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Kafka Zola

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  1. Sarah talking to Emeril like that was uncalled for and she should have manned up (so to speak) and apologized to him when that door of opportunity swung open. Instead, she tried to pretend she didn't know what Andy was talking about and then stepped right in it in the next sentence.


    Heather really is a piece of work. Tom tells her that they have never seen a contestant act like her in umpteen seasons of TC, and she shrugs it off, with a "Well, everyone knows I'm bossy". B*tch, please.

    I agree but I still have a wee smidgeon of respect more for someone who admits what they've done, no matter how obnoxious or how obnoxiously they stand by it, than someone who not only lies but then tries to use tears to manipulate others after being caught. And trying to turn the blame onto Bravo for bringing up what she did "now" and how unfair that was? Please.

    I could have done without seeing that photo of Ty's behind, Andy. Thankyouverymuch.

    I could have done without the thought of Sarah's teary orgasms.

  2. Yes, but at least Heather has the honesty to admit that no-one put words in her mouth and that it was not editing, but rather, her own honest belief. Contrast that Sarah who strongly implied, if not stated, on the Watch What Happens show that it was all due to editing. Despite that, she didn't hesitate to roll her eyes last night at other contestants, like Keith to name just one. And Heather never played the victim/martyr card as Sarah did when she was called out for telling Emeril to "F* off," which she clearly seems to have done judging by her contradictory statements and Tom's raised eyebrows.

  3. Well, I'm very relieved I didn't have to throw something at my television. But I swear, I thought it was going to go the other way. I have to say, BOTH menus looked fantastic.

    For those who didn't watch it, the Watch What Happens show had a few interesting tidbits. The number of people whom the chefs served over the course of the season was over 1500! And, as I guessed earlier, Sarah strongly implied that it was the fault of editing and stress which made her appear as she did. BTW, if anyone is in Chicago, she is planning on serving her full Top Chef menu very soon at Spiaggia.

  4. Annabelle, I think the canned bean thing is understandable. It's consistent with his preference for fresh or from scratch at all times; if you can't use fresh ingredients, his view is to change your plan and opt to cook something else. But the way he went on (and on)(and ON) about Grayson's combination of butternut squash with tomatoes..... You would have thought she'd used twinkies with arsenic!

    I feel cheated about not getting to see Beverly go the distance since I thought she was really starting to shine and her confidence was growing stronger and so were her dishes.

    I feel exactly the same way. I have a tendency to root for the underdog but in Beverly's case, it's that I relate as well. I was badly bullied when I was young and first came to this country. I was 12 at a NY girl's school and very different (in part because I'd never gone to school before and in part because I was so foreign). Those girls made my life a living hell which took me years to get over, but at least they were 12. WTH is Sarah's excuse? She clearly hasn't grown up but how could she have so little empathy? Even if Beverly is slightly different in her cooking style, shouldn't there be some sympathy for a fellow female chef, one who was badly abused in a past relationship and was clearly impacted as a result?

    It will be interesting to see how Sarah will justifies and excuses her actions at the Top Chef reunion special. I suspect it will the BS excuse of "we were all tired and stressed." Which I don't believe at all because she hadn't changed one whit after the long break between regular taping and the finals. As she said in last night's episode, referencing the final 3 and no Beverly, "THIS is how it was supposed to be."

    I hope Paul leaves her in the dust.

  5. But hates decorative greens. And Okra. And butternut squash mixed with tomatoes. And.... and...

    Is it just me or does Tom seem to have more obsessive tics or quirky dislikes this season than before? It's as if he simply cannot get past the use of a particular ingredient. But, if you use coconut, by GOD, you bloody well better use enough to drown someone in the flavour!

  6. Padma's reaction at Bev's departure made me wonder about that very thing. Padma seemed genuinely moved, more so than I think I've ever seen. I think she had probably seen some of the footage of Sarah et al being so unkind to Bev, but it's also possible that there were some behind-the-scenes collusion regarding who would stay and who would go, just for dramatic purposes.

    The disclaimer clearly states that those decisions are not just up to the judges; but rather, that the producers also have a say.

    Of course, Padma's reaction might have been edited to look as though she was upset at Bev's departure, but it could be that she was upset about something else entirely.

