Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Top Chef 6 Finale Part II

This finale definitely has some meaner elements than in previous years.

For instance, the random way of choosing sous chefs and having absolutely no say. This seems unfair way. Kevin really got hosed...has his luck finally run out? I mean, Pritti, really? Ash might be OK. Brian got the strongest hand -- Ashley was really underrated and he seems to appreciate her.
And Kevin badmouthing Pritti (or however you pronounce her name) -- his bitchface finally shows up. Has he ever said anything negative about another chef before? The stress must be really bad.

Did not recognize Jessie with her blonde hair.

Kevin's mom sounds like a cigarette and whiskey kind of gal, with that smokey voice. Kevin looked completely different without a beard. Bryan and Michael's mom was really lovely as a young woman and the boys were very cute towheads.

During a live chat at the Washington Post this a.m. -- since they're local boys -- the brothers joked that their Mom was rooting for Kevin because that meant neither son was edging out the other. Wonder if there was another underlying theme there. Also wonder if they did the live chat yesterday because they knew neither won.

Think Bryan had some sweat trickling on his forehead when he heard who the judges were. Once again he underseasons it.

Bryan definitely is not winning. It's going to be a throwdown between Michael and Kevin.

So Bryan did well on two courses, Michael on two or three, and Kevin definitely had two. But his wasn't the "chef's choice," which might edge out everything else.

Or the editors are monkeying with our brains. Which they like to do. I'm still peeved about how they made you think Lisa edged out Richard Blais when the judges were arguing all night between Blais and Stephanie.

I honestly have no idea who is going to win.

1. Kevin

2. Michael

3. Bryan

4.  Bryan

But Michael took risks and had admirable flavors in almost all his dishes. Almost all of his dishes had some element that people liked.

Kevin probably came in number 3. So is the winner Bryan or Michael. For personal reasons, I'm rooting for Bryan. But I recognize Michael's talent and his genius at finding creative ways of doing things. For instance, I'd love to try his fried broccoli.

Yep, Kevin was the first down. Poor guy, after leading the whole way -- to choke at the end. I'm not unhappy that Michael won, but I still wish it was Kevin or Bryan who had.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Top Chef 6 Finale Part I

Whoo hoo! Best season of Top Chef ever.

My friend J and I took the Napa Valley Wine Train...she does a lot of freelance for airline magazines so we got a few freebies, including the train, a bistro (owned by Thomas Keller) and a resort. The train was sort of fun, the food OK, the tour....well, touristy.

Note that Padma has water instead of wine. I like grapes as fruit. I don't like them mixed with other things. Especially in entrees. So I probably would have wanted to try Michael's because he used grape leaves, something I love. And wine sauce. Plus grapes. And good on Jennifer for using other favors really well. I hoped she was going to win the Prius since Chiarelli said he was going to put it on his menu. But Michael did use the widest variety of grapes.

Someone suggested that Kevin was really good at playing the usual Top Chef game, being a little conservative and realizing limits. But in the finale, you have to go all out. So I'm guessing it might really come down to the brothers. Jennifer seems good but lacks flash. Same with Kevin...he can manage complex flavors but can he really wow?

Jen's getting the loser edit here. And she's making her usual mistake of not knowing where she wants to go.

It's funny how they all fall back into their usual patterns, despite the three-month hiatus. Bryan always seems overly ambitious ands ends up in the weeds. Jen always seems a little unfocused. Michael always wants to show off. Kevin always does what he loves.

I have to agree with Michael about fresh eggs. Our farmer's market had an Amish (or Mennonite?) vendor that provided fresh eggs. I may never be able to eat normal eggs ever again. The yolks really are orange, instead of yellow. And they do have more flavor. My ambition, once the season begins again, is to learn how to make pasta using fresh eggs.

Hmmmmmm. They're not offering a lot of criticism. The judging is going to come down to minor details, like the lack of seasoning in Bryan's food, the runnyness of Michael's eggs, the "ropiness" of Kevin's beef. Liked all the talk of the "ducky duckiness" of Jen's duck.

I'm the vineyard, they raved about Jen's duck, now they're blasting it at judge's table. What's up with that? But as much as I love Jen, if it comes down to her or Kevin, I'll pick her to go. Bryan seems the clear winner from the discussion at judges' table.

But the editing monkeys could be deceiving us. During season 4 finale, they made it seem as though the difficult choice was between Stephanie and Lisa, when it was between Richard and Stephanie.

Bryan has the nerdiest laugh. But congrats!

Dang. Sorry to see her leave. And their reasoning actually seems kind of lame.  But it's so great to have talented chefs that there is no one you're rooting against  because they're not as good as the others, as in other seasons. Being jerks, on the other hand....

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Top Chef 6.12

What I love about Top Chef are the things I learn about cooking. I didn't know turducken was a ballantine. I didn't know what a ballantine was. Now I want to try it. This was a v. cool quickfire too. And I'm now officially rooting against Michael V., despite his talent. There's arrogance, and then there is Arrogance. And he's it with a capital A. And I hate all the digs at Kevin. Guess what, Michael. Tom Colicchio, the head judge for Top Chef, would rather have something cooked simply and deliciously than something gee-whiz that has no soul.

The editing on this is very ominous for Kevin. The digs by Michael. The joke from Kevin about packing his bag. The doing something he's never done before.

Thomas Keller's restaurant, French Laundry, in Napa Valley is booked up like six months in the future. J and I, when she was writing a travel article about Napa, got to eat gratis at his little bistro that had only opened a few weeks? months? before we arrived. It was excellent. I know from now becoming a foodie -- thanks Top Chef! -- that he's considered a god.

Both Brian and Jennifer are so gracious. Brian gave advice to Kevin and Jennifer helped Brian despite not having finished hers. Though I hadn't noticed that Brian has a nervous laugh. This is the first time he's been filmed this way.

See, Michael, a true pro like Thomas Keller can be firm in criticisms without being dickish about others' talent. Your Arrogance masks some insecurity. There's a Las Vegas chef who's been blogging about the competition for Las Vegas weekly and his most recent post noted the three stages of chefdom. He was focusing on Eli being in the "know it all" middle stage, but Michael still has some of it. He also says: "Mike V: the culinary world does not revolve around molecular and trick cooking. There are more comfort diners than hipster diners."

