Wednesday, February 25, 2009

In Which I Live Blog the Finale and Hope it Ends with a "Hootie Hoo!"

9:58 - ready to go. So excited to watch Carla kick some ass!

9:59 - montage of Stefan winning...

10:00 - ugh, Fabio goes sad.

10:01 - Stefan brushes his teeth rather violently, doesn't he? Hosea rambles on about pressure and being a man-Ho.

10:03 - Does anyone really thing HO-sea is going to win this? I just realized there are two caterers in the final 3...interesting.

10:04 - Serve the best three course meal of your life, I'm with Stefan - "F*** what am I going to make now?" I think it's easier when you have some idea of what the judges want, right?

Ugh, Marcel...why are you such a D-bag? But, yay for Casey and Richard!! Heart! Speaking of heart!! I really like Padma's dress!

10:06 - Ha! "A bit of a twat!" "Where are the proteins?"

Foie Gras drama. Fight. Fight. Fight!!!

10:08 - M.D. and I talk about how much we love Richard!

Carla is sous vide-ing, Stefan is cooking straight-up ghetto-Finland-style!! HO-sea has no plan and wants to make some crap now, then sleep on it - um, yeah, go home now. He should clearly have had an idea of the three courses he wanted to make BEFORE coming to NO, right?

During this commercial break, I will now shorthand my thoughts on "The Last Supper" episode: ZOMG! Eggs! I love Eggs! Whyle Dufresne loves eggs! We should get together and talk about food science and eat eggs benedict! OMG! Jacques Pepin! I would literally DIE if I had to cook dinner for him. There's no way I could ever make something good enough for him. Carla's so lucky! Why is Leah still there? Tom and Padma are so luck to get to eat with all of these fantastic chefs. This might actually be my dream. ZOMG! Fabio's injured! Is he OK? Of course he's still going to cook. He's going to rock out with his co** out! OK, he can't chop or peel to good...maybe he'll go home? No!!! It's an editing - he's clearly going to win! Why is Leah still here? Awesome! Carla and Fabio rockin!! Stefan he going to go home? No, it will clearly be Leah, there's no way Stefan won't make it to the finale. HOORAY!!! Ho-Leah goes home! Hootie Hoo! Carla does good! Fabio for the win, "It's Top Chef, not top pus**!!!"

10:14 - God, Stefan's still hung up on Jamie? That Tarot lady was amazing - let's go to NOLA and have our fortunes told.

10:17 - Do they have to make a mystery fourth course?

10:17 - Ha, I'm right! They do!! Make an app.! I'd be the best "Top Chef" editor ever! ZOMG!!! KN and I were just talking about the baby Jesus in the King Cake on Sunday!

10:18 - HO-sea D-bags out, gets the Jebus, and screws over Stefan. Awse.

HO-sea: griddled corn cake with red fish remoulade.
Stefan: Alligator soup
Carla: was attacked by her crab?! And is freaking out about her app. Oh no, not good.

10:23 -
HO-sea finally has a menu: 1. Sashimi, 2. Foie Gras and Scallops, 3. Venison.

Stefan: 1. Halibut-Salmon carpaccio, 2. Squab, Braised Cabbage (my favorite dish of the night), 3. Dessert

Carla: 1. Seared Red Snapper, 2. Meat and Potatoes (my second favorite), 3. Cheese Tart!!! Oh no, souffle? NOO!! TART!!! CHEESE + TART = GOLD!

10:28 - was that Rocco DiSpirito? OK, I take it back, I want this Padma dress.

10:29 - I scare everyone around me by screeching, "I LOVE JOHN BESH!!!!!" at the top of my lungs.

10:30 - FABIO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wait, why is he the only contestant still there? Stefan rocks the alligator. Carla's dish was good, so was HO-sea's.

10:32 - First Courses:
I'm sad that HO-sea's dish is the one that sounds the best to me. Yes! Carla's dish is getting good marks!

10:34 - Second Courses:
I am also confused about Carla and sous vide. I want to roll around in a big plate of squab and cabbage. That Hosea dish sounds awful to me, I'm sorry.

