By: Monica A. Reyhani
Hello, baseball fans! This week's episode was a good one, no? Before we get into the challenges, I have an announcement to make: I own that very same yellow dress as Tiffany, the one Ed was waltzing around in in the house. It is from New York & Company, and is super comfortable. Here's evidence -- me and one of my closest friends, Jackie, in front of August in new Orleans. This is obviously also a plug for John Besh's restaurant, August, which is a must-visit for any New Orleans trip.
OK, now onto the good stuff. For the Quickfire Challenge, the chefs had to create dishes based on culinary idioms. Is this the most high-brow Quickfire we've ever had?! I think it just might be. I can't say that I love idiom usage in everyday speak, but I do love me some wordplay (as hopefully the headlines on the Top Chef site reveal.) Ed shined with his potato gnocchi with spring vegetables, which Padma commented was a great spring dish. Although I'll pretty much order gnocchi whenever, I love heavy foods. And while gnocchi at its best is "light," it's not "light." Did that make sense? Anyway, I'm sure it was tasty, and you all already know that Ed is my favesies. Guest judge Rick Moonen wasn't feeling Amanda's mac and cheese/pork chop combo. I do applaud her "go big or go home" defense of the dish, but well, Rick didn't. Special shout-out to Kevin for literally putting all of my favorite things in one dish.
For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs had to create fine dining versions of ballpark food to serve at a Washington Nationals game! I've been to enough major league games to know what's appropriate to eat. Tuna tartare is not. But then again I'll only eat soft serve out of a miniature batter's helmet. (I kid of course.) Honestly, I don't care if that tuna was perfect, the very thought of tuna even being cooked at a ballpark grosses me out. It's like ordering tacos at a Chinese restaurant (or something like that.) Unfortunately for Amanda, her tuna was gray anyway and got her sent home. Eric Ripert reveals in his video blog that he actually spit it out! Adding insult to injury, it didn't look like the chefs were too sad to see Amanda go. Those hugs may have been the most awkward I've ever seen on this show.
Although it may have seemed like maybe Angelo was responsible for Amanda's demise, I don't buy that. Just like I don't buy that Casey was responsible for Carla's loss two seasons ago. Sure, someone can make bad suggestions or even fail to make suggestions that could benefit you, but ultimately you have to be strong enough to listen or not to listen. I obviously feel very strongly about this.
On the plus side, Ed rocked it once again with his shrimp and corn fritters. Although the players weren't feeling them, I gotta say these sounded pretty tasty. I LOVE corn. So much in fact that my friends make fun of me when it appears on a menu because I'm sure to order whatever dish it's a part of. My weakness, specifically, is Mexican street corn. But I digress. Tiffany once again hit it out of the park (hehe) with her take on an Italian sub. Eric thought the whole thing was too sloppy, but Rick liked that fact. Eh, I see both sides. Although ballpark food isn't the most refined usually, no one wants to get crap all over them while they're presumably standing and eating. Kevin, Kelly, and Angelo all had some degree of success with their dishes, but also had issues. Actually, Kevin didn't only have issues with his dish, but issues with Angelo as well. See, Angelo decided to go back on his word about expediting everyone's dishes. Was this a strategy to rattle everyone on elimination day? Maybe. Who knows! Either way, Kevin wasn't having it. Angelo actually told me he used to play baseball, so he should have perhaps been more comfortable with this challenge, but Ed stepped up to help execute Angelo's dish, so it all worked out in the end. And that, my friends, is why Ed is pretty awesome. He also has some great zingers. Did you guys hear in the kitchen when someone said it was getting ugly in the kitchen, and then he said it got ugly the moment they entered? BURN! It almost makes me forgive the fact that he's a Red Sox fan. Almost. (Go Yanks!)
Let's talk about what's really important here, though: my birthday dinner at Ajna Bar, where Season 3 winner Hung Huynh is killing it in the kitchen nightly! I posted some pics of my treats to our @BravoTopChef Twitter account this weekend, but feast your eyes on this:
Seriously, this was my third time dining at Ajna and it blows me away every time. My best friend cannot stop raving about the scallop appetizer, but I will say that if you're going to order anything, get the tiger shrimp appetizer (my favorite) and the pork buns. You're good with any entree, but I'm partial to the fish dishes. Also, the coconut mojito is one of my top five favorite cocktails ever, sooo enjoy that. Have any of you ever eaten there? What did you order?
OK, enough about that. Next week we're going into space, people! Well, not really. But, we are going to NASA's HQ, and Buzz Aldrin is making an appearance.
Until then, nosh well!
P.S. The whole Angelo/fiancee thing is getting stranger by the episode....