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Top Chef Finale Recap

Comments (0) | Thursday, February 26, 2009

Top Chef Finale Thoughts

•What a disappointing end to a disappointing season. I had only a 1 in three chance of being bummed by who the winner would be and sure enough, effing Hosea wins. What is really sad is that I was on the Hosea bandwagon in the beginning of this season. I thought he had some good skills, and could be a true contender. As the season rolled on though, I really took a disliking to him. He sucked it up with seafood time and time again, even though he is a seafood chef. The whole cheating on his significant other for the unappetizing Leah aside, Hosea’s personality kept getting worse and worse in my eyes. The whole hating on the Euros made him out to be more of a prick than Stefan. I dunno, this whole season basically blew for me.

•That being said, I thought this season had some really great challenges. Shame they were wasted on this bunch, though Carla really stepped up to the plate at times and surprised the hell out of me. Stefan clearly was the best chef of this group, he just became too consistent without wowing. I think that hurt him in the end. His stuff was good from the beginning and stayed good throughout. He just didn’t have that extra gear towards the end for the judges. Imagine if they didn’t expect anything good to great from him. He probably would have won. Tom seemed to have voted on him harshly because he knew Stefan can cook well and wanted more.

•The return of the 3 past losers was not very interesting. If I had to choose one of them for my sous chef, it would be Casey. I was saying that as they were drawing knives, and poor Carla got her. I couldn’t believe Carla and her spirits allowed Casey to influence so much of her final dishes. (Maybe Carla’s food spirits have mental blocks around big fake boobs…) Casey shown she had the ability to do as she is told and be a great teammate and while her ideas would have been nice suggestions, you do not try things that are new at this stage in the game. Not sure I would have wanted to work with Richard or Marcel, and to be honest, outside of Casey’s bad ideas, none of the sous chefs seemed to really contribute too much.

•So little input from the guest judges, why even have them there? I mean, you have some big names from New Orleans and also Rocco and Hubert Keller, use them! Tom’s reaction to some of their compliments to Stefan’s dishes was down right rude at times. And the way he only half-heartedly complimented those dishes were just as bad. “It tasted fine.” “Yeah, the flavors are good…hm..” I dunno, I guess Tom’s judging this year seemed really off in my opinion. He really picked favorites (Jamie for one) and seemed to encourage them more.

•The voodoo fortune teller bit was funny but stupid. I liked that Stefan asked about Jamie.

•Of all the cheftestants, only Jeff and Carla make me want to try their food. I wouldn’t reject a meal by Fabio or Stefan at all, but if I was in Miami or DC I’d try to take some time to find Jeff and Carla’s places.

•Jeff’s place will always be known as Dildo.

•All in all…I feel like I wasted a lot of time where I could be sleeping by watching this season. Jersey and Leah might be two of the worst cheftestants ever in terms of cooking and overall personality. One big load of meh.

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Comments (3) | Thursday, February 19, 2009

Some things found on the interweb:

List of the 50 best food blogs (TimesOnline)

Rating doctors like restaurants (NYTIMES)

I found this blog while looking for a recipe for Chau aka Congee (Taste of Home)

Congrats to two future Sooners for making the McDonald's All American Game! TMG and Tiny are going to fit in perfectly. (ESPN)

I'll have more on Top Chef later, but a nice recap here (LATIMES)

Once again the guys from the Sandbox at WFNX has given me inspiration. They were talking about the McRib the other day, one of the greatest sandwiches of all time. Just like the chili cheese burrito of Taco Bell, the McRib is not available at all McDonalds. Very unfair. Someone has taken the courtesy of making a website that will help you locate a McRib. Looks like a trip to Hyde Park, NY is going to be in my near future. (McRib Locator)

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Top Chef S5 EP11 Recap

Comments (0) | Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Top Chef rundown:

1. First let me say, “THANK YOU SWEET JEEBUS!!!” Leah (and her non-existent great rack) is no longer on my TV screen. Yes I know Top Chef will do something to have all the other cheftestants that have been kicked off the show back, but at least Leah won’t have any chance of winning the competition. Also, I don’t think she has any chance of winning the fan favorite either. (I can think of two people who won’t vote for her or Hosea…) The fan favorite is going down to Fabio or Carla (no longer calling her Crazy Eyes because she is proving to be a great chef.)
2. Good challenges again. Love the guest judges, especially Pepin and Samuelsson.
3. The last dinner question is a great one, one that pops up a lot if you read/watch Bourdain at all. I love it. I can’t decide what my final meal would be. Pho? Steak? Mangosteen? Not sure….Ok, off the top of my head: I’d start with Biscuits and gravy, followed by chicken fried steak, with mashed potatoes and corn on the cob, two crunchy tacos from Taco Bell, one chili cheese burrito also from Taco Bell, a bowl of my mom’s chau (aka congee or rice porridge), and two mangosteens for dessert. That is subject to change depending on my current mood.
4. Way to go Fabio! Roasted chicken, as previously mentioned here on this blog, is considered by many a mark of a great chef. And to break his thumb somehow (seriously, how the hell did he do that) and deliver a great dish…bravo, Fabio, bravo!
5. Stefan…damn, I was scared you were going home. Seriously…overcooked fish…that’s not good. I think the judges cheated and looked at past results to keep you instead of Leah. And boy am I glad they did.
6. Wylie and his eggs fetish is interesting…no wait, the other word, gross. But in a very neat way. (Not sure if that makes sense.) As an engineer, I respect that Wylie is a bit of a scientist and the fact that the egg is such a biological engineering masterpiece, it kinda makes sense that Wylie loves eggs. (Alton Brown does as well…nerds rule.)
7. Carla…you could damn well win this thing and I wouldn’t be surprised one little bit. I wouldn’t have said that 5 weeks ago.
8. I’m thinking of having a Top Chef watching party for the final episode, but seriously, it’s on so late that is not going to happen.

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Blue Ginger

Comments (0) | Saturday, February 14, 2009

Ah, Blue Ginger. Chef Ming Tsai's only restaurant.

February 10th...Abby and mine anniversary of when we became officially a couple. On our first year anniversary, we went to Blue Ginger only to find out that February 10th is also Blue Ginger's anniversary. How ironic! (That's not ironic, that's coincidental!) So we made a pact that every year on February 10th, we will come back to Blue Ginger.

We totally thought nothing could top last year's meal, we were able to meet and take a picture with the head chef himself. Oh how we were soooooo wrong!

The night started out on a little bit of a sour note. I hate being carded (or ID'ed as some people call it) in general, but being asked at a nice restaurant where we are nicely dressed makes me feel like some punk kids going out for the prom and trying to order booze. Seriously, I'm pushing 30...it's a Tuesday night, I really don't feel like I should be getting carded. Abby doesn't care. She likes feeling that she looks younger than she is. I don't. But the waiter, albeit a little awkward at times, was very nice and very energetic. So we ordered a couple of drinks and look over the menu. I have been dying to try the butterfish that I've heard so much about, and would like to start with the carpaccio appetizer that I've gotten the last two years. However, I noticed the chef's tasting menu and I wanted to know what was on that. The waiter said it was a 5 course tasting that includes the butterfish and a surf and turf dish...I told him to stop, he got me hook line and sinker. I'm in. He repeats that it's $80, which I kind of take that he doesn't think I can afford this...but he probably wasn't implying that at all. (I had a rough day at work, with co-workers calling me all throughout dinner so I wasn't really as cordial as I should have been, so I was taking things a little too personal. All on me, not a reflection of the service at Blue Ginger at all.) Since everyone at the table has to order the chef's tasting menu as well, Abby was in too.

We started with an amuse of Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup. OH! MY! GOD!!!! Next to pho, I think this little dish would be what I want to eat on a cold day in Boston. I hate the term "comfort food", but this was the most perfect definition of that term ever. Abby mentioned throughout this meal how she was getting "Ratatouille" moments and I knew exactly what she meant. In the Pixar movie, Anton Ego, the famous food critic, took one bite of the simple peasant dish and was brought back to memories of when his mom made it. Food does indeed have such powers that it can make one recall distant memories. For Abby, it reminded her of her grandmother's grilled cheese sandwiches. This was a great, great start to the night.

First up was (and I'm stealing this from the website menu) Hawaiian Bigeye Tuna Poke with Crispy Sushi Rice Cake & Peppercress-Tosaka Salad. And who was there to serve us, was Ming Tsai himself. He came to our table with two dishes, placed them, and explained what was in the dish. It was all we could do not to look like complete stalker-ish fans. Obviously he didn't remember us from last year, but we weren't expecting him to. The tuna was perfect, but what made this dish for me was the crispy sushi rice cake. It was such a perfect compliment to the tuna. Immediately I'm happy I've gone with the chef's tasting menu, and not just because Ming just served us, but because I always get the carpaccio I wouldn't have ordered this dish. I'm so glad I was able to try it, along with 3 other dishes to follow.

