Jun 30, 2007

What in the world ... ?

Two unexploded car bombs were found in London yesterday, and today a bunch of asshats exploded a car bomb at Glasgow Airport. This world is going to hell in a hand basket. Can these terrorists, whoever they are, not find a better more productive way to protest? Anonymous car bombs are the coward's way out.

But is it art...?

Except where noted, these images are all titled: The Three Graces. In mythology, these three women are the goddesses of joy, charm and beauty.


Sandro Botticelli



Bachelor and Three Graces

The Three Graces, Liverpool

The Three Graces and Two Dudes

James Gillray

The Three Grazers

Jun 28, 2007

And the winner is ...


Howie'd do that?

By remaking the classic pork chops and apple sauce dish and turning it into this:

Jun 27, 2007

The Top Chef Bottom Four Bottom Out

Here is my analysis of Episode 4's Bottom Four: (Dahlings, Brian with his high cholesterol lobster dish doesn't count - he had immunity.)

Lia's Blazing Saddles Re-imagined Franks and Beans reminded me of a movie I once saw (Oh, go ahead and click. This classic scene from Blazing Saddles is only 53 secs long):

C.J.'s Muddy No Finesse Flavorless Tuna Casserole Dish is reenacted in this timeless scene:

Other Sarah's Uncooked Variation of Chicken a la King reminds me of an uncooked King baby with a crocheted chicken hat.

Micah's Blah Tasteless Yuck it Was Bad With an Odd Finish Meatloaf That Kept on Giving but not in a Very Good Way reminds me of my diet lunches...

And the winner of the losers is: Micah! Please pack up your knives and go. Oh, and take your year book with you. (Dahling, I loved your feistiness, moodiness, and downright bitchiness. Too bad you are gone.)

What are you doing on July 4th?

We'll be tubing down the James River with a group of 14 folks. Just floating and lolling and laughing and exploring.

Oooh, will my pale Dutch skin burn, but I don't care. It's always FUN!

Jun 26, 2007

Indifferent, no, bad teachers

Excuse me, but why did some of you folks out there decide to become professors? You know who you are. You don't really care about your students, you think grading papers is boring, and you've basically given up. And since you have tenure you don't really frickin' care about the consequences of your indifference.

One of my Lost Boys just came home and told me he made a "D" in a course he's been studying so hard for - Microbiology. He tried to communicate with you and ask you where he went wrong, but you kept fobbing him off, telling him it was too late to change the grade. It is the end of the course, so this means he will have to make it up at a later date if he wants to graduate. Hey, it's only a course, right? Wrong. You just added another couple of thousand of dollars to his college debt.

If you had even a smidgen of empathy, you would have noticed that his English is not perfect, that he is swaying on his feet from fatigue, and that he is struggling merely to keep up. He will plod away, of course, despite your indifference and animosity. He will take your damned course over because he has no choice.

Have you ever bothered to talk to him? Do you know that he spent twelve years of his short life in a refugee camp, barely existing and subsisting on rice and a few vegetables thrown his way? Do you know he shared a school "room" with other children and that they had one book among them? Do you realize how magnificent he is for persevering and making C's and B's as a pre-med major despite his appalling lack of schooling? Do you know what a frickin' genius he must be?

Have you bothered to help him. Have you shown him a few test taking tips. Have you taken him aside and mentored him in any way? Of course not. You don't care, do you? In fact, you don't even know who I am talking about. When he asked you where he could have done better, you just brushed him aside and told him you would post the grades on your door. You, Prof, are a classic jerk and it's people like you who make cynics of us all.

And my poor Lost Boy, the one who actually once believed that if you work hard and study diligently, rewards will come his way? You've simply managed to prove to him, once again, that life for him will never be better and that people don't really care.

Oh, and in case you wondered, Prof, he wants to become a doctor so he can return to the Sudan and help his brethren in need. Bet you never had a dream like his.

I've been linked

I've been linked in a post on Chow. Thanks for the shout out, dahlings. Here's my link right back at you.

