Well this new site has made a liar outta me. I promised my blog from two weeks ago on that weekend, but I was unaware of the fact that I would not be allowed to publish anything on that weekend while our site updated. Um, and then, yeah, I just got lazy last week. I'm home sick today (blurgh!), but I couldn't not comment on this week's episode — which was amazing!
When I found out Jacques Pepin was going to be on tonight's episode, I lost it. I used to watch Jacques with my father on PBS … with Julia, with his daughter Claudine, whatever. He taught me that you should always whisk rather than beat your eggs to make the best omelet, and for that I will always be grateful. Anyway, my life as a culinary groupie continued when I e-mailed his contact to secure an interview for our Guest Judges' Blog. i was sure no one would respond, or they'd politely decline via e-mail. But as I waited outside Bond St. last week for dinner (Get the yellowtail appetizer and the tempura lobster roll if you go), I got an e-mail. Not from his contact, but from Jacques himself! And then when I got into my office the next work day, he had left a voice message (which I have yet to delete.) I mean, come on! I've interviewed a lot of great people, but I rarely get star-struck. He was super-nice, and I hope you all enjoy my interview with him as much as I enjoyed doing it.
Don't even get me started on Lidia Bastianich. Not only have I also been watching Lidia's Italy since I was younger too, but every time she comes on screen, my father tells the same story (obviously forgetting I've already heard it), about how he and my mother used to go to her old restaurant in Queens. And now all he does is complain about how much oil she uses — go figure!
Anyway, needless to say, I was disturbingly excited for this episode, and it didn't disappoint. First, Wylie Dufresne challenged the chefs to create a dish from incredible, edible eggs. Having one of the most memorable dishes, let alone egg dishes, I've ever tasted on Wylie's tasting menu, I knew the dish would have to be clever and delicious. I was really impressed with Stefan's egg duo. I was worried the two parts wouldn't necessarily go together, but like Wylie, I thought the panna cotta was just plain cool. Fabio really thought he would win, and if you read my interview this week with him for our Burning Questions blog, you'll see he was, well, pissed at Wylie's reaction to his dish. Fabio obviously has a sweet tooth, as this isn't the first time he's opted for sweet when the guest judge (Rocco, Wylie) kinda wants savory. But, alas, my girl Carla rocked it out. Whether you thought her play on words was played out, you really can't beat (pun intended) a perfectly-cooked egg. And again we see that simple is better.For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs had to create dishes for some culinary legends. Carla had the option to switch hers, but didn't. Good girl. It was kind of remarkable how well the chefs paired up with their legends. Sidenote: How hilarious was the set-up of "The Last Supper?" Before I knew what the episode was about, I made a comment to one of my colleagues about how weird and angelic the lighting seemed in the previews. Nice work, Elves! It seemed as though most of the chefs actually did an OK job, but Fabio, who broke his finger (!), kept on trucking, and pulled out the win with his roasted chicken. This reminded me of Elia's roast chicken win back in Season 2. I never really thought about how hard it might be to cook roasted chicken really well, maybe because my mother made it multiple times a week when I was growing up, but now whenever I see roast chicken on a menu, I usually order it or urge someone at my table to.
And, Carla made perfect peas. I gotta say not only do I love peas too, but I was just waiting for her to make the "peas in a pod" joke. Stefan kinda choked, and I thought he might go home, but it appears that making a broken hollandaise is a far greater crime. And Leah was sent home. Based on a lot of your comments, I know you guys are probably pretty happy about that. And although she's actually very nice, I was happy to see her go too. You could just tell her heart wasn't in it anymore.
What I found most interesting were the dishes that the chefs wanted as their last meals. Besides the fact that the question is kind of morbid, I tried to think of what I would want. Wendy's came to mind (How sad is that?) But then I realized I would probably want my mother's chicken parmigiana. It wasn't fancy, but she would always put an extra bunch of cheese in the corner of the pan so that I would have basically a blob of mozzarella to eat. I know it sounds gross, but I looove gooey cheese.What I also found fascinating was the debate over how cooked Carla's squab was. After speaking with Jacques Pepin (Did I mention that?), he spoke about the doneness of duck, and he likes his pretty well cooked. However, any good foodie knows you never order duck more well-done than medium rare. But you know what? I hate it medium rare, so now I'm going to order it medium or well-done, and not feel bad about it! If it's good enough for Jacques Pepin, it's good enough for me.
OK, so onto the comments about the new site. Basically, we're working as fast as we can to get all of the old content we had back on the site, and we're not ignoring any of your concerns. When you do leave a comment about something you notice please tell us in real detail what your'e seeing, what browser version you're in, and what operating system you're using. We really, really appreciate your patience, and I know that the site will be so much easier to navigate very shortly.
Leave your comments. I've missed them.
- Monica A. Reyhani