    Jaymes, I noticed that too. Given how much of an ice queen Padma usually is, it was quite stunning to see her with tears welling up in her eyes. I doubt it was mere editing tricks as Padma never seems particularly moved by anything. CJ's departure some seasons back was the only other time I noticed some visible emotion but it was never to this degree. I think the judges know full well what Beverly was subjected to: Gail implicitly indicated as such when she commented that Beverly may want to stab 2 particular people, and Tom's comments in LCK told me he knew too.

    Slightly OT, The Daily Meal's list of the top 101 best restaurants for 2012 puts Sarah's Spiaggia at #59. Stephanie Izard's "Girl & The Goat" is listed at #23. I'm happy she's done so well. Better than any of the other Top Chef winners, in fact. It seems to me that there was the least amount of fanfare about Stephanie Izard winning Top Chef and the show has not really played a part in her success. Past winners or chefs seem much more associated with the show in people's minds (like the Voltaggio brothers or Richard Blais). And yet, Stephanie has done better than all of them. Hm....

    Full List. (In case anyone is curious, Le Bernadin is #1, Alinea is #2, French Laundry #5.)

  7. Well, that was a disappointment. I've never disliked -- nay, loathed -- a contestant on any show, in any field, as much as I do Sarah. I can't see past her revolting bullying, maliciousness and hypocrisy to even appreciate her food. For someone who was so quick to mock and viciously attack Beverly for only making Asian food, her insistence on making only Italian food drives me batty.

    This episode also made me question, again, last week when TPTB decided not to provide Beverly any of the Asian ingredients necessary to create her typical flavours. I really think she was at an unfair disadvantage. Intentionally so, since Sarah was not so handicapped. And then, lo' and behold, this episode when there is no Beverly, the quick fire suddenly involves Asian masters. Hm.... For the first time, I really suspect some manipulation by the Magic Elves for maximum drama. I realize that sounds completely insane, and it probably is. I'm sorry. Clearly, rationality has flown out the window and been replaced by the blinding, seething hatred of a thousand corrosive suns. On that note, I'm going to take a very necessary chill pill.

  8. Fed up with this season which I've finally and reluctantly got to admit is the worst one yet, imo. As for Beverly, I would love to know what was in the pantry in that final challenge. It wasn't stocked with any of the things that she would typically use in building her flavours and, thus, seemed designed to give the loathsome Sarah an implicit advantage.

    Sure, a chef should be able to make something tasty under all circumstances but if we're near the finals and asking chefs to make the best representation of who they are as a chef and the best food they can, then not having a level playing field for both constestants seems unfair.

  9. That's the thing. I don't want any of these guys to win. Each and every one of them have demonstrated some kind of behavior or basic lack of skill that makes me essentially write them off. Being a chef means being able to lead, not just to cook - and not a single one of these people has demonstrated either. Honestly, I've sorta given up on even watching the rest of this season. The Texas shtick just didn't do it for me to begin with, and the cast has been underwhelming from the start. Just can't muster giving much of a damn about the last 6.

    I agree with Dexter to some extent. I'm not hugely enthused about any of the chefs this season. And I agree that being a chef entails both leadership and skills.

    However, playing Devil's Advocate in part, the general boredom with this season might be because we haven't really seen any extensive, serious, individual cooking this season. It's been an almost non-stop end of team challenges. Did they ever have so many in past seasons? I don't believe so.

    I think the problem stems from the fact that they started with more chefs than ever before. 29. So they had to whittle them down and fast. Hence, the flurry of team challenges. It's logical for production values, perhaps, but it certainly doesn't let the viewers engage right off the bat, it doesn't showcase many of the chef's skills or personal style, and it doesn't make for absorbing television.

    I found the Evil Challenge to be the best of the season mostly because it did, for once, let the chefs show their own personalities or creativity. It was riveting to me (though, given the rest the season, perhaps the bar was low to begin with). Had there been more individual challenges, perhaps some of the cast would appear to be more talented than they have seemed to be thus far and we'd all be able to muster a damn. ;)

    IMO, the reason why people seem entranced by the Last Chance Kitchen is *because* it involves relatively straight-forward (non-gimmicky) cooking done individually. It's why Nyesha had a chance to showcase her skills in a way that she never had while still in the game. (Did any of you think she was THAT strong before? I didn't, but then how could I with all those gimmicky team challenges like the one for the Dallas round-robin parties?)