10:36 - Carla boils her souffle. Oh NOOOOOOOO.

10:37 - Third Course:
I want to roll around in a plate of Stefan's dessert. I feel so badly for Carla.

10:39 - I'm distracted by Fabio's faux hawk.

10:40 - the chefs ramble on about winning, losing, sucking, not sucking...and they plug some crappy wine.

And now, my shorthand thoughts on "Finale Part 1" - Why does Stefan look bloated? I'm really excited for Carla! ZOMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Jeff's back! Oh no, WTF??? Ho-Leah's back? NOOOOOO!!!! Jeff better win this bitch. Actually, all their food looks good. Emeril even seems normal on this show. YEAH! Jeff FTW! OMG, holy crap, he has to win it all? Why is Stefan such an asshole? Why isn't he even trying? I like their Elimination Challenge, hooray for New Orleans challenge - cajun and Creole food? What's not to like? God, Stefan really is a D-bag, isn't he? Jeff's cocktail looks does his food. Carla FTW with the oysters! You go girl - shucking all those little bastards could NOT have been fun. I hope Jeff wins. I still can't get over Stefan's bloated head. I think Stefan's going home. No, maybe Fabio is. No, it's totally going to be Stefan. Yeah for Carla! Yeah one else. I can't believe Fabio AND Jeff got sent home. Who will make witty, one-line remarks and look pretty during the finale now? I hope Carla kicks some serious ass.

10:45 - Carla started off strong, then kind of petered out at the end...ugh that souffle totally killed her. Carla totally let Casey run the show...why? Why Carla, why?

10:46 - Stefan smirks at Stefan's advantage.

10:47 - It looks like someone spit on the top of HO-sea's scallops.

I can't believe Hosea will win this bitch.

10:48 - Ha! I wonder what Tom would say when he hears he agrees with Marcel about freezing fish. "I really enjoyed Stefan's squab." That's what she said!

I hate when they make them beg for the title of "Top Chef." And, Stefan is surprisingly not-cocky during his speech. And he comforts Carla, maybe he's not the biggest D-Bag there.

Beth - I'm so sad our pick FTW isn't going to. :(

"I thought Stefan's squab was the best thing I had all night." That's what she said.

10:53 - Tom's pissed!

10:58 - HO-sea wins....

yeah, I guess...

He kinds of is acting like a D-bag. Stefan rambling about being bitter is hysterical!!! Don't cry Carla! Jeff's standing right next to you! Let his hotness cheer you up!

Well, that's all for me, HOOTIE HOO!!!! in honor of Carla, even though she didn't win. She's still awesome.

And Jeff is hot.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

ZOMG!! Does Anyone Want to Road Trip to Atlanta Next Weekend?

Ed Helms will be playing the banjo at an Atlanta fundraiser on the 28th. Fortunately for you, the info also came with an interview:

Q: Is it hard to play the banjo?

A: The banjo is a (pain). That’s part of why it’s so rewarding. You work really hard. When I saw Tom Key in ‘Cotton Patch Gospel,’ I was already into bluegrass. It’s a really extraordinary production. My high school did a production. No one could play the banjo, so I picked it up, learned the songs and that was the beginning of my long, torrid love affair with the banjo.

Q: Most guys play the guitar in high school to pick up girls. How’d the banjo work for you?

A: I just completely misread girls in high school. This is just one example of how. I’ve been trying to press X-box to make “Banjo Hero.”

Q: What do you enjoy most about coming back to Atlanta to visit family or participate in events like ATLexis?

A: I love being able to feel attached to the creative community in Atlanta. That’s a real privilege for me. A year or two ago, I did a benefit for the Horizon Theatre. I feel like Atlanta has such a vibrant creative community. Any chance I get to reconnect is exciting for me.

Q: What do you miss when you’re in L.A.?

A: You don’t really know until you leave the South how beautiful it is from an aesthetic standpoint. Atlanta has changed immeasurably since I moved around, not necessarily in ways I’m thrilled about. But it’s lush. I love the organic smells in springtime. L.A. is not lush. It’s an irrigated desert.

Q: What would you be doing right now if you weren’t acting?