And a link to your interview with Sandee. Well done.

Hell's Kitchen, Schmell's Kitchen

In previous seasons I caught glimpses of Hell's Kitchen here and there, and determined that the next go around I would watch the show the whole way through. It's been a fairly numbing experience. The chefs have been largely stuck in the kitchen with Chef Ramsey and he likes to call them donkeys.

The short challenges have been the most interesting, and this week's was no exception with a blind taste test. Once again the women creamed the men, identifying such exotic foods as chicken and pear and cold potato. Their reward was eating a meal with Chef Ramsey in the dark. We have no idea what this meal was like, because the cameras shifted to the men's team prepping for two kitchens that evening. Many of the men yawned, and so did I.

Once again we see the two teams cooking and racing around the kitchen and bungling the orders. Another group of suckers (customers) amble into the restaurant and we watch them wait for an excruciatingly long time for their meals. In this episode their comments will determine the winning and losing team.

During the cooking phase, we hardly see a peep of Julia, Jen, or Rock, so we know these folks will be safe. Once again the chefs cook the same boring dishes which we really don't get to see them making. We do see a lot of good food wasted. Is any of it donated to a shelter somewhere? If not, a lot of animals died for no good reason.

Neither team won. It turns out that 69% of the customers would not return for a meal because the kitchen took too long to prepare it; however, most who were served thought the meals tasted ok.

Chef Ramsey chose Rock and Jen as being the least worst of the remaining eight chefs, and asked them to put up one person for elimination. Rock chose Josh (no surprise), and Jen chose Melissa (big surprise, but the move made sense because Melissa is Jen's biggest competition.) But when these two chefs stepped forward for elimination, Chef Ramsey overrode the decisions and picked Vinnie and Bonnie instead.

Now, I suspect Vinnie is an ok chef. He just has a hard time thinking straight and cooking well when he's being cussed at. And out of all of the chefs, Vinnie had the hardest time taking the abuse.
Bonnie is a nanny and a private chef to four people. S'cuse me? How do these credentials qualify her to run a major kitchen? During the competition she kept calling herself an idiot and at one point she tearfully said, "I want to go home." It's obvious that she, along with Julia, are having the proverbial golden carrot dangled in front of them. The only question is: When will it be snatched away?

Not to anyone's surprise, as Chef Ramsey seemed to have it in for Vinnie from the start, he told Vinnie to take off his chef's uniform and go.

Next week the chefs will create food for a wedding reception. If the episode is like anything we've seen in the past few weeks, there will be no surprises. My prediction is that Josh, Jen, and Melissa will make it to the final four. Unless he miss steps big time, Rock will definitely be in the finals.

Laundry Won; Pants Plaintiff None

The case of the missing pants has been tossed out of court. Just about time. I can't think of a more ridiculous court case, or a better way of showing the world that the American criminal justice system has gone to hell in a hand basket.

Here's the text to the Finding of Facts and Conclusion of Law.(Drat the link disappeared.)

As a concerned citizen, I conclude that the plaintive, Judge Roy Pearson, abused the criminal justice system, and that he should be held responsible for paying all of the Chung's court costs and lawyers' fees of around $100,000. Wanna bet this case will take a long time to settle?

Jun 25, 2007

Next Food Network Star: Michael Gets Nixed at Fort Dix

So now we’re down to five chefs - Adrien, Rory, Amy, Paul, and Jag. Michael has been cut, which was actually no surprise. At this pace the show will be finished in a month.

This week we've learned that several of our contestants have embellished the truth or stretched it or failed to reveal the full picture in order to put themselves in the best light possible. Rory was in a CMT reality series in 2005. Paul tried out for Top Chef and failed. And Adrien still has a job. At first I felt sorry for him for losing his job as a delivery man in order to find his moment in the sun, only to discover that he hosts a weekly food show, Home For Dinner at J-TV in Michigan. My pardon if he got fired from both jobs.

