Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Four, If You're Counting

Spoiler Alert
I'm going to go out on a limb and make a prediction for next season. It doesn't matter who goes home in the next Restaurant Wars episode, they will not go home because of their food. Put it on the board, mock me if I'm wrong.

(I'm not.)

They start the episode with a recap of last week's episode, and so will I, just as though you haven't read my recap of last week. (Insert awkward silence here.)

Oh, hey. It's Hung, so the quickfire is to make a dish really fast without stabbing anyone.

What the hell? Don't they teach these clowns how to use a can opener in culinary school? Fair warning, if you open a can with one of my knives, I'm probably going to use it to cut you so bad you wish I no cut you so bad. If you're planning to audition for next season, tuck a can opener in with your knives instead of one of those stupid herb smoking dealies. Word to the wise? You're always going to look like a pretentious tool when you're trying to use saran wrap to hold smoke on top of your food, but when the other chefs are trying to hack their way into a can and you bring that bad boy out and zip your can open in 5 seconds, you'll look like a genius. I recommend the OXO Softworks (as seen in the Deadspot kitchen), because it's got nice fat comfortable grips, it's got a built-in bottle opener, and in a pinch, you can grip an uncooperative twist off top between the non-slip handles and it works like a charm to get it open. You gonna buy one or what? I can't do this all day.

Crabman reluctantly decides to help Bork. That probably won't bite him in the ass. Personally, I'd have been a jackass. "This Spam, Bork? You want this piece of Spam? The Spam that I'm licking right now? Mmmmm, I love me some Spamjuice..." If I'd had the time, I may have even come up with a little dance to go with it. Then again, I have a genetic predisposition for jackassery, and he seems to be a decent, caring human being. Your mileage may vary. In my defense, the Universe is, you may have noticed, a bitch, so of course Bork narrowly wins immunity over Crabman.

Lesson for the day: Virtue is its own punishment.

Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch

OK, I've been giving Luigi a lot of stick this season, partly because it's fun, and partly because I think he's a mediocre chef who's coasting on his accent, but I can't disagree with what he said about taking care of animals. I, too, would like animals to be happy right up until they become food. Well said, Luigi.

Team Chicken is all about the cock, baby. This is, after all, Bravo.

Hair Product makes fried green tomatoes out of some stuff he found on the ground and it turns out to be the best thing on the plate. This does not speak highly of the rest of Team Pork.

Crabman and Sexy Pants let Jersey Girl take the lamb. She won with lamb before, and it's not like she got carried by the rest of her team and had to be bailed out by everyone on the show, right? I mean, that would be crazy.



Mini-Radicchio creeps us all out with his necrobeastiphilia fantasies and we never want to eat anything again ever. OK, that was unfair. He was actually talking about the lamb, so it would technically be pedonecrobestiphilia, which makes it totally acceptable. In any case, if you're dining with Mini-Radicchio, you may want to ask about the vegetarian options.

Or not. I don't know your life.

Once again we have an episode without a winner. On Team Chicken, everybody wins. There's no middle team; everybody else loses. Jersey Girl goes home for her Lamb Krueger, and we all laugh.

Caught up now? All is forgiven? On with the show...

The chefs pitch their restaurant concepts to Chefstar! for the Quickfire round. Chefstar! has opened a lot of restaurants, so the chefs will want to impress Chefstar!

Luigi's high concept is apparently that you can pay the bills by selling sandwiches. His is made of thinly sliced steak and melted cheese on a roll. He's offended by Chefstar!'s suggestion that it resembles cheesesteak, which leads me to believe that Luigi has never actually seen one.

Starbuck has a vision of the future. She will lead the twelve colonies to... what? Wrong Starbuck? Sorry, I meant to say that she doesn't want to win this Quickfire because one of the winners is probably going home.

Chefstar! chooses Sexy Pants and Chutney as the winners, and they get to pick their teams, gym class style. Right off the bat, Sexy Pants grabs Crabman. Figuratively, that is. You know... for now.

Ha. Bork is the last one picked. Nobody likes you, Bork.

Crabman, Sexy Pants, You're Go For Throttle Up
Remember that countdown to the relationship-destroying scene being caught on camera? You can stop counting now. Do you think the cameraman felt like an awkward perv filming that? I hope so, because I felt like an awkward perv watching it.