A: I have no idea. I don’t know what else to do. I never even saw an alternative. I think I would just be miserable. This is a very tough career. It’s hard on your constitution. It’s hard on your ego. It’s not stable. But it is sort of the only thing I could do.

Q: Your character works for a nutty boss in a fairly monotonous job. What’s the worst job you ever had in Atlanta?

A: I didn’t work in Atlanta much except summer jobs. I was a lifeguard at Brookwood Hills community pool. I loved that job. It was awesome. When I became assistant manager there, the responsibilities took some of the fun out. The lack of bodily function control that children have in swimming pools is far more than what you would imagine. The clean up duty falls on the lifeguards.

Q: Did you ever wish someone would get into trouble so you could perform a daring rescue?

A: I never wished anyone would start to drown or anything, but I did sort of wish a beautiful woman would get into the deep end over her head. I could give her a hand and then she would become completely smitten with me. Until she learned I played the banjo.

Perhaps I can go, find a pool with Ed standing nearby, jump in, and pretend to not know how to swim...

And, ZOMG!!! I found some Ed pictures (taken by Jason Odell) who also took some adorable pictures of John Krasinski a while back:

Did you get your tickets to the gun show?

Monday, February 16, 2009

I'm Still Here, I Promise

OK, sorry guys, I'm running a study at work (again) and it's taking up a ton of time. I'm hoping to do a double post about the "Top Chef" episode from last week and this week on Friday, once the study is finished. In the meantime, enjoy this eye candy:

Hopefully it makes up for the total lack of Ed in last week's episode - WTF Mindy? Why even bother to write an episode that contains no Andrew Bernard?

Friday, February 6, 2009

"Top Chef" Season 5: Episode 11 - In Which Stefan is the Luckiest Man in the World

Two posts about Eric Ripert in one week? Am I turning into a chef fangirl or what? Next thing you know, I'll be writing posts about how much I love Grant Achatz while stalking him in Chicago (oh, wait, that might actually happen in May...what up?!??!).

Anyway, onto the episode. Hooray! Finally and episode in which the Quickfire and the Elimination Challenge were awesome, relevant to actually being a Top Chef, and showed which of the remaining chefs have the skills to win this bitch. Having Eric Ripert around didn't hurt, either, he's such a class act - all the way. Having him there just showed how very out of his league Toby is, and honestly showed a little bit of how much of a jackass Tom can be.

Gorton's Fisherman Quickfire Challenge:
This was my first thought: YUM!!! ERIC RIPERT!

The Quickfire was divided into three rounds, the bottom two from the first two rounds were eliminates, until two chefs were left to battle it out for the advantage of wining the QF. Round 1 was to clean and butterfly sardines, which really showed the skills (or lack thereof) the chefs had. From the beginning it was clear Stefan and Fabio were the two to be reckoned with, being able to fillet those tiny fish isn't hard - if you have the practice (I clearly do not) - and it was obvious which chefs were on a higher level than the other. Carla was awesome, though, she got Eric to crack a smile more than once in this episode and her reaction to sucking at the Quickfire was priceless. I was kind of surprise Jamie went out as early as she did, I just figured since her cooking skills were so good, she'd know how to deal with the fish, but I was obviously wrong. I was also shocked Leah did as well as she did in the first round (not so much after she interviewed that she worked as the head fish cook at a restaurant).

The second round was pathetic, arctic char should have been pretty easy for the chefs, with the exception of the pin bones, it's not too bad to fillet. Leah proudly displayed her title as "Most Useless Chef to Make it This Far on 'Top Chef'" by giving up midway through filleting, then half-heartedly trying to flirt with Eric Ripert , trying to get out of explaining why she gave up. To be fair, I would have tried to flirt with Eric, too, but I would have filleted my fish properly, first. I mean, it's Eric Ripert, you have to impress him with your skills, right? At the end of Round 2, only HO-sea and Stefan were left, HO-sea interviewing that he hates the "Euros." Nice.

