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Hello my little conch shells! Was I right about this week's episode or what?! It was impossible! But before we get to the ridiculously hard Elimination Challenge, let's dish on the Quickfire Challenge with guest judge of NBC's America's Next Great Restaurant, Lorena Garcia. Yay corporate synergy! The show is not only on NBC but is produced by the fabulous Magical Elves and features our Masters host, Curtis Stone (who I had the pleasure of meeting the other week, and he's a tall drink of water.) The chefs divide into male chefs vs. females and have to create identical plates for their guests. This challenge is all about consistency. While the women seemingly take the "easy way out," the men make pasta. The women win. And the men were bitter. I have to say I think the women were just smart. Just becuase something is simpler to make doesn't make it any less flavorful, and I was actually surprised at Mike and Richard for making something that could have gone so horribly wrong, since they're usually so strategic. Their bitterness felt more like "Damn, we shoulda done that." Are we sure they shouldn't have made equal portions of crow and not pasta? Oh! Zing!
For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs schlepped to an island, close to Gilligan's in fact, and frantically chose their proteins from crates. But, they were told they'd be making a conch-centric dish. I will say that the only time I've ever eaten conch was at the Brooklyn
Diner, and it was in fritter form, and they were delicious. Sooo, where's the chefs' conch?! Oh, it's still in the water. So we watch these poor, poor chefs "fish" for their own conch. I felt so bad for them, and as I've never snorkled either, I'd probably have been the one flailing around like Richard. (Although I'm an excellent swimmer.) Fortunately, though, they are all successful to varying degrees. Then the actual cooking begins. Cooking on a beach ain't easy -- and if I may say so, neither is eating. I always end up with sand in my turkey wraps! Let's break down each dish, shall we?
Mike Isabella wins with his banana-wrapped grouper with braised pineapple and warm conch vinaigrette. Unlike Elia's banana-wrapped debacle from Episode 1, Mike's fish was successful. I agree with Gail that the braised pineapple did sound good, but I will say that I have seen it before. You've actually all seen it before, albeit in sweet form. Yigit made braised pineapple in his own on Top Chef: Just Desserts finale, which meanwhile I should make because I'm just re-remembering how awesome it sounded. Mike is just killing it in the Bahamas. We'll see if he can ride the momentum.
I am very upset that tiffany go eliminated and thats all i want to say, would u rather have a dish that is cold and gud over a dish that is hot and awful.
I love your recaps..they are fun and insightful. Every year I've gone to NY with my cousin, but missed this year and may miss next year as well. What will I miss most? The Brooklyn Diner! It was such a kick to hear you talk about it. I love their conch fritters.
keep up the good work. I am such a fan!
A few comments on the conch. First, it was a mean trick. Good, but mean. Secondly, it was very obvious the conch had been placed there for the competitors, as they were all upside down, with the pretty side pointing up. It was pretty mean not to have someone there to show them how to clean the conch, which isn't hard, if you know how to do it.
Using the pointy hammer end, make a little hole on the pointy and coiled end of the shell (with the pretty side down), about 1" from the end of the coil. A mere inch or two long, and stick in a knife, Voila! The animal is released. The conch itself also has different textures, the "thumb" which is chewey, best used for fritters and such, and the "hand" which is the tender and delicous part, although it is usually pounded.
It's too bad the chef's all did basically the same thing, chop it up, spice it up. Fried, "cracked" conch (or scorched conch as one of the guests mentioned) is one of the most delicious dishes ever, my favorite seafood in the world, and I grew up in Florida. Better than stone crabs!
A challenging episode, but the right three chefs made it through. I'm beginning to loathe the insufferably arrogant Mike Isabella. I wouldn't put him out if he was on fire. Antonio & Richard all the way to the finals, I hope.
Tiffany was a joy! She had some beautiful dishes and it was fun watching her gain momentum! We will have fun trying out her recipes! Wishing her all the best.
This was another crazy challenge... what's next??!!
Monica-Birthdays are the perfect excuse to go to Volt! I am in Maryland, so it's easy for me & I have all (of 3, haha) of my employees b-day lunches there as well as our company Christmas lunch. Always excellent! Bryan Voltaggio is single handedly responsible for turning me from a hater of beets into a beet enthusiast! Sorry to say that the same effect was not in evidence however when it came to tuna tartare, but at least I swallowed instead of spit! Last week we skipped Volt to try "Carribean Soul", also in Frederick MD & I had my first ever taste of goat (curried) which I enjoyed & found quite similar to venison. Thank you so much for your blogs this season, they have been delightful.
Missed episode but will watch tonight. Had the pleasure of eating in Angelo Sosa's restaurant last night and it was wonderful. Food was very good, service was young, but attentive, and Angelo himself was amazingly gracious. He checked on us twice during our meal. We both ordered tacos - which were delicious - but the tortillas were out of this world. Angelo said they are made fresh daily. Check it out. Social Eatz - 232 E 53rd Street.