty much held that against Nina and insisted that her extra courses not count. Based on what was shown on TV,it was Judge Tom who wanted Nicholas to win and so Nick did.

His dessert,by the way, was a panna cotta that didn't fully gel. Nicholas had had trouble with that dish before and hoped to make this a redemption moment. Didn't work out based on taste but nonetheless, Judge Tom persisted in championing him.

Granted,I can't eat either one of these treats(due to my diabetes) but I would take a chocolate mini donut over a half assed panna cotta any day of the week. So would most of the folks on the panel but Tom was dead set on Nicholas being the winner. Well, Tom, I'm not angry just disappointed.

So,congrats to Nicholas and best wishes to Nina. She did at least win the Fan Favorite prize of ten grand,which makes this bitter pill easier to swallow. As to Nick,I've seen worse people win and he does have talent but needs to work on some of his flaws. I know folks are saying that they're never going to watch this show again but we'll see how true that is when next season begins.

 Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is going all out to keep things interesting,as the latest episode had Melinda May pulling a knife out of her own wound to take down her torturers, plus Coulson and Ward having a heart to heart about May and Ward hooking up(a nice pause in the action packed proceedings there).

 The other big developments were  poor Mike Peterson becoming a reluctant cyborg assassin(Deathlok,which I know makes some fanboys and girls happy) and Skye taking two bullets to the gut.

Skye isn't the most beloved character on this show but seeing her go all Mr. Orange like that was rather disturbing. No doubt the show is far from done with her yet but we have to wait until March for another episode,which I find to be crazy! Come on,guys, you made us wait until February and now with such a huge cliffhanger,we have to hold out until March?! Some of us have been loyal viewers here,okay?:

Out of the many character arcs on Downton Abbey this season, Lady Edith's love life is taking another sad turn as there is no word of Gregson(who went off to Germany to obtain a divorce) and it appears that she might be pregnant.

Edith has been the Jan Brady of the Crawley family and seeing her become a more worldly woman by seeking a life outside of Downton has been great but it now looks as if she may be saddled with the "fallen woman" scenario.

*sigh* Poor Edith's heart has been yanked away more often than Charlie Brown's football and it's high time she earned a shot at true love and happiness here. Why must all of that be hoped for only for Mary? Yes, Edith has made mistakes but give the girl a break here! Bad enough that she's forever being compared to Mary and either falls for men who have no interest in her or picks losers, that whole jilted at the altar deal last season was heartbreaking as hell.

If Edith is pregnant, her options will be slightly better than for a middle or lower class woman of that time period but not by much. Hopefully, her family will rally around her and be as caring about Edith as they are for Mary(especially you,Lady Cora-you have more than one daughter,you know!):


SUPER BOWL COMMERCIALS:  The ads for the big game tend to cause quite a pop culture stir and while we have a sweet puppy/horse bond for a beer ad which folks love and a Coke ad that is controversial for very confusing reasons, my favorite has to be the Cheerios follow-up ad featuring Gracie and her now expanding family:

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