Month: February 2013

Top Chef Season 10 finale

Caution SPOILERS up ahead!!

So last night marked the crowning of the 10th Top Chef. Although I would have been happy with any of the top 3 winning, this season has almost been overcast by all the controversy, bias and potential rigging. I’m a big fan of Top Chef, I’ve been watching the show since its first season in 2006 and have watched every season since; except for one (passed on season 3, I found season 2 to be a disappointment).

I do feel like this show goes in circles for me. I was about 14 years old when the first season of Top Chef aired, and I was hooked. In all honestly this is probably around the time when I first started becoming interested, and subsequently obsessed, with food.I found season 2 to be a let down, although a reality show there seemed to be a greater focus on drama as opposed to the food (don’t get me wrong season 1 had all kinds of drama). I mean do we all remember when Elia Aboumrad shaved her head pictured to to the left, or the distasteful moment where Cliff Crooks almost forcibly shaved fellow contestant Marcel Vigneron’s puffy locks as the rest of the cheftestants just watched?

loved each of these cheftestants from Top Chef: Las Vegas (ie season 6)

That season left such a bad taste in my mouth that I couldn’t bring myself to watch the 3rd. I watched the 4th and 5th season out of boredom, curiosity and habit. However all was redeemed with season 6, *sigh*, oh season 6. Undoubtably my favourite, where the focus really seemed to be on the food.  Unfortunately, in my eyes, the show seems to be on a downward again. Enough with my recap of seasons past, lets get to last nights finale!

I’ve had my suspicions of rigging throughout Season 10 of Top Chef. And I know what you’re probably thinking, this is a reality show…of course its rigged! Which may in fact be true however it seemed to be SO obvious this season that even a toddler could see it!

Now don’t get me wrong I am a big fan of Kristen Kish (Season 10 WINNER!) and was glad to see her win the big prize, however it all seemed a bit too planned. Kristen was clearly both a fan and a judge favourite throughout the show, however everybody loves an underdog story and I without a doubt feel that her elimination during Restaurant Wars (image below) was pre-planned for added drama.

Because there was such a strong backlash from the fanbase against both Padma and Tom, I don’t know if it was just the editing but Padma seemed to be gunning for Kristen to go home, it does slightly taint Kristen’s Last Chance Kitchen win. Particularly during her battle with Lizzie Binder. Tom was praising Lizzie’s dish up and down, going for a second and third bite and calling it a perfect dish. Kristen’s on the other hand was called chewy and too much of a mouth-full, yet somehow Kristen scored the win? Now I for one felt a bias from Tom as CJ Jacobsen kept winning challenge after challenge. And don’t even get me started on how poor Kuniko Yagi, didn’t get a fighting chance on either the show or on Last Chance Kitchen…she had to battle 2 chefs, how is that fair!?!?!

But back to the finale.

I HATED the format of the finale. It felt like an even cheesier version of Iron Chef but without the camera work or the play by play that make that show. If you’re going to blatantly copy another show’s format, you would think they would use the best aspects of the show. What I love about the finale of seasons past was the progression of the meal, giving chefs ample time just to cook great food for a reasonable number of guests without all the theatrics. Really, cooking for 300 people in 3 hours in a live stadium was someone’s idea of a good finale? I did like seeing all the past winners of Top Chef in the audience, however I would have much preferred a more intimate finale in a regular dining room setting with the 5 head judges, the 9 previous winners and (as is typical to Top Chef) the owner of the location/vineyard/restaurant. Leave the theatrics to Iron Chef or use them in a quickfire or an elimination challenge. Not the finale.

I love how I can recognize and name each of the past winners 🙂

I like watching the chefs get judged on their overall meal progression and how each dish goes along with the past course. It has a greater sentiment and as a viewer it truly feels like you’re witnessing a raw version of each chef on a plate. Somehow all of that was lost in this finale, which felt distant, cheesy and rushed. Why didn’t we get to see each chef during their menu planning? Why didn’t we get to see them purchase their ingredients, or like Iron Chef were they pre-provided? Why didn’t we get to see how the sous chefs were picked? I have a hard time believing Brooke would let Kristen have the last 3 eliminated contestants on her team in favour of chefs who were eliminated very early on.

