Monday, January 29, 2007

Top Design update!

Recently I received this desperate letter from one of my crazed fans:

Dear Eric Three Thousand,

I know you've listed several great Top Design blogs to visit but couldn't you tell us about just one more? It would really make my life complete. Thanks!

Sincerely,

Fervently Reading Everything And Kissing You

Well, you're in luck, FREAKY! Here you go:

Our friends Charlus and Miss XaXa of Amuse-Biatch present for your delectation their new blog called Pink Navy (http://pinknavy.blogspot.com/). If you enjoy humor, bitchiness, taste, and deconstruction (and I know you do) then you'll love visiting them every day!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Top Chef Recap, Finale, Part 1: Aloha Oe, you smell like poi!

In this "supersized" episode we spend approximately thirty seconds looking back at all the other chefs who were kicked off the show. Then Padma reminds us again what's at stake. Does anyone really care about winning a stupid Kenmore Pro Kitchen? We hear in a commercial a little later on that it's "priced within reach!" Well that makes it even more special, doesn't it?

OK, It's two months later and we're visiting with the final four:

We visit Marcel at Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas where his coworkers praise him for being "cutting edge." Then we visit with him at home with the other two members of his "gastronomic society," which I think translates to "ménage à trois." They're heavily into "research and development," or S&M for short. Let me know if putting everything in quotes is "getting on your nerves." Oh, one more thing: Marcel has emulsifiers and he's not afraid to use them. Watch out!

Elia, also in Las Vegas, is working at The Cafe, I think at Mandalay Bay. She has been doing her researches on the Internets and learning about the Hawaiian food. We learn that she was two seconds from going to the Olympics. She just missed her flight. Just kidding; she was a swimming champ and almost qualified for the Olympics. So she's used to just missing greatness. That will come in handy.

Ilan works in New York at Casa Mono, which I think means House of Venereal Disease. I like his apartment with the bed loft.

Sam apparently doesn't have a job. He's selling himself for pastry lessons. We learn that he has no ego. He's putting jars of food in a suitcase. Aren't those going to break? Maybe they're plastic.

The next scene is Los Angeles International Airport but I don't know if that means Sam was in Los Angeles because it turns out everyone is catching the same flight from Los Angeles to Hawaii. Their first/business class seats are not impressive, though apparently they get good food. After they land they are leid by Miss Hawaii. Ooh, hee hee! See, that sounds like she had sex with them but she didn't really.

They take a terrifying (to Sam) helicopter ride to visit Padma, Gail, Tom, and guest judge/birthday boy Alan Wong, grandmaster of regional Hawaiian cuisine, whatever that means. They are in the taro fields of Waipi'o Valley on the Big Island and they are having a traditional Hawaiian meal.

I should explain that I grew up in Honolulu so I know a little about Hawaiian food; specifically, I'm really good at frying SPAM! So, they're having a meal that is so traditional that they are actually eating with their fingers. And yet for some reason they are sitting in chairs, which is not very traditional. Chef Wong tells us about the importance of taro, which is used for the traditional starch dish poi. He then tells us poi is actually anything that has been pounded and cooked a long time and can also be made out of ulu (breadfruit) or sweet potato. This is news to me. I've never heard of poi made out of anything other than taro. I'll take his word for it. Anyway, the chefs are also introduced to laulau (which can be almost anything cooked in Ti leaves) and poke (which is like ceviche and I can't stand raw fish so I always skip this). Apparently they also have haupia because everyone talks about it the next day but we don't get to see it, as far as I can tell. Haupia is a stiff coconut pudding (it should be as stiff as jello) and it's basically just coconut milk, corn starch, and sugar. It's my favorite!

The chefs check in to their suite at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. Everyone hates Marcel. In fact, even Wendy Pepper refuses to share a room with him. For some reason Elia suddenly can't stand Marcel and acts like he's been awful the whole time even though she seemed to like him before. What's up with that? Does it have to do with her shame over the terrible events in the last challenge? I'm really confused by her sudden contempt for him.

The next day they are told their challenge will be to make a cutting edge traditional luau.

"But that's oxymoronic!"

Yeah, yeah, whatever; just do it! They have to take the traditional flavors of Hawaiian food and put a twist on them.

Marcel makes his interpretation of lomi lomi salmon, which, of course, he serves with foam. His second dish is poke with pineapple poi. Or, more accurately, pineapple "poi." Its very popular, though the judges' reactions to it are really erratic. Padma and Gail get into a cat fight over its viscosity (Padma thinks it's too runny and Gail thinks Padma is crazy) and Tom and Alan can't seem to decide whether they appreciate the twist on "poi" or whether it's too much of a stretch. I'm very confused.