    Regarding the behavior of the chefs this season, I'll play Devil's Advocate again. I don't think poor, obnoxious behavior is anything new (though the bullying certainly is at a whole new level, imo, and is the thing which has most turned me off this season). Bullying aside though, every season has had at least 2 cretins who hardly seem fit to be leaders. In the NY season, it was Hosea, Leah and some of the others. There is Jamie in ANY season. The shaving of Marcel's head in Season 2, which Ilan -- who is far from my idea of a Top Chef or a leader -- won. I'm sure you can think of more.

    So, yeah, it's far from ideal but I don't think it means we can write off this season *just because* there are several chefs who have shown they can be jerks under pressure. (For what it's worth, I'm often tempted to write off the whole NY Season because Hosea winning was a travesty, imo, but at least that season gave us Carla, Fabio and Stefan. Similar reason with Season 2 which Ilan won.)

    That said, I completely agree that the whole Texas angle is a horse that has been flogged to death. (And then its carcass was flogged some more.) They need to stop it and stop it now. (They also need more Eric Ripert but my lust is another issue entirely.... :wink: )

  10. A part of me feels rather badly for the chefs on this show because TC:M suffers from the same judging schizophrenia that many reality shows seem to experience: being safe is hugely rewarded up to a point until .... BOOM! Suddenly, it's not. And, suddenly, NOW, you're being chastised for doing the same sort of food that got you to the middle ground or end rounds, with nary a word of issue before.

    I'm not sure there is any way around that sort of judging problem, given how subjective judging can be. But I've always found it very tiring on Top Chef: Regular Flavour when contestants continuously skirt by on being blandly average and mediocre, while other chefs are sent home for being extremely adventurous and/or taking on too much, then.... suddenly..... those same, safe, chefs are called out for not providing something "inspiring" or exceptional.

    When Floyd gets a pass for serving -- essentially -- "salad in a bag" but poor Alex Trotta gets sent home for trying to be a leader and preparing the majority of the dishes (which even the vegan judge thought were pretty cool for a vegan dish), then I find it a bit disconcerting when *THIS WEEK,* the judges act like cooking "safe" is a truly horrible, terrible thing. I've never been hugely impressed by Chef Tio, so I'm not saying that the ultimate decision was incorrect, but I *do* get frustrated sometimes by the inconsistency in the judging valuation, even though I realise it sometimes can't be helped in this sort of medium.

  11. I think IndyRob makes a lot of excellent points about the practical ramifications of these various challenges for someone at the level of most of these chefs.

    He's really right in terms of practical Real Chef/Real World issue and I know it but that said, I've pretty much disengaged from this TM season, from the start. I explained my reasons much earlier in the thread, as well as how I think the new format has killed the show. But what little was left of my attempts at loyalty (or just interest in foodie television) pretty much flew out the window after the green horned (fanged?) worm challenge.

    Yes, they did come back a lot with very legitimate challenges afterwards (like cooking a gourmet and tasty version of healthy, low-fat, low-salt, low-calorie cuisine) but to me, they'd already "jumped the shark." (It's a bloody annoying phrase that I despise, and I have probably used it only twice in a decade. But one of those times will be here. Because that Andrew Zimmern-like challenge was just asinine and lost whatever little good-will was left in me for this show.)

    At the risk of ruffling all the same feathers that I ruffled during the most recent season of Top Chef: Regular Version, I will repeat my prior comment: At some point, AND/OR for some chefs (particularly on a Master's version), I think there needs to be much LESS lazily-put together, Survivor-like challenges than that which we have recently experienced.

    There is a middle ground. There really, really IS!!!A challenge like the Quick Fire that tested speed or the health quotient is much more justifiable, logical and rational than one which tested one's ability to cook with green-horned worms. I'm sorry, but there is simply no excuse for that in my opinion. Same thing with requiring semi-finalists to waste time by "diving" <koff> for their conch, etc.

    In an attempt to be positive though, I have to say, Hugh Acheson has a hysterically wonderful, dry, self-deprecrating, slightly caustic sense of humour. The man may conjure up slighlty distorted images of the original Nosferatu from the '20s and he may occasionally freak me out with his clearly intentional over-acting, his glares and his (now, self-acknowledged) monobrow, but there is no doubt that he has a wonderful sense of humour.