I’ve read various comments on last nights finale, and many people seem to think that the actual judging of the finale was rigged. While it may have been, I didn’t find it to be that obtrusive. Brooke did serve burnt pig ears…and chicken wings. This is exactly what I was talking about with a lack of meal progression. Going from scallops to chicken wings to red snapper?? Not exactly a co-hesive menu. However by the end of round 3 it was clear that Kristen would be the winner, there just wasn’t enough time for a 5th round!  It took away any suspense from the already emotionless finale. I do think that Kristen is an incredibly talented chef and I have no doubts that she could have won on her own merit. However with all the producer and outside influence this season has definitely been tainted.

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Snow Day round 2?

Screen Shot 2013-02-26 at 10.19.24 PM

So tonight is supposed to be the second big storm to hit the GTA…which has me hoping (but trying not the jinx it) for another Snow Day (we had our first one of school year earlier this semester)! We’re supposed to get 20cm tonight, I just got back from my hot date with the library sarcasm about an hour ago and theres already an inch on the ground. Who would have known that you could have Snow Days in university? Yet somehow I’ve already had 2 throughout my undergraduate degree. Here’s hoping for number 3?

Lunch at the Works!

Went to The Works again, click here to read about my first visit! This time I visited the Oakville location with my sister. It was her first time and I could just tell she loved it. Everything from the menu choices to the decor to the drinks served in measuring cups, she was mesmerized. I got another smoothie, this time it was the  2001 Shake Odyssey that my friend J ordered when I was last there. This milkshake consisted of caramel, peanut butter and oreo cookie crumbs, and it was incredible. I guzzled that baby down so quickly I was tempted to order another one! (this was the kids size which is 8oz)

For a burger I decided on the Crappy Tire, unfortunately the kitchen had just run out of grilled pineapple leaving me a bit frazzled as I contemplated on one of the many other options. In the end I ordered a Malibu Meltdown burger which consists of a crunchy onion ring, beechhouse sauce, havarti, gouda & brie cheese. Delicious! The combination of flavours meld together really well; you might be thinking wow thats a lot of cheese, in which case you would be correct – and was it ever saucy! This burger wasn’t difficult to eat but I would definitely recommend cutting it in half for better control (a tip which was recommended to me by our server! Side note, turns out this is her favourite burger on the menu!) I ordered my burger with a gourmet veggie patty on a whole wheat bun. And of course I had to go back to my original side of choice the spicy die cut chips! Unlike my first experience at The Works, since my burger wasn’t a spicy one, my mouth wasn’t on fire. The spicy-ness of the chips definitely complemented the sauciness of the burger.

My sister ultimately decided on the Three Ring Binder burger which consists of sautéed mushrooms, chipotle mayo, gouda cheese & 3 crunchy onion rings. Funnily enough I had originally almost ordered this burger before changing mine to the Crappy Tire (and than to the Malibu Meltdown) after discovering we were ordering the same thing, clearly we have similar tastes. Apparently we were twin-ing again as she ordered hers with gourmet veggie patty on a whole wheat bun as well.

We both decided to cut our burgers in half and split them so we could each try both burgers, personally I preferred the Malibu Meltdown to this one. The onion rings were delicious, piled high and extra crispy but I found the mushrooms to be a big overwhelming. It also felt like it was missing something, maybe something with some acid or sweetness would have made all the difference. I didn’t dislike this burger but I don’t think it would be one that I would re-order. My sister decided on the Bold Slaw as her choice of side. The menu warns that it contains jalepeno pepper juice and white pepper however if anything this has more of a sweet and sour flavour compared to a spicy one. Again not necessarily a side I would choose myself but hey its another item I can cross off my list 😉

I have plans to go to The Works again this weekend with a friend, so expect another The Works post on Sunday (clearly I’m obsessed!) this post was actually delayed for almost a week (we went last Tuesday) so hopefully that makes me seem less crazy! Since I couldn’t get it the last time I think I’ve already decided on the Crappy Tire burger, hopefully there isn’t  a shortage of grilled pineapple!

Taro Bubble Tea

Bubble Tea (or Boba) is one of my all time favourite treats, I’m actually surprised I’ve never featured it on this blog before! I’ve tried making bubble tea at home with the powders that you can buy from any asian grocery store but nothing compares to that perfect ‘fresh’ tasting bubble tea. Taro is one of my all time tride and true flavours. Whenever I try out a new bubble tea location, I’ll typically judge their quality of drink based on how they make their taro flavoured tea. I still don’t understand why the drink is so vividly purple when the root itself only has a slight tinge, but that simple slightly bean-y taste gets me every time. The one pictured was purchased from a random thai place I had never been to before, was it my favourite? No, but my favourite Bubble tea location in that particular area, much to my dismay,  isn’t open on Sundays; but when you get a hankering for some tapioca anything will do!