All the other chefs have comments about Marcel's food and presentation. Sam praises Marcel's food, saying he could make rat crap on a plate look good:

Sam: "That wasn't a compliment."

Oh, my mistake.

Sam: "He's deconstructed the food. It's almost destructively deconstructed."

I see.

Ilan: "Marcel thinks he's so superior but even he knows he's not."

So he thinks he's superior but he knows he's not? What the hell does that mean?

Elia: "Ugh, Marcel is going on and on describing his dish. He's been describing his dish for fifteen minutes. The guests are actually dropping dead from boredom. It's like he's reading a story to his daughter."

Oh, how I loved hearing that story when I was a little girl: "Then the wolf showed Little Red Riding Hood how to use emulsifiers to thicken the pineapple puree ..." Yeah, that really brings back fond childhood memories. By the way, Elia seems to be the only one bored by Marcel. The guests and judges didn't seem to mind his explanation. And does Marcel have a daughter? He must have been a sperm donor because he's never had sex, remember?

Sam makes poke with sea beans (what the hell are sea beans?) and he puts a ceviche twist on it. For his second dish he makes a marscarpone mousse with coconut milk and citrus tuile, which he says is his twist on "that coconut desert we had last night." I wasn't sure if he meant haupia because at that point I hadn't realized they had been served haupia the previous day. What he's making doesn't sound even remotely like haupia, which really is nothing like a mousse. However, everyone loved it and the judges thought it was a good twist on the traditional dish. So, obviously I'm an idiot. One complaint about Sam's food is that he didn't actually cook anything:

Padma: "So what?"

Tom: "So, this is a cooking show not a refrigerating show. Do I have to explain everything to you, Padma?"

Elia makes a Mediterranean style poke, which has nothing to do with the flavors of Hawaii and then she makes a snapper laulau, which the judges think is very good.

Ilan uses his knowledge of Spanish food and makes another laulau, this one with squid and sausage, which the judges really like. Then he makes a fried coconut-milk and saffron desert. As Alan points out, simply using coconut milk doesn't make something Hawaiian; that desert was closer to Indian food. But his food is so good the judges seem to ignore the fact that it wasn't very Hawaiian.

Elia is mad at Marcel for moving one of her pots. Marcel says the burner wasn't on and that he said he was moving the pot but Elia says the burner was on and she never heard him. Again, it's too bad nobody was filming the action so we would know who is correct. I tend to believe Marcel simply because he is the one who saw the burner before he moved the pot and the burner was either off or he's lying, for which he seems to have little motivation. While on the other hand, Elia was obviously not paying attention to the pot so she wouldn't actually know if the burner was still on when Marcel moved it. With so many people in the kitchen it's a little difficult to prove Marcel actually turned off the burner. And he admitted to moving the pot, which he wouldn't have done if he had been intentionally sabotaging his best friend on the show. Throughout the competition, whenever Marcel wants to use the stove or needs someone to get their vegetables out of a sink or keep the refrigerator doors closed, everyone says he's rude. Why is it not rude for Cliff to keep his vegetables sitting in the sink when other people need to use it? I don't get it.

While the judges are deliberating Sam, Ilan, and Elia suddenly decide to accuse Marcel of cheating.

Ilan: "Come on, Elia, this could be our last chance to screw him over."

Elia: "I don't know. I really want to do it but for some reason it just doesn't seem quite right to accuse someone of cheating for absolutely no reason."

Sam: "Don't be such a pussy."

At the judges' table:

Tom: "There are no losers here, other than the two losers."

Ilan: "Uh, Elia has something she'd like to say."

Elia: "Oh, thanks, Ilan; that's very gracious of you to make me do it. OK, Marcel has been cheating through the whole competition."

Tom: "What did he do?"

Ilan: "Well, we don't think he respects the kitchen and food as much as he should. Also, I don't think he's ever had sex."

Sam: "Everyone hates him. But I don't really want to say anything bad about him because ..."

Everyone: "Because you're not 'That Guy;' we know!"

Elia: "Come on Marcel, you know you've been cheating."

Tom: "Can you give us an example?"

Elia: "Well, today he moved my pot. It didn't actually affect my cooking but I think it demonstrates his terrible attitude in the kitchen."

Gail: "You accused him of cheating! Can you give us an example of cheating?"

Elia: "Everyone agrees he's annoying! In fact America just voted and they all want Marcel to be eliminated. Why should I have to come up with actual examples? Can't a person just accuse someone of cheating without being subjected to the Spanish Inquisition? Geez!"

Tom: "OK, remember when I said there were no losers here? I was wrong. I think you're all losers."

Padma: "Marcel and Ilan, you're going to the final. Elia and Sam, pack your knives and get out of my sight."

