Thursday, March 20, 2008

And the Penguins win it!

Last night's Top Chef episode had them in groups for the first time. The quickfire challenge asked them to spend $25 on only five items from the farmer's market, and Mark won with his steak dish despite the fact he had left one of his items behind at the market. The groups were formed for the elimination challenge for a zoo event. Each group had an animal that they had to create a menu using items from those animals' actual diets. I was surprised the vulture team did so well, but it was Andrew and his penguin team that eventually won, with both his fun glacier gelee and tasty squid ceviche. I'm a huge fan of ceviche, but have yet to try it with squid. I'll bet it comes out less chewy than when it is cooked or raw. So this time the chef that was sent packing was Valerie, who did her olive blinis ahead of time making them less palatable. Unlike the other two in the bottom, she did not have a second menu item to redeem herself. I couldn't help but make the comparison between her and Rachel Dratch from SNL - I wonder if they are related???

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Ain't it funny...

That Joe Francis (of Girls Gone Wild fame) gets released from jail just in time for Spring Break? Ugh.

Top Chef begins!

The new season of Top Chef began last night, and I have so far been able to pick the winner from the first episode with each season. This season's group seems to have a bit more pedigree, but we'll have to see if that translates onto the plate. The quickfire pizza challenge was a little predictable seeing that they met in a pizza place - any of the contestants that were surprised by this should have studied the last few seasons a bit more carefully. The elimination challenge was interesting in that they immediately paired up some rivals. I couldn't help but laugh when Richard chose Andrew and then proceeded to show him up in every way. I can tell Andrew is going to be fun to watch. I felt bad for the two that had to make souffle' but as Tom said, you should be prepared to compete with at least the basics of food preparation, and souffle' is one that every culinary school graduate should be able to make. The challenge ended with Stephanie as the winner with her take on duck l'orange. The judges always seem to favor wild game that is well-prepared, and the color of the duck looked perfect. The eliminated party was Nimma, who presented a very boring-looking shrimp scampi which consisted of two shrimp and a puddle of cauliflower goo. Plus it was apparently really salty too - ick. Maybe she should have loosened up with the others and drank a little champagne, since she was only there for the one night.

I think they put a little too much emphasis on the lesbian couple - I don't really think it should effect the others much. I am expecting big things from Dale, Jennifer, Lisa and Stephanie, but my pick for season winner is Richard, who seems to have an impressive wealth of knowledge, an ability to remain cool under pressure, a sense of good sportsmanship, and he doesn't come across as cocky, just confident. We'll see...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Food, food, food...

Perhaps in anticipation of the newest season of Top Chef starting this week, it was most definitely the weekend of eating out for me. Starting out on Friday night with a very filling dinner at El Rodeo Mexican restaurant in north Houston, I had a smothered snapper (everything is good covered in cheesy sauce!) and a very interesting drink that seemed like a cross between a margarita and a spicy bloody mary.

On Saturday night we had a lovely (but pricey) dinner at Smith & Wollensky. The atmosphere is nice, the service is excellent, and the food is good, but not nearly good enough to demand the high prices they do. I'm sure a lot of the price has to do with the name of the restaurant, but inflating wine prices and charging $40 for a bland cut of beef with no sides included is a bit much.

We rounded out the weekend with a bit of Korean barbeque at Seoul Garden in the Little Korea part of town. With a couple of appetizers and the thin-sliced marinated beef for two, we were stuffed! Great end to a weekend of eating... now, off to the treadmill!