    Sad as it may be to say, he's one of the few redeeming features of the show for me by now. As a former SF-ite, I suppose I should really root for Traci des Jardins, but I'm afraid I just can't manage it. She's a really talented chef, but somehow, even when in SF and eating her food, she left me cold. I was disappointed to see Alex Stratta go home, but bringing that up will probably raise the old issue of: people trying and being sent home -- vs---- people colouring within the lines, being boring, never trying to stand out and, therefore, staying in the competition.

    From my phraseology, you probably can guess my opinion of this week's outcome, as well as the essentially "salad in a bag" Floyd or the consistently, generically mediocre Celina Tio.

  12. I also feel personally vilified and deeply hurt by the implication that there's something wrong with Nigella Lawson in a low-cut anything.

    Just kicking that out there, I mean.

    Heh. That made me laugh to no end.

    Between this, and all the Curtis Stone comments, I think eGullet should take the plunge and have a thread about those people in the Gastro world (or perhaps those on the TV gastro world) who make one feel rather.... hot and bothered. :raz:

  13. By the way, the change the channel thing has nothing to do with my original statement. Who and what made this guy famous enough to be all over my bloody screen?

    My cynical assessment: nothing made him so famous, but they think women are the main demographic group for this -- and most Bravo or general food -- shows. So, they brought on a supposed hot hunk with a supposed modicum of cooking credentials and a "foreign" (by US standards) accent to make him slightly more intriguing and "sexy." A youngish enough man to appeal to the main, necessary 18-35 demographic that controls their ad dollars. And, equally importantly, he's a total BLANK SLATE in terms of US viewers, so he carries none of the baggage that someone like Rocco would have.

    He's not my cup of tea, but honestly, isn't he better than Billy Joel's robotic wife or the former Asian host for Top Chef: Masters? I mean, at least this one seems to be breathing.....

  14. I've become progressively less enthused about Top Chef Masters with every season. I LOVED the first one and it trumped almost all else for me in terms of viewing. I'll admit a huge part of that is because I adore Hubert Keller with a passion, but I was also hugely impressed with the caliber of the other chefs as well. (Rick Bayless! And I don't even like Mexican food normally!) Yes, the format wasn't perfect and the host robotic, but honestly, I didn't mind it terribly.

    The second season: some good chefs, but not quite of the same caliber and something got lost in the translation somehow. By the end, I forced myself to watch just to see who won. I don't know what happened; perhaps, the challenges seemed sillier and the bonhomie which marked the first season lessened. Personally, I think it's because nothing could beat the caliber, professionalism, genuine coolness, eccentric characters and amusing interactions of those first season chefs, who had to be the most perfect ensemble ever. (Hubert Keller & Rick Bayless! Jonathan Waxman being the out-of-breath elder statesman & Wylie Dufresne with his sibling rivalry with Graham Elliot Bowles. Art Smith being snarky. Rick Moonen trying to be evil. Ludo L. playing the insane, volcanic Frenchman. It was all very hysterical and very fascinating. (Yes, I sound like a gushing fan girl, and yes, I am! To me, that season was heaven. And, did I mention, Hubert Keller?!! :raz: )

    Third season: I barely care. Honestly, the only thing I'm enjoying thus far is seeing Ruth Reichl, whom I not only admire and respect, but who I think is a much better critic than Gael Greene.

    I think the new format is going to ultimately kill the show and will prove to be a big mistake for the brand. Who wants "Top Chef: Slightly Elevated Chefs?" I don't. And, being slightly snarky for a minute, if Chef Tio is going to hit every cooking competition on every possible channel, at least try to get Susur Lee, Ming Tsai and the other chefs who also failed The Next Iron Chef show. But, as noted above, this format doesn't permit any really established, really famous chefs to have the time.

  15. I wasn't hugely surprised by Elia's comments, as I'd followed the controversy when she'd first made them, as well as Colicchio's mild, tempered response. (Bourdain also had some amusing comments on Elia & her conspiracy theories in his Bravo blog, shortly after the whole kerfuffle.) I suspected Elia would try to explain herself a little, but I thought she would try to minimise it by talking about the stress of being the first eliminated, etc. etc.