Elia: "Well, at least I can leave with my head held high, knowing I handled myself well. Except for the time I was involved in an assault and when I maliciously accused someone of cheating for no reason. Now that I think about it, why am I holding my head high?"

Well, that was another depressing episode. Where does Bravo find these people? Anyway, tune in next week when we learn that Ilan has more than just paprika in his kit. You know what that means! Well, if you do, could you explain it to me? Thanks.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Project Runway Recap, Season One Finale: In Her Shoes: The Imelda Marcos Story!

The three finalists are given $8,000, five months, and a dozen Chinese cobblers to create a runway collection.

Heidi: "There are four models left and three designers. This is a problem because four is one more than three. Do you see where I'm going with this?"

Martinique is out. Except, of course, that she isn't. She shows up later on the runway but she's out of the running for the Elle Magazine spread.

Jay tells us he is finally inspired. Wendy packs her amazingly ugly clothes. And she's just stuffing them into her luggage, which, by the way, is not designer. Laura Bennett would die if she saw this. Kara explains to us how talented she is:

Kara: "Now, you know I don't like to brag, because my amazing talent speaks for itself. But I just want to explain how I got through to the finals: I decided to try something unusual and just get by with my incredible talent and not rely on any strategy, unlike some people, who will remain nameless but whose initials are W.P."

I never get tired of hearing how great Kara thinks she is. Or do I?

Heidi has taken on a second job as the doorman for the Atlas Apartments and is hailing cabs for the designers. Cut to a couple of months later and we are traveling the country with Tim Gunn, visiting the designers at home:

Jay lives in a tiny town and his father designs septic tanks, which Tim thinks is very similar to fashion design:

Tim: "Well, to be honest, they're both full of shit."

Then we visit Wendy in Middleburg, Virginia. It's a slightly bigger town than Jay's. Wendy's daughter is using a miniature sewing machine to make all the small details on her collection.

Wendy: "Look, my daughter is so cute! She made this painting for the judges!"

Daughter: "No, I didn't."

Wendy: "OMG, is that the cutest thing you've ever heard?!"

We visit Wendy's Great-Grandmother's antebellum mansion, now entrusted to the National Trust for Historic Preservation:

Me: "Holy crap!"

Wendy: "I know, right? It took a lot of slaves to run this place!"

Me: "I bet it did!"

Tim: "It's just like Dynasty!"

Me: "Were there slaves on Dynasty?"

Tim: "No, I was trying to change the subject."

Me: "It's more like Gone with the Wind."

Tim: "Whatever; both references are equally gay."

Next we visit Kara in the smallest town of all: Hollywood! (Sort of my home town!) Tim goes shopping with her at F&S Fabrics. Yay, F&S; I used to shop there! Kara is calling her collection The Aviator. Or maybe "aviatrix." Or maybe its just aviation or "Flights of Fancy" or something else. Who knows; she keeps changing the name. Anyway, It's vintage but also now. Huh?

Then we cut to a few days before the runway show. The designers are staying at the W Hotel. Did Bravo suddenly come into an inheritance? Kara sleeps on the couch because Wendy has cooties. Kara is from Hollywood so she knows fakes. She's also very talented and has worked with famous people, in case you hadn't heard. The designers are working at the the Cotton office. The office is actually made out of cotton. Yes, that's right. It's very versatile; soft and supple, yet firm and structured, and also stain-resistant; it's the office of our lives.

The designers get a style consultation with Collier Strong. Then they fight over models:

Kara: "So what if I grabbed all the good models? I'm just pushier because I'm so talented!"

Wendy's mother and daughter visit the design room:

Wendy's mother: "Kara, I just want to tell you how talented I think you are!"

Kara: "Oh, thanks. Gosh, we all just love Wendy so much. You must be so proud, having such a talented daughter."

Wendy's mother: "You're even more sincere in person than you are on television. Jay, lets go outside and have a cigarette. Then we can go to the Village and get laid! [cough, cough, wheeze]"

Jay: "Uh, gee, Wendy, you're mom sure is, um, friendly."

Next up: Shoegate!

Kara somehow forgot to read her contract about having to pay for all the outsourcing for her collection.

Tim: "Wow, Kara, those shoes sure do look expensive. How were you able to afford them?"

Kara: "Oh, no, it's OK. I got them for free! They were designed specially for my collection and made in China and I didn't have to pay for them! Isn't that great?!"

Tim: "What is wrong with you that you don't see that that's not OK?"

Kara: "So I'm being penalized for having good taste?"

Tim: "Yes, that's it; you're being penalized for having good taste. Oh, yes, and also for cheating."

Kara: "Well, alright; as long as you admit that I'm being treated unfairly."

Tim: "Whatever. These are your options: We can either kick you off the show, chop off your models' feet, or just keep the judges from seeing the shoes."

