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Gin, Bombay & Juniper Berries ... Oh My!

Carlos Fernandez on Hung's know-it-all attitude.

What a tough Quickfire. Pairing gin with food is difficult (that Juniper berry dominates the palate). And may I say, what a pantry -- foie gras and Meyer lemons -- I LOVE YOU LEE ANNE! Hung is starting to get on my nerves a bit. "Mr. Know-It-All" actually confronts the guest judge about the combination of sweet and sour. Perhaps if he actually used more sauce with his protein, the yin and yang of flavors he was trying to achieve might have come through. Instead he merely decorates his plate with the sauce and the effect is lost. At first I thought the "C.P.A." thing was an act because you cannot keep a good crew with that attitude. What do you folks think? Personally, I want to see his monkey work for a while. LOL!

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I was happy to see Casey win this challenge. You were truly inspired and the French toast idea really seemed to work well. If I am ever inclined to have a gin Ricky, I will give that combo a try! I became a member of the Chaine des Rotisseurs in the late nineties and Hi-Life Cafe is an officially designated Chaine restaurant. They are a well-versed group, on both food and wine, and they probably dine out more than most. I really felt for the chefs, as I know first hand what a demanding group these folks can be -- especially as the evening (and the wines) wear on. Sarah N. tells us she's really stressed. Sorry Sarah, but how am I supposed to tell? Your pulse seems to be hovering somewhere around 52!

Once again we see Brian's proficiency with fish ... I am anxious to see him handle some meat for a change (oh no I didn't). Chef Tom, I love ya', but in my experience caviar is generally a bit salty. And Joey: how do you confit a tuna steak? Slow heat?? Low heat??? I'm sorry, but that drive-by Denny's comment was just rude and elitist -- simplicity is so often maligned. Now on to the good news ... well sort of. We hadn't seen much of Camille so far, but when she climbed up onto the stove to stir her Sabayon -- that was hot ... literally and figuratively!! Too bad she had to go. I guess that the proof wasn't in the pudding. I'm guessing, had you been a little more brazen at the judge's table, you would still be around. I kept wondering why this team didn't do some sort of cheese course instead, given Sarah's background as a fromage monger. In hindsight, everything always seems so clear ... I think they should have kept Camille on just so we could see more of her kitchen gymnastics. Kind of like a "Cirque du Stove-Leil" Hooray for Lia!

As I predicted last week, she has risen like a culinary Phoenix from the ashes of her store-bought, pre-packaged sausage. I bet Jean-Georges is grinning from ear to ear over your victory -- I certainly am. I cannot wait to try your shrimp dish. The flavors seem very clear and distinct and you seem to have a nice contrast in textures as well. Brava! Make sure you check out this week's webisode of Miami Spice on for my delicious and simple Snapper Vera Cruz recipe. You can also go to Yahoo! Telemundo and enjoy my take on the winning recipes that I prepare every Wednesday on Telemundo -- they keep a backlog of each episode and, as you will see, I am having a blast working with those folks. Please let me know what you think. Until next week, stay tuned and break an egg!

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