Is it editing or did they find strength and weakness in each of the dishes. So which is more important, successful cooking? Technique? Visual presentation? Even though Kevin's was tasty and cooked perfectly, it was too simple. Jennifer's was beautiful visually but other things weren't successful. Brian's had almost everything except perfect cooking.

Wow!!!! Kevin won. Yay.

The right person lost. The Four Horsemen ride on to the finals.

Top Chef last week

So I was too lazy to get my computer to blog, especially since it meant unplugging S's connection. We really need to get that new computer and get rid of that ancient hulk with the inert mouse.

Anyway, thought the elimination challenge was a fun idea, but they chose some really boring hotels. What about Caesar's Palace? The Luxor? And Robin, hello? The famous dancing fountains?!! Excalibur, Circus Circus, New York, New York, shudder. I did dislike Las Vegas. It was a grimy, grownup Disney World. Poor Latinos, probably paid pennies, trying to foist fliers for strip clubs on all men, including the ones holding their wives'/girlfriends' hands. It was a mistake to go there after Death Valley. Too much humanity and noise.

I was glad to see Robin go, though if they sent Eli home, I wouldn't have been sorry since he's such a little troll. But he does have some talent, so finally, at last, they get rid of the one person who definitely had no chance to win. Not that Eli does, though he could manage to slip into the Top 3. ugh. I was really nervous about the previews for tonight with Kevin doing something he normally doesn't. That's always a recipe for disaster. Especially when it's sous vide. Kevin, you were playing the game so well? Why would you pull a risky move now?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Quick lunchtime post about Project Runway

Fell asleep yet again! but woke up and turned on tv to watch it in wee hours. OK, I was sleep-blurred, so maybe my judgment off, but the judging sucked lemons big time. Gordana was robbed. that is all.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Top Chef 6.10

Way to start out, hitting the wrong damn button.

Today my personal trainer had me do that swim thing Robin did a couple of eps ago. It's surprisingly hard. Works out your lower back in a good way. Of course you'll be moaning in agony if you do it more than 30 seconds. But the PT gave it her own sadistic twist. 30 seconds of "swimming" followed by 10 seconds holding in one place -- three times. And then three sets of it. My back will be hurting tomorrow. At least it will help me with the bow poses in Bikram yoga.

What is up with Padma and onesies? Her quickfire clothes have been remarkably ugly this season. Hey, Eli, ever heard of TVLand. Gilligan's Island lives on your 52-inch tv. Not that I'd ever watch it.

If looks could kill, Kevin would be dead, dead, dead, judging from the lasers shooting from Bryan's eyes. The restaurants of Bryan and Mike I, by the way, were just named among the top 50 restaurants in DC area by Washington Post critic Tom Sietsama. From the description of the food, Bryan's very inventive on his own.

They're planning meat dishes...little do they know they're cooking for a vegetarian, or maybe even a vegan. Natalie Portman's column in the Huff Post was pretty offensive, drawing a parallel about speaking out about eating meat to your host to whether you should speak out if your host is a rapist. Huh? This also coming from someone who signed the petition supporting Roman Polanski.

Hmm, almost everyone seems in the weeds. So Robin and Mike I are the confident ones about cooking a vegetarian meal. That's usually the kiss of death. I'm guessing Mike I is in worse trouble because his leeks look uuuuuuggggleeeeee. (hee-hee, hoho, haha, will he be going home?) And yes, his leeks were undercooked.

But then Jen once again is showing a lack of confidence because of the eggplants she had to use, so who knows.

Ok, maybe it would have been better for Robin if she hadn't served her garbanzo beans!

The guest chef is hilarious and I wish had spent less time ruminating and more time paying attention.

Michael gets another Picasso ref. So he's an artist.

Well, at least Jenn's was delish.

Oooooo, dirty double-entendres! For robotically handsome Bryan's dish!

Kevin's definitely doesn't look pretty but it sounds as though it's pretty filling. But Natalie is now a vegan, so all that butter would have gone to waste on her now.

What was Eli's again? Something eggplant. I think he got good reviews.

So the chef is someone I haven't heard of, so it doesn't matter that I didn't catch his name during QF. Yeah, Kevin's a man who likes his food. We couldn't guess?

Kevin wins again! Though he keeps winning the crappy prizes.

Michael, you are Jekyll & Hyde. Sore loserman.

Robin assumes that's her problem too. Yikes, if that is the way she talks all the time, no wonder she drives the others batty.

I think Jenn is OK because at least hers tasted good. It sounded as though Mike I's and Robin's were not tasty.

YES!!!!! Then again, that leaves Robin there one more episode. Yep, this season's Wendy, Lisa, etc.

Previews: ruh-roh, is Michael in trouble? I think he's a donkey, but he is very talented, so I'd hate to see him go. Of course, it's never the person they feature in the it?

Top Chef 6.10

Friday, October 23, 2009

Brief project runway

Milla Jovovich may be the best celebrity non-fashionista they've had because she made good, constructive criticism. and she was teary-eyed about aufing someone.

Just love Heidi telling Gordiana that she needed to be more self-confident when it was probably Heidi's sniping that crushed her self-confidence.

Not sorry to see Nicolas go. Wonder if he knew it was in the cards because he was remarkably gentle in his comments about other designers last night. He thinks he's over the top but uses way too much white and gray. Look up Chris March sometime, Nick. He can teach you OTT.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Top Chef 6.9

After re-watching the last episode and having read Tom's blog and an interview with Toby, I'm having bad vibes about restaurant wars. What if Bryan goes home? Both Tom and Toby hinted it's a shocker and I'm afraid Kevin's comments about Michael pushing Bryan's buttons and detonating a time bomb in his head.

This blind relay race is fun. Watching the lead chefs stew as the second ones follow is amusing. and you're learning about chefs' thought processes as they're cooking. This particular race really shows the technical aspects of cooking.

