Sunday, November 1, 2009

Recaps and a little more 10/28-11/1/2009

Top Chef 6 - Las Vegas:

First I want to correct myself from last week.
Although it seemed at the time that the judges weren't happy with either seafood dish from Jen last week, I read Tom's blog and he stated that her Halibut dish was good, the shellfish dish (the one she cooked to order like a dumbass) was terrible. So, Mike I. had 2 acceptable dishes; Jen had 1 good and 1 bad; Kevin had 1 good (his dish,) and 1 bad (Laurine's dish that he cooked;) and Laurine had a bad dish (her lamb dish that she prepped, Kevin cooked, and she allowed to be served undercooked,) and did a terrible job as hostess. So, I now agree that she did deserve to go over Jen last week.
Now, on to this week...

This was one of those Quickfire Challenges that had NOTHING to do with the guest judge. The guest judge was Paul Bartolotta, who has one of the top Italian restaurants in Vegas. The challenge, though, was sponsored by TV Guide and was "tv dinners." The challenge was misnamed because instead of making a dish to be frozen and then served tv dinner style, they were asked to make a dinner to eat fresh that was inspired by a classic tv show. What Chef Bartolotta's connection to any of this escapes me. It just seems that they were able to get a paying sponsor (TV Guide) and "crowbarred" the guest judge into the challenge.

The shows that were to "inspire" the chefs were MASH, Flintstones, Gilligan's Island, Sesame Street, Soprano's, Seinfeld, & Cheers. For me, none of the dishes really had ANYTHING to do with the shows. Kevin at least made an Italian dish (meatballs) for the Soprano's, but pretty much everything else could have been for any tv show...or heck, just any movie, radio program, or even book. I will give Robin props for being a non-tv watcher and used to eating only "healthy foods," yet knew Big Bird and Cookie Monster. Unfortunately, she made a cookie and some mess with an egg on top. It looked terrible and she wound up in the bottom 2 along with Jen who is Hell Bent on crashing and burning. For MASH, why didn't Bryan make something inspired by Korean cooking like Korean Ribs and a Korean style veggie side? Instead, he made meat and potatoes which he said would have been something American Servicemen would have considered "comfort food." Ok, I'll give him that, but the Korean Ribs would have been great, especially since there was an episode where Klinger had ribs sent from Toledo. For the Flintstones, why didn't Jen make a GIANT CUT OF BEEF with the bone in, and call it "Brontosaurus Style?" For Gilligan's Island, Eli went "tropical" but why not a mini coconut pie, or even coconut custard? Why not something with "Ginger?" Anyway, Bryan and Kevin were the Top 2 and Kevin won.

For the Elimination Challenge, they were going to take over Tom's Vegas restaurant, Craftsteak. The Cheftestants were all excited and mulling the proteins when Tom brought in Padme Amidala herself, Natalie Portman. Oh, did they mention that Natalie is Vegetarian? I don't understand why chefs go nuts over having to cook for vegetarians. A few weeks back, Gordon Ramsay on Hell's Kitchen called the the "biggest pains in the ass in the world." Kevin made some snide comments too, but at least not as bad. Chef Tom acknowledged that although he understand why vegetarians/vegans choose to not eat meat, he went on to say that there are stomach acids that ONLY exist to break down in other words, Vegetarians/Vegans are going against nature. Well, at least he tried.

I go to a Vegetarian restaurant all the time, and there is PLENTY that can be made vegetarian. Heck, every Indian and Ethiopian restaurant have a big vegetarian menu, as does most Mexican and many Italian. Not including odd things like Seitan, they can use beans, lentils, and soy for protein, but pasta dishes, rice many dishes are out there that are already vegetarian, let alone any number of dishes that can be made. Robin was excited because she cooks and eats vegetarian all the time. Mike I. also cooks vegetarian all the time and his own mother is Vegan. The rest mentioned that they have vegetarian dishes or make them special at their restaurants...but they all seemed to whine a bit.

Well, whatever. Michael, Kevin and Eli were in the top, and Kevin's sloppy looking mushroom dish won. I think this made him the first to win both the Quickfire and Elimination Challenges with the same guest judge. Michael bitched that Kevin's dish may have been tasty (he didn't try it,) but it was pedestrian and could be made by any young chef in cooking school, while his was much more complicated. Chef Tom admonished this on his blog and that technique and presentation don't exceed taste, and Kevin's tasted better...although I think he actually wanted Michael's to win inspite of Kevin's dish tasting better, and was out voted.