Next up was the signature dish of Blue Ginger, the butterfish. From the menu, it is: Sake-Miso Marinated Alaskan Butterfish with Wasabi Oil, Soy-Lime Syrup and Vegetarian Soba Noodle Sushi. I had no idea what the soba noodle sushi would be. But I knew going into that night's dinner, I wanted this butterfish. We weren't served by Ming Tsai this time, but by one of the friendly hostesses. Still, the dish was incredible. The fish was cooked perfectly, flaking off the moment the fork touched it. The soba noodle sushi was one of the best vegetarian sushi rolls I have ever had. I would order a couple of these rolls at a sushi place if they had it on their menu. In the middle of our meal, the Chef came by to say that he was heading home soon but wanted to give us an autographed menu of the chef tasting menu but that we weren't allowed to look and peak at what the other dishes were to come. Also, he told us to finish our plate and to come take a picture with him. So we did.

Awesome, our second pic with chef Ming Tsai. So cool. I know we are so nerdy and geeky with our fondness for celeb chefs, but to me, chefs are way cooler than actors any day.

We had long waits between meals. But that was fine by us. The portions we were getting for each dish were nearly full entree size. I was getting stuffed fast and these long breaks were a nice way to gear up for the next dish coming. This dish was the Foie Gras-Shiitake Shumai in Sauternes-Shallot Broth. This is how good a shumai should be, though I'm not certain any dim sum place could afford serving this dish. The broth reminded of french onion soup, and cut the richness of the foie gras perfectly. I'm not sure if we were suppose to slurp the broth clean off our plates, but we both did it anyway.

Now the peice-de-resistance. The surf and turf. Hanger Steak and Lobster. Grilled Marinated Hanger Steak with BG Steak Sauce and Garlic-Black Pepper Lobster with Lemongrass Fried Rice. I could not believe how much lobster we got on this dish. I cannot believe that the ala cart version can be that much bigger. The garlic and black pepper on the lobster really made this dish. Those flavors were so infused in the buttery lobster and was so decadent with each bite. The hanger steak was likewise perfectly cooked and the flavors of the Blue Ginger steak sauce was both tangy and savory. The only complaint, and it was a really small complaint, was the fried rice. Not that it was bad, just ordinary. And really, I was so full, I only took a few bites of the rice that was housed in the shell of the head of the lobster. That was pretty nice use of the head.

Dessert came out as a creme brulee and a flourless chocolate cake. It was like they knew what both of us would have ordered. I was so full, I could only take a few bites of both, but they were so good. The creme brulee had the perfect sugar crisp top and the buttery, milky cream inside. The chocolate cake was rich and sweet while being at the same time light. (Not sure if that makes sense.)

We were also given a nice little cookie ending. I wish I could say it was only us who got it, but it seemed like everyone at the restaurant was celebrating a birthday or anniversary. So these little cookies were being passed around the entire restaurant.

At $80, this tasting menu is a bargain. Yes I know this sounds strange to say in our current recession, but trust me, you cannot go wrong with this meal. Definitely one of the best meals of my life. I give Blue Ginger a 5 out of 5!

Blue Ginger on Urbanspoon

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Filippo Restaurant Review

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I wish I had a longer review of Filippo than this, but in all honesty, maybe it doesn't deserve anything longer than a brief recap. We went to this Italian restaurant, located on the edge of North End on Causeway St, to meet up with a couple of friends. (Shout out to Tom and Cynthia!) Entering the restaurant a little later than our 7:30 reservation (that was made on an automated phone service with no confirmation) there was a quiet bar to the right and an empty eating area to the right. We were lead around the bar, and there was another dining area with a few groups talking and eating loudly. The decorations are a bit over the top, but in a nice way. Tons of family pictures and news articles from their town in Italy. Then menu ranged from $5 appetizers to a $200 call a day in advanced dish. All the typical Italian dishes are there, along with some Filippo specialties. A very large menu indeed. One thing that stood out was the rental property of the owners in Italy that one could inquire about for a vacation rental. That's definitely something you don't see in most North End Restaurant.

I'd breakdown what everyone had, but really, I don't remember much now. That's not to say the food was bad. It was all good to very good. The Veal Parm that I ordered was like nearly all veal parms in the North End, very respectful and had all the familiar flavors. This wasn't blow your socks off food, but it was good. I wasn't a big fan of our peanut butter and chocolate dessert. A little too heavy to finish the night.