Kara: "Uh, the third one."

Tim: "Good choice. Now, here's what we're going to have to do. The judges will be given special Michael Kors sunglasses that will block out your models' feet so they won't be able to see the shoes."

Personally, I think she should have been forced to send her models down the runway barefoot and been grateful she wasn't kicked off the show. Anyway, On to the runway:

The guest judge is Parker Posey. She has enormous glasses and a gigantic, crazy 'fro! She looks like a mental patient; God, she's fabulous!

First is Kara's collection. It's glamorous and sexy and well made and blah, blah, blah. It looks like costumes from the Aviator movie and it's totally boring.

Daniel and Alexandra: "Kara's going to win!"

You two are idiots.

Next is Wendy's collection. It's "the thrill of the hunt" but there are no guns so I don't get it. It's not great but I still find it more interesting than Kara's collection. So sue me.

Jay's theme is "Stereotype." Unsurprisingly, it is the most interesting and original theme. Almost every one of his pieces is breathtaking! They're amazingly original, intricate, dramatic, fun, cool, and almost wearable. Gorgeous!

The judging:

Judges: "Kara, your collection looks like Gucci."

Kara: "Oh, no; this is totally me. Gucci has been ripping me off for years. I'm a little tired so could you just announce that I'm the winner so we can go home?"

Sorry. Jay wins! Congratulations, Jay! I know you'll go on to greatness! ... Eventually! ... Maybe! ... OK, I'm still waiting ...

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Top Chef Recap, Episode 11: Sense and Sensuality: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Channel of Bravo!

WTF just happened?! OK, we'll get to that later. Let's start at the beginning of the episode. Everything seemed normal ...

Sam: "I'm going to do what it takes to win ... but I won't step on anyone to do it ... because I'm not 'That Guy.'"

Quien es esa niña, who's "That Guy?"

That's right, Madonna; I'm sorry, but the only reason someone would have to keep telling us that he's not "That Guy" is because he's "That Guy."

Elia describes the experience of being on Top Chef:

Elia: "Many fillings are involved."

Actually, I don't remember many recipes with fillings. Sauces, yes, but not fillings.

Elia: "No, no, no; fillings! Like emotions!

Oh, right! Sorry.

Marcel: "I predicted it would come down to the five of us. Of course, I also predicted that I would win and we all know that's not going to happen."

The guest judge for this episode is Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin.

Cliff: "He's a demigod!"

Well, thanks for your discretion in not calling him a full-fledged god, Cliff. Because that would have been an exaggeration. OK, the Quickfire challenge is brought to us this week by ...

Nestle Chocolatiertm Premium Baking Chocolate!
Indulge Your Chocolate Passion!
Turn everyday chocolate recipes into indulgent desserts with new Nestle Chocolatiertm, the premium baking chocolate created specifically for rich and decadent desserts!

Oh, sorry about that! So, anyway, they have to make a dish using chocolate and they have 90 minutes! 90 minutes?! that's like four days in Top Chef time!

Ilan makes a really disgusting-looking chicken-liver truffle that does not impress the judge.

Marcel: "Chicken liver with chocolate? What an idiot! everyone knows you should use tripe."

Sam wins the challenge. That means he gets first choice of course and protein in the elimination challenge, for which they have to make a romantic five course meal at a restaurant in Santa Barbara.

Padma: "Santa Barbara: the most romantic destination in California!" [And then added in voice-over:] "And also known for it's culinary experiences!"

Well, they do have one of the last Sambo's in the country, where you can still buy adorably racist merchandise!

Padma: "Remember, you need to make a meal that is romantic. The mark of a true chef is knowing how you want your customer to feel. Would you agree with that, Eric?"

Eric Ripert: "How can I disagree with such a meaningless statement?"

Sam makes a lobster and scallop starter. It goes over very well.

Ilan makes fideos with clams, which is apparently a crispy pasta dish. Everyone loves it.

Marcel makes salmon with beets (which Sam also used in the starter). I thought the judges liked this more than they apparently did. Gail finds the little heart cut-outs to be "precious." At first they said the dish was missing acid but then they said the acidic, almost citricy wine, was a perfect pairing so I thought that problem was taken care of. But at the judges' table they bring up the lack of lemon and they act like they didn't love the dish.

Cliff makes steak with pureed lentils. No one is impressed. They don't know why someone would puree lentils. The steak is way too rare for Padma and Tom finds the greens "useless." (I'm not sure how he was planning to use them.) Eric Ripert declares it, "'Ow you say? 'Otel food."

Elia has a nervous breakdown over her "kiss." Her desert has lots of heart-shaped elements and the chocolate one doesn't work so she has to use pieces of chocolate instead:

Tom: "The menu said we were getting a chocolate heart and I want a chocolate heart! We didn't get what we were promised!"

