”For last year’s words belong to last year’s language,
And next year’s words await another voice.”
T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”
Wow, another year down the drain – can you believe it? I know that the ol’ blog hasn’t been as hoppin’ as usual in 2010, but you’ll have to forgive me – between travel (two trips to DC, one trip to Salt Lake City, one trip to Tampa/St. Pete, one trip to St. Paul/Minneapolis, one trip to Destin, two trips to Charleston, and one trip to Chicago), my sister’s wedding, four other weddings, three triathlons, one full marathon, and buying a house, I didn’t have as much time as I wanted to tackle this list of food resolutions.
I didn’t TOTALLY bum out, though. In January, I discovered some killer blueberry muffins, thanks to America’s Test Kitchen. In February, my husband and I made friends with the Four Coursemen, and I wrote about the beginning of my love affair with Holeman & Finch. I was eating healthy in March, which brought this awesome barley salad into my repertoire. I was doing a lot of fundraising in April, for Share Our Strength and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. May involved lots of low and slow cooking, despite the warmer temperatures. The worst season of Top Chef EVER, Top Chef D.C., started in June. July had lots of salads, as one would expect during summer in the south. We took a tasty trip to Chucktown in August, during which we revisited Poe’s but also tried FIG and The Glass Onion. In September, I was obsessed with peaches. October was busy, what with that pesky marathon, but I did find a new go-to chicken dish. November of course included Thanksgiving, but before the holiday, I made two great Martha Stewart meals. Which brings us to December – an exciting month in which Top Chef started its all-star season, and I posted about my first experience in trying to mimic Thomas Keller.
What will 2011 hold? We already have a trip to San Francisco on the books (in 2 weeks, woo hoo!), BlogHer Food is coming to Atlanta in May, I know we’ll be in Charleston at least once, and I still have lots of cooking to do in my new kitchen. So, all signs point to an exciting and tasty year!
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and a fantastic end of 2010. See you next year!
You know I’m into a television show when I stay up till 11 PM on a school night to watch it a la minute (in the parlance of our times), instead of on DVR the next day. I think the Fantasy Top Chef game I’m playing helps my late-night motivation – and, for those of you who are keeping score, I am currently beating my husband 11 to -5. Yes, that’s negative five. Tee.
I shouldn’t give him too hard of a time – this week, it could have easily gone the other way, since one elimination challenge team had TONS of my players, and the other team had tons of Jason’s. Thankfully, the team with tons of my players ended up winning.
I’m not going to do a recap, since it’s Christmas Eve and I’m much more interested in snuggling on the couch with my pup while my delicious prime rib roasts away in the oven. However, I will say two things:
1) As always, if you want a really good recap, go visit my girl Jordan Baker. You won’t regret it.
2) This whole “Jamie doesn’t participate in the challenge for whatever lame-ass reason and therefore gets a pass” game is straight up bullshit. As Fabio might say, “Ees Top Chef, not top spectator.”
Some level of normalcy should return to my life next week, so regular posting (recipes, woo hoo!) and TCAS recapping should resume. In the meantime, happy holidays to all – I hope everyone is eating well this season!
Even though I have Ad Hoc at Home dishes that I am DYING to write about, I feel like I should comment on this week’s TCAS first – not because the episode was super awesome or anything, but because it gives me the opportunity to brag about beating my husband in Fantasy Top Chef All-Stars. Yes, there is a Fantasy game for foodie nerds. Deal with it.
Despite being interested for Fantasty purposes, I felt like the episode was kind of…off. I don’t know if it was the hour-long format (when the previous two episodes had been 75 minutes), or the fact that half the time was spent watching the contestants eat at their assigned restaurants, but it seemed like one minute I was watching the quickfire challenge and the next minute I was watching judges’ table. There wasn’t a whole lot of actual COOKING that made the final cut.
Anywho, the quickfire was a modified version of the mise en place challenge. The chefs were randomly assigned to four teams of four. There were three ingredients (lamb, artichokes, and garlic) to break down simultaneously, and the first team to finish to guest judge David Chang’s standards got to hit the button to start the 15 minute clock for preparing a dish with the ingredients. The other three teams then had to complete their mise en place as quickly as possible, as they would only have whatever time was remaining to finish their dish. Right as I was saying to Jason, “I bet half of these chefs haven’t done their own mise en place in YEARS,” Tre laughed nervously about how he works in a restaurant with its own butchers. Conversely, Casey was shown butchering the hell out of some lamb, and Dale commented that she had to redeem herself for Oniongate in Season 3. That WAS pretty embarassing.
The Green Team of Angelo, Straight Tiffany, Mike, and Fabio finished their mise en place first, and they were all kinds of confident (ahem, cocky) about their dish being the best because they had the most time. Two teams wound up with lamb carpaccio because they didn’t finish with enough time left to actually cook a piece of meat. The Blue Team of Blais, Spike, Tre, and Stephen pulled out the win, and they each got to take home $5,000 for the honor.
For the elimination challenge, the chefs (in the same teams) visited four of Manhattan’s best restaurants. Then, they each had to create a dish that could appear on the menu of whatever restaurant they visited. The only one I was familiar with was wd~50, and I kept obnoxiously shouting to my husband, “I’ve eaten there! I’ve been in that kitchen!” Like I mentioned before, it seemed like we didn’t get to see a lot of the prepping/cooking (and “shopping” consisted of an exterior shot of the Whole Foods), but we saw enough to know that Stephen couldn’t work a blender, Carla was still talking about her sous vide finale disaster, and Straight Dale was trying to capitalize on Wylie Dufresne’s well-documented love of eggs. I love them, too, Wylie! Let’s have brunch sometime.