Poor Jennifer. I'll have to go back and see what she said originally about the fish -- trout or sablefish? ETA: yep, she said black cod when she picked the fish. Braaaaiiin fart! Gotta hate it when that happens. and at 49, trust me when I say it happens more and more the older you get.

I take back my fear about Bryan. He wasn't the captain of the team, so I don't see how he's the one to go home. Now I'm worried about the other team. Whenever a team is confident of itself, that's when they screw up. Neither of my faves can go home!

Interesting that Laurine wasn't part of the planning. And Eli's untucked shirt looks slacker. I like that they don't have to worry about decor and FOH has to do a dish this time.

Poor Robin. I think she was trying to kid around and people still take it wrong. But she was in the wrong on that whole dessert thing. Michael, while being douchy about it, was trying to help.

I'm getting more and more nervous about the Mission crew. They're starting to look disorganized and now I'm afraid Jen's going home. She's pulled this stunt before where she thinks she's in the weeds and pulls it out but this looks much more ominous. And Kevin having to do all the meat courses can't be good either. Especially if he's having to rely on a marinade from Laurine, who is a weak link on the team. And Laurine is a caterer so not experienced with running a restaurant. Otherwise, not doing dessert seems smart to me.

At first, watching the first team, Revolt seemed to be a little in the weeds, but the Mission team is looking like it's flaming out. I'm guessing now that Jennc is in big trouble. But will Laurine's mishandling of the FOH work against her? Hate the skirt. When you're short, you have to be careful about pairing short dresses with flats.

I'm definitely guessing that Mission lost. So is it Jennc or Laurine? I would vote for Laurine, but I'm prejudiced that way.

Someone in the Top Chef production room definitely doesn't like Michael V! But I laughed and laughed. He is that weird combo -- he can be nice and professional one minute and total donkeyhat the next.

Ok, Michael V is being a nice guy by sharing the money. It's interesting that Robin chooses judges' table to be assertive about her hand in the dessert. The biggest bummer is Eli's swelled head probably gets a little bit bigger.

The Voltaggio bros definitely have issues they need to resolve. Michael did do a nice thing and Bryan should be accepting of it. This could be Cain and Abel. Or Jacob and Esau. Or any other sibling rivalry. Wonder how far apart they are in age?

Thank god. She was going home sooner or later anyway. Tom and Toby were unnecessarily scaring us. Maybe they were talking about next week.

RE: preview. Mike I, curb your lust. And maybe the two Ts were talking about the upcoming ep.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Project Runway

I've been feeling grumpy about Project Runway of late, which is why I haven't posted too much. Too many of the challenges have been "make something pretty!" and not nearly enough Nina and Michael. 

I was bummed Shirin was aufed last night. I haven't liked much of the designers' work this season, but yours was the ones that I occasionally loved. You seemed bubbly and sweet as well.

And I really, really, really hate Irina. Maybe even more than Wendy or Kenley. Look up w-i-t-c-h and her scowling face will be looking at you. Hey Irina, watch out, that look could give you some ugly facial lines when you get older. Witch.

OTOH, it was a fun challenge. Christina Aguilera and Bob Mackie in one episode. Too bad people still kept thinking red carpet.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Top Chef 6.8

The theme of Pinot and Pigs sounds intriguing. I love Pinot and who doesn't love pork (unless you're a devout Jew or Muslim, of course)?

I was surprised Robin said she was doing pilates because some of it looked like yoga. The swimming thing was weird. 

Charlie Palmer! he has a steak house right here on the Hill. Never been. It's more a place for high-priced lobbyists to take Congress critters to woo them to their cause...It's supposed to be terrific food and they have a rooftop happy hour on Thursdays, which would be a fantastic view of the Capitol.

Oh dear, Jen's on the bottom. But she was the last time and ended up winning the challenge.

Eli is an immature baby. He's coming close to swiping Mike I's douchehat crown. 

Kevin is the nicest sweetest member of the household. He has a nice, indirect way of saying Robin annoys him too, without actually saying so. 

I feel sorry for Robin. She's older than everyone else and has tics that apparently annoy her housemates. Her restaurant is, per reports, hugely popular so she must not be totally clueless. I hope a Marcel type situation isn't developing.

Michael is being very immature to his brother. Whoever said he's trying to push his brother's buttons is probably right.

I'm guessing Ash, Laurine and Robin will be on the bottom. Eli shows his own overly inflated opinion of himself. Wonder if he ends up on the bottom too, because his food didn't match his wine. Hah!

Mike I is in the middle again. Neener, neener!

Toby is confusing me. Hairy armpits, shaved pits. whaaaah?

Love Kevin. I'm having such a hard time deciding who to root for. Kevin is sweet and talented. Jenc is tough and talented. Bryan is the hometown boy because I refuse to acknowledge Mike I as a hometown kid to root for.

Immaturity is the theme for this evening. They might be talented, but they have some growing up to do.

Laurine is probably going home. So some more bullying of "grandma" (was that Eli or Mike I, grrrrrrrr) is going to happen next week. Robin should just let 'er rip if they snipe at her one more time. Eli is reminding me way too much of smarmy Ilan.

More immaturity. ack. C'mon guys. I was really enjoying this season for its lack of personal drama....Michael has just entered my blacklist as well.

Huh. Ash is going home, not that he shouldn't have gone home earlier. But that means more bullying on the horizon. Want to bet Robin does a Lisa, Wendy, and ends up in the top 3?

Top Chef 6.7

Last week was the week from hell at work. I ran a conference on Tuesday and then had a board meeting Friday and Saturday. Too much intensity. Watched TC from bed and was way too sleepy to pull out the laptop.

Last week's TC also was painful because I really liked Ashley and was sorry to see her go, especially when Eli and Ash basically didn't do anything and it was Eli's fault the gnocchi was salty.

OTOH, my favorite pair were on the top and Jennc finally won an elimination challenge. Tom Colicchio says she actually had a fever. One assumes (and hopes) she did a lot of handwashing. But how cool and tough was it for her to plow on despite the illness and not using it as an excuse.

Other observations. 

