Thursday, September 30, 2010

Love this.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

I really can't stop watching it. My day has been immeasurably brightened.

P.S. Advise all to see The Social Network this weekend. Comparisons have been made to Citizen Kane. 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. I'm dubious, fascinated, and obsessed.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Beaumont, we have a problem."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Perhaps I was overcome with pride at the rapidity with which I finished those FIVE recaps. That must be the only reason why I am once again behind, with two recaps left to go before the finale airs tomorrow night. I have been coasting on a wave of euphoric self-satisfaction.

I should tell you that the previous paragraph was written two weeks ago, while my SH and I sat comfortably on a plane anticipating our glorious arrival to Maui. Obviously, the finale has come and gone. Yet, I persist in my efforts to recap!

Opening Scenes:
I worry immediately that Kevin might be on the losing end of this episode after I notice how much time is devoted to his morning shaving ritual. Kelly is borderline falling apart, awash in loneliness for her husband. She expresses this to a greasy-haired Angelo while they share a smoke in the courtyard.

As the chefs stride into the Top Chef kitchen for the last quickfire in DC, they see a table loaded down with all sorts of wine. Not surprisingly, wine is one of Angelo's passions. Thankfully, he doesn't begin to wish out loud that he could make love to any of the wine bottles. Padma is wearing some sort of strange costume that looks as though it could be worn by a waiter at an old-fashioned restaurant. She is accompanied by Dana Cowin, editor-in-chief at Food & Wine.

It is somewhat disappointing that the last DC quickfire is as ordinary as a wine pairing. Even though Tiffany admits that wine isn't her strength, it's hard to believe that any of these chefs (or the thirteen that came before them) would have an especially difficult time coming up with a somewhat decent pairing. I could do it with my eyes closed! White wine, meet fish! Red wine, let me introduce you to my friends steak and short ribs. I think a beer-pairing, which has been done before on the show, is much more challenging. I always enjoy the relish with which the chefs taste all of the wines, though.

Kevin chooses to make a braised pork belly, though even I know that braising appropriately in this amount of time might not work out the way he wants. Kelly is going for bold, wild boar with a blue cheese emulsion to pair with her zinfandel. Tiff and Ed are both making rib eyes, and in what comes as a surprise to no one, I'm sure, Angelo is making fois gras to pair with his riesling.

Predictably, Kevin has to change his game plan, using quail instead of pork belly at the last minute. As he feared, Dana Cowin immediately mentioned that the delicacy of the quail doesn't pair effectively with a heavy merlot. She was also overcome by Kelly's blue cheese emulsion, which proved too overpowering for the pairing.

Angelo's fois gras/riesling and Tiffany's ribeye/shiraz were selected as the best pairings, and Angelo pulled out the win, including a trip to London. Lately frustrated with his performance, it's quite obvious that the win was a giant confidence booster. The other chefs, particularly Kevin, inwardly lament the loss of that tiny advantage.

Padma announces that the final challenges will take place in Singapore, marking the first time that Top Chef goes international for the finale. I'm excited about the news, but hope that the the final challenge remains the same, essentially cooking the best meal of your life. I'm all for cooking internationally, but I don't want the finale to be completely crowded with local specialties.

Elimination Challenge:
To space nerd Kelly's glee, the elimination challenge will occur at NASA. Via satellite from the international space center, the chefs learn that they will be making a dish that can be reproduced, freeze-dried, and served in space. They'll be serving astronauts, NASA scientists, the judges, and VERY SPECIAL GUEST Buzz Aldrin.

The chefs are in remarkably good spirits as they cruise through Whole Foods. Ed and Kevin both paid close attention to the astronauts at the space station, who mentioned spicy food as being especially enjoyable. Despite his burst in confidence, Angelo falls all over his cart whilst rushing about.

