Sunday, September 30, 2012

JRDN Review

I had the best time at JRDN in Pacific Beach, but I was also with a VIP in whatever sense of the word you want to interpret that, so my experience may be a little biased, just FYI.

JRDN's a stylish restaurant/hotel right on the water that serves sandwiches by day and steak by night.  It's got a simple menu with lots of big words that I can barely pronounce, so that tells you that everything is probably really, really good.  Keep in mind my phone is operating a bit slower these days so some of these pictures aren't the best quality since I can only hold my camera over the table for so long.  But let's get into it!

Okay, so, leading off I had something that I've never eaten before: Quail:

Bitesize bird

The quail was outstanding.  May just order a couple of these in place of an entree.  Beautifully cooked and seasoned with an orgasmic crispy skin and cherry sauce with a rice-like stuffing.  I'd snack on these likes apples if I could.

Mussels with garlic bread

A tray of fine cheeses imported from Norway, Sweden, and the Andromeda Galaxy

The cheeses and mussels went hand-in-hand here.  You took some bread, cheese, and mussels/sauce and combined them altogether into some sort of perverse flavor orgasm. 

The appetizers were very impressive.  I'm not really an appetizer guy but holy crap I would seriously consider just getting apps the next time I go here.  But the entree was just as impressive as I partook in something else that I've never eaten before: Duck:

Duck breasts would definitely benefit from implants

The duck was most outstanding but what's possibly more impressive is that I actually unknowingly ate some mushrooms.  See those stringy things beneath the peach at the top of the plate?  I had no idea that I was eating arguably one of the most disgusting foods in the universe, but I apparently I was.  And then someone pointed out that they were mushrooms and that was the end of that.

Halibut

Swordfish

Mandatory steak

All solid.  Next time I think I'll go for the steak since, you know, I'm a steak guy.  But what great meal isn't complete without a sweet, tasty dessert?  

Ah yes, the dessert tray

What's better than drooling over the dessert tray?  How about eating the entire dessert tray?  This was totally awesome - got to have a bit of all of the above.  You see that cheesecake in the upper left?  Peanut butter and jelly cheesecake.  Pretty twisted but good.  

So yeah.  Really good place and delicious food.  If only they had some quail snackers then they'd be the best.  

JRDN in Pacific Beach - no vowels - check it out. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pig Burger

A burger made of sausage.  My friends - this does exist.  From the Prado at Balboa Park, I give you...the PIG BURGER!

A plate of pure artistic integrity

First off - the unique thing about this burger is that it's not only made of sausage, but it's also got a couple strips of bacon on it.  So it's like a DOUBLE Pig Burger.  Not even Porkins could have anticipated the awesomeness that is this combination of pork and pork. 

This is a really nice restaurant located at the heart of Balboa Park.  My family and I checked it out for lunch after exploring the Titanic exhibit and the Natural History Museum.  Nice menu - fancy tacos and burritos, beef burgers, seven dollar giant glass bottles of water from Norway - you know, the usual.  But seriously, this plate had a lot of flavors on it.  The burger itself is good but I think the sausage almost becomes overpowering as you get really into it.  It doesn't look massive in this picture, but the burger is actually a decent size and the meat itself is heavy.  The fries and beans are good - nice to have both as side item options.  For appetizers they have these baked cheese chips that are really tasty.  Overall a nice joint.

The Titanic exhibit was really cool.  Lots of nifty artifacts that had been at the bottom of the Atlantic for 80-something years.  I think the most interesting was a bottle of champagne that still actually had champagne in it.  That's a Greg's Gourmet challenge I'd love to partake in but alas, they told me to piss me off when I proposed it.  

The Prado at Balboa Park - check it out.  San Diego Natural History Museum - check it out.  Titanic exhibit - check it out.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

MasterChef Season 3 Recap

MASTERCHEF
Season 3 Recap

Bud-wise-er

I entered this season with low expectations for MasterChef and high expectations for Hell's Kitchen.  When the winners were crowned, my opinions did a complete 360 and it was actually MasterChef delivering the goods while HK lay in a gutter.

One of the problems I had last season was that the show was really slow paced.  Unnecessary slow tension, commercial breaks at stupid times, and constant cuts from shot-to-shot when a judge was about to say whether or not he liked a particular dish.  It seems they cut down on that a little bit this season but there's still stuff that MasterChef does that's really, really annoying.  First off, Joe Bastianich's Douche Alarm act gets really old really fast.  I realize that Fox is telling him to be the mean judge, but at times it feels like he's trying too hard to troll people and it just comes off painfully annoying to us, the viewers, at home.  Or how about the constant pessimism?  When the chefs are cooking the judges will go around to see who's doing what and if something is said that's slightly out of the realm of normalcy, the judges (specifically Joe and Gordon) freak out LIKE OOMGGZZZZ HOW CAN U DOOOO THAAAAT????

Unofficial spokeswoman of Greg's Gourmet

Another thing that bugs me about MasterChef is that the judges will be talking a lot and giving a lot of commentary but not actually delivering any new information.  "Now this challenge is extremely important because someone is going home."  WHOA, REALLY??? I DIDN'T KNOW THAT DURING AN ELIMINATION TEST SOMEONE WAS GOING HOME.  "This is a tough challenge.  They have to make sure the steak is cooked right."  WHOA, REALLY???  I THOUGHT THE WHOLE POINT WAS TO COOK YOU A RAW STEAK THANKS FOR TELLING ME.  "There can only be one MasterChef."  WHOA, REALLY??? I THOUGHT THERE WERE 17 MASTERCHEFS, GOOD THING YOU FILLED ME IN ON THAT MYSTERY.