Wow, Robin's chattiness would be really annoying. But not annoying enough for Mike I. to have been such a donkeyhat.

Padma's green disco pants and shirt would land her on worst-dressed lists. That was fuuuuugly.

Tyler Florence has only a limited number of adjectives and he uses them ad nauseum. 

Brian was unnecessarily snippy to Kevin about his brother. 

Eli talks a big game and likes to trash others a lot, but has little to show for it.

Ash has a man crush, Ash has a man crush.

And for all of Jenc's toughness in the confession booth, she was bawling when Ashley was sent home.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

top Chef 6.6

So is Robin getting a future villain edit or is it going to be a repeat of Marcel where the "cool kids" gang up on her? Eli can be very funny, but sometimes very hateful and I think he went a little too far -- Michelle Bernstein wasn't judging on cancer. She praised the cleanness and the simplicity of the dish before Robin even mentioned the Big C. The honoring of Mattin was cute. I noticed Robin didn't get a scarf. Did they run out? She did wear a red ribbon. Noticed Michael didn't applaud when she won. 

Laurine seems to be getting the loser edit. Ron probably is, too. Poor guy seems a little clueless. Language issues.

Sometimes I love Penn & Teller and sometimes loathe. It's sort of my love/hate relationship with libertarianism (or is hate/love?). First Amendment issues, yay! Boo on the sneers against religion.

Mike I comes across as more likeable this ep. The Washington Post had an article about his wedding. Interesting to this feminist: he never cleans. He used to pay his cooks to clean for him. When his fiancee moved in, she took over the cleaning job.

Of course Jen way underestimated her abilities. Glad to see her do meat. 

So Ron, Laurine and Ash look on the bottom. I'm guessing Michael, Kevin and .... Ashley? Jen? Eli? Good for Ashley and the pot roast. And Jen. Michael cracks a smile! Are we starting to see emotions from the V bros?

Who cannot love Kevin? He's so gracious and enthusiastic even when he gets a lousy prize.

I'm guessing probably Ron, maybe Ash as knifed.

Yep, Ron. Seems like a sweet guy but didn't seem to be at the same level as other chefs.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Project Runway

Combo post:
Last week -- favorite line -- Heidi's quip about you aged her 10 years, and for a model, that's like dog years.
And I really miss Michael Kors and Nina Garcia. I don't know what the judges were smoking to give the win to Althea. It should have gone to Carol Hannah.

This week:

I knew it, the minute I heard black and white! Heidi looked like a Venetian gondolier. Just lacking the little scarf.

Poor LA Times, how the mighty have fallen. It used to be a kickass paper. It, like too many papers, has become a ghost of its former self. But that has nothing to do with the challenge.

Hearing a lot of origami is it original?

Added on Wednesday, Sept. 23.
Well, dang, fell asleep and never saw the rest, only the end when Tim was saying something about how ridiculous Johnny's claims on the runway were.  Tried to watch on Friday and fell asleep yet again. I guess Johnny lied, but was his lie that much horribly worse than Keith's smuggling in of design books? I mean, it's not what the hype made it to be. You oversold, Lifetime.

Top Chef 6.5

So we have a Greenacres type setup here where if one computer has the modem, the other can't go online even though it's wireless. And S had to work until midnight in the office last night, so I couldn't blog.

But thoughts about this episode. Lesson #110 for Top Chef contestants. If you are on the losing panel of chefs, don't say you don't understand or you're surprised that you're here. It's almost a guarantee that you will be sent home. I think that's why Mattin got knifed. Robin manned up and admitted her mistakes, he didn't. 

But after last week, I can't shed a tear for the little Basque snake. Au Revoir.

Camping must have been awful -- and I want to know what sanitary setup they had. I wouldn't want someone using an outhouse cooking my food.

And cooking in 110 degrees. Ugh. I would have a hard time eating if I were picnicking in 110 degree heat. But these are hardy folk. And I liked the sophisticated commentary at such a "roughing it" type of meal. The one guy sounded like a restaurant critic. 

Michael V came across as a bit peevish in this ep...guess being on the bottom really smacked him hard.

Ashley does have an air of competency that makes you suspect she's better than she's done so far. But I wish she would wash her hair. 

And Kevin and horseshoes, too cute. Also, guest judge Tim Love looks as though he's related to Jimmie Johnson. They have that same exact smile.

Now I'm aiming to get to Frederick one of these days....and Bryan cracked a smile!

Edited to add: And ceviche is this season's scallop. If they keep this up, the judges will never want to go near another ceviche for the rest of their lives. Or tuna tartar/napoleon.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Top Chef 6.4

Daniel freaking Boulud. He's almost as charming as Eric Ripert. But snails, escargot. wev. I have to admit I've never had the guts to try snails. I'll eat anything except offal and snails. Even the occasional brussel sprouts though something about the bitterness sets my mouth on edge. 

Jen was worrying me with her "I'm scared" speech. Should have known. Go Kevin. Bacon jam. yum. How could you go wrong with bacon jam?

Three more women down on the bottom. This is a real nailbiter. Maybe poor Jesse should be put out of her misery, but it was sounding like Ashley's the likely nominee. Nope, it's Jesse. That was inevitable. I wouldn't have bet in Las Vegas against her. But I liked the concept because it was edge-of-your-seat time.

Joel Robuchon. Wow. Who's next? Thomas Keller? Sigh. Wish I had the moola to try this kind of food.

OK, loser edits. Ashley/ Mattin, Ron/Robin. Please don't let it be another woman going home. 

Quote of the day: "Haitians and French go way back. We don't much like each other." (I'm going to have to check my brand spanking new DVR!!! tomorrow to doublecheck this quote. It's the gist of Ron's thick accent.)

Jennifer and Michael look so efficient. Robin is really hyper.

Damn. Mike I is on a winning team. But he's with Bryan, who I like. Do I root for or against?

Oh dear, Mattin's defensiveness doesn't sound good. To hear the master chefs, nope, not good. 

Throwing up seems to be a theme tonight!