During prep, the good moods continue. Tiffany moon walks through the kitchen. Kevin shares his pepper with Angelo, who draws an indecipherable diagram of his planned dish. All goes swimmingly until Tom enters the kitchen. The moment Angelo shares his idea about ginger-glazed short ribs, Tom's raised eyebrows spread a panic throughout the room. After he grills each chef, smiling in his ever so charming way as he departs, Kelly discovers that Tiffany's mussels have frozen to death in the refrigerator, thus rendering them unusable.

Back at the townhouse, Ed attempts to console Tiffany, who had previously been very confident about her dish. Sad Kevin eats a bowel of cereal for dinner and vows to keep fighting. As the chefs prepare to depart the next morning, they find a note on the kitchen table which points them to a brand new Toyota Avalon parked outside, the prize for the winner of the challenge.

The chefs get to work in the cramped kitchen. Ed brings in a table to make more room. Tiffany reveals her former high school job, a stint at IHOP which inspired her to cook. Angelo spends most of his time bent over some sort of braising liquid, tasting it every few seconds and declaring his love for it. The food looks GOOD.

Kelly's dish goes out first, and she is simultaneously frightened by Anthony Bourdain's appearance and excited to see the adorable Buzz Aldrin. Everyone seems to enjoy her pan-roasted halibut. Ed goes next, describing his "trip to Morocco", a rack of lamb with a delicious couscous croquette. My favorite Eric Ripert finds the dish too busy, but Anthony Bourdain strongly disagrees, saying that Ed nailed the Moroccan flavors.

Kevin's strip steak with bacon-jalepeno marmalade and corn puree looks delicious, and essentially everyone enjoys it, though there are logistical concerns with his crispy onions, which would undoubtedly not remain crisp in space. Tiffany's halibut and coconut curry, though looking to me like a bowl of heaven, did not impress Eric Ripert.

Angelo's ginger-lacquered short ribs were thoroughly enjoyed by Buzz Aldrin and Anthony Bourdain, who has apparently undergone a personality switch. He feels that the ribs would adapt well to an extraterrestrial situation.

It was clear at judges' table that there were precious little flaws in the dishes across the board. NItpicky criticisms like "playing it safe", and "not enough strong fish flavor" were pretty much all the judges had to go on. In the end, Tiffany's lost mussels may have been the one thing keeping her from Singapore.

It was painful to see such a likable, clearly talented, TEXAN chef go, but Tiffany fans should take heart! There's big news on the Top Chef front!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

wedding #4

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

indian summer playlist

I have decided that it's simply not enough to stick to four seasons this year, for just as rapidly as I've worn out one playlist, another seems to take its place. I probably shouldn't attempt to impose my musical brilliance upon my few readers, but I think I might be getting the hang of creating a decent list. This one, which I've been tweaking for the past month, has been cycling on my Ipod over and over lately. I'm pretty sure that it's one of my best. As usual, I must give almost all credit to Rose.

killed myself when I was young-a.a. bondy, friday night lights soundtrack volume ii. You must attempt to ignore the morbid nature of the song's title, because let me tell you, what I conjure upon listening to this song is the image of Tim Riggins driving away from college in his brokedown black pickup, tossing his textbooks out the window into a green pasture somewhere outside of Austin. And that is not a bad picture at all! Both volumes of the soundtrack for my beloved FNL are excellent, though I have found this second offering to be far superior.

radioactive-kings of leon. As previously noted, I am beside myself with excitement about the Kings new album, though it doesn't drop until OCTOBER 19-a veritable ETERNITY. Thank goodness for the Itunes pre-order privilege of instant access to this first single. Behold, Caleb and brothers + one cousin frolicking in an idyllic Tennesseean summer afternoon, with only the most adorable children on the planet. And I must mention again, Caleb holding a baby? I can only handle so much.

the wrestle-frightened rabbit. A subtle gem, this song. I dismissed it initially, but found myself particularly enjoying listening to it with my windows rolled down one afternoon on a trip back from Santa Cruz. Yes, I live quite the rough life.