Jen, Robin & Mike I. were in the bottom (this meant Brother Bryan was alone in "no man's land,) and all of them were pretty terrible. I think the judges are cutting Jen slack, but her dish did seem to be the least offensive of the 3. Robin's was a bunch of disparate veggies that had no connection to each other, and the dish was not balanced in terms of seasoning, acidity, and so forth. But surprisingly, it was Mike I. who got the boot. He didn't cook his leeks properly...and for whatever reason tried to make them a "pretend protein" rather than actually incorporate a real protein. His dish fell apart and he just was like, "oh well, whatever," because rather than try to fix it, he figured that Robin would fail worse and she'd go. He was wrong. In Chef Tom's blog, he seem to imply that one of the brothers or Kevin will go earlier than expected, and in the promo for next week, judge Toby is heard to say, "he" in relation to someone totally failing.

Random Thoughts:

After one of the best Smallville's in a loooong time, they followed up with another good one. Oliver is back and has recruited a gal to be his "Speedy" of sorts. He also got into a love triangle with Clark and Lois, but the episode ended with Clark taking matters into his own hands (although Lois already had told Oliver that she loved him as a friend but Clark has her heart) and Clark kissed Lois.

Sanctuary was one of those episodes to show that the "new person" is part of the team. It didn't work. She still sucks.

Stargate:Universe was one of those "needs of one outweigh the needs of the many" episodes. It was so so.

Ghost Hunters was semi-live with 5 "scariest" episodes as voted by "fans," but hosted live and included Steve and Tango and people from their spinoff series Ghost Hunter Academy. It was ok, more good humor from host Josh, but after they were spoofed on South Park a couple of weeks ago, I'd have rather seen a full episode made by South Park than this sort of semi-live "best of."

Personal Notes:

With my birthday so close to Halloween, I've always had a special place for it. Also, it fits me much more than say Christmas, or 4th of July. I've always looked forward to it...
Until a bad combination of factors over the past few years.

My ex and I wanted to get married on Halloween. We couldn't get the date, so we settled on November 1. It was great, and everyone who was there still talks about how unique and fun it was. The theme was Halloween during the Renaissance. She made her Renaissance style wedding dress, my Renaissance style outfit, her son's outfit that was like a junior version of mine, the 3 little flower girl's dresses, and altered the matron of honor's gown.

We made most of the decor ourselves. The card box looked like a castle. The bride's cake looked like a castle, and the groom's cake was dark chocolate ganache over a red velvet it looked like a "blood cake." The groom's cake had a little gazebo painted black with black roses on it, and little figurines of Dracula and The Bride of Frankenstein. All of the tables had artificial leaves on them. We took all of our carved pumpkins (my family and my brother's) from Halloween and spread them around the reception hall. We had a table set up for kids after dinner and hired the 2 gals who operated the after school facility at my stepson's school. People were encouraged to dress up...either Renaissance or Halloween costumes. Not everyone did, but many did dress up. It was a LOT of fun.

But now, I see that day just after Halloween, and it makes me a little sad. Before it was over, I had a little family of me, my wife, my stepson, and our 2 dogs. Worse, 2 years ago on 10/29 I had to put my girl dog to sleep (the other one lives with my ex several hundred miles away down south.) So now I've "bookended" my favorite day of the year with "sadness."

This year, it's kinda hitting me differently. Last year, I had no desire to decorate for Halloween as it was the first year anniversary since my little girl had to be put down. I went Trick or Treating with my niece and nephew...and I will again this year. Having just turned 40 and still single...and then these 2 dates all in a row...I'm just not feeling much joy or having the kind of fun that I usually have. Add to that the fact that I'm still having money problems and know that until I get that improved, I won't even THINK about trying to date anyone...
Well, it's all left me more than a little melancholy.

Yeah, yeah, I know...waaaaah.
I know it could be worse. A LOT worse. But the weight of the "blahs" is keeping me down. As I've written before, I'm not a "rah rah" type of person, so when I get the blahs...oy. But, I'm muddling through and hanging in there. At any rate...I just wanted to try and put how I'm feeling into words as it seems to help to "get rid" of those feelings.

I went to my brother's to carve pumpkins, then went Trick or Treating with them on Halloween. It was fun.
But I miss my little girl.
And I miss my little family.

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