The prices are very resonable here, especially compared to some places on Hanover Street. If I had to go to Olive Garden or here, I'd definitely choose Filippo. But I'd give other North End places a try before going back again. I give Filippo a 3 out of 5.

Filippo Ristorante and Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Top Chef S5 EP 10 Recap

Comments (0) | Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Another rundown of Top Chef:

1. Two of the best challenges ever! Holy crap did Top Chef surprise the hell out of me. First, boning and filleting fish while Eric Ripert judges? AWESOME!!! Then, they get to eat at the NYC Fish Mecca, Le Bernardin, with the rest of the judges. How they didn’t realize that a 6-course meal (which just seems like a strange number of courses) correlated to their elimination challenge boggles my mind. The minute it was revealed to be 6 courses, I would have started breaking down all the dishes because I’d have figured out that the challenge would have something to do with these dishes.

2. Jamie…I just don’t get the statement of how the food at Le Bernardin was uninspiring and boring. I dunno, I probably and too far head over heals with Eric Ripert, and maybe if I went to any of his restaurants the food wouldn’t live up to my expectations, but from what I could see from my TV, the food was incredible! Hosea said it best, the food looked simple, but you knew they weren’t easy to make.

3. They kicked Jeff off one week too soon. I just have the feeling he would have dominated this challenge. Breaking down what went into a dish…I think with his knowledge, he could have done very well. It’s a shame we couldn’t see it.

4. I, like so many out there in the inter-webs, believe that Leah could kill Padma and wear her skin like a suit and still not be kicked off. If I were Hosea, I’d be curious who else Leah cheated on her man with to get to stay on this show. It’s definitely not because of her cooking chops.

5. Hosea also needs to shut it down with the whole “Euro” trash talking. Would people be more offended if instead of Stefan and Fabio he disliked, but maybe “Team Rainbow”? If he went off and said “I’m so sick of those Team Rainbow people, I just want to shut them up.” I can’t see that as being any more different.

6. Speaking of the “Euros” they are the only reason to watch this show. And they both did very, very well. Good for Fabio, since I thought he was getting the loser edit immediately.

7. Eric Ripert is easily the greatest guest judge on any show period. He’s genuinely nice, gives good feedback, and has unlimited charm. I was so happy to hear that he’s getting his own show on PBS soon called Avec Eric. He is the Top Chef, and his looks at Toby while Toby went off on his crappy analogies were priceless.

8. Carla (not calling her Crazy Eyes today because she earned it) was incredible. It was awesome seeing her use her culinary knowledge to fully understand Ripert’s dish. Yes it was called a bĂ©arnaise sauce, but it really wasn’t a bĂ©arnaise sauce. The fact that Carla could figure that out was just mind-blowingly awesome. It is so much better to see Carla cook with her brain than her cooking with love.

9. Jamie had the worst dish. Inedible said Ripert’s blog. The show made it seem like it was close between Leah and Jamie, but it was Jamie all the way. She started to annoy me as the show got on, but Leah really, really has to go. If she makes the top four, I’m going to have to quit watching.

10. Again, it’s the guest judges that draw me back: Wylie and Pepin this week.

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BBQ Chicken Wings and Rice

Comments (0) | Thursday, February 5, 2009

Dinner tonight was very simple. I had chicken wings left over from a couple of weeks ago, so I just put them on an oven sheet, sprinkled on some salt and pepper, brushed it with some EVOO and placed in the oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Then I pulled the chicken out and basted all the wings with some BBQ sauce, put it back in the oven for 8 minutes, basted the chicken again, and put it back in the oven for another 8 minutes.

We served the chicken with a side of rice. Probably could have used some veggies, but like I said before, this is why we are fat...

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Wedding Reception Tasting

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We had our wedding reception tasting the other night. Abby's cousin Annie and our buddy Noah joined us. Annie called dibs a long time ago, well before we were even engaged, and Noah won a contest I sent out to friends. The contest was a bunch of random trivia questions.

I won't go over the entire menu, but here are some pictures:

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This Is Why We Are Fat!!!

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For the Superbowl, we didn't really care about the outcome, but we celebrated by making some unhealthy food and eating it all up.

I made some fried shrimp, using Ming Tsai's recipe for tempura batter. Though his recipe calls for rice flour, and we only used regular flour. Basically in a mixing bowl add flour and a heavy dose of salt and whatever spices you want to incorporate, then add in club soda and stir until the mixture is a slightly wet pancake-type of mix.