JAG has stretched the truth quite a bit. He did not complete New York Restaurant School; he probably did not serve in Afghanistan as a corporal or was even deployed there. Food Network has amended his biography, and JAG has changed the information on My Space. How stupid can you get? Isn’t JAG young enough to understand the power of the web in uncovering information?

Does this news shatter my world? No. In the big scheme of things, who cares? However, JAG’s stretching of the truth may boomerang, since the fans will be voting for their favorite chef after the final contest. But the news about the others? Meh!

Still, a few of them are coming across as Fame Whores, in particular JAG and Rory, who can taste fame so bad she trembles thinking about it.

Having said this, here’s this week’s recap!

The chefs cooked for the soldiers at Fort Dix, New Jersey this week. The short challenge was in particularly interesting. The six remaining chefs had exactly 20 minutes to reinvent MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat). This meant that they had to think quick on their feet. The judges were Giada deLaurentiis and two army officers, who judged the chefs on the meal and their presentation.
Surprisingly, JAG, who felt in his element, did not win the challenge. Paul won with his chicken meal and honey Dijon glaze, and his charming presentation. His win was crucial, in that he got to choose the teams for the second challenge and the foods they would cook.

Paul was smart in his strategy: He paired Michael and Adrien because he felt there were too many male chefs, paired himself with JAG, who was familiar with Mess Hall kitchens, and gave the female team a relatively easy dish, lasagna. His rationale for giving the chicken pot pie to the Adrien/Michael team was simple: Chicken Pot Pie has many elements, and will take a longer time to prepare. So Paul predicted they would experience a time crunch. He was right. With only 10 minutes to go, Adrien could not defrost the frozen fruit in time, as was noted by the judges.

The Paul/JAG team was initially a delight to watch and I thought, "They should do a cooking show together." But then JAG's Achilles heel began to rear it's ugly bare spot again. JAG lost his cool when the ovens didn't work. In a blink of an eye he changed from a happy, confident chef into an angry, cursing guy. Not cool if you want to stand in front of millions and exude happiness, like guest judge Paula Deen, who frankly gets on my nerves.

The judging was fair, as the judges took the diner's critique cards into account. I'll say this for NFNS, even if you disagree with the premise of this show, the judging remains consistent.

Paul and JAG won because their food and presentation were the best. Rory and Amy were saved because of their presentation. Adrien was saved, but he has a lot of ground to make up.

And Michael never really shone. He couldn't describe his food aesthetic, so if there is no hook, where is the television personality? And so he was cut. Michael was a gentleman and a delight to watch, though, and we'll miss him.

As an aside, have you noticed, that as with all these cooking shows, only the young chefs remain? Michael's cooking performance was ok; in fact the judges loved his thin crispy potato topping, but his on-air personality did not shine. And that bit about being a Vietnam Vet? Boy, did that sink like a stone with the soldiers. Where Adrien's cooking skills are suspect, the camera just loves him. So the judges were right to keep him.

Here are the results of last week's poll, by the way.

The poll is still open. And you can just ignore Michael, who never received any votes to begin with. Of the remaining chefs, who do you prefer? Your vote will be cast on top of last week's votes, and you can vote once a day. The poll will remain open until there are only four chefs left.

Who Is Your Favorite Remaining Next Food Network Star Chef?
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Jun 24, 2007

Top Chef 3: It's Like Putting Lipstick on a Pig

This is an old post. For my latest Episode Three Top Chef post, click here.

When I learned that for Episode Two, Top Chef 3 would hold a barbecue party Miami Beach style with fourteen outdoor grills, fourteen chefs, and fourteen ways to create upscale food for Lee Schrager's sixty upscale guests I began to salivate. This guy lives in luxury, right?

But sometimes one's expectations simply do not meet reality. The event was hosted by Mr. Schrager. I had not heard of him (yes, I am that provincial). Much to my delight and surprise I learned he was a SOMEBODY when I saw a picture of him with our ubiquitous Rachael Rae.

So that led me to expect a setting like this.

But we only got this. The view could have been from a room at the Holiday Inn Express.