The QF win is a double-edged sword for Kevin. He won't be remembered for his cooking by some of these top chefs, unlike the other likely finalists. (Jen, Michael, Bryan and maybe Mike I) 

It sounds definitely like Hector and Ash are on the bottom. Either Mattin and Ashley or Ron and Robin are the other noms (dry, overcooked)...though I guess Ashley and Mattin.

Joel Robuchon seems a classy guy, lavishing praise for strengths, while critiques overall aren't too mean...other than the "au poivre" comment. 

Guessing either Hector or Mattin will be going home. Daniel Boulud actually looked really pissed at the chateaubriand thing. But then again, a French guy messed up a French food? Quick, LV, what are your odds? Hector 4-1, Mattin, 5-2. Skillet Doux (I really need to add to my must reads) ranks Mattin v. low, compared to Hector.

It's Hector. Skillet Doux will be peeved since he ranked Hector much higher and Mattin near the bottom. I would still check out Hector's restaurant in HOTlanta.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Project Runway 6.3

I now officially hate Mitch after that comment that Ra'mon can carry him. He's incompetent -- and lazy.

And as the episode continues, it's obvious he is pretty useless. I hope he doesn't turn into this season's Wendy or Top Chef's Lisa where he keeps squeaking by.

Poor Ra'mon. Tim was right about the jumpsuit. If he had made it into a gown it might have worked. The green thing was nice, though. It looks as though he gets through after Ra'mon carries him. 

Wow, what bickering between Qrystal and Epperson and I can't tell who is at fault. Is she overly defensive or was he really that bossy? ETA: Judging from Heidi's comments, he was that bossy. And what is up with the hooker looks from both losing teams? The challenge wasn't to dress the "ladies" strutting their stuff on Sunset.

Heidi looked like she was watching a tennis match during the arguments.

Yay, they saw through Mitchell and aufed him after all. I thought he was going coast.

Mike I's sexism

Richard Blais has an interesting blog about how Mike I's suggestion to put Jen in charge was actually kind of insulting. He apparently wasn't suggesting she work as executive chef but tournant. Blais explains what a tournant is. 

Top Chef Addendum

I rushed to my computer last night to post this part and found we're having internet issues again. So of course, I forgot to put in my post:

This is the first time in TC history I had a lump in my throat as the cooking/service part ended. It was touching to see very brief sketches of the soldiers returning and leaving.

Top Chef 6.3

Well, what do you know? The judges used a cumulative decision to send Preety home. Not that I'm complaining. After her track record, she probably deserved it.

But cheftestants really need to watch the show some time. Rule 1. never serve a pasta salad. It always sends someone home. Rule 2. never decide to throw something extra together because you have time. It always lands you on the bottom. Heck, learn from the last episode, Mike I. Ashley almost got bit because she decided to do that.

Speaking of the pasta salad, as we were watching TC, S exclaimed: "I could do that!" Yeah, he probably could. He's a master at throwing processed foods together. As someone who just made a pasta salad of black beans, elbows, tiny sweet, sweet tomatoes, fresh corn and peppers with a lime-cilantro vinaigrette, I also was not impressed. It took me maybe 20 minutes? They had four hours!

And I loved Jenn's drill sergeant tendencies. She rocks!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Project Runway 6.2

So Mitchell got off lucky last week. If he had sent what he originally intended down the runway, it would have landed him in the bottom 3. Can you say Victorian? I guess they liked the collar, though.

I have no clue who the actress is they're designing for. But cool that a pregnant woman is one of the challenges. Certainly we viewers have seen Heidi preggers many times over the years, including for that all-stars ep.

Did I see one of the designers coming up with some sort of suit? Now that would be cool because you never see a fitted jacket for a pregnant woman. It's easy to do flowy empire waist type things.

I think it was Shirin with the suit jacket and she did have a cute little dress last week even if she didn't make the top 3. Poor Ra'mon (even if he had to add an extraneous apostrophe to his name) -- I see where he was trying to go but Mitchell might be right. Speaking of Mitchell, looks as though he's not using his time well -- again.

Malvin is irritating. He seems to like canvassy type material, doesn't he? And doing all that intellectualizing over his clothes. To quote Santino: "Lighten up, it's just fashion!"

Hoping Mitchell is out and not Ra'mon. The pre-commercial preview is making me nervous. Malvin is either the winner or the loser. Haven't decided because we haven't seen the bottom of his outfit. The brief glimpse of Shirin's jacket looked cute. A lot of them looked boring, though at least in some different colors.

So my vote for winner is Shirin and loser is Malvin.

Yep, I was right. Mitchell squeaks by again. Bizarre is losing to poor execution this year. Interesting.

PS watched five minutes of Runway Models and the models clearly hate, hate, hate Mitchell.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Top Chef 6.2

Boyz vs. Girlz. I'm with Jennc on this. Sheez. You can do better than this, TC. Girls v. Boys. What? Are we back in the 70s?

I think Ashley was whiny about the wedding. The first wedding challenge Top Chef did, after all, was for a gay couple in San Francisco for the five minutes gays could get married there.  If it hadn't ever featured one, then maybe you'd have a point. If you wanted to say "Gee, wouldn't it be nice if gayz could get hitched in Vegaz, you know, like, Sin City," then just make your point and carry on.  Otherwise, you're not helping the cause.

Hate to admit it but the Boyz Team did seem to have a stronger set. Though Mike I. is not one of the  contendahs this time. HAH-hah, as Nelson would say. Of the Girlz' food, really, Jennc's sounded great (I lurv well-cooked octopus and the subtly smoky flavor. Badly cooked tastes like burnt rubber). So did Robin's and Laurine's (which one had the lamb lollipop?mmmm).  Jesse's sounded good, but apparently didn't taste all that great. 

"It is what it is." How many cheftestants have used that? Join the IIWII Club, Ashley!

I'm guessing Eve is the lozer. She seems like a little lost lamb. It's the second time she messed up shrimp and cooked something "unbalanced." And a little bit of a klutz -- she apparently had a cast on one of her legs from an accident in the airport -- maybe she was drugged and that's why she seemed rather clueless. Jennc also nearly got her throat slashed from Eve's wandering knife. Farewell, Eve, we hardly knew you or your nearly Canadian/Minnesotan accent. 