trying my best to love you-jenny lewis. I love to sing along with Jenny Lewis and pretend that my meager voice can compare with her soulful, deceptively strong, high-pitched one.

my love-sia, eclipse soundtrack. Sia's whispery, moody voice is highly addictive. I could listen to it all day. The fact that this song accompanies the most romantic scene in Eclipse has absolutely nothing to do with its inclusion on my playlist. No, not at all. What's that? Did someone mention a "leg hitch"?

gray or blue-jaymay. Yet again, bff Rose came through with this lovely light summer pearl of a song. I'll admit that there are days I actually avoid reading her tweets and FB postings because I have no impulse control when it comes to purchasing the songs she finds.

slow show-the national. I caught a few minutes of The National's set a few years ago at Austin City Limits, and though I was definitely intrigued, I didn't invest a lot of time in looking into them. BIG mistake. HUGE! There is something absolutely bewitching about the deep, throaty baritone of lead singer Matt Berninger. The songs have a dark, terribly romantic feel about them, too. I couldn't help myself and practically bought the entire discography one afternoon.

swimming-florence + the machine. Even now, months since I composed my winter playlist and discovered Florence Welch, I cannot stop listening. She absolutely nailed her recent live performance at the MTV VMA's, as pictured above, during which she managed to dance, jump up and down, and still belt out each powerful note all while wearing a diaphanous, drapey gown that would certainly have caused anyone else to trip over their own feet.

at or with me-jack johnson. Oh, Jack Johnson. So pleasantly reliable. Like a big slice of chocolate cake with a glass of ice cold milk. No matter what, you know you're going to like it. You didn't know that the adorable Hawaiian could be funny? It's a lovely surprise, isn't it?

40 day dream-edward sharpe and the magnetic zeros. I give the band credit for its inventive name alone. This particular tune is delightfully old-fashioned, and I find myself swaying to it at the funniest moments, like when I'm dealing with my giant sink full of sudsy, steaming water and loads of unwashed dishes.

perfect time-we shot the moon. I shan't reveal the source of this song. Never. I couldn't possible admit to you that I may have heard it whilst watching a fanmade video of a certain celebrity pair for which I have an inappropriate obsession. My pathetic truly knows no bounds.

suburban war-arcade fire. Whew. What a refreshing break from the humiliation of my previous song. Not a soul could criticize this addition, from indie fave Arcade Fire. They received almost exclusively five-star reviews for the new album, and I have been enjoying it immensely. There's a sort of vintage, Eagles-like feel to this song.

laredo-band of horses. I'm really starting to warm up to Band of Horses. They're a sort of strange beast, I'll admit. I can't quite figure them out, but for now, I'll enjoy listening to songs the like of "Laredo," with such charming lyrics as "Are you having troubles in droves?"

goin' to acapulco-calexico and jim james, i'm not here soundtrack. Our Joey, as you'll know that I call my husband's errant best friend, introduced me to this dreamy, lilting tune. He and I listened to it practically on repeat as we drove around town every day in search of new discoveries at Trader Joe's for dinner. Jim James is the lead singer of My Morning Jacket, and his distinctive voice does justice to Dylan's original version, in my humble opinion.

james-camera obscura. Though this song certainly has nothing at all to do with my life, you might still find me, headphones stuffed in my ears, singing along with this tale of heartbreak at the hands of someone named James. I adore Camera Obscura.

if it's the beaches-the avett brothers, friday night lights soundtrack, volume ii. This is only the most romantic song I've heard, possibly ever. Another treasure from FNL, I really hope I can remember the scene where it was played. I can only imagine that it was a wonderful one. Hold out past the slightly strange voiceover. You do not want to miss the last bit. "If it's the mountains' bending rivers than you will have them..."

bloodbuzz ohio-the national. Yes, the song title is a bit odd. The moody background + Matt Berninger's voice overcomes the weirdness of the lyrics. Somehow I don't care at all what he's saying when I listen to this song.