Or how about the piss poor product placement?  "Today you will be cooking with steaks purchased from Walmart" with the corporate logo at the bottom of the screen.  I mean, really, guys?  Can you put a little effort into it?  Watch a couple Seinfeld episodes to learn how to properly place products.  "Snapple?""No, too fruity." 

The transparency of this makes me want to vomit...it also makes me hungry for steak

The good thing about MasterChef as opposed to HK is that this season's batch of chefs were actually pretty interesting which made for good entertainment.  

WINNER: Christine - Naturally Christine had the most intriguing story line of the season with her being a blind chef and I kept waiting for her handicap to interfere but it never did.  Really amazing performance and she has a terrific attitude to back it up.

RUNNER-UP: Josh - This is where things get a little messed up because Josh had no right to be in the finals.  The truth is this should have probably been Frank's spot since Becky was free-falling for a few episodes.  Josh has a lot of talent - that's obvious - but he lacks consistency and makes some really strange errors that come off as pretty amateurish which made it all the more ridiculous that he beat out Frank during their challenge.  He was also kind of a hypocrite, i.e. if David Martinez had asked him for rice he wouldn't have given it to him, yet when Frank elected to save himself from elimination in the one of the final challenges, Josh got all upset.  It's a competition, dude.

3) Bitchin' Becky: Becky looked like the chef to beat for a long time but really caved in under the pressure in the final episodes, making silly errors that she wasn't making early on.  Her food always looks beautiful and she performed surprisingly well as a team captain.  She's the girl who kinda gets on your nerves yet if she won you wouldn't really be bothered all that much.

4) Frank: He was robbed.  Consistently solid all season long, no gaffes in his game, yet somehow Josh beats him out on the tail-end of a chocolate soufle├ę.  Should have been Christine vs. Frank in the finals.  May have even had a different outcome.

The turning point of the series.  For once the "shocking elimination" actually lived up to the hype

5) Monti: She's so hot and her attitude just makes her hotter.  Really utilized her skill set well throughout the competition.

6) David: How the hell did this guy finish so high?  Dude was a total whipping boy for the other chefs as well as the judges and the funny thing about this guy is that he was practically emotionless.  Whether he was happy, mad, fighting, disappointed, or getting grilled by the judges, the dude had the same exact expression.  And for some reason I laughed every time.

You can never tell if David is being complimented or grilled

7) Felix: Definitely skilled, but lacked the balls to be a real force.

8) Stacey: Has some skills but they topped out where others exceeded.

9) Tali: What a douche.  How did this goofball finish 9th?  It seemed like every time he was featured he was getting his ass grilled.  And all the "I'm such a genius" bullshit got old after the fifth time he was serving horseshit on a plate.

10) Tanya: She cooks steak out of her ass.  That was the highlight of her season.

11) Mike: He wears a cowboy hat.  That was the highlight of his season.

12) Anna: Just kind of hung in there.  

13) Scott: I was rooting for this guy early.  Had trouble really performing in the kitchen.

14) Flavor Elevator Ryan: Easily the most entertaining contestant of the season.  Where his buddy Tali came off as a douche, the Flavor Elevator actually seemed pretty harmless.  He's just a dude looking to have some fun.

"WHAT'S THE MATTA WITH YOU???"

15) Helene: She tried hard but just couldn't really find a comfort zone.

16) Michael: Dude got absolutely annihilated.

17) Dave: Who was this again?

18) Samantha: Who was this again?

Overall a colorful bunch.  Made for some entertaining moments. 

There's one thing that's still unanswered in an otherwise complete season: Why was Joe wearing red shoes for a couple episodes?

They were running late for the photo shoot after an extended day of bowling

I went on a huge rant about why Hell's Kitchen failed this season.  But MasterChef?  It did a good job.  Obviously Gordon Ramsay was putting more of his attention here and the product turned out really nice.  Yeah, it's got its quirks and annoyances like any other reality TV show, but it was entertaining to watch and they brought together a solid group of contestants.  

Looking forward to next season!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Hell's Kitchen Season 10 Recap

HELL'S KITCHEN
Season 10 Recap

Still constipated over the crap that was season 10

Alright, some overall thoughts on the train wreck of a season that's just been jammed down our throats.  I've repeatedly chastised HK and Gordon Ramsay throughout the season and I can safely say that season 10 is where HK has bottomed out.  Really quick - if you're the smartass that's going to say "well if you don't like it then don't watch it," yeah, blow me and don't visit this blog anymore.  HK is one of the only shows I actually go out of my way to watch and I've seen every season of it.  And this is the frickin' Internet anyway.  Bitching and complaining is what it was built for.

Why did this season suck?  A combination of things.  First and foremost - Gordon Ramsay has complete control over everything he does.  And he's earned it with sexy ratings, millions of dollars, and a general consensus that his shows are totally badass.  But the problem is that complete control will eventually lead to a complete downfall.  Because Gordon has such an impressive background and a trail of success, suddenly outside opinion becomes less and less relevant.  Gordon now has four shows on Fox; HK, MasterChef, Kitchen Nightmares, and Hotel Hell.  He has other shows in Britain, owns about a million restaurants, and makes bunches of other special appearances.  The guy's booked until the apes take over the planet. 