Nicknames for everybody. Mike I is the George W. Bush of the season. I don't think any season has had one before.

Weekend fun

And the problem with moving things around: a lot of dust is stirred up. So for the second weekend in a row, I suffered with sweeping up dust bunnies and thought I was feeling crappy because of that. Then we ordered takeout Thai for an early dinner since we didn't eat lunch during our busy project. 

The toilet and I soon became very good friends. Couldn't even hold down the Pink Stuff. I thought I had food poisoning.

Next morning, aches all over (was it the heavy duty workout the morning before?) until I took my temperature. Hmm. 100 degrees. Then the chills set in and I couldn't move from the couch. 102 degrees. Oh dear. 8-10 saltines, water and apple juice was all I could stand on Sunday. What a fun weekend! 

This was on top of the frustration of the internet going out again. I thought maybe another cause of my illness was junkie withdrawal from the 'net.

Home decor

While I wait for the new TC episode, might as well catch up on my postings. Our living room is beginning to look polished and professional. We moved our entertainment unit up into the office and got a new piece from Crate and Barrel. Procrastination paid off. They discontinued it so it was on clearance by the time we ordered. Yay us. 

Then we hemmed and hawed between two brands of tvs and put off the decision. When we finally decided and S went back to BB to order, its price was reduced. Procrastination rules.

So the living room is much more open now and looks almost....big! not really, but a girl can dream.

Top Chef 6.1

So my computer and our internet are finally working so I might try to live blog again!

Mel is right. That hoop ear of Jennz gave me the heeby jeebies. There is an advantage to having an analog computer. The screen isn't as refined so you don't see all the details. All I noticed before was her neck tat.  Guess in another week, when we get our 42 inch, I won't be missing them anymore. Does Padma have pores?

What is up with all the tats and piercings this year?

This first ep left me with at least three to five chefs that left a favorable impression. Jennc is is first because I want another girl to win. Is that sexist of me? Better than Mike I's sexism. Today he wrote a note to the Washpost food critic saying that he's good friends with Jennc and he was kidding around when he made that statement. Allrighty then. I could buy that if he hadn't also made the comment about Robin being an old lady.

Kevin is second because he turned down a full ride scholarship to MIT to cook. How cool is that? He seems to have mad skilz.

Third is probably Bryan because he is a hometown boy (well, if 20-30 miles away is hometown)  and the real hometown boy is el donkeyhole, he's got a great rep and he seems a nerd. Jesse would tie with him but I'm shallow, I don't like lip piercings especially in a chef. How can that possible help your palate? Hear her restaurant in B'more is great, though.

And finally Ron, a Hollywood Haitian guy who seems a sweetie pie and wasn't able to articulate his vice very well (I think he had trouble letting go of his hair-raising ride to the US). And Martinne makes me want to fluff his hair and get all maternal with his cute little red Basque kerchief.

But it does seem to be a great group this year. We'll watch what happens!


Got the U2 tix. it was so long ago that we bought them. not yet ready to get psyched.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Top Chef returns

Wow, I've been a negligent blogger this summer. Got out of the habit after a crazy April, I guess.

Quick post as I start my work day -- couldn't liveblog last night because our broadband seems to be down.

I was going to root for Michael I as the hometown guy and because I adore Zaytinya's. Nope, no more. Sexist pig.

Bryan seems good, though Frederick is a long way away. Right now, my pick is Jenn.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Somehow S talked me into spending way too much on U2 and he's not even a U2 fan. We may be regretting this big time as the fridge has started making a funny noise.

Project Runway returns

This summer. I'm worried that it will be pretty stale by then, considering the finale was filmed with the finalists icognito.

Bravo has a new PR type show debuting soon that includes some guest judges from the past but can it really be a a Project Runway without Tim Gunn?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Don't Cry for Me, Argentina

So we all should be alarmed at China's rumblings about changing global reserve currencies, but not for the reason Michelle Bachmann fears. Um, if the dollar is no longer the world reserve currency, we're going to look like Argentine. World reserve currency does not = mandated national currency.

And by the way, she really pisses me off. If a liberal said half the things she said, they would have been carted off for an interview with the FBI. I mean if you can get called a traitor for peacefully opposing a war, what is a person who calls for a "controlled revolution" only 60 days into the new administration and five months after the election? And it's not Marxist, my dear, to let tax breaks sunset. That was written into law by Republicans when they passed Bush's tax cuts eight years ago.You can blame yourself since you voted for it. And Obama's not exactly calling for the, oh, 90 percent marginal tax rates of the Eisenhower era, for instance.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Oh, Carla, Carla, Carla. You broke my heart. And your own, I suspect. Why did you have that crisis of confidence and listen to Casey? I screamed at the tv when she suggested sous vide and you accepted. No, no, no. You do best when you do what you know.

The announcement of the winner felt flat after that. My indifference/distaste for Hosea, however, turned to more of an active dislike in the last 10 minutes of the show when he rubbed salt in Carla's wounds. "I cooked what I know," or something like that. Insensitive clod.

And I liked Stefan in that same stew room scene, comforting an upset Carla. Maybe he was edited to make us hate him.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Top Chef is getting better

So I finally vent about the mediocrity on Top Chef and dang, if it doesn't get better. I liked this ep as much as the last one. Why can't they have more like these.

And yay, one half of HoLeah is gone. I think she was as thrilled to go as TC fans were to see her go. Her defeatist attitude was very annoying, especially after she passively aggressively threw Ariane under the bus. (oh, no I'm using their cliches! gack)

So Fabio was at his most hilarious this weekend. Got to admire his determination. And he was full of funny quips. "I'll choppa offa da finger and sear ita on da flattoppa and worry about nine fingers tomorrow." Bet his wife appreciated that sentiment. 

And Carla, the tortoise. It's so cool she's gained her footing. And her back story is pretty interesting -- she lived in Paris while working as a model and started buying cookbooks to fill time. Follow your bliss, Carla.

And it strikes me that the most talented chefs are the most warm and gracious. That certainly was the case with the stellar crowd they had last night.