Round three had the two of them skinning and filleting eels. Um, yuck. Seriously. I hate things that don't have legs. Snakes, worms, eels, it's not natural. Things should have legs. Or leg-like appendages. Nothing should move by waving its long, slimy body around. It's disgusting. That said, I was quite happy when Stefan impaled that thing through the head with a nail. The reactions were amazing. As soon as HO-sea had to copy Stefan's eel-skinning technique, I knew he was done. Even if he had miraculously skinned and filleted the eel properly, he should have lost because he didn't know how to do it in the first place, even though he's in charge of a seafood restaurant. Stefan rocked the QF and deserved the win - even Eric Ripert looked like he wanted to make out with Stefan after he inspected the filleted eel. Eric then invited all the chefs to Le Bernardin for lunch with him, which made me the most jealous person ever.

Elimination Challenge:

Eric told the chefs (and Tom and Padma) that he's selected six dished for them to eat for which I respond: Hmmmmm, I wonder where this is going, six dishes, six chefs? Whatever could the challenge be, Bravo producers? The lunch went pretty much as you'd expect it to, Jamie looked bitchy and said she was bored with the food (which I guess made sense when you take the outcome into account, but still, whatever, bitch, it's MotherF-ing Eric Ripert), Leah looked bored, Carla acted adorably humble ("I want to be an Eric Ripert dish when I grow up"), Fabio had some choice Italian witticisms, and Stefan and Hosea acted like douchebags. Well, they were both pretty well-behaved to be fair, but they kind of always are a little bit D-bagyg, even on their best behavior.

So, not shockingly, their challenge was to recreate one of the dishes they had for lunch exactly, and serve it to the judges. The lucky bastards also got direct input from the man himself, as Eric Ripert came into the kitchen to help each chef with their dish. I hope they each appreciated this opportunity - seriously, how many up and coming chefs get to cook food created by Eric Ripert, then have him taste and give them feedback on the dish? Phenomenal opportunity.

The chefs and two hours to prep and practice the dishes they had selected. Stefan had the honor of selecting his course, since he won the QF, while the rest of the chefs had to draw knives to figure out which dish they would cook. As much as the other contestants said Stefan picked the easiest dish, I have to say, I don't think any of the dishes were "easy" and lobster isn't the easiest thing in the world to cook - I know they're all supposed to know what they're doing, so cooking some fish shouldn't be that difficult, but look at the sardine/char debacle at the beginning, clearly they're not everything they make themselves out to be. The best part of this entire sequence, however, was Eric leering at the chefs from the corner of his kitchen. It was so deliciously creepy, yet endearing. Creepy, because, well, I think it was obvious...who likes someone lurking in the corner while they're trying to work? Endearing, because it seems, at least to me, that he really wanted the chefs to succeed and took pride in their earnest (with the exception of HO-Leah) efforts to recreate his handiwork.

Fabio got to fire his dish first, the sourdough-crusted red snapper, with tomato consomme. First, this dish sounded delicious. Second, I was worried about Fabio when I saw the breading, but it turns out that was the only thing he did wrong. I also didn't realize, I don't whether it's because they didn't tell us or I wasn't paying attention, that the chefs had to serve their version of the dish next to an Eric Ripert-protege version of the dish - HARDCORE. Like I said before, it's terrifying enough to have to make a dish conceptualized by a chef, then serve it to that same chef, let alone have it compared to the ideal version of the meal.

Leah went next with the mahi mahi with miso and mushrooms sauce. I don't quite understand why she didn't just ask Ripert what to do with the miso, or try harder to figure it out. She knew it was wrong, yet went with it anyway. Stefan had the lobster with hollandaise, and, of course, he knocked it out of the park. Perfectly cooked lobster and asparagus, great sauce. I'm really trying to find reasons he shouldn't win because of his piss-poor attitude, but I have to say, none of the other contestants hold a candle to him right now.

Carla was the forth course, the oil-poached escolar with potato crisps, and red wine bearnaise. Now, I have to say, Carla really impressed me here. Like a lot. I bet half the contestants couldn't make a bearnaise if you asked them to. She whipped that out with no problem. Only her potato crisps weren't spot on, which I thought was quite forgivable, and apparently, so did the judges.