Inevitably with so much on one's plate, shortcut creation becomes necessary and here's where we come to why season 10 of HK sucked:  I don't think Gordon was fully prepared this time around.  I think he had so much on his plate but thought, hey, I could kinda halfass some things and still churn out a product that people will love!  And you know what?  Most people probably did.  But when put up against the previous nine seasons, season 10 just flatout clogged the toilet and overflowed.  

One of the issues was the contestants: THEY WERE BOOOOOOORING.  Most lacked any real culinary skill and most lacked any personality whatsoever.  Let's just go through them one by one:

WINNER: Christina - one of the few contestants who had both skill and personality.  I'm glad she won.  This rant has nothing to do with her.

Well deserved

RUNNER-UP: Justin, Generic White Guy#1 - Of the 20 chefs to cook in all of the HK finales, Justin is either the worst or second to worst.  The only other finalist who may have a shot at beating Justin for most boring lame-o in the kitchen would possibly be season 1 winner Michael.  But Michael had tattoos and a mohawk.  Justin had absolutely no entertainment value and if you ever go back and watch this season over, take note of the early episodes; Justin rarely makes any appearances to the confession cam.  That's how lame and boring he is.  Seriously, throw any finalist at me that you may think is worse than Justin and I'll refute it.  Season 2's Virginia?  Had no business being in the finals, that's what made it kind of interesting.  Plus she was hot.  Season 8's Russell?  Dude was a total douche, that's good for entertainment.  Season 5's Danny?  Probably the worst winner in HK history since he resigned like a week into his new job, but he was a legit contender in HK's best season.

The most personality Justin showed all season

3) Dana: I THOUGHT SHE WAS A FAVORITE EARLY ON BUT THE THING I'M LEFT WONDERING ABOUT HER IS WHY SHE YELLS SO DAMN MUCH???

4) Barbie: Started slow but came on strong.  Her problem was that she lacked leadership skills and for some reason her cooking would be good for several services in a row and then she'd just stink up the joint.  Kept a relatively low profile.  For entertainment purposes she definitely wasn't the most amusing chef there.

The main beneficiary of the Clemenza Safety Blanket

5) Clemenza: Ok, case in point as to why this season sucked.  How in the blue hell did Clemenza finish 5th?  Easily the worst fifth place finisher in HK history and it took him SEVEN nominations before Gordon finally sent him home.  I mean, this guy was just terrible.  Couldn't stay consistent, couldn't stay organized, but the one thing I did like about him was that whenever he'd be up on the chopping block he'd be shaking his head and getting all passionate like he was shocked he was nominated for cooking like crap.  I also had him as an early favorite, but that was before I realized how terrible of a chef he was.  By the way - remember the first episode where they focused on him coughing?  As if they were either foreshadowing something or trying to make him seem weak for being overweight?  Yeah, suck it, editors.  I see right through you. 

6) Robyn: This chick got way more air time than she should have, and the only reason she got that airtime is due to the lack of conflict anywhere else on the show.  We can only take caffeinated Robyn and testicle-chewing Kimmie going at it so many times.  After the 18th argument it just got kind of old.

HAW HAW!

7) Brian, Generic White Guy #3: Everyone seemed to like this guy, but for much of the season I couldn't stand him.  Looking back I kinda wish he had finished higher cause now I realize how entertaining he actually was.  In my recaps of the first few episodes I'd refer to most of the guys on team blue as Generic White Guy#1-5, seeing as they all looked the same, talked the same, and were more likely to be clones of Agent Smith than actual individuals.  But seeing as how Robyn and Clemenza finished above him, I think he should have stayed longer.

This is how I felt while watching this season

8) Kimmie: Bitch this, bitch that.  Her vocabulary was limited, as most rednecks' are.  Her time in HK consisted of her eating lamb testicles, calling people bitches, and threatening to eat Robyn. 

9) Psycho Bitch Tiffany: She finished about right.  She was kinda crazy at times, kinda drunk at others, had her moments.  One of the few acceptable contestants.

10) Rolls Royce: Wished he would have done better as he was one of the few contestants who showed any personality. 

11) Patrick Van Halen: Pegged him as an early favorite.  Really tried his best but just couldn't take the heat.

12) Roshni: Oh Roshni.  She battled so hard but came up short...LOOOOOL.  But seriously, short jokes aside...uh...I guess there's really nothing else.

13) Guy, Generic White Guy#2: Guy was mildly amusing for a few episodes and he should have gone further but the problem is his best was just below average.

14) Danielle, Pouty Lips: I was infuriated when the elimination was between Pouty Lips here and Guy and they left us with a TBC, promising that the elimination would be REALLY SHOCKING.  Well, it wasn't.  Danielle went home and no one cared.  This was the obvious sign that this season was going to stink.  I mean, if you're trying to pump up an elimination between Danielle and Guy then clearly you've got a problem. 

15) Don, Generic White Guy#4: He was a funny guy.  That's about all he had going for him in HK.

16) Briana: I recall this chick being kinda hot.  Why'd they have to get rid of the hot chick so early?

17) Chris, Generic White Guy#5: Who the hell was this again?

18) Tavon: Hahaha.  For a few minutes you were actually rooting for this guy cause he was just so awful.  

Overall, how many memorable contestants were there this season?  Honestly...maybe three.  Christina for winning.  Justin for being the crappy runner-up.  And Tavon for being historically bad. 