the only exception-paramore. I couldn't help including this lovely Top 40 tune. I'm sure quite a few of us have heard it this summer, but I've yet to tire of it.

life on earth-band of horses, eclipse soundtrack. A fitting end to my Indian summer, I believe. This song is a soothing lullaby, a gentle melody perfect for warm evenings gradually turning cooler.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I can't be blamed for my absence!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

- Posted from my iPhone

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Oh happy day!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

FINALLY a bit of news about the new album, set to drop on October 19. I have been WAITING, thankyouverymuch. I'm thinking it looks/sounds, oh, I don't know, AWESOME!!! (Yes, I do enjoy writing in all caps when it pleases me)

And by the way, Caleb holding a baby??? It's too much.

Team Kelly

In case you haven't noticed, today is 9-02-10. A day to celebrate! Oh, the fond memories I have of those relatively tame California teenagers. The Kelly-Dylan-Brenda love triangle, DONNA MARTIN GRADUATES, Steve's first true love Celeste, the arrival of homewrecker Valerie, Ray Pruitt!! (try not to think about his abusive behavior and when he pushed Donna down the stairs at Palm Springs), the time when Kelly was burned, the time when Kelly was attacked, the time when Kelly got involved in a cult, the time when Kelly dated a drug addict...

For the record, I loathed Brenda from the start. And secretly loved the Donna and David romance-through-the-years. Of COURSE I have to use the crustiest, sappiest clip ever to document this day:

I hate myself a little. Even though I'm pretty sure it's the best television wedding EVER.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Thank you, Steve Jobs.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


P.S. There is another version of the video which includes Chris's witty commentary before playing the last song. I loved it, but the quality isn't as great.

"And that bread? It drank all the juice right away and became like a soft ball."

I was PUMPED when I watched the previews for this episode. I find any sort of glorified concession stand food to be highly exciting, and I couldn't wait to see what the chefs would prepare. Even though I'm not a big baseball fan, I love attending games in the summer. The atmosphere can be deliciously wonderful, sitting in the hot sun, devouring all kinds of salty treats.

Opening scenes:
For much needed levity, there was a considerable amount of footage in the opener devoted to Ed walking around in Tiffany's dress. It was equal parts humorous and awkward, I would say. Good to see all the chefs except Kelly and Angelo getting a laugh. For her part, Kelly sneered at the undeserving Amanda and wished she would go home. Angelo, apparently, worships the gods of cooking, which happen to be all famous chefs in the world. He's crossing over to the dark side, if you ask me.

Padma and Rick Moonen (famed seafood chef and Top Chef: Masters participant) await the chefs next to a colorfully designed table. After five minutes of forcing the blank minds of the cheftestants to guess the challenge, Padma reveals that they'll be basing their dishes around food idioms, such as "the big cheese", "hot potato", and "bigger fish to fry." The winning dish will be featured on frozen food delivery giant Schwan's menu. Oh, how I remember the days of the Schwan truck pulling up to my house with our beloved cartons of ice cream and other delectable frozen treats...

The chefs draw knives to determine the order in which they'll pick a dish, and all determinedly avoid "hide the salami." Amanda decides to make mac and cheese while Kelly works on a chicken breast with grape puree. Angelo spends his prep time racing through the kitchen and having a conversation with his fried fish. Kevin, who has made the extremely wise choice of "bring home the bacon," quietly and calmly goes about making bacon three ways. Love him.

Though I had heart palpitations for Tiff when she confessed to using canned beans, Rick and Padma seemed to enjoy her dish. Not surprisingly, Kevin's chopped bacon+bacon puree+bacon froth was delicious and aromatic. Ed's "hot potato" gnocchi was light, tasty, and quite appropriate for a frozen dish. Rick's least favorites were Kelly's-he thought the concord grape puree didn't sing-and Amanda's sledgehammer of a dish, super-rich macaroni accompanied by a giant pork chop. Ed managed to squeak by with the win, probably because his dish would freeze better than bacon foam.