I'm glad Stefan had to eat some humble pie without actually going home. The elves made it look like it was a close call between him and Leah and that maybe they did give him a break, but Toby's blog definitely made it seem that the choice was between Leah and Hosea. And Jacques Pepin expressed his intense dislike for Leah's hollandaise sauce on the Bravo site.

So here's to a final 3 being Stefan, Fabio and Carla!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Quick Top Chef Post

Man, this is what Top Chef is supposed to be about. I wish they had had more episodes like this. Pretty please, Bravo? And more Eric Ripert! I could listen to him talk all day.

It's not over yet, but I'm hoping Leah goes home. Though Jamie p'd me off with her "boring" comments. That was over the top arrogant.

A little Stephan like crept in. He gave Leah a pretty good encouraging hug before she went into the gallows judging. And Carla is rocking the house!

Auuggggghhh! Wtf?! It should have been Leah. Man, the loser decisions have really sucked.

Aha moments

My mother loaned me a book about Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel. It's interesting to read about the fresco techniques and his genius. But there also was an a-ha moment for me. Michelangelo refused to use female nudes for his sketches. He would use a nude male as a model for his female forms. No wonder they were so....masculine. See here and here. 

The most feminine is the Pieta.

I had always figured that he used fishmongers and washerwomen as his models. Nope. Guys!

PS Fresco painting sounds amazingly difficult and he did much of it freehand, which is even more amazing. I just saw some amazing frescos from ancient Pompeii and have become fascinating by the painting technique.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Top Chef 5

Boy, the talented chefs keep getting chopped off the show. The only ones left who show any consistent talent are Jamie and Stephan. Boring.

I was hoping Carla would go far because she's from DC, and I do enjoy her quirkiness. She doesn't show any maliciousness, which is also refreshing.

They can get rid of Holeah as quickly as possibly. Hosea does show some talent, but he's a tool. And Leah, ugh.

I didn't like Jeff at first because of the whole pretty boy thing but he grew on me because he showed leadership (isn't that part of being a Top Chef?) and at least tried to be creative, maybe too creative, but better than boring Leah.

Fabio is charming but what has he cooked lately, besides ravioli?

Tom seems very grumpy this season. I think he's not happy with the talent pool. And they seem to be taking the choices out of the hands of the judges. TC may need to go through a redesign if they're going to continue it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Inauguration, Part III -- The Journey Home

So the inauguration is over. I've been trying to communicate with some different friends who came to witness the event, with little to no success. My text message to S failed too, mainly because, on two hours of sleep, I used the first three digits of his cell and the last four digits of our home phone, doh! So since I can't reach any of them, I start heading home, quickly coming down from my high. First I stop by the warming tent to, well, warm up. I wander around the Lincoln Memorial some more, listening to Rev. Lowery and the poet. 

Onward. I'm walking against the crowd, who is heading west while I'm heading east. My goal is to walk up Independence Avenue, since the parade route would knock me too far off my route.

After I climb the Washington Monument's hill and veer south, I reach a massive crowd. Everyone is hemmed in by Port-a-Johns and no one seems able to cross 14th Street. Someone climbs atop the johns and others climb trees to call directions to the crowd.

Finally we're able to cross. I'm wondering if I made a mistake. The throngs slowly shuffle east. We end up halting again, directionless. Some folks are trying to get to a meeting spot for their buses. I'm just trying to get to the top of Capitol Hill. There's some pushing. But it's amazing how good-natured everyone is. At any other event, this kind of crowd would have led to trampling and cursing. But everyone here is so happy.

Someone had collapsed and is surrounded by police officers and that's what led to the bottleneck. 

After passing the ill person, the crowds claim Independence Avenue, ignoring the limos and VIPs -- until we reach the foot of Capitol Hill. Independence is closed and so is Third, despite the end of the event. A family clusters to ask directions. They're trying to get to Union Station to catch a train. I'm still feeling high from the event, and as a volunteer, want to help. Since I'm heading that way anyway, I offer to lead the way. 

So they follow me, a young family of five from Los Angeles. The three children probably range in age from 4 to 10. I take control of the daughter's suitcase and off we march. Poor child. After a while, at every bump, I seemed to drop the handle. My 2:45 a.m. alarm and two hours of sleep are taking their toll.

I made a call not to use the tunnel and it probably was a mistake. But I took a gamble that we'd reach the Amtrak station better from the east than four blocks west. That proved a mistake and if I could do it again, I would have used the tunnel. Actually, I would have boarded the family at Capitol South and told them to go to New Carrollton and catch Amtrak there. Wish I were psychic.

We make the trek to Union Station, up the hill, past the Library of Congress. The kids grumble a little but they're amazingly un-whiny, considering all the walking. I do my best DC tour guide routine, pointing out the Supreme Court and Obama's old apartment a few blocks in the distance.

We see Union Station at long last and the omens are bad. They have 10 minutes to spare before their 3 p.m. train to BWI to catch their 6:45 plane. Normally that would not be a problem. But the entire station is shut down. We go to the west entrance and it's closed, too. A security guard is bellowing that Amtrak, MARC and VRE passengers need to line up west of the station. There is a huge, unorganized crowd. The mom is crying.  

From future accounts of the mob, a lot of people were crying. New rule: when nearly 2 million people are expected in town for an inauguration, do not use a major transportation hub as a location for an inaugural ball. Thank you.

I leave them helpless with the upset masses while I try to figure out where the cab stand has been moved. I ask two police officers -- they shrug and say, "Good Luck." I walk down Capitol Street North. No luck. 

As I walk back up the hill, feeling helpless, I see Phoenix Park Hotel and think, well, maybe. The dad had said money was no problem when I warned him that cab fare could run $75, or on a day like this, even $100. I walk up to the lobby. A black town car pulls up and a woman in a fur coat asks a concierge if the towncar could take her and her friend to Dulles Airport. He arranges it. I ask him if a family could arrange transport to BWI. He thinks he can help. Since the dad said money is no object, I figured he'd tip the guy well and all would work out.

