Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Top Chef Masters wrestle with a meal,Big Jim goes all out evil Under The Dome and a peek at next year's Downton Abbey

Top Chef Masters got off to a surreal start this week,as guest judge Daniel Handler(aka Lemony Snicket,author of the off beat Series of Unfortunate Events books for kids) showed off his special brand of weird during the Quickfire.

The QF challenge was chosen by Douglas,due to his sous winning the Battle of the Sous Chefs, and not only did that particular helper appear(a replacement for the earlier gent,who had to leave due to a family emergency) but Douglas decided to aim his arrows at Sang here by selecting ketchup as the focal point of the dishes.

While I do agree that Sang has a point about ketchup possibly drowning out the flavors of a dish, banning it from his restaurants is a bit much. Douglas' choice backfired on him as his duck breast with ketchup and red miso was deemed to be a rather heavy entree by Handler.

Jennifer wound up taking the victory for her scallop served with ketchup sauce and fermented black beans. That didn't spare her,however,from the obstacle to come in the Elimination round.

The challenge was to make two Mexican style dishes for 300 folks attending a Lucha Vavoom wrestling event. At first, things seemed fine as everyone went shopping for ingredients but as soon as it was prep time, the boom was lowered.

Since Jennifer and Sang's sous chefs(all of the sous were on board to help out here) scored the lowest in their battle,they had to switch sides. Taking on someone not familiar with your cooking methods is rather daunting for something like this but it worked out well enough for one of them at least.

Bryan was hoping for a win,especially since he hasn't won anything for his charity so far. He did well enough to land in the Top Two,but alas no win just yet.

The judges did love his chile masa dumplings with braised beef tongue but his shrimp with chorizo and yellow corn porridge didn't quite rock the house for them.

Jennifer managed to beat him out with her shrimp,bass and scallop ceviche served with a plaintain crisp. The judges also appreciated her chile posole with shaved cabbage,liking the balance of flavors and textures within the dish.

At this point,Jennifer has won about twenty grand for her charity,Work Options for Women, a nice hefty sum. Congrats and keep up with the good work there,chef!

On the bottom were Douglas,David and Sang for varying degrees of lackluster approach with their food. David's quesdilla seemed more like a instant party food item(to Judge Gail) and the olives in his red snapper Veracruz overwhelmed the plate.

Douglas had immunity,which made the judges go over his food with more of a fine toothed comb. While they liked the shrimp and chorizo fritter that he made,the Bloody Maria drink that Douglas presented as his second dish felt phoned in.

Yet it was Sang sent off to pack his knives. The Thai approach taken with his shrimp cocktail didn't give it enough of a Mexican flavor,plus the fish sauce was pretty powerful on the palate. Not to mention that his pork shoulder barbacoa with slaw was mostly a salt bomb.

I really thought Sang was going to be in the finale but you never know with these things. He did at least earn thirty thousand for Worldwide Orphans,a very good cause and apparently from what I saw in the clips for next week, we won't be missing him for long!

Big Jim has been building up to some serious bad guy maneuvers Under The Dome but by now,the gloves are openly off.

It wasn't hard for him to convince the residents of Chester's Mills to accept his brand of marital law in order to hunt down Barbie and that loosening up of the search and seizure laws helped him to try and track down the mini Dome as well.

Dodee,without realizing his ill intentions,clued him in on the mini Dome's existence and brought Big Jim to her set-up at the radio station to listen in on the military radio signals that she was picking up. He freaked out when it was clear that the forces outside wanted Barbie to take charge of things in Chester's Mill and that his murder of Rev. Coggins was known to them.

Unfortunately,Dodee heard too much and Big Jim chose to add her to his list of "accidents" to blame on Barbie. I was sad to see her go,her character was a sharply smart one but perhaps too book savvy and trusting for her own good. At least she lived longer on the show than she did in the book:

Meanwhile,Barbie was able to hide Julia before Big Jim could silence her for good(thanks to Angie) as Joe and Norrie were smart enough to hide the mini Dome before Big Jim and his crew found it first.

The kids were hauled off to jail and later released,as part of a deal Big Jim struck with Barbie to go along with his "trial". So,we have at the next to the last episode,a frightened Julia,a number of other people now clued in about the mini Dome which is set to go off and do something and Barbie out and out defying Big Jim in public. The finale next week should be one hell of a show,I hope:

The fourth season of Downton Abbey won't be airing until January of 2014 but already news of what's to come is spreading like wildfire. Most of the info relates to the casting as Paul Giamatti will be appearing as Cora's feckless brother Harold(and yes, Shirley Maclaine will be showing up again as their mom).

Other new characters include Gary Carr as a jazz singer named Jack Ross,Dame Harriet Walter as an old friend of our beloved Dowager Countess Violet(one of her best known roles is as Fanny Dashwood in the 1995 Ang Lee directed and  Emma Thompson penned adaptation of Sense and Sensibility) and Tom Cullen as Lord Gillingham,a Crawley family friend.

Expected plot lines will of course include Mary dealing with her widowhood status and frankly, I wouldn't rush her into another relationship just yet. Give the poor woman time to truly grieve before shoving a new man at her already! I am looking forward to seeing a stronger side of her sister Edith and finding out how things are going between Bates and Anna,along with the rest of the folks assembled for what will be the final season of this delightful series:


THE WHITE QUEEN: Things are heating up on this Starz saga of the War of the Roses and it certainly is making Saturday night viewing well worth the wait for. Catch it if you can,folks:

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