    What I was surprised at was by how Elia not only dug her heels in at the reunion show, but dug herself in even deeper. She'd obviously spent time preparing an additionally detailed response (focusing this time on the alleged disparity on the menu at his LV restaurant) and she came loaded with what she clearly thought was further ammunition. And, again, Colicchio refuted -- gently but pointedly -- her criticisms and gave her every opportunity to get out of the mess. But she seemed hell-bent on her course. I thought the first time round that she was engaging in a mild form of career suicide, so it will be interesting to see how she does from here on out. She's no Jen Carroll, in my opinion, even if she does have the Robuchon connection.

    The reactions of her fellow contestants during the reunion show was the most interesting part to me. Most seemed shocked or in utter disbelief. One of them (can't recall whom) made the gesture of shooting themselves in the brain. (Of course, it could have been that they felt like doing it to themselves over the arguing and drama, but I doubt it. It seemed clear they thought Elia was really screwing herself.)

    On a different topic, I was really amused by the reactions to Jamie and her comments. Tom C. didn't even bother to hiding his eye-rolling and, I have to say, Jen Carroll gives the most overt looks of dripping contempt that I've seen in a long, long time.

  16. I'm so thrilled, I feel as though one of my German Shepherds won a Shutzhund competition! When they announced Richard's name, I did such a happy dance, poor Zola thought I'd lost my mind!

    Random thoughts (because I'm too excited to be coherent):

    - Whatever I've said about Mike Isabella, a true "Bravo" for him. He was incredibly impressive -- and I would have said that even if *HE* had won. That Halibut dish will be in my dreams.

    - I can't help it; I have a viscerally negative reaction whenever Jamie (Jaime?) comes on screen. But I was glad she didn't unintentionally sabotage Mike's chances and that she really worked for him.

    -- I thought the way of determining the sous-chef challenge was really interesting, especially as it pertains to future episodes. It's a nice twist, but I can see how it can also come back and bite the choosing chefs on the ass.

    -- I thought Richard's amuse bouche (as photographed) was visually gorgeous.

    -- That said, I was really, REALLY surprised by some of his comments about the "Pearls and Oysters." Many people know that is the name of Chef Keller's break-out, signature dish at French Laundry. Wasn't Richard one of the ones who commented on eG long ago about plagiarism? Sure, the dish isn't precisely identical to Chef Keller's in form, but the name and overall concept.....?

    -- Regardless, we all know that today's multimedia world is so connected that it's hard to avoid some overlap, and Richard's dish was certainly different enough in presentation from Keller's tapioca-centered dish. That should be enough. We are all influenced by outside sources, so ultimately no biggie in the long run, SO LONG as Blais never comments on some other chef taking his or any other chef's overall ideas for a successful dish. (That said, I still think Mike Isabella stole Blais' oyster idea pretty much verbatim. And the verbatim part is the key, for me.)

    Edited to add: with regard to the prior conversation about the length of Top Chef and possible extensions due to adjustments in challenges: I'm probably in the minority, but I would gladly and most enthusiastically watch Top Chef if it were 90 minutes each week. Honestly, it would still be my "must see" TV, up there with Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Borgias, and other more serious fare. If an extended Top Chef would have that "Wild Card" option more frequently, I say "Bring it on," no matter how long the episode.

  17. ^ Richard, I couldn't agree more. I love Central Market with a passion and think it is much, much better than the Whole Foods here in Houston. (We should have a thread just for "Things that you love at Central Market." Heh.) One of my favorite things: their olive oil tastings. I truly didn't believe there could be such a huge difference between olive oils (from within the same region even) until I experienced Central Market.

    Going back to the topic at hand, one of the (many) things I love about Central Market is that they seem to genuinely *want* you to taste things in order to cultivate your palate and your tastes. From a business standpoint, it's smart because they know they'll get you addicted and coming back from more. But, even apart from that, I think they genuinely want you to try new things and be surprised.

    Have I mentioned that I adore Central Market with a passion? :raz:

  18. I found it odd that Antonia used Scotch Bonnets for Morimoto's sashimi. She seemed to follow such a traditional route for everything else and then she put Scotch Bonnets on sashimi???

    It was unclear to me from Gail's comment if it was just a few tiny slivers or something else, but either way, it didn't seem to fit the subtle nature of Japanese cuisine and it certainly didn't seem to go with the other delicate dishes she did (like the vegetables).