Off I trek, back to Union Station. The crowd is even more knotted and bigger. I don't think I'm going to find them, as short as I am. I scan the crowd. I see a tall man wearing a black knit cap with Obama in glittering letters. I found them! "Excuse me," I sing to person after person as I weavee through (sometimes, it helps to be small) and reach Ronald. Miraculously, the whole family is more or less together and off we troupe again.

When we reach Phoenix Park, I introduce the dad to the concierge as the rest of the family waits outside with the luggage. "Oh yeah," says the concierge. "The van will be back in about 20 and he can take you."

Their problem is solved. The dad gives me a hug and asks for my email and gives me his. The mom is out buying hot dogs but I find her before I go. They're both happy, the kids are glad to stop moving, and I'm beat. I give her a hug and then trudge home. 

By the time I get home, it's 4:30. Missed most of the parade but I'm happy one family will get home OK. And by 8:30, I'm in bed and sound asleep. What a day.

Inauguration Day Part II

Standing at the feet of Abraham Lincoln, we receive our instructions. As the late, great Ricardo Montalban said, "Smiles, everyone! Smiles!" We get lots of hotties to give our team members -- and we needed them. A map. Our general location. 

So we string out along the north side of the (frozen) Reflecting Pool, holding signs announcing our team numbers. Everyone gets phone calls from volunteers trapped on Metros and running late, and some from the outer suburbs lost because they're not familiar with the Metro or the Mall.

As dawn gleams pink at the distant Capitol, our teams gather. I have an enthusiastic bunch, and one woman shows a talent for leading us in cheers and song. One I especially liked because it kept us warm: choo-choo,choo,choo,choo, rotating arms like a train. "Get oooooon the Oooo- Bama Train!"

We also sang "When the saints go marching in," with refrains like: "When Obama takes that oath, oh, I want to be in that number, when Obama takes his oath." Clearly Paula is a church choir member. She should be director if she's not already.

So finally at 6 a.m. we move to our positions. My toes, despite being clad in wool hiking socks and fleece-lined boots, are completely numb. I almost stagger over the small rise we must climb to pass the Vietnam Memorial and reach Constitution Avenue.

Most of my team end up at 18th Street because the crowds are already pouring down the hill from Farragut North and West metro stations toward the Mall. Paula leads some cheers while I go to station more volunteers.

Most of the time we spent greeting the crowds, smiling and offering to help. Some take us up on our offer and I'm surprised how many have Silver tickets, a mile and a half from our location. (the tales we hear over the next few days explain why).

One of our team discovers a warming tent near our location. Yay! Better yet, another works in a government office nearby, so we don't have to use the frigid Port-a-Johns. Even better.  The security guards are a bit bemused by our visit (we have to show ID, go through X-ray machines, the works) but it was worth it.

Finally, at 11 a.m., the shift is over. I wander by the Lincoln Memorial and debate weaving through the barricades to join the huge crowd there. I gape at the sea of people off in the distance, clustered at the base of the Washington Monument and beyond, a pixilated sea of humanity. There's only a smaller crowd clustered at a Jumbotron near the Reflecting Pool and I amble over there. I'm really close. In fact, almost too close -- the screen is a little blurry. The sun is in my eyes.

Then we listen to the stentorian announcements of various powers-that-be arriving. Cheney is in a wheelchair. Actually, the crowd I'm in is polite. There is little booing.

And finally, Barack Obama appears. The cheers go up. The oath seems awkward. Obama gives Roberts a smile and I wonder what happened. We all learned later -- Roberts has a hatred of split infinitives. He really needs to read up on the history of English grammar. Some idiot monk tried to impose Latin rules on English. In Latin you can't have a split infinitive. That's because the infinitive is one word in Latin. Duh.

Then we listen to Obama's speech. There are few cheering points, but elegant turns of phrase, I thought. No one was chatting, everyone was listening. 

And it's over! We have a new president, at long last.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tuesday Part I

I was up before the dawn. Hours before the dawn. I was drafted as a last minute sub for a volunteer captain who had left the job. So here I was, the alarm going off at 2:45, out the door at 3:15 a.m. , baby. It was cold, very cold. My husband was a warm lump, still huddled under the comforter. He had to be at his assignment at a late-ish 5:30 a.m.

I was slightly nervous at trudging the deserted streets of Washington, DC alone at that time of night. Not to worry. Only a block away on Maryland Avenue were five soldiers in camouflage, their faces covered by olive scarves. Good morning! I said cheerily, teeth not even chattering. Did I say it was cold? It was. Good morning came the muffled replies. Are you cold? I asked. We're freezing! was the reply.

So off I was on my trek down Constitution Ave. The PIC text warned us the north side would be closed because of the parade, and I debated veering south. But then Constitution seemed open so I plunged down Capitol Hill.

At the confluence of Constitution and Pennsylvania, I ran into my first hurdle. Uh oh.  I found myself having to drift down Penn Ave. Was I going to have to keep on it until the White House? That would put many blocks and probably 20 minutes off schedule. And I was already running late. My pace was definitely too slow.

There was a group of either secret service in civvies, or parade planners in the middle of street. I asked if I could cut across Pennsylvania since I was heading to the Lincoln Memorial. They glanced at each other, looked at the barren road. One asked if I was crossing the street and hanging a right. Yes, I said. OK. So I scooted one of the barricades open and scurried through.

The stream of people heading to find their spots in the darkness on the Mall started grow. A few more fences and hurdles later, I was climbing the hill toward the Washington Monument as more and more people were heading in the other direction. Because of the dark and the empty streets, it felt almost post-apocalyptic. 

Finally, along the ice covered Reflecting Pool I met my fellow captains. 

Saturday, January 17, 2009


I forgot how good Battlestar Galactica is. and the best moment wasn't the revelations, like Starbuck finding her own corpse or even finding out the last cylon. It was the gut-wrenching moment when Dee holds the gun to her head after tenderly putting away her wedding ring, hummingly happily. Second best was the confrontation between Adama and Tigh. I love Michael Hogan and his ability to act and convey emotion with one eye. And it's the little things like the "frak earth" graffitti and the dandelion weed Laura treasures.