Elimination Challenge:
To half-Dominican Angelo's great joy, the chefs learn that they'll be going out to the ball game, where they'll be preparing one high-end dish each to be served at the concession stand at the Washington Nationals' ballpark. Apparently, when Angelo was finished praying to Julia Child each day, he spent the rest of his time dreaming of becoming a ball player.

The organizational meeting for the challenge doesn't go well, though it was clearly a bunch of passive-aggressive chefs who didn't feel like going up against Kelly. I thought they were being a bit whiny, because Kelly's suggestions were sound.

At Whole Foods, we learn that Kevin isn't taking any risks, by opting to make a plain chicken skewer. Amanda, on the other hand, is going the wildly impractical route, and preparing tuna tartare. Ed and Tiffany both take on quite the task as they work on hundreds of meatballs and arancini. Ed freaks out once he calculates the sheer number of shrimp and corn poppers he'll need. He turns into Angelo, racing around, dropping things, talking to himself, and yelling at everyone else.

Back at the townhouse, the chefs tackle the necessary issue of figuring out how service will work the next day. There is quite a bit of debate about taking orders as they come or having a single chef take orders. Angelo makes the rash decision to take this task on, though the rest of the chefs are visibly unsure about it.

During prep, Angelo wakes up and realizes that it doesn't really work for him to cook and take orders at the same time. Kevin has a conniption about the change of plans and a shouting match ensues. Ultimately, Angelo goes back to the original plan, relying on Ed to help him with his dish. In the last minutes of prep time, Angelo shouts out the details of each dish to the chefs, making sure he gets it all right. In an alarming turn of events for Amanda, the tuna has begun to oxidize, turning grey.

A wild mass of red-shirted fans descends upon the concession stand in a matter of minutes. The chefs seem to handle it quite well, and Tiffany notes that crab cakes and meatballs are called out more than anything. Three Nationals players devour their dishes with glee, even eating the tuna tartare with their fingers. It seems evident that their fave was Tiffany's meatball subs.

The judges were much more critical, as you might expect. Eric Ripert was terrified to take a bite of the tuna. Padma found Kelly's crab cakes a bit salty, but Rick and Tom felt they were the perfect thing for a baseball game. Tiffany's meatball sub, while messy, was flavorful and satisfying. Ed's shrimp and corn fritters, with perfectly crunchy outsides and creamy middles, were universally admired by the judges. Kevin's chicken was well-prepared, but the skewers were dangerously long and his shoestring potatoes overwhelming. Angelo's choice to sandwich his pork in hot dog buns was a poor one-the hot dog bun soaked up all the juices in an unappealing, bread-y way.

The poor chefs have to leave the fun of the game to head back to the stew room, and Padma calls all six of them to the table. Of course, there had to be some drama with Angelo and the orders, which Tiffany attempted to clear up. Kevin is still nursing a pretty serious grudge against Angelo.

The judges declared Ed and Tiffany to have the best dishes, complimenting them heartily on the flavor and presentation. Ed was the victor, and just as I was feeling sorry for him only receiving a copy of Rick Moonen's newest book, Padma announced that he also won a trip to Australia.

While the four remaining chefs faced the music, Kevin couldn't help throwing Amanda under the bus by vehemently stating that he would not have made a tartare. I am really thinking that he woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Otherwise, why would he have made such deathly long skewers? Kelly's dish was actually quite good, simply lacking in a bit in the texture department. Angelo was dinged with the proportion of bread to meat.

Despite some fairly serious mistakes, it was impossible that any of them compared to Amanda's unforgivable error of allowing the tuna to spoil. After quite a successful run considering her background and experience, Amanda was finally sent home. I can't say that I'll miss her much, though I do feel she was treated unfairly by the other contestants.

I'm still Team Kevin. I hope he snaps out of this 'tude.