Poached Eggs

My very first time poaching eggs! I’ll admit they aren’t the prettiest but they didn’t completely fall apart in the water and somehow had a perfectly runny centre so I was happy! I used Martha Stewart’s  method for these, which doesn’t call for vinegar (something I’ve seen many other sites recommend) and pre-cracks the egg into a dish for easy transfer. I’d say the real key to poaching eggs based on my one time experience is having the correct temperature of water, Martha recommends having water that is just about to boil, and the swirling technique which is basically where you swirl the liquid before adding your egg. However the next time I decide to poach eggs, I think I’m going to skip the whole pre-cracking bit, maybe its just in my head but I feel like I ‘pour out’ my pre-cracked eggs too slowly!

Nail of the Day

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Nicole by OPI – Khloe had a little lam lam

on index and ring finger Deborah Lippmann – Boom Boom Pow

First off sorry for the lack of bottle shot in this picture! This picture was actually snapped mid morning while I was running errands, I thought the light really captured the polish so I quickly tried to take a picture. Another reason why this isn’t the clearest shot, it can look quite odd taking a picture of your nails in public! This has been one of my favourite winter manicures, during the holiday season I was really into adding some sort of glitter into my weekly polish. Khloe had a little lam lam has quickly become one of my staple fall/winter shades. The perfect darkened greenish blue shade, its one of those colours that just looks good with my skin tone. I’d say this leans darker and greener than OPI’s Ski Teal we Drop, I actually preferred this polish so much that I gave the OPI one away! Somehow I couldn’t justify having both since I always preferred this one.

Deborah Lippmann’s Boom Boom Pow is one of my favourite polishes. I wear gold much more than I wear silver and this polish, although pricey, has never been one that I regret. My only gripe is that the large hexagonal glitters don’t apply as well as I would have liked. This may be a polish where you have to ‘place’ the glitter flecks to get a more uniform look.

Pitch Perfect

Finally watched this movie! Months and months of praise surrounding this release definitely sparked my interest with this film. However I must admit, when I first saw the previews, I definitely didn’t think this would be my type of movie, somehow I thought it would be a mix between the campiness of glee with the cheesiness of from Justin to Kelly (was I the only one that actually watched that?). Did this movie have its cheesy parts? Yes. However it also had parts that made me gag as well as moments where I literally laughed out loud; something that rarely happens for me with film and television.

The true star of this film is Fat Amy, played by Rebel Wilson. I had previously seen her playing a similar role in Bridesmaids and , and I must say she plays this part extremely well. Its always refreshing to see an over-confident plus sized character as opposed to the shy, self-concious type that is typically portrayed in the media. All my favourite moments of this film include a Fat Amy one-liner, and Rebel Wilson definitely stole the stage whenever she was on screen. I would without hesitation go and see a Fat Amy spinoff movie, her one-liners make the movie (such as the one quoted below) and she provides the much needed comedic relief , rounding out the film.

I’m gonna kill him! I’m gonna finish him like a cheesecake!

 

This film was almost a ‘can you guess who that is’ game, With actors such as Brittany Snow and Anna Camp having roles. Released on October 5th of this past year, Pitch Perfect is directed by Jason Moore (of Avenue Q fame) while the screenplay was written by Kay Cannon, a co-producer over at 30 Rock. The film is about a freshman girl named Beca, played by Anna Kendrick, who dreams of becoming a DJ and moving out to LA but at the moment is forced into high education by her father, an English professor, at his place of work. Beca is almost ambushed into joining the schools female acapella group, The Bellas, who are ravenous for redemption from an embarrassing incident at last years finals. Beca grows increasingly fonder of the Bellas and adds modern music and interesting mixes into their repertoire.

I’ve heard this film mentioned as one that you’d go back to as a pick me up on a bad day, while i’m not saying this is a bad film in any way you won’t be hearing me singing its praises to everyone I meet. The writing and witty one-liners elevated this film from your typical teenage-high school fare; however I found myself wanting more of that witty writing and less of the stereotypical teen angst and hot-and-cold attitude that Beca exuded throughout the majority of the film. However if you’ve got 112 minutes to kill I was pleasantly surprised by the writing and heart of the film. How else could I end this post than another Fat Amy one-liner:

I can sing, but I’m also good at modern dance, olden dance, and mermaid dancing which is a little different. You usually start on the ground.

It’s a lot of floor work.