Someone give the baby a chocolate heart. Geez. Anyway, people seem to like the desert but the judges aren't blown away by it.

There is some drama in the kitchen during the challenge when Marcel tells Sam he won't have time to help plate dishes until after his course goes. So, in retaliation, Sam first decides he won't help Marcel:

Sam: "But then I decided to help him. Because I'm not "That Guy."

Right. So the meal is over and the judges say it was the best meal so far on Top Chef. The chefs celebrate in the kitchen with Marcel opening champagne bottles with a big knife. Don't you have to be licenced to do that? Because it can be really dangerous. As we can see by all the broken bottles sitting on the counter that were obviously the failed earlier attempts.

The chefs go back to their apartment. The shit then hits the fan. They get drunk as usual. But then they go to Hollywood Boulevard and get tattoos. I couldn't believe it! They gave Marcel Rohypnol and had "I LIKE GUYS" tattooed on his chest! Then they all ended up in jail! It was crazy!

Well, what really happened was almost as weird and disturbing. They started shaving their heads. Elia and Ilan shave their own heads. Sam decides not to do his head. Cliff's head is already shaved to he decides to shave Marcel's instead. He wakes up Marcel, who is sleeping on the couch, and they reenact the homoerotic wrestling scene from the Borat movie. It's pretty frightening. Marcel is obviously upset and he goes and sleeps in the bathroom.

Sam: "It was uncomfortable for all of us. I was especially uncomfortable; the sofa I was lounging on while I watched these events unfold wasn't as soft as I would have liked. But I'm not going to complain. Because I'm not 'That Guy.'"

Tom kicks Cliff off the show.

Padma: "Ironically, he's the one who made our least favorite dish."

Alanis Morissette: "I'm pretty sure that isn't ironic."

Thank you, Alanis; you're right, that isn't ironic. It's a minor coincidence (there was a twenty percent chance of it happening). It could even be considered serendipitous since the person who had to leave would have left anyway, making the situation slightly less tragic. Of course it also means Cliff didn't pay a very high price for his actions but I do think he was just playing around and didn't mean any harm by it.

The judges pretend that they have to decide whether to take two, three, or four chefs to the finals in Hawaii. Please!

Padma: "Sam and Ilan, you're going to the finals! Elia and Marcel, I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to ask you to pack your knives ..."

[Elia and Marcel are stunned]

Padma: "... and go to Hawaii for the finals, too!"

Elia and Marcel: "What kind of sick person would play with our emotions like that?!"

They attack Padma and shave her head.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Top Design: Bravo's latest cry for attention!

Yes, the newest show to try to ride the coattails of Project Runway starts in a couple of weeks and the blogs are already getting prepared! Here are the three most important from our Project Runway/Top Chef blogging family:

I believe the first to discuss doing a blog on the new show were the fabulous fags at Project Rungay and Project: Gay. Their new effort is called Project: Top Design (http://projecttopdesign.blogspot.com/)

The hard working folks at the original PR fan site, Blogging Project Runway, are also doing a Top Design site. It's called Blogging Top Design (http://bloggingtopdesign.blogspot.com/)

And I'm very excited to announce that I will be contributing to a new blog from the people who brought you Blogging Top Chef! It's called Top Design Blogger (http://topdesignblogger.blogspot.com/). Ms. Place of Dishin' Dat and I will be joining the ladies of Blogging Top Chef so you can look for my weekly recaps of the new show there.

All three of these blogs are up and running and are already filled with lots a information about the designers and other fun! Check them out!

Added January 19:

But wait, there's more! For a limited time only (not really) you can get a fourth Top Design blog absolutely free! Our friend Trixie at Kora in Hell has decided to blog about the show and she has up some fun commentary on the designers' bios: http://kora-in-hell-pr.blogspot.com/

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Project Runway Postcap: a message from Tim Gunn:

Yo, I forgot to rap at y'all 'bout why Morgan wasn't on the reunion show. So, you know, here's what went down, right? I went to talk to Morgan's "agent" (it's really her mom) and I was all, "Yo, we need Morgan to come be on the reunion show," and she was all, "Only if you promise she will be portrayed in a positive light," and I was all, "Positive light?! Bitch, what you been smokin'?! How we 'posed to do that?!" And so, you know, she was all, "Well, then I'm sorry but I can't allow her to go on a show if people are going to make fun of her," and I was like, "If she don't want people makin' fun o' her she shouldn't be runnin' around like some skanky-ass ho then, right? Woman, don't be gettin' all up in my grill wit' yo stupid-ass demands!" So she pushed me and I broke a nail. And, you know, I had just got a French mani and that just set me off! So you know what I did? I ripped that ratty weave right off o' her head. Uh-huh. That's right. Damn! And that's why Morgan wasn't on the reunion show.