And that's the problem.  There just wasn't enough conflict going on in the kitchen or behind-the-scenes to warrant any real entertainment value, so the editors instead spent all their time putting together any little thing that could be construed as conflict and slapped us in the face with it over and over again.  Guys - there were 6 to be continued's this season. SIX.  Six out of TWENTY.  That's one almost every 3 episodes, and it definitely didn't need to be that way.  Due to all that extra garble, episodes frequently went along at a snail's pace until they mercifully gave us a TBC.  Look, one or two a season, sure, whatever.  But giving us one a couple episodes into the season because an elimination between Danielle and Guy is just TOO DAMN INTENSE FOR US???  Give me a break.

I've had ENOUGH!!!

And it all comes back to Gordon Ramsay, the guy with absolute control.  Here's something I've ranted about a few times already: Remember in episode 12 where it was Red Menu vs. Blue Menu?  Pretty big but fun challenge.  And yet, Gordon wasn't there to deliver the challenge himself.  No, instead he mailed them an f-ing I-Pad with a pre-recorded message.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!  THIS IS WHAT IT'S COME TO, GORDON RAMSAY???  But it didn't stop there.  Gordon didn't make his triumphant reappearance until the next day, just minutes prior to dinner service.  It was at this point that he tried each team's menu and, naturally, both menus kinda sucked.  

Mailing it in

Just minutes before dinner service and a guy with "world class standards" is just then trying the menu?  I'm sorry, no, that's unacceptable.  Someone with supposedly high standards does NOT sample their dinner menu just minutes before the doors are to open.  Is he seriously that blind to his own deteriorating standards?  Or has he just surrounded himself with a bunch of yes men?  

I wish I could have liked this season more than I did but moreso I wish it could have been more like vintage HK.  What's gonna happen next season?  Expect 18 contestants.  Maybe even 20.  Jean Philippe is scheduled to make his return if the Twitter reports are true since journalists these days are too lazy to actually do any real reporting.  But I dunno.  Gordon Ramsay's popularity isn't waning at all so is there any real incentive for him to change his ways?  HK is supposed to be his bread and butter, but that's simply no longer the case.  

Christina deserved this victory and I think will go down as one of the best all-time in HK history, but that's as far as this season's success goes.  After Christina's victory it's a steep hill downward in terms of entertainment value.  Very disappointing, but I'll be watching next season.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

MasterChef Recap Episode 20 SEASON FINALE!

MASTERCHEF
Episode 20/SEASON FINALE!

Ramsay is still constipated over how shitty of a season Hell's Kitchen turned out to be

First of all - thanks to everyone who's been reading these recaps throughout the season.  They've been a lot of fun to write and it's been great to get some discussion going.  Keep coming back for my other passion: taking pictures of the food I eat and posting them for the world to see.  You'll have a lot of fun, I promise :-)

Well, that's 2-for-2 tonight - first Christina won Hell's Kitchen and then Christine won MasterChef.  The thing about Christine is that there was no reason why she shouldn't win - and that's why she won.  She seriously had no flaws in her game, and I think the judges, contestants, and even myself all season have been searching for a reason to undercut her but it never came.  She truly is a MasterChef. 

She started out as a huge underdog, being picked last for the team challenges and not really being taken seriously due to her handicap.  But she quickly established herself as a powerhouse when she put up awesome dish after awesome dish after awesome dish and didn't look back.  Josh put up a good fight today, but this title simply wasn't his.  He would have had to reach out and snatch it, but half-cooked lobster and pecan pie with tasteless bacon was not the way to go.  And we all know Frank should have been there anyway, so, you know.

The Cookoff: Two hours to cook a delicious three-course meal.  Winner takes all. 

Narrator, Captain Obvious: "Only one of them can be crowned America's next MasterChef."  Seriously, why do they do this to us?

Graham Elliot, aspirations: "What I'd like to see is them doing something based on their roots but also showcasing the journey."

Joe Bastianich, aspirations: "I think in this menu they have to bring a part of everything they've experienced and everything they've learned and show us technique and evolution and skill and ultimately they have to show us dishes that will blow us away." 

Just for the record, Graham was leaning towards Christine, Joe was leaning towards Josh and Gordon, naturally, was on the fence.  Gotta have that mandatory suspense, you know?

Gordon, pressure guy: "Christine is using the pressure cooker to take some of the f@*!(#) pressure off her.  Brilliant!"

Joe, Captain Obvious: "There can only be one winner.  There can only be one MasterChef."  One of the things I've never been able to stand about this show is how the judges will always be talking but never providing any new information.  Okay, guys, we get it: there can only be one MasterChef, just in case some stupidass out there thought otherwise.

APPETIZERS

Josh's Butter Poached Lobster: All you need to know is that everything worked except the lobster, which is kind of a key thing with butter poached lobster. 

The most important part of butter poached lobster, Josh, is to make sure the lobster is actually COOKED!!!

Christine's Thai Papaya Salad: Got pretty good reviews.  Simple, but nothing to majorly ding her on and believe me - they were looking.

It says crab but I think those are crayfish staring back at me

ENTREES 

Josh's Rack of Lamb: Looked good.  Lamb is one of those foods where if it's not cooked to your liking it can be kind of annoying to eat.  But Josh nailed it here.

I'm waiting for the day that they have genetically modified lamb the size of New Jersey

Joe, lamb orgasm: "Spring lamb, summer peas, autumn carrots, winter parsnips.  I would say, chef, as the great Maestro Antonio Vivaldi, you have captured all four seasons in one stroke.  I think that this is an orchestral composition of mystical proportions."  Wtf?  Someone get me whatever Joe's smoking. 