  19. I find that it depends on my week and how crazy it is. When I'm swamped, I'm happy to taste samples of the various soups or tidbits at Central Market, and sometimes, I end up buying the item. Last week, they had a delicious quinoa salad that I ended up getting after a tasting. I also get some of their pre-made sauces like chimichurri or else a tapenade.

    Outside of those really hectic weeks, I don't usually succumb. I love the free tastings, but I don't usually buy something unless it's a very unusual sort of salumi that I haven't had before, a very region-specific specialised olive oil that I ended up loving, some funky sea salt, or some very unusual sort of cheese.

    But my mother... my mother <bangs head on desk>. She can't go into Central Market, Whole Foods or even Costco and Sam's without buying at least one thing she tasted. (Usually, it's more like 3 or 5.....) Last week, after a sampling and microscopically brief tutoring from the sales lady, she bought 2 bottles of some sort of Adobe Chipotle powder from Central Market that she has no idea how to use (and which I shudder at her attempted usage, since this is a woman who hates salt, fat, butter, spices, oil, cream and *ANYTHING* guaranteed to make food edible). And last Sunday for Family Dinner, she inflicted some pre-prepared, corn-tortilla-encrusted-and-spiced tilapia on us that she'd fallen in love with at some store (after a tasting) and bought. It actually made me flee to the bathroom to vomit.

    I love my mother dearly, but her "cooking" <ahem> is really going to be the end of me. And it's only gotten worse since she has all those damn tastings in the stores!

  20. Loved this episode. I thought the twists and challenges were great and emphasized cooking above all else.

    I don't think Antonia slimed her way through either. I thought she fought hard and focused on food that emphasized taste over elaborateness. And, like Mike Isabella, I think she's improved since her season.

    The Magic Elves fooled me as to who was going to win between those two. Thanks to all the comments on how Mike was on such a roll, I really thought she would win out over Mike. Regardless, I think it will be a good finale and I'm happy for him -- even if I do still think he's a crass, bloviating cretin.

    Go Richard!

  21. So you want a show more like Iron Chef? Might I suggest Iron Chef?

    TC is reality tv and the chefs know what they're getting into when they sign up for it. It's fine the way it is. Hell, I'd say it even manages to exceed the exceedingly low quality standards set for every other program on Bravo.

    Thank you for suggesting what you think is more appropriate for my viewing pleasure....

    No, I do not want Iron Chef. I feel as though you are willfully misunderstanding my point. Yes, TC is a reality tv show (and a very good one at that), and yes, there have to be challenges or restrictions. But it's a question of degree and timing. At this late stage in the competition, I should like to see how they manage to cook in challenges that don't involve subpar or primitive kitchen equipment, or ludicrous twists like "catching" their own conch. If they want to add a twist, how about -- just off the top of my head -- surprising them midway during cooking with a new, exotic protein or funky ingredient that they have 20 additional minutes to transform into a 2nd dish? A second dish that is thematically consistent with the 1st one? Or, they could be asked to use the primary ingredient in a 2nd dish that is a sweet or almost dessert-like version, all in less than 30 minutes?

    But at least give them proper cooking equipment or some sort of actual kitchen, even if it's slightly primative, and don't stick them on a windy beach after sending them out to catch their own conch.

    It doesn't have to be a choice between Iron Chef or Survivor. It's not all or nothing. There can be a balance in between. I simply don't think it was struck in this last episode.

  22. On a separate note, at this point in the competition, I wish they would just let the chefs cook their food without all these damn twists. Swimming for your conch, cooking on a beach, minimal equipment, gusty winds and iffy flames? Enough already.

    As ridiculous as they are, the “challenges” are an integral part of TC.

    Of course they are. My point was that *at this point in the competition,* I'd prefer for there not to be such ridiculous limitations. We saw how the chefs had a chance to excel and show the food they're capable of in the "Personal History" challenges. There, the chefs were essentially left alone to cook the food that best showcased their talents, without any crazy twist. I'd like to see more of that given the title at hand.