Hosea was next with the monkfish with Za'Atar and black garlic. Yeah, I didn't know what Za'Atar was, either. It was kind of pathetic that he didn't allow the monkfish to rest before slicing it - I mean, he has a seafood restaurant for God's sake. He, of all people should have been able to serve properly cooked fish. Jeff would have totally whooped his ass in this challenge. Jamie went last and served the black bass with braised celery. Now, I'm not going to lie, I love celery, but braised? Eh, not so much. Regardless, I would have tried to make the dish as best as I could, Jamie seemed to phone it in because she didn't like Eric's "style of food," which is, quite frankly, ridiculous. Come on, even if you don't cook like his type of food, you still have ERIC FUCKING RIPERT giving you personal feedback on a dish...suck it up and try your best. She was giving Leah a run for her money in the bitchy, entitled behavior club during the elimination.

Judges' Table:
I think it was clear who the top three would be at the end of the Elimination Challenge. All of them deserved to be congratulated and Stefan deserved the win, even if his dish was allegedly the easiest. Stefan also got the best prize of the season so far - getting to chill at Le Bernardin with Eric for a week, then fly with him to the South Beach Food and Wine Festival and hang out with the awesome (and not so awesome, Rachael Ray, Giada, Paula Deen, anyone?) people there, too. Lucky bastard.

As clear as the top three were, I think the bottom three were even more obvious; the Hos and Jamie. Two of them didn't seem to care and the other one has a seafood restaurant, yet can't cook monkfish properly. I have to say the elimination really surprised me...especially after listening to Tom comment on Leah and Jamie. Why would the judges choose to keep someone who they themselves acknowledged, "didn't cook the food properly and didn't know what she did wrong," vs. someone who didn't cook the food properly, but knew what she did wrong?" It doesn't make much sense to me. In fact, this is a direct transcription from last night, just before the elimination:

The overview, not shocking - HO-sea should have seared his fish first, then added the spice, HO-Leah sucked with miso, Jamie sucked with celery. Jamie goes home, WTF?!??!?? HOW IS LEAH STILL THERE???! WHAT THE HELL HAS HAPPENED? WHY DID SHE REFERENCE TEAM RAINBOW? HOW CAN YOU HAVE A TEAM OF ONE PERSON? WAIT, HOW IS LEAH STILL THERE???

After the fact, reading Tom's blog, he says Jamie's food was inedible, which, fine, I get it. If you make food no one can eat, you definitely should be sent home. But I didn't get that impression from the way the episode was edited. It looked to me like Jamie and Leah were equally sucky, yet Jamie knew where she went wrong while Leah didn't. Seems like a no-brainer to me. Regardless of my thoughts, Jamie was sent home. I don't think she could have won, but she's definitely more talented than Leah, and certainly on par with the rest of the chefs, if not better then most. If I ever get back to San Fransisco, I'm definitely checking out her restaurant, her food is exactly the kind I like to cook and, despite her sometimes pissy attitude, I have a lot of respect for her.

Next Week: The final four decided! Tom doesn't want to be embarrassed!! Fabio is mangled! Wylie Dufresne! Jacques Pepin!!!!11!!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Field Trip to 10 Arts: Where the Fries Never End

Since the economy's in the crapper, Philadelphia restaurant week was extended through this Friday. As such, BW and I decided it would be the perfect opportunity to visit Eric Ripert's lovely restaurant, 10 Arts in said Philadelphia. Unfortunately, as we soon realized, Saturday nights aren't part of restaurant week at 10 Arts, but since it worked out (shockingly) that BW, PW, BMG, and I could get together on such short notice, we decided to go anyway. Hooray for stimulating the economy! Sadly, due to excessive drinking in the dive bars of Trenton, BMG was unable to join us, so I had to make the drive to PA alone, dressed in my hot outfit for dinner. However, the lack of BMG gave me the chance to sit at the table with an empty seat next to me, in the hopes that Eric Ripert would actually be in his restaurant and want to join us for dinner - it didn't happen. But, I think that's because he wasn't at the restaurant, I mean, come on, if he had seen us, with the empty chair, there's no way he'd be able to refuse an invitation to dinner.