Christine's Braised Pork Belly: Garnered rave reviews all around which completely overshadowed its presentation, which wasn't as nice as Josh's.  Christine's reasoning behind the dish, "I decided to go with flavors from home that my mother used to cook." 

A little home cookin'

Gordon, dislikes Vietnamese food: "But we're not in Vietnam and we're not at home.   You're in the final of MasterChef."  This is where I think they were looking for any reason to not award her the MasterChef title.  Keep in mind, just an hour or two earlier Graham himself said "What'd I'd like to see is them doing something based on their roots but also showcasing the journey."  Well...here you go.  Again, this is why I think they were looking for a reason to not give her the victory.  Yeah, Josh's presentation was far superior, but obviously Christine's flavors won the day.

DESSERTS

Josh's Pecan Crusted Pecan Pie: His vanilla bean ice cream was a huge hit and the pie was good but there was no point in including the bacon since it added absolutely nothing to the dish.

Seriously, bacon?  Are we in an episode of Chopped or something?

Christine's Coconut Lime Sorbet: Got good reviews.  Nothing amazing.  

Pretty safe dessert, but going up against a bacon pie I don't think you need to play it too bold

Graham, second guessing: "You think that we're making the right choice?"  Dude...YOU'RE the judge.  YOU'RE supposed to KNOW you're making the right choice.

Christine, condescending: "I think Josh is actually really talented."  Jeez, Christine.  Just kick him between the legs a few more times.  

Gordon, Captain Obvious Returns: "As you know there can only be one winner."  WHOA!!! REALLY??? ONE WINNER??? I THOUGHT THERE WERE FIFTEEN WINNERS, GORDON!!!

Christine, winner's words: "I just can't believe it, I'm the MasterChef.  This has been the most amazing experience, seriously.  After all the obstacles I've been through, going up against such awesome, amazing cooks."


Josh, runner-up: "Christine is a tough competitor, I love her, I respect her.  I'm just proud to compete against her.  I will not give up on my dream.  It will come true, whether I'm a MasterChef or not, it's definitely coming true."

The most common question this season: "Is he really tall or is she just really short?"

I'm happy to see Christine win.  She proved everyone wrong and she didn't just win this - she took it.  She didn't make errors, she didn't lower her game against any competition, and she showed up each and every day.  Very well deserved.

A good season overall.  I started out pretty critical this season when Douche Alarm Joe was going off every few seconds, but it actually turned out to be really good.  Full season recap coming soon.

Thanks for reading!

Hell's Kitchen Recap Episode 20 SEASON FINALE!

HELL'S KITCHEN
Episode 20/SEASON FINALE

Rightful victor

Christina won.  I am happy.  At least the worst season in Hell's Kitchen history ended on a positive note.  Thanks to everyone who's followed my recaps this season.  Stick around for some regularly delicious pictures of food and more immature humor and fart jokes.  Now here's how it happened:

Well, HERE WE GO!!!

Opening thought: Christina should win.  If Justin wins then he'll go down as the worst winner in HK history, even worse than season 5's Danny (Paula should have won).  Christina is one of the few chefs this season who has a good balance of skill, leadership, and personality.  As I've bitched about, many of the chefs lacked in personality, one of which is Justin which is what makes this such a dull finale.  

So as a recap, here are the teams for tonight's dinner service:

Team Christina: Dana, Patrick, Kimmie, Robyn
Team Justin: Barbie, Brian, Royce, Clemenza

The teams are pretty balanced, but I think Clemenza may be a deciding factor more than Robyn.  The reason being is that I think Robyn will leave her baggage on the chopping block and will show up to help Christina win - kinda like Elise last season who was a solid proponent in helping Paul to victory. 

Justin, attempted leadership: "I've never been surprised more by one person than by Clemenza."  The only thing that Clemenza has surprised me with was how he somehow survived six eliminations.

Clemenza, sore loser: "You need me, shit, come get me."  Actually, Clemenza, Justin may have a fighting chance without all of the burnt risottos and coagulated steaks that you're guaranteed to produce. 

Christina, leadership mastermind: "I wanna have fun with this...Let's have fun tonight...Don't call me chef tonight."  That's the kind of person you want to work for. 

Clemenza, literally breaking down:  He set Crostini on fire before dinner service even started.  Most impressive. As Justin said "you're literally breaking down."  Just in case, you know, that anyone thought he was figuratively or illogically breaking down. 

Brian, tooth impalement: "I'm going to fight for him tooth for nail so...he's good." 

Despite all the trashing I've done of Brian this season, he's someone I'd want on my team

Justin, not a joker: "He needs to realize this is my career, this is my life.  This isn't a f@(#!)# joke."  Your face is a joke, Justin. 

Rolls Royce: "Yo, Justin - you gotta relax."  But Royce, this is the most vibrant we've seen Justin all season!  It's actually moderately interesting!  But not really. 

Gordon Ramsay, conspiracy theorist: "It's almost like you want to sabotage him!"  Clemenza isn't sabotaging anyone, Gordon, he just sucks.  

Dana, still yelling: "NO, NO, THEY'RE ALRIGHT!  THEY'RE FINE!"  So, Christina tells her that the halibut isn't brown enough.  Dana allegedly serves the halibut that she was told to scrap then is defiant when Christina tells her to fire up new ones.  So that's why Dana isn't in the finals and Christina is.  