Abby made spinach artichoke dip as well as breaded chicken tenders. The tenders had a nice little kick because Abby added in some curry powder, which was a nice addition.

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Tueday Links

Comments (0) | Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Some random video links for you today.

I was amazed that Abby has never seen this clip from Eddie Murphy on SNL:

This is a disgusting dunk by Willie Warren:

And to keep it food related, Bourdain and Ripert cooking:

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Another Big Recap (Top Chef Recaps, Orinoco)

Comments (0) | Sunday, February 1, 2009

Work and real life has forced this blog to take a back seat. However, nothing too exciting has happened in our food-life this past week. We'll start with the last two crap-tacular Top Chef episodes.

Top Chef s5, ep 8

Restaurant Wars! More like crap vs crap wars. First you got Leah and Radhika winning the quickfires and getting to be the captains/leaders of their restaurants. Neither chooses Stefan until he's the last pick. Idiots!!!! If I could have chosen, it would have been Jeff, Fabio and Stefan. Game, set, match. Then we get a quick glimpse, with crappy porn music, of Hosea and Leah making out. Joyous! The most least interesting couple in all of food reality history. What makes it worst is their confessionals about how they cheated on their significant others and how they hope they are still together when this ends. Wow...talk about trying to suck up immedietly after getting caught. First of all, they must have done something more than kiss. I'm not saying they had sex or anything, but I'd gather Leah's hands weren't empty. I think they could have played off a kiss as something minor to their significant others (I was cooped up with nothing to do but a lot of booze and this floozy chick with this "so-called" incredible rack...it was just a kiss!) and they wouldn't have gone into defcon 5 mode. From reading other blogs, I guess both Hosea and Leah tried to make it work with their significant others, but then got dumped to the curb. Go significant others! Also, I guess Hosea and Leah are together now...good, the only person that will have the other person in a relationship...they deserve each other.

Anyway, both teams basically suck it up for restaurant wars, with Radhika not knowing how to be front of house and Crazy Eyes screwing up her first dessert for their team and the Hosea and Leah crapfest of food brought down their team. Stefan, the dude who keeps winnning yet noone wanted on their team, and Fabio won the competition, unfortunately saving Leah. Ugh...I hate Leah. Radhika gets sent home, and to be honest, her body language was basically suggesting to everyone that she wanted to leave.

Top Chef s5, ep 9

Fan-freaking-tastic...an All-Star challenge, with former top cheftestants. Now, if it was really an All-Star challenge, wouldn't have Harold, Hung and the other two winners be on this show, not the rejects that sucked? Just saying...

This episode was so hard to watch. Basically, everyone was annoying the hell out of me. Fabio and Jeff were getting the loser edit from the beginning and sadly, along with Stefan, were up for elimination. Those 3 are the only reason to watch this show! WTF?!?!?! Jeff gets sent home for once again doing too much. Whatever, he's proven to be a much better chef than everyone other than Stefan on this episode.

This show is getting harder and harder to watch each week. Luckily they have the great Eric Ripert coming on next week, so of course I'm "hooked" once again. (Get it, get it?)


It seems like such a crime that I have never been to Orinoco yet, even though I've lived so close to it. When I first lived in South End, I was around the corner from Orinoco. Now, I'm just a few blocks away. It seemed like a good time to try it out, so Abby and myself joined our buddy Vivek there for an early dinner on Thursday. So early, that when we arrived at 5:58, they wouldn't let us in because they don't open until 6pm.

We started with the shrimp/mango ceviche special while Vivek got some sort of salad. The shrimp/mango ceviche was good, just very acid-y. (I know it's "acidic", but saying "ass-y-dee" is fun.) We did get a lot of shrimp to start, so that was nice, and the mango was a good touch, I just wish the acid was cut down a bit. Vivek said his salad was very, very good.

I got talked into getting the skirt steak and it was very good. Cooked nicely, with this sweet and spicy sauce accompaning it. However, the steak was cut in such a way that there were lots of tough fatty strips in every piece that made the steak a bit tough to eat. Abby's salmon was very good, and Vivek enjoyed his portobello mushroom "sandwich-thingy". Though Vivek did say the dough around the mushroom was very heavy.

Overall, I was pleased but also disappointed. I was expecting greatness, but just got good to very good. I'll have to give Orinico another try one day though, maybe for brunch where I've heard their menu is fantastic. I give Orinoco a 3 1/2 out of 5.

Orinoco on Urbanspoon

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