When the cat’s away, the mice will play, or so the saying goes.
My husband has been away for most of the week. I love my husband, but cooking for him is….well…..limiting. He won’t eat fish. He won’t eat cheese (except on pizza, in which case all he wants is cheese. Don’t ask.). He hates onions. He hates mushrooms. His general opinion about most vegetables other than green beans is “vegetables are what food eats.” It’s like having another picky toddler in the house. And it makes cooking interesting, fresh, healthy, innovative meals (the kind I love to eat) next to impossible.
When hubby leaves town, I am shameless in my desire to explore all the pleasures denied me when he’s around. I cook fish. I eat cheese. I go on a veritable vegetable orgy. For a week like this, where he will be gone seven whole days, I actually break out the cookbooks, plan menus and make a special trip to the grocery store. So over the past few days, I have been a cooking fool. I made pork and plantain stew in the crockpot. I made garlic sautéed shrimp tacos with avocado and tomato and cilantro. And in a coup de grace, I combined a Rick Bayless recipe for chipotle shrimp with a Tyler Florence recipe for corn pudding. I am not sure, but I may have actually reached orgasm while eating it. My own little culinary threesome. (Yeah, I know, I think I may have just crossed a line here….but I won’t apologize).
So having spent the last few days on a foodie bender, I am MORE than prepared for tonight’s episode of Top Chef Masters.
This episode will feature Michael Chiarello, founder of NapaStyle catalog, and the brains behind the only Napa restaurant that I really love beyond words, Tra Vigne. My issues with Napa chefs being well-documented in previous blogs, i won't go into it here. And I am perfectly willing to let Chiarello slide since I did love his restaurant so much.
So without further ado....here we go.....
10:00 -- So who else is here in the kitchen tonight? Rick Moonen, Nils Noren for starters.
10:01 -- Rick Moonen is big into seafood, and works for sustainability. I like that.
10:02 -- Nils Noren is a Swede, who runs the Culinary institute. Reggae band in Sweeden? Uh. Okay.
10:02 -- I'm not sure calling him "The real Swedish Chef" is actually a compliment. Bork de bork de bork....
10:03 -- LAchlan Patterson...Boulder boy! Mary, are you watching? he's a wunderkind, folks.....
10:04 -- Michael Chiarello hasn'e been on the line for a long time....he's been a TV chef.
10:05 -- I hate the way she introduces the Quickfire challenge. She is so damn stiff.
10:06 -- The junk food challenge. ugh.
10:06 -- Chiarello takes the fish sticks. There are two hot dogs.
10:07 -- The "Flipping Out" guy is the judge. God I HATE him. He's managed to turn having an obsessive compulsive disorder into a living.
10:08 -- Rick Moonen keeps telling us he's ADD. I'm finding that not hard to believe.
10:09 -- Chiarello is doing a fish meatball. I'm not sure this is going to make the grade.
10:10 -- Moonen didn't finish his dish. Nils of course, makes absolutely everything run on time. because that's what it means to be Swedish.
10:14 -- Lachlan's doing a hot dog soup?
10:15 -- Chiarello's interpreation is just a little literal.
10:15 -- Nils may have gotten a little overboard.
10:16 -- Moonen is taking it a little personal that people noticed he didn't finish in time.
10:17 -- Moonen gets no stars, so he is really behind the 8 ball. But Chirello only gets 4.5 stars.
10:18 -- The masters need to create a miniature three course meal....hors d'ouvre style. ALONE>
10:19 -- Nils is SWEDISH the way Ludo is FRENCH.
10:20 -- goat's milk gelato? Chiarello what are you smoking?
10:22 -- Chiarello's gelato is not setting.
10:25 -- Chiarello is struggling with his gelato. So he's getting Lachlan to teach him how to use the blast freezer.
10:26 -- Moonen is worried about production, as well he should be.
10:26 -- Nils is first to set up. Big surprise.
10:27 -- Nils is helping Moonen plate evertything. The poke tuna does look good.
10:28 -- Gosh, Kelly sounds almost bored introducing the critics. But I will say this. I really do LOVE her dress. It's gorgeous.
10:30 -- Lachlan's pineapple didn't do so good with the judges.
10:30 -- Nils's appetizer is really tiny, but apparently lots of flavor.
10:31 -- Moonen is perhaps acting a little too much in his interview segments.
10:32 -- Gael Greene is upset that there is a knife. Oseland agrees. What the fuck is a brandade? I don't understand Moonen's dish. But then again, I'm not able to actually eat it.
10:33 -- Lachlan's ribs go over VERY well. Nils's main course is this teeny tiny piece of salmon, and the judges are wowed by it.
10:34 -- Lachlan's dessert is beautiful. But then so is Lachlan. I think I am falling in love here.
10:35 -- Michael Chiarello is getting the GUEST to help him plate. The man is a born sales man.
10:35 -- Moonen is doing basically lemon custard.
10:36 -- Nils's dessert falls completely flat. It was too much of a challenge.
10:36 -- I'm seeing a lot of Project Runway alums in the crowd.
10:38 -- and now for the part of the evening you have all been waiting for.. the Chef I Want to Date. This week, it's kind of close. Michael Chiarello is the kind of guy who would charm you into bed easily enough, but for cute and sweet and talented and just plain adorableness, I am afraid the prize goes to Lachlan Patterson. Who's cooking dinner? Honestly, I think Rick Moonen. Mostly because I am an absolute SUCKER for a good poke tuna salad.
10:41 -- Am I dreaming or does Kelley seem a little harsh and nasty tonight?
10:41 -- Gael Greene is STILL on about the knife. Geez woman get over it already. And dude when your hair is that greasy, you should never complain of too much oil, ever.
10:42 -- Nils is going over well with his first two courses, but the dessert, holy crap. Nils is already making excuses for it. The bacon chocolate....ugh.
10:43 -- lachlan's pineapple is forgettable. The ribs are fantastic. And Lachlan, you can kiss me on a grill anytime, baby.
10:44 -- okay, maybe that last bit was over the line. But you can't be that cute and talk about kissing and not get me horny.
10:44 -- Moonen seems to be doing the best of all of them with respect to the food. And he'll need to, to get out of the hole he's in.
10:45 -- Note how they get wine to wait for results. Regular TC contestants get beer. If they are lucky.
10:46 -- shrimp of the gods?
10:46 -- The critics are just waxing poetic. They like everyone, it seems.
10:47 -- Lachlan's seems to be going over the worst. Rick's ceviche is fantastic. And they love the brandade. The judges are entirely impressed with him doing 300 separate panne cottas.
10:51 -- Rick Moonen apparently isn't acting....apparently he really is kind of a hot mess.
10:59 -- Chiarello wins. I'm really not sure how except that Rick started with no stars. I gotta say, Nils is a real gentleman.
so we've got the final grouping next week. I'm actually kind of salavating of the next phase. Next week, Art Smith, Oprah's chef.....