Hello my little chicken feet! Before I dive in to this week's episode, just want to thank all of my faithful readers for defending me in the Comments section after my last blog. Your coming to my defense warmed my heart, but we can cut CuriousCook some slack. As a writer, I always strive to improve my skills, and realize not everyone will be down with my style. I"m obviously very casual in this blog, and appreciate readers' criticism as much as their praise.
Now, most of you probably won't understand the reference in my blog title this week to Fay Ann Lee's 2006 film, Falling for Grace, which I rented very recently. Why did I see this movie? Because Gale Harold is in it, and I was obsessed with Queer as Folk. The film deals with Chinese assimilation, and Fay Ann Lee, who is also the female lead, Grace, portrays the daughter of a restaurant owner in Chinatown. And so, the film talks a lot about food, obviously Chinese food specifically, and one of the featured dishes is chicken feet! So, Casey's dish choice struck a chord with me.
Let's start at the beginning, though -- a very good place to start. Every season we gets tons of comments and e-mails asking for Tom to compete. And he never has... until now. (Wasn't that dramatic?) Tom created a seemingly simple, yet apparently flavor-complex dish in eight minutes and 37 seconds, which is not a lot of time at all. Tom's time determined the chefs' time for creating their own dishes. I have to say I was happily surprised with most of the chefs' dishes. Dale's and Jamie's seemed like the only real failures to me. I really don't know what Dale was thinking trying to make noodles in that amount of time, but I applaud his ballsiness. I really, really wanted Marcel to win this one. He got a nice compliment from Tom about his dashi, but, alas, Mike Isabella's dish just tasted better. Marcel won in my eyes though. Not only did he show great tenacity in grabbing Tom's fish to work with, which was truly badass (and I never use that word because I hate it.) But he also won me over, once again, with comments that literally had me busting out laughing. His "Jersey accent" literally made me guffaw. And I don't guffaw easily. (OK, that's not true -- I laugh at everything, and it freaks out my fellow editors while I'm watching the episode in our shared office.)The Quickfire may have seemed tough, but it was apparently a piece of cake compared to the chefs' Elimination Challenge -- dim sum service at Grand Harmony restaurant in Chinatown. I'm embarrassed to admit that I've never done proper dim sum, so this was a fairly enlightening challenge for me. Richard called it pretty early on that the whole thing would be a disaster, and boy was he right. Mike Isabella was expediting because he had immunity, but others needed to help him eventually becuase the diners were getting cranky. Poor Tom even had to enter the kitchen to tell the chefs what was what. There was so much chaos in the kitchen, and the thing that honestly pissed me off was how much kvetching was going on, instead of cooking. This is probably one of my biggest pet peeves when working in groups -- when people complain about mistakes being made before the task is complete. I always say, "Solve now, blame later!" Did I just quote myself? Ew.
Time to break down the dishes: Not surprisingly, Angelo and Dale were on top. As Dale said, this was his challenge to lose. Tiffany Derry rocked it out with a pork bun. Just looking at the "marshmallow-y" ouside made me want a pork bun immediately. Although David Chang's are "the best," I have always preferred Hung Huynh's. They're a little more pulled pork, a little less pork belly, which means less fat in my mouth. Fabio also rocked it out with short ribs. It seems he finally got out of his own head, stepped out of his comfort zone, and succeeded. He got a nice compliment from Susur Lee, which is nothing to sneeze at.
One more quick note about Fabio: The sight of him walking his pet turtle was adorable. I had the opportunity to try turtle soup at Brennan's in New Orleans, and although I usually try to order exotic items as often as possible, I just couldn't do it. I was hungover hungry, and wanted something I knew I could/would eat. Have any of you ever had turtle soup? If so, what's it like?
Fabio's classic "Top Scallop" line was also revived this episode. Now, I know I'll get a barage of comments that Jamie, once again, should have gone home. She even admitted she thought she would. But Tom used the word "inedible" when referring to Casey's dish. Once he said that, I knew Casey was dead in the water. As soon as Casey got cut, I had visions of a "black widow" montage for Jamie at the reunion, Antonia Season 4-style. She just keeps sending people home! Carla's roll was beautiful, but apprently too noodle-y, and Antonia's shrimp toast was good, but she contributed to the poor long beans, so she found herself in the bottom. Casey, obvoiously, lost control of her dish. I don't quite get what happened in telling the others where/how to cook them (in a wok vs. a deep fryer), but it sounds like she didn't give specific instructions and that was her downfall. It's actually kind of hilarious when you think about it. Although I, Carla, and all of you have hopefully now realized that Casey wasn't responsible for Carla's Season 5 finale loss, Carla was sent home for letting someone else have too much say over her dish. Ultimately, Casey was sent home for the same thing. I will miss Casey's insightful comments this season -- she was very good about recognizing other people's weaknesses and commenting on them.
Next week, the chefs travel to my hometown of Long Island for some fishing. This should be interesting.
Oh, before I forget! I had a request from commenter Jantina to see what I ate at Blue Hill the other week. Good news: I saved my tasting menu! It's after the jump. And, I am finally dining at Ma Peche this Saturdy night, and I'll be sure to share -- in detail -- what I eat. Until then, Happy Noshing!