Keepin' it real,

Tim Gunn

Friday, January 12, 2007

Project Runway Recap, Season One Reunion Special: Everybody Hurts Sometime.

OK, this will be short because there just isn't much of a narrative on the reunion shows. The clips are fun, the bickering isn't, few questions are satisfactorily answered, and then it's over.

Heidi Klum: "Welcome to the Project Runway Reunion Special where we get twelve designers sloshed and then make fun of them! Since he was the last one kicked off the show, we'll start with some very special clips of Austin!"

Well, you can't get much more special than Austin.

Next, there are clips of the designers getting drunk. The designers are getting drunk while they watch clips of themselves getting drunk. Not only that, but I'm getting drunk while I'm watching the designers getting drunk while watching clips of themselves getting drunk. Isn't that weird? Are you sure?

So then we learn who the designers think should be in the final three.

Vanessa: "It should have been me, Alexandria, and Kevin."

Did she just say "Alexandria"? Yes, she did. Just call Vanessa "Alexandria" because she's the queen of denial. I'll let you think about that one for a moment.

Tim: "Vanessa, do you regret your self-evisceration?"

OK, Ew! Tim, that's disgusting!

Vanessa: "Yeah, I'm sorry I said I can't sew because I can. And people keep sending me sewing kits now. Every time it's mentioned that I can't sew my sales go down by several million dollars."

Uh-huh, right.

Then there are clips of the designers imitating each other and Heidi, which was pretty funny. Then there are clips of Tim saying, "Make it work" and "Carry on," which is always good. Mario then states the obvious:

Mario: "Tim is a hot bitch!"

Yeah, tell us something we don't know.

Mario: "I totally hope I look that good when I'm so old."

Oh, charming.

The three finalists are brought in: Wendy, Kara, and Jay. Everyone is very excited to see Wendy so they can start bitching. The other designers have seen the early episodes and have heard her say that she was going to use strategy to get as far as she could in the competition. The fact that there is no evidence that she actually did anything underhanded to affect the outcome of any of the challenges doesn't seem to matter. The fact is she has gotten as far as she has through pure dumb luck and that's all there is to it. Kevin wasn't kicked off the show because Wendy is a terrible person; he was kicked off because he did a terrible job in that challenge and he deserved to go. And that's all I'm saying about that.

Wendy: "It was a competition and I said I would do what it takes to win. That's it."

Alexandra: "So you would murder someone to win?"

Wendy: "No, of course not!"

Mario: "Well, you just said you would do anything."

Wendy: "I didn't say I would do anything to win. I said I would do what it takes."

Jay: "What if that included killing someone? Your story is very inconsistent."

Kara: "You shouldn't sell your soul because you may need it someday."

Oh, yeah? Well, you shouldn't sell your, um, earrings because ... uh, you may want to wear them again sometime. Sorry, that's all I could come up with.

After the break Vanessa turns from clueless to soulless.

What break?

That break. OK, and we're back. Now we're on to the defaced photograph of Wendy's daughter. Tim accuses Kevin! Tim doesn't seem like the type of person to make rash, baseless accusations. He's probably right. Vanessa is completely trashed (oh, yeah, and she can't sew, pass it on) and she accuses Wendy of doing it herself. Jay defends Wendy:

Jay: "Wendy may be a horrible bitch but she would never do that!"

Wendy: "Thanks, Jay. That's sweet of you to say."

We then get the blooper reel with Robert "falafelizing" and Jay talking about "Hoody" Klum.

But that's enough fun! The designers start asking Vanessa why she said such terrible things about the show in an interview:

Vanessa: "Look, I was having a good time as long as we were attacking Wendy but I do not have to sit here and listen to people ask me perfectly reasonable questions. I'm out of here!"

Tim: "It's the end of the show. One of the designers is missing but she's left a slimy trail on the floor like a slug. Drunken cow."

Heidi: "That was fun! Next time we visit with the finalists!"
Top Chef Recap, Episode 10: Craft, Kraft, Coincidence?

Press Release from Kraft Foods:

We at Kraft Foods were disappointed not to be involved with one of the murders in the last episode and so we've decided to sponsor the Quickfire challenge this week. No one will be murdered immediately but many people will probably die prematurely from eating our products so we think that's almost as good. Thank you.

But before we get to the Quickfire we have to endure Marcel rapping on the roof:

My name's Marcel and I'm here to say
I'm the next Top Chef of the USA!
People don't like me 'cause my attitude
But I just say, "Hey, whatever, dude."

Oh, my God. Please make it stop!