Team Justin, kinda sucks:  Seriously, no food is going out, crap is getting overcooked, and now Barbie's running out of steak.  Ironically it's each team's first pick (Dana, Barbie) that are cracking under the pressure late in the service.  

Gordon Ramsay, practical joker: "I'm doing away with the two doors.  I already have a winner.  The winner of Hell's Kitchen is...Tavon."  Okay, that was pretty funny.  

Christina's girlfriend: Christina's girlfriend is really hot.  That's a statement that'll never get old. 

And the winner is...

CHRISTINA!!!

Well, the better chef won.  The better leader won.  The right person won.  This is the best way this otherwise terrible season could have ended.  Christina I think goes down as one of the best chefs to walk through Hell's Kitchen, which I'll analyze in a full season recap. 

Christina, a winner's words: "I'm incredibly proud of myself and feel like I've left my mark here.  I'm excited to go to Vegas and push the bar higher and higher until I touch the stars."

Justin, gracious runner-up: "I don't wanna lose to anybody, but obviously Christina is a great competitor.  She's focused and a great chef.  To be honest with you if I lost to anybody else besides Christina I probably would have walked outta here." 

No one wants to walk through the door with Ramsay

Ramsay's reasoning: "Christina' passion and talent are undeniable.  She's a strong leader who's totally at home in the kitchen.  I know I'm not rolling the dice with her in Vegas because she is the real deal."

The better chef won.  Hooray!   A full season recap coming soon. 

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

MasterChef Recap Episode 19

MASTERCHEF
Episode 19

He ate this chicken as if he was drinking a cup of tea, probably to impress Gordon

Mystery Box: Cook books, cool.  Good symbolism.  The challenge gives free reign to the chefs to do whatever they want, so this better be good. 

Joe, weird goals: "We want food that's them on a plate.  I think that's what we're gonna get today."  Isn't that what you want every day, Joe? 

Ramsay: Christine! 
Christine: Hi Chef.
Ramsay: How are you feeling?
Christine: I feel nervous. 

You could make a remix of all the times Christine has said she's nervous. 

Ramsay: Josh, Becky.  Which one would you like to see in the final alongside you?
Christine: I'd have to say Becky since I think she deserves to be there. 

I agree, Christine. 

A blind person made this.  I can't believe it either. 

Becky, deformed taste buds: "I'm gonna switch it up, so instead I'm gonna make a fish soup."  Dude...gross...

Becky, all aboard the excuse train: "I guess I think that the type of food I grew up eating is not very sophisticated so I think that for me I'm trying maybe do too much than I can right now and I was just thinking of what I should be doing for you guys and to beat them and I completely lost and I don't have a good excuse."  Becky, you could have just said "I don't have a good excuse" rather than trying to make an excuse and then saying you don't have a good one. 

Elimination Test: The theme is legs; chicken, lamb, and frog.  Since Christine's Mystery Box dish was the best, she got first dibs and picked to cook chicken.  Josh's dish came in second and he picked lamb, meaning by default he picked frog for Becky. 

Gordon, anti-Kermit the Frog: "Hello Kermit!" while smiling gleefully at a plate of frogs legs. 

Returning chefs: Okay, cool to have everyone back.  FLAVOR ELEVATOR!

Around the Horn: Monti says Christine will win, Frank says Becky will win, Ryan the Flavor Elevator says Josh will win.  I mean, they had to have someone say each finalist's name at least once so...

Joe, Captain Obvious: "We're competing to enter the final 2, the finale of MasterChef.  I wanna see complex dishes, I wanna see technique, I want it all."  Whoa, Joe.  That's deep, especially when you say you wanna see technique for EVERY SINGLE CHALLENGE!

Gordon, General No Shit Sherlock: "Christine, Becky, Josh, only two of you are going into the MasterChef final.  Come on!"  WHOA!  REALLY?  I TOTALLY DIDN'T KNOW THAT, GORDON!!!  I THOUGHT SEVEN CHEFS WERE GOING TO THE FINALE!

Christine's Fried Chicken:  Pretty safe dish to go with and she nailed the chicken.  The creamed kale was overly creamy.  Other than that no major blunders.

Joe: So you know there's too much cream in there?
Christine: I know now.
Joe: But you knew that when you plated it.
Christine: Ummm...
Joe: So you didn't taste it.
Christine: *deer in headlights*

That sequence was obviously heavily edited but it was kinda funny. 

Josh's Lamb Carima├▒olas: Scored great reviews because of its seasoning and technique, which is pretty cool to see considering Joe had this to say prior to tasting it:

Joe, premature Douche Alarm: "We're cooking to get into the finale.  You pick the leg of lamb and then you bring me this.  This is the last recipe in the last page in the last chapter of the lamb cookbook.  It's sooooo risky.  Yucca, starchy, difficult to work with.  Grazing lamb in under an hour.  Why take all those risks?"

Josh, on fire: "Damn this is a sexy plate.  This is the kind of plate Becky should be taking pictures of."  Buuuuuurn. 

Joe, astounded: "Once again you have astounded me, Josh."  Me too, Joe.  Me too.  

Becky's Frog Legs: The legs are good.  The salad is interesting.  But the potatoes are soggy. 

Becky, aspirations: "I really, really, really wanna be in the final 2 and I think I deserve it and I know I could create some amazing food in this finale and I just want that opportunity so bad!"

Josh, on fire again: "He never said it was delicious" he whispered to Christine while Joe was tasting Becky's dish.  Dude, Josh is seriously on fire today. 