War! What Is It Good For?

What's the deal with non-functional equipment this season? We had the fridge failure in the xmas episode, last week the ovens weren't working, and this week it's the freezers. For those of us keeping track at home, that's a major equipment failure in one-third of the episodes. Are they screwing with the chefs on purpose, or are the production team getting into the cooking sherry instead of doing their jobs?

Oh, sure, Sexy Pants has pliers, but nobody had a can opener last week? Really?

Time's up! The judges arrive and no matter what the teams serve up, the best thing we'll see tonight has got to be Padma's fabulous gams. Rawr! ...and now I've creeped everyone out. I don't care because a) as far as I'm concerned, stockings with seams down the back can make a comeback whenever they darned well please, and b) Padma is pretty much on the show because she's hot, just in case anyone forgot.

Another round of awkward silence? I'm done now.

The Judges begin with Restaurant Chutney. Starbuck's soup starts things off on a high note, and things continue to go reasonably well until the dessert, when there are problems with missing silverware and Stretch's not-so-frozen yogurt. The judges do a dine and dash while Chutney's in the kitchen trying to sort out the problems with the waitstaff.

Team Sexy Pants is a mirror image of Team Chutney. Luigi brings the smarm, but the food is utter crap until the desserts. The judges send back the undercooked fish and refuse a replacement plate. Back in the kitchen, Sexy Pants melts down over her Cod Salmonella and Crabman goes in for a hug. Rejected! Ha! Take the shame!

By this point, Stretch's abysmal dessert and the wretched fare at Team Sexy Pants have erased the memory of Starbuck's lovely soup and Hair Product's delectable chickpea cake that wowed them at the start of the evening. With the judges' expectations at their nadir, Bork serves up some nice desserts and suddenly we have a competition again.

Absolutely Nothin!
OK, remember that time I said something nice about Luigi? I take it all back. Luigi is this season's Brian the Talking Dog, and the sooner he goes home the better. Congratulations, you have an accent and a suit. You bore me. Go the hell home already.

The difference in the restaurants came down to the fact that Chutney is an introvert who prefers to be in the kitchen and thrives under pressure (She and Sexy Pants have won more Quickfires than any other chef with three each, and Chutney has never been in the bottom of an elimination challenge.), while Luigi is a smarmy, outgoing wanker with an accent and Ricardo Montalban's suit. I'm curious to see how the comment cards stacked up when you eliminate all of the comments that had nothing to do with the food, since this is, or so we've been told, a cooking competition.

Full disclosure: I'm an introvert who would rather be in the kitchen than making nice with the guests, and I don't own a white suit.

Bork wins this episode of Top Maitre De by dint of the fact that Stretch's complete meltdown (ha, see what I did there?) left him with no competition for his desserts, but mostly because someone on his team has to win and the rest of his team sucked ass. Monkey ass. On an empty clam shell.

Although nobody actually spit it out, Sexy Pants becomes the fourth chef this season to advance with completely inedible food, so kudos to her. No seriously, give Sexy Pants some Kudos, because she's probably hungry and it's not like she can eat that fish she made. Is it time to re-evaluate the whole "everybody on the winning team gets immunity" thing?

Chutney goes home, and I blame Stretch. She blames herself too, but no so much that she (as other chefs in this situation have done) falls on her sword. Or her Wusthof Classic 8" Chef's Knife. Whatever. Metaphorically, it's a sword, and it remains unfallen upon.

I'm a little torn. Chutney certainly didn't do anything to help herself. In retrospect, she probably should have put Hair Product in front of house, and she should have told Stretch to stick to her mad pastry skills. Should she get a complete pass? I don't know. She'd certainly be a lot easier to defend if she'd cooked something--anything!--but in an episode when the winner made mango on a stick, and the worst dish of the night doesn't even get considered for elimination, I'm calling bullshit.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Speed Recap

Last Week
Really, Top Chef? The Diet Dr. Pepper Quickfire Challenge? Is it time for me to renew my call for eliminating all of the stupid corporate naming rights in exchange for making the chefs wear ASSCAR-inspired, logo-covered chef's whites? I still don't get what the name had to do with the challenge. Did Jersey Girl actually use Diet Dr. Pepper in her dish or was she kidding?