So then I thought if Bravo was gonna screw around with our minds, why not provide our cheftestants with appliances that fit the ambiance of the place? Why not give them a twist, and force them to work on grills like these?

Instead, our cheftestants were made to cook on grills similar to the kind my daddy used in 1985. I swallowed another disappointment. So then I got to thinking, upscale guests. Mmm. I imagined all sorts of celebrities like ...

Albert and Armand

The crew from CSI

Sonny Crocket and Ricardo Tubbs


Chefs Carlos and Chuck

Sexy and sophisticated guests? Hell no. All we got were ordinary people that nobody recognized and who looked like you and me. Oh, you cannot imagine my disappointment. But, wait, there's more confusion.

No one understood what the heck they were supposed to be doing for a high end barbecue. Not the chefs and certainly not the judges. I mean, the chefs were given $200 each to feed 60 people, and only two hours to cook and to prep. Now, Ms. Place has a barbecue recipe where she takes 2 hours to prepare the meat, all night to marinate, and around 4 hours to slow grill.

So I thought, these chefs must know something I don't. I'm gonna learn me some new tricks!


Tre kept crowing he was in his element and that he would have to hang his head in shame if he lost because he was from Texas, but served up a lame salmon. Hung said he threw the best barbecues around, and although his dish looked interesting, he basically grilled a flank steak. My bro did that on Father's Day. It was totally delicious but nothing special. We eat that all the time.

There were variations of high end grilled food, like grilled sirloin, or grilled sword fish, or grilled shrimp. There's been an interesting discussion about grilling and barbecuing by bloggers, and how southern folks interpret these terms differently from folks up north. So the chefs were grilling or barbecuing or doing none of the above.

And then there were Joey's and Howie's dishes. These two numnuts chose to go the simple route and barbecue for Jed Clampett's family. Joey didn't bother to disguise his chicken drummette as a high end anything, then got pissed of because Hung had stolen his watermelon shooter idea, and no one can hack it in New York like he can, and he hadn't gotten top three in the quick fire challenge. Shut your mouth, Joey and cook. Better yet, go back to New York. You came up with a dish I could have sampled at Price Club near the frozen food section.

As for Howie, once again he shot himself in the foot, slicing his pork too soon. And then there was Sandee coming up with a high end dish that she poached instead of grilled or barbecued, but she did use the same cooking equipment as everyone else.

The three top chefs, Sara the Worry Wort (Other Sara barely made an appearance in Epi 2), Moody Micah, and Brian the Fearless created interesting looking dishes, but none met the criteria of slow barbecued food. All met the criteria of high end grilled food. Ok, so Brian won with his seafood sausage, which put a dreamy look in Padma's eyes. Good for you, Brian.

But then the judges had to decide who must leave. And here's where things got interesting again. They did't know the judging criteria either! Tre's been chosen because his Salmon was over salty or under seasoned, depending on which part of the fish folks ate. Howie and Joey had been chosen 'cause they're dicks. Oh, and their food stunk. Oh, and they forgot to look up the term "High End." But Sandee was chosen because the judges couldn't taste the lobster and because it had been poached in vanilla butter. Fair enough.

But she wasn't cut because her food was worse than the others but because the food did not fit the criteria of barbecue. S'cuse me, but did anyone else's in the strictest sense? And her food was HIGH END, which the Dick Twins' totally was not. It was obvious that everyone was confused by the judging criteria because none of the other chefs expected Sandee to leave.

So, the only concluding phrase I can come up with for this show (and I borrow heavily from Tom Colicchio) is that it was just like Putting Lipstick on a Pig. You might want to do it, you might actually accomplish doing it, but what was the point?

Note, to clarify the confusion between barbecuing and grilling, here is Gail's description of the challenge on her blog:
"I [was] interested in dishes that raised those slow-cooked, smoky flavors to new levels by interpreting them in high-end ways. We also wanted to see how our chefs would do so while interpreting what barbecue means to them, regardless of their obvious regional differences."