OK, so the chefs have to make a snack using Kraft Mayo, Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing, or Kraft Barbecue Sauce.

Why?

Sam: "Who cares? I'm just happy my freakish love of mayonnaise is finally going to pay off!"

Ilan, still being a total dick, tries to make fun of Marcel by making a zesty Italian foam. Zesty Italian foam? Yeah, that's what she said. Ha, ha! What? Anyway, the joke is on Ilan because the foam didn't work. So who's the dick now, huh? Oh, yeah, it's still Ilan.

Sam and Marcel "win" the opportunity to pick their team members for the elimination challenge. Marcel picks Elia and Cliff. Sam picks Ilan and Michael. They have 24 hours to create new restaurants, from concept, through designing the space, planning a menu, shopping and cooking, to serving 2 dozen people. When the chefs mention how much work this is Tom says he knows because he has experience with this.

Oh, really? You've created an entire restaurant in 24 hours?

Tom: "Well, no."

Yeah, I didn't think so.

Sam, Ilan, and Michael create a Tuscan-themed restaurant, sort of casual Italian ...

Tom: "'Sort of' isn't a concept"

Sorry, it's totally casual Italian!

Tom: "That's better."

Sam: "We're naming this restaurant Lalalina after the women in our lives. So it better be good because I really don't need something else for my girlfriend to bitch about."

Sam and Ilan decide they don't have money for wine, which is a really huge mistake. They tell Michael, who is buying the dishes, not to buy wine glasses. Somehow he doesn't realize this means he should use the extra money to buy olive-pit dishes. What a dope. He's kicked off the show. No, really, he did seem to contribute the least to this challenge but I don't think he should be blamed for the stupid olive-pit dishes. Sam and Ilan should have been able to find decent, affordable wine.

Marcel, Elia, and Cliff create an "upscale diner," serving "the wold's most adequate burger." Marcel serves raw chicken ...

Marcel: "What? That's how the young people are eating it now."

Yeah, well, he makes up for it by making really good tempura vegetables. Cliff, who insisted on doing the front of the house, is exceptionally bad at it and really annoys the judges. Both teams make terrible desserts but at least the diner team doesn't make Gail vomit: Sam's watermelon with burned goat cheese is an instant classic; easily the worst dish ever made on Top Chef. Gail is totally offended that someone made her eat something so disgusting.

Sam: "If a big-name chef made that dish you would have loved it."

Gail: "No, I'm pretty sure I still would have puked."

Tom: "Well, somehow we didn't manage to get a prize this week so I'm just going to pretend like you were all so bad that I can't pick a winner."

I can hardly wait for next week's product placements! Can you?
Top Chef Recap, Episode 9: "Seven."

In the second or third most gruesome episode so far Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, and guest judge Ted Allen are forced to hunt down a serial killer who is murdering the remaining chefs in ways that invoke the Seven Deadly Sins while also promoting Kenmore and Toyota products. Whose severed head will be delivered in a box? You'll have to wait and see!

As if all the murders weren't enough, we start the episode by being forced to watch Elia being literally reborn. She's crying and covered in blood. Oh, and there's the placenta. Didn't need to see that! Well, the point is, after nearly being eliminated in the last challenge, she is vowing to take advantage of this second chance and really do her best.

We then see Michael, who represents both Sloth and Gluttony, creating a major dilemma for the killer. I didn't say anything in my last post (not because I'm too polite but simply because I forgot) but in interview segments in the episode before Christmas he really looked amazingly revolting. The image that comes to mind is the late Kenneth McMillan's portrayal of the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen in David Lynch's 1984 film Dune (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:McMillan_as_Harkonnen.jpg). Anyway, it turns out the poor guy had a very good reason for looking so crappy: he just had a wisdom tooth removed. They should have warned us about that before we had to look at him.

For the Quickfire Padma informs us that cooking is the only art form to use four of the five senses:

Padma: "Yeah, it uses space, time, and something called quarks."

Oh, so close.

The chefs have to make a dish based on a color. Michael wins with his salmon dish that magically turned from pink to orange when he cooked it. He also gets extra credit for cooking under the influence of medication, as though this weren't always the case. Good job! He doesn't win immunity.

Michael: "Bastards."

What he does win is the completely worthless opportunity to switch his assigned theme for the next challenge with another chef. For the elimination challenge the chefs have to create dishes based on the Seven Deadly Sins for a dinner party at Debi Mazar's house. Michael, who drew the best sin, Lust, stupidly trades it for Marcel's possibly worst sin, Envy. Sam picks Anger, Betty picks Sloth, Elia picks Pride, Cliff picks Greed, and Ilan picks Gluttony. So, they get to Debi Mazar's house. Let the mayhem begin!