Becky Goes Home: I feel for her. When you look at their entire performances, Becky should have easily been in the finals over Josh.  But there was something else at play here that ousted her early and that's the fact that she had been seriously sinking in recent episodes and it was like Josh and Christine just picked her apart this round.  It's kinda like when a number 1 seed in basketball plows through the regular season, plows through the first two rounds of the playoffs, then gets to the Conference Finals and suddenly the tables are turned and it's someone else that's doing the plowing.  

Not a lot was expected out of Christine in the beginning.  She was picked last for challenges and no one really knew the kinda powerhouse she'd become.  But she quickly established herself as a contender and steamrolled into the finals.  While I will say that Josh totally dominated today's episode, I still think Frank should have been cooking today.  That's just ridiculous that Frank was sent home like that.  Josh has had some really good dishes but he's also had some real stinkers and was eliminated once (though to his credit when given another chance he dominated much like he did tonight).  Josh can be clutch, and I only say that because he was eliminated once already so it's not like he's a sure-fire thing.  But Christine has been consistent the entire season.

But Becky?  After cruising for much of the season she just came tumbling down.  And it's not like she was putting up crap - her food still got good reviews, but they weren't good enough.  And as the pressure mounted, she continued to fold.  Not the kind of clutch player you want in crunch time.  What also bugged me is that she always had an excuse if something wasn't up to par, or she'd make a plea for her plate.  That to me says she's lacking a quality that a leader needs to have.  If your dish isn't getting the job done then that's it.  Don't make excuses.  Just take it and move on.  There's no doubt she's a great talent, and I know I've given her hack on here all season, but she's truly a terrific chef and will go on to great things.  I like her and was pulling for her, so it's too bad she couldn't go all the way.  I feel for her. 

Last season you had powerhouse Christian destroy the competition only to finish third.  He had an arrogance about him that hindered his leadership abilities and clouded some terrific cooking skills, but he was such a badass that you thought he'd go all the way.  But again - that number 1 seed gets to the Conference Finals and all of a sudden it's an entirely different game.  

Larry, Moe, and Curly

I'm pulling for Christine to win it all.

Hell's Kitchen Recap Episode 19

HELL'S KITCHEN
Episode 19

Ladies and gentlemen: your Hell's Kitchen season 10 runner-up

Worst finalists ever:  Let's get this out of the way first: we now have the worst showdown in Hell's Kitchen history which is quite fitting since we're entrenched in what has become the absolute worst season in Hell's Kitchen history.  Here's the thing - Christina will win and she deserves it.  What's so disgusting here is that this stupid dumbass Justin makes the finals and will go down as the worst runner-up in HK history.  Think about it, the nine runner-ups in chronological order: Ralph, Virginia, Bonnie, Petrozza, Paula, Kevin, Jay, Russell, and Will.  The only runner-ups that can possibly compete for "worst of" title are Virginia because she just flat-out overachieved and had no right to compete for the championship.  But the plus side is that she had a personality and made the show entertaining with her antics.  Plus she was hot.  Jay was just a creep, but even he had more personality than dumbass Justin.  I mean, the dude had blue hair. 

So now we have to sit through not one episode, but TWO episodes of this electric and thrilling showdown between rightful champion Christina and dumbass Justin.  Keep in mind everyone - Justin was barely even featured in the early episodes this season cause he was so boring.  While taking note of how many generic white guys there were this season, I also took note of how infrequently Justin was ever featured in the interview booths.  Why?  CAUSE HE SUCKS!!!  AND THIS JERK IS IN THE FINALS!!!

Update: Ok, I've calmed down a little bit and wanted to explain something.  I have nothing against Justin as a person.  He seems like a very nice guy and he's someone I would work hard for if he were my boss and likewise I think he'd work hard for me if I were his boss.  But I look at things from an entertainment perspective and this season has just been a total train wreck and he's not exactly the most amusing contestant HK has ever seen.  His drama level is low, he doesn't have a lot of jokes, and there's just not a lot there for editors to work with (not that HK's editors are any good anyway).  So just know that when I rip on Justin I'm actually ripping on Gordon Ramsay and the producers of HK.  Justin shouldn't apologize for getting to the finale - he's obviously a talented chef.  But for a reality television program he's just not the most entertaining person they could have had.  Just wanted to clarify.

But most of all, I've seen every episode of every season of HK.  It's one of the only shows I go out of my way to watch.  But this season it feels like they've just mailed it all in (i.e. Gordon Ramsay delivering a critical message on a frickin' I-Pad).  That's what bugs me the most. 

Worst season ever:  The thing is - this season should have ended four episodes ago, but the bombardment of TBC's has fleshed this thing out into a monologue even more boring than a random Shakespeare character.  What's going to happen over these two episodes?  Okay, they go to Vegas.  They meet a celebrity chef.  They have a cooking challenge to determine who gets first pick for teams.  They pick teams.  They cook.  And then the winner is announced.  Why the hell does this need to be two episodes?  Oh yeah, that's right, because this season sucks and they needed to churn out more episodes than necessary in order to bring in more money.  Of course, let's sacrifice quality for quantity.  Let's outsource the show to China while we're it. 

Penn & Teller: Gordon, don't surprise Justin like that.  He'll pee his pants and that'll be the most entertaining thing he's done all season. 