Oh, and by the way, on the subject of Stephen – he was yammering on about how fashion has become an obsession of his, and apparently he said, “Could be worse; could be cocaine.” But, what I heard was, “Could be worse; could be cooking.” Which, duh, sounded really weird, considering he was saying this on a COOKING competition. Guess I need to get the wax out of my ears. Moving on…
The judges’ visited all of the restaurants, and it was pretty tame commentary, even from Bourdain. So, the top four ended up being Straight Dale (egg dumpling with pork belly and broth that “tasted like breakfast”), Angelo (fish with white chocolate), Tre (grilled swordfish), and Antonia (riff on peas and carrots). Straight Dale won, scoring himself a trip to New Zealand and me some major Fantasty points. Woot!
The bottom four were Gay Dale (veal with peanuts, popcorn, and french toast – eek), Gay Tiffani (frozen melons – giggle), Fabio (wannabe Asian train wreck on a plate), and Stephen (salmon with fennel pollen that Bourdain said “tasted like a head shop,” whatever that means). Since two of the bottom four were on my Fantasy team and two were on my husband’s, I was pretty much planning on splitting this one – but alas, the TC gods were smiling upon me, and Stephen and Dale (both on my husband’s squad) were sent home. I will miss Dale’s funny commentary – hell, he actually talked about and demonstrated jazz hands in this episode – and Stephen’s well-tied ties, but that’s about it.
Looking forward to the U.S. Open challenge next week…will my winning streak continue???
You know life is crazy when it takes this long to write about TEH GREATEST TOP CHEF SEASON EVAR!!! Seriously, I was really looking forward to last week’s Top Chef All-Stars (which I will now refer to as TCAS, because I am supremely lazy) premiere – I was definitely ready for Bravo to redeem itself for the horrible, very bad, no-good Season 7. For the most part, I was pleased with the cast and the episode, and I am very glad we have a sweet, brand new, 50-inch plasma TV all set up, so I can watch the events unfold in beautiful HD. Then, last night, I finished watching the anger management lesson otherwise known as the second episode, so I figure I’ll just throw some thoughts together and then resume regular recapping next week. This is optimistic, as I do not yet have internet access at the new house, but I’m a glass half full kind of girl.
First, the cast…
Season 1 – Stephen and Gay Tiffani
Season 2 –
Elia and Marcel
Season 3 – Tre, Gay Dale, and Casey
Season 4 – Richard, Spike, Antonia, and Straight Dale
Season 5 – Jamie, Fabio, and Carla
Season 6 –
Jen and Mike
Season 7 – Angelo and Straight Tiffany
Generally speaking, I was most excited to see Tre (because he is HOT), Richard (because he represents Team ATL), Carla (Hootie Hoo!!!), and Fabio (duh). I was least excited to see the Season 7 kids – after all, we just spent many miserable weeks with them, and even though they are probably the two most talented chefs from that season, I just don’t think I”m ready to hang out with them again. Oh, well – just like any TC season, there are too many cooks in the kitchen to start with, and it will take a few more episodes before I can truly commit to my favorites.
I loved the challenges in the first episode. The quickfire challenge of teaming up by season and making a dish that represented that season’s TC city was pretty fun – though I do think that some of the teams (Chicago and Miami specifically) had a distinct advantage in that there are obvious foods that represent the area. I was simultaneously laughing and banging my head against the wall when Blais busted out the liquid nitrogen from the get-go. I also dug the elimination challenge, where the chefs had to recreate the dish that got them booted from their respective seasons. Genius! It was pretty clear from the start that Elia’s heart wasn’t in it, so I wasn’t surprised that she got the first heave-ho. It was fun to watch Fabio square off against Bourdain – I imagine that, with the enormous egos involved in an all-star cast, we’ll see a lot of defensiveness and temper tantrums at judges’ table (FORESHADOWING!!!).
Episode 2 was less awesome, if only because watching a bunch of screaming kids get hopped up on sugar isn’t really my idea of good TV. And WTF was up with Joe Jonas? Bravo couldn’t find anyone with a background in, ya know, FOOD??? Sheesh. In any case, Gay Tiffani got immunity and then screwed the rest of her team over while trying to screw the other team over (given the choice between T. Rex and Brontosaurus, she chose the former because she didn’t want the other team to have any meat to cook with – but little did she realize that HER team wouldn’t have any veg). Katie Lee (Joel) was the guest judge, and she was as monotone and dull as I remember her from season one (though Tiffani and Stephen do their best to suck up anyway). The Brontosaurus team pulled out the win, and Marcel/Richard/Angelo won the challenge with their banana parfait.
Then the fireworks began…Jen was PISSED that her team lost, and she proceeded to go all bitchtastic on the judges’ asses, basically giving a big “Nuh-uh!” anytime Tom or Gail gave her any criticism. Tiffani whined about how a T. Rex is an omnivore, and she thought they’d be able to cook with everything. Antonia threw Jamie under the bus and basically called her a pussy for going to get stitches instead of duct taping her knife wound. At the end of the day, though, Jen’s “wet bacon” and bland eggs sent her packing, and she left in an expetive-laced huff.
I think TCAS has gotten off to an exciting start. What say you?