Speaking of challenges, did anyone else think this wasn't a challenge at all? Make a sweet treat without sugar. Wow. Way to show your chops. No kidding, fruit is sweet? Thanks, Alton. That said, I'm a little bit astonished that Stretch thought she could get those bananas to freeze during the challenge without the use of liquid nitrogen.

So Chutney won immunity, which turned out to be very good for her.

They follow up the weak Quickfire challenge with a weak elimination challenge. The producers brainstorm, shrug, and phone it in. The chefs have plenty of cash and can make whatever they want.

Fabio failed to see anything funny in bitching about Starbuck's scallops while making ravioli, but I'm guessing he's the only one.

They finally did a blind judging, which was good, but they let the judges cook whatever they want and they did it so late in the season that it was probably obvious who made most of the dishes. Mini-Radicchio may have been the only one in the dark, and he didn't know the contestants anyway, which made the exercise just a teensy bit pointless.

I thought the new judge was Radicchio's Mini-Me because he seemed to be suffering from a savage case of Tiny Man Syndrome. This week, however, I saw them walking around together and he appears to be life-sized. Hunh. He's overcompensating for something; I just assumed it was being a little bald man.

Mini-Radicchio tries hard, but he's all set-up and no punchline. His comments aren't nearly as entertaining as he thinks, but least we can go grab a snack without missing anything important while he's slowly wandering toward the pay-off. What's that? No, I have no comment on the state of the kettle, why do you ask?

In the end, Top Dishwasher and the Mouse go home, Stretch escapes elimination, and Starbuck is finally Top Scallop, bitches!

(administrivia)With a little luck, I'll get another recap up before Wednesday night and I'll be all caught up.(/administrivia)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Afternoon Snack: The Vending Machine and I

"Oh?" I look askance,
"Wheat Crackers with Cheddar Cheese?
I beg to differ."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

So Much To Mock, So Little Time

There was just so much wrong with this episode, but sadly I have just not had the time to do it justice. From the Diet Dr. Pepper Quickfire to Radicchio's new mini-me and his sad, over-the-top attempts to bring the heat, it was chock-full of mind boggling juicy goodness.

I am going to have to phone this one in with a mini-snynopsis next week. I hope that will be the last time.

Until then, ponder my new favorite oxymoron: "British food critic". Sure, the words make sense individually, and you can even pair them up sensibly. It's only when you insist upon putting all three together that the whole thing goes south.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Meme, Myself, and I

Belle tagged me to reveal 10 things about myself, and because I found Richard Scarry's Easiest Way To Post Ever while searching my blog, I will once again pierce the veil of secrecy.

One through Eight

9. I'm delightful. It's true, Kristi said so.

10. I'm inordinately fond of haiku, and can be convinced to compose it at the drop of a hat. I once did an entire Top Chef recap in haiku just to see if I could.

I'm also rather fond of the phrase "Richard Scarry's blankest blank Ever." That's a bonus fact, no extra charge.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

More Letters To Politicians

Harry Reid sent me email today. You'll note that I was far too polite to point out that he'd called me "Dear SUSAN" (his all caps). I'm sure he'll see my signature and recognize his little faux pas. There's no need to embarrass him by dwelling on it. That would just be rude. Because I've been taught that it is polite to respond to personal correspondence, I did so, and because I have a genetic propensity for jackassery, I thought I would share it with you.


Dear Harry,

I notice that you mentioned that you seated 7 instead of 8 senators yesterday, and I was hoping you could help me out with a little question I have.

Could you explain where, exactly, the Illinois constitution provides a role for a senator from Nevada in the process for filling a vacancy in an Illinois senate seat? Can't find it? Neither could I. I wonder if we could perhaps find a former Illinois Attorney General willing to weigh in on the matter, because I'm pretty sure he would have a better grasp on the fine points of Illinois constitutional law than you or I.

You may want to take advantage of this special, limited-time offer to sit down and shut the hell up, but if you continue to interfere where you have no legal mandate to do so, I hope you'll consider continuing these little e-mail chats from jail.

Happy New Year.

Your pal,

Illinois Democrat since 1984