  23. Chris, thank you for your answer and explanation. I had a hugely detailed post in response, but alas, the damn server crashed on me and ate it. So, one more time, but en bref:

    -- I'm glad you enjoyed Feast but I hope that you will give it a chance on another visit for further exploration. I completely agree, it's hardly the best restaurant in the world (or, even, in Houston) but I do think the dishes you had that day at lunch didn't do it proper justice. They have one of the best moules dishes I've had in ages and in any city. I think perhaps (??) it's got a bit of vermouth and faintly sweet, very dry wine in the light cream sauce, but whatever their subtle ingredients are, it's consistently delicious. It's not always on the menu but you just have to ask the amazing waitstaff and kitchen, and they'll often whip it up for you. (Just to be clear, I have absolutely no affiliation with Feast; I just root for them enormously whenever I can. There aren't a lot of restaurants like it in Houston and I admire what they are trying to do, as well as the heart and passion they put into their food.)

    But, back to their food: they have a fabulous roasted marrow on toast points, a great rabbit stew, a tasty oxtails dish, and a dessert that will make the less-reserved amongst us replicate the scene in "When Harry Met Sally".... So, next time you're in town, give them a more extended run. I think you might be a little more impressed. :)

    -Catalan's Foie Gras Bonbons: I completely agree, particularly about the heavy breading. I don't always trust my judgment in things (at least, not when so many people rave otherwise) but to me, I thought they were like doughy, slightly greasy donut holes with a bare modicum of foie gras taste. And, most certainly, no creamy, gooey, rich, oozing foie gras center.

    - Regarding Houston's fine dining scene, I think the city has come a long way. That said, I think most of their best restaurants would be akin to the B/B+ range restaurants in cities like NY, Chicago and SF. Take REEF, for example. Bryan Caswell tried out for The Next Iron Chef and he has a remarkable background as one of Jean-Georges' protegés; he's a very, VERY strong chef, imo. His REEF gets a lot of attention but... I hated the food. Hated it. Completely resented wasting my special birthday dinner there, and I equally resented the 2nd time I was dragged there against my will. And everyone I know who has gone there has been similarly underwhelmed. (To be fair, it's quite possible that my friends and family simply can't relate to Gulf Coast cuisine, since we all grew up and lived in Europe or NY where the food is very different.)

    Unfortunately, it's more likely that the food there (or at RDG, or at other similarly hyped restaurants) simply isn't in the same league as that put out in certain other cities. I *want* Houston to have phenomenal food, dammit. I want it to have something like a French Laundry, Daniel, Marea, Masa, EMP, etc. But I'm afraid, in my opinion, it doesn't come even remotely close. Not even in the same galaxy. Which is why I generally stick to the small or casual-ish places like Indika, Ibiza or Feast where I have no expectations of false grandeur or sophistication, or to delicious ethnic places where my huge (taste) expectations are usually met.

    That's why, next time you're in town, I hope you'll give some of those latter places a shot. Because Houston does have wonderfully good food. Really, I swear it does! :hmmm: So, next time you're in town, let me know. For starters, I'll tell you about one of the best Ethiopian restaurants in the country (and certainly better than anything I've had in the main Ethiopian areas of N. Virginia or Boston). And if you like tartare, as you said in one post, their version will boggle your mind! I'll even take you there personally if you want. :biggrin:

  24. Well, that episode didn't go the way I thought it would.... Mike Isabella's "greasy" fish (with butter that they repeatedly said "didn't go") won out over Blais' cleverly creative dish that they thought was delicious but included one serving of slightly undercooked lobster? Hm.

    I think that, at this point in the competition, they should show a bit more of the judges' deliberations. Because I really don't understand the decision, especially after having read Tom C's blog. There, he commented on Mike Isabella's savory pineapple but, at the table, only Gail seemed very enthused about it. *He* seemed utterly nonchalent and, perhaps, even slightly unconvinced. In the blog, there was nothing about the butter or greasiness of Mike's fish, only further comments on the "mysterious" smoky flavour imbued by the banana leaf.

    On a separate note, at this point in the competition, I wish they would just let the chefs cook their food without all these damn twists. Swimming for your conch, cooking on a beach, minimal equipment, gusty winds and iffy flames? Enough already.

  25. Pie in the Sky - a British cop show has Henry Crab running a great little restaurant that features all sorts of wonderful pies.

    I was just going to list that one too. Such a wonderful little show! The only problem with "Pie in the Sky" is that it can make you stay up all night obsessing about steak and kidney pie. Since it's not exactly easy to find here in the US (let alone in Houston, where I live), a few weeks ago after watching the last episode of the most recent season, I actually made my own steak and kidney pie. I think Detective Crab's pie looked much better.... :unsure:

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