Our reservation was for 8:30 pm, we arrived almost exactly on time, the hostess took our coats, and we were ushered to our table. The restaurant is in the Ritz Carlton hotel, right by City Hall, and the space is awesome. It' basically the lobby of the hotel, so it's huge expanse, great high ceilings, columns, the works. I was especially enamored of the chandeliers, which are pretty much bigger than my apartment. We were all pretty hungry, and also excited to be there, so it took a while to order, luckily we were able to decide on a wine quickly, so we had a nice splash while deciding what to order...

And, oh, did we order. To start, we shared the fried calamari, which was awesome. So NOT rubbery and gross like most calamari that has been fried and not at all greasy. Plus, it came with a delicious remoulade which I would have eaten straight from the ramekin if it was socially acceptable. Next, for our first courses, BW got the heirloom corn chowder, PW got the chicken soup (it had alphabets!!!), and I had the warm goat cheese salad. All were awesome. The corn soup had smoked sea salt in it, which gave it a delicious, smoky, rich flavor (seriously, though, it was great).

The chicken soup was so, so good! The alphabets were great, a whimsical touch for an old classic. My salad was amazing, too; with a big hunk of goat cheese, baby beets, and greens you really can't go wrong.

Next came the entrees (I should also mention that PW order a scotch part way through the meal, because, you know, if we're all going to lose our jobs soon, we might as well go all out while we can. I mean, we'd already committed to an expensive meal, why not just throw some delicious, alcoholic frosting on top?). For her main course, BW got the fish burger, which (as the waitress informed us) was basically a crabcake made with striped bass instead of crab. It came with delicious (and crispy) fries and a fantastic saffron aioli. Better than the remoulade. I would bathe in it.

PW ordered the filet - it was perfectly cooked and had a great, thick reduction poured over it

and he also ordered a ""side" of French fries (the same as the ones that came with BW's food - crispy and all seasoned, mostly rosemary and salt...some other stuff, too). Now, I say "side" because it was basically another entree. And, we can eat, let me tell you. But that bitch kicked our asses - the more we ate, the more full the cone of fries seemed to become. See for yourself - here's the before:

And here's the after (don't worry, I'll get to the mac and cheese in a second:

The only way you can tell it's a different picture is that some of the mac and cheese is missing. Oh, and that mac and cheese was awesome. Lots of great cheesy flavor, but the crispy top really made it.

I had the striped bass "Grand Mere," which was a difficult decision, as I was also extremely interested in the rabbit paillard, but, ultimately decided that I should honor Ripert's skills and go with the seafood. It was a good choice. The bass was cooked perfectly and came with an assortment of great vegetables (potatoes, green beans, mushrooms, pearl onions) in a light, very flavorful broth. Unfortunately, due to the block of goat cheese and mac and cheese and trying everyone else's food, I wasn't able to eat it all. That's the only time I wished I has gotten the paillard, so I could bring it home and eat it later - reheated striped bass would not be right.

I should also add that our waitress was awesome. At some point during the entrees she brought us a free glass of champagne that was an extra from some other table at the restaurant (free liquor - sold!!). She also, very nicely, brought us a scoop of the coconut-avocado sorbet to taste, as there was no way in F any of us was eating dessert after that meal. But, when she explained the sorbet to us, we were all so intrigues, she brought us a taste - what did I tell you? Awesome.

After that, the night was spent recovering from eating too much and watching "Saturday Night Live" while realizing it will never be as good as it once was.

Provided we all still have jobs shortly, more restaurants are coming soon - I've set a goal of one new restaurant a month...let's see if I can keep it up. That's what she said.

(Also, I would like to thank BW for her pictures of the food - it was so dark in there and we didn't want to use the flash and look like complete hick-degenerates, so that's why the pictures are somewhat dark. However, if I had taken them, they would have been dark AND blurry, as I have the shaky hands. So, strong work, BW! I'm glad you have steady hands and like to stalk chefs, too!)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Chef Fangirl Alert!

Eric Ripert is with Anthony Bourdain on "No Reservations" at L2O right now!! I want to go to there!

You can now return to your regularly scheduled TV watching.