5 Dish Challenge: I wouldn't be surprised if dumbass Justin actually wins this challenge just cause.  Naturally one chef goes up 2-0, then the other ties it at 2-2, so then the final judge is the deciding factor in who wins.  Rather convenient how that happens every single challenge, isn't it?  Okay, I was wrong - Christina won.  Good.  I'm glad. 

Justin, snubbing Gordon Ramsay: "If you ask anybody in the world who Wolfgang Puck is, they know!"  Maybe shouldn't say that in front of Gordon. 

Justin, determination: "Christina should watch out.  I'm gonna win Hell's Kitchen.  I've never been so determined in my life."  If creating the illusion that you're sleepwalking when you're really awake is determination then wow, you're really determined, bro. 

Team Christina: Dana, Patrick, Kimmie, Robyn
Team Justin: Barbie, Brian, Royce, Clemenza

"All I have to do is beat Justin and I win Hell's Kitchen?  This is a joke, right?"

Brian, good sport: "That's a surprise but I have no hard feelings, I'm just happy to be here."  Honestly, I kinda wish Brian was in the finals instead of Justin.  At least he's got a good attitude about coming back. 

Clemenza, delusional: "Right away Christina goes with Dana, Justin goes with Patrick.  Alright.  I'm the best chef left."  I swear, this guy is so delusional he should be doing stand-up. 

Clemenza, delusional 2: "Dude, come on!  I'm the best chef left!"  Dude, you kinda suck!

Returning contestants: This is always one of the coolest parts of the show when the finalists get to pick their teams.  Christina has the major advantage of picking first as well as picking last for Justin, but coming down to Robyn and Clemenza is quite the quandary.  On paper I think Christina has the edge because her team members have better leadership qualities.  Patrick tried hard but was in over his head.  Kimmie held her own for the most part on meats but I think she'll respond well to Christina.  Robyn I think will try hard since Justin kinda screwed her over (remember the "holding oven" incident?).  And Dana is solid.

Barbie is a good first pick for Justin because she only got better as the season has gone on, cooks meat well, and will fight hard for Justin.  Brian and Royce are the same.  Royce I think should have gone further so I'd be interested to see how he performs.  Clemenza will try his best but will prove to be a liability like he did the 7 other times he was on the chopping block. 

Justin, leader: "Clemenza, shut the f@*# up please."  Wow, that's his best example of leadership yet.  He's earned back a tad of my respect. 

Clemenza, sour grapes: The whole "I don't care" attitude is pretty exemplary of why this guy stinks, let alone the fact that he stunk up the kitchen all season.  Christina picking Robyn over him may have been the best move of the entire draft.

Robyn, wtf: Um...what?

No comment

To be continued:  I knew this one was coming beforehand so I'm not shocked.  But seriously, Fox - suck it.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Pismo Beach Gourmet

Fox has once again moved Hell's Kitchen and MasterChef to the same night in order to give us a non-epic Hotel Hell season finale which once again featured Gordon Ramsay naked because no one in his group has the balls to say "hey, Gordon?  This is kinda a really bad idea."  By the way - taking the innkeeper out to meet a woman?  Seriously, is Fox trying to turn into MTV or some shit?

So instead I'm going to talk about the food that was downed in the beautiful seaside city Pismo Beach, part of the "Five Cities" area of the South-Central California coast.  First up is Pierside Seafood which I'm guessing specializes in seafood but, naturally, I stuck with land animals:

BBQ bacon burger with onion rings even though I think onions suck

This place has really bad ratings on Yelp but I thought it was ample enough.  The service is what actually made it memorable.  Our waitress was this chick named Heather and she pulled all the moves in the book to make it seem like she was giving us special privileges even though it was trained beforehand, i.e. "I added on another onion ring" or "I added in some of the smaller shrimp."  OH, yeah, speaking of which:

I lied - there was some shrimp on the table

The burger was good.  Had a nice grill taste and the shrimp was good.  I did appreciate the service, though.  The only thing better than a woman being genuinely interested in you is a woman pretending to be genuinely interested in you to earn a bigger tip.

So.  On this trip we went all around California - deserts, mountains, coast - as well as Nevada.  We dined in Bodie, Virginia City, Reno, Carson City, Sacramento, Oakland, San Carlos, and Santa Cruz - but the BEST meal came on the last morning of the trip in Pismo from Penny's All American Cafe:

It's like all of my taste buds orgasmed at once

Holy crap was this amazing.  What we have here are the Deluxe Strawberry Waffles, featuring a waffle with strawberries, two over easy eggs, and a couple strips of bacon.  And WOW was this a taste explosion.  Everything was fresh, cooked perfectly, and absolutely delicious.  And the funny thing is we stopped here on a whim.  "Hey, you wanna get some breakfast?" "Sure." "Cool, how about there?"  There was also free coffee since they had a Yelp thing going on so that's always cool.  Everyone likes free stuff.

What I respect the most about Penny's menu is that this is actually a seasonal dish.  You know what that tells me?  It tells me that they only bust out this meal during the months when strawberries are in season.  While it may be a disappointment to not have this dish all year round, there would be an obvious difference in quality if it was.  Strawberries are my favorite food - always have been - but even if a pound of them were going for 99 cents at Shithole Vons in the middle of January, I wouldn't buy them.  I mean, if they looked good and had a good scent I would, but in January that just doesn't happen.  Keeping this delicious dish as a seasonal thing is very respectable. 

So Penny's American Cafe - best meal of the trip and a new favorite of Greg's Gourmet.  Absolutely sensational.