Padma arrives looking absolutely gorgeous in an elegant red dress. That's right, she looks fantastic! There; I said it and I'm glad! The killer immediately cuts off her nose and makes her commit suicide by swallowing sleeping pills. Now that's just tragic. Well, at least she finally looked decent when she died. Ted Allen realizes she was killed for the sin of pride and that this is just the beginning but there is nothing he can do to stop the killing! He's distraught but decides not to let it keep him from enjoying his meal.

Sam makes a really good ceviche. Everyone likes it. Sam suddenly starts screaming at Marcel. Ted Allen, realizing that Sam is representing the sin of anger and knowing that the killer's plan is to have Sam kill Marcel knows there is only one thing he can do: he kills Sam with his own hands.

Betty makes some really crappy slooow-rooousted sooooop, which she says really slowly in order to represent sloth. She loses. She is strapped into a Toyota Rav4 and driven around Los Angeles until she dies from an overdose of "driving excitement" and environmental awareness.

Michael wanted to make a dish with a fake crab being envious of a real crab. I'm serious; that was the plan for his dish. But the store was out of crab so he made a dish with a trout being envious of a salmon. As stupid as that sounds, everyone likes his dish and he wins! He is then forced at gunpoint to eat all the rest of the food in the Kenmore kitchen pantry until his internal organs explode. You may have to cover your eyes at this point.

Cliff serves a really ridiculous "greedy seafood" dish and is killed with a Kenmore food processor.

Elia makes a "proud chicken" and is allowed to live.

Marcel, who has never had sex, tries to represent lust with a cherry desert but just can't, due to his lack of sex. Both Debi Mazar and Ilan helpfully point out that Marcel just needs to have sex. Some woman from The Sopranos tries to have sex with him but Marcel just doesn't know what he's doing. Because he's never had sex before. He's killed with a codpiece attached to one of his own beloved knives.

Ilan makes a disgusting desert that is supposed to represent gluttony. He blames Elia. He is also so jealous that he makes a snide comment to all the guests about Marcel's dish:

Ilan: "You know, cherries are actually not lustful at all but Marcel wouldn't know that because he's never had sex."

Wow. What a dick. Tom Colicchio saves some time and just kills Ilan himself.

Debi Mazar's head is delivered via UPS but the driver doesn't leave the box because there is no one left to sign for it.

Ted Allen solves the mystery. The killer is last season's Tiffany. He then has a cappuccino and goes home.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Erics do London, January 2007!

Other Eric and I just back from London and I thought I'd write a little recap of our trip before I go watch two episodes of Top Chef and the season one Project Runway reunion special. Also see my little dining observation in the previous post.

Now, many of you may already know that most of our travel is Kylie Minogue-related. I'm only partly joking; Other Eric is a huge fan and we've traveled several times to see her. I think we're done for a little while but we did go to London this time to see her big post-cancer treatment concert. We travelled to Australia last year to see her in Sydney but she had to cancel the tour right before we went so Eric really wanted a chance to see it. The concert was a blast, she looked and sounded fabulous, and the new Wembly tube station is such an improvement!

We love London but it's so expensive and we are ready to travel someplace different, like China or Turkey. When I go to London I try not to do too much and instead just see things I haven't seen before. For instance, last time it was the London Eye, a boat to Greenwich, a play at the Globe, walking across the Millennium Bridge, seeing the new central courtyard at the British Museum, etc.

Last time we went I did also drag Eric to my favorite London museum, the Wallace Collection (all those Watteaus!) but this time we just went to a few specific exhibitions. We saw the Tiffany show at Somerset House (a friend told me to get a magnifying glass and it really did make all the difference. Beautiful!), Sixties Fashion at the V&A, works from Damien Hirst's collection at the Serpentine Gallery, and we went on one of the slides installed by Carsten Höller in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern (http://www.tate.org.uk/modern/exhibitions/carstenholler/). I also spent two days trying to get into the Holbein show at the Tate. I guess it was worth it -- the paintings were pretty amazing -- but the galleries were packed like sardines so it was a little hard to enjoy them. I also got into the Turner Prize show, which was crap.

We did a couple of things Eric had done before but I hadn't, such as taking the train out to Windsor Castle. We also visited Kensington Palace, which had an exhibition of Diana's evening gowns. She sure wore a lot of velvet. After Kensington Palace we had high tea at the Orangery. It was very nice and it was affordable. We weren't dressed to go to the Ritz (sorry, Ms. Place).

One interesting thing we did was visit the Dennis Severs' House, which advertises itself as a "time capsule" of an 18th-century silk weaver's house. It has very interesting opening hours like "the Monday after the first Sunday of the month from 12 to 2." It's an 18th-century town house that is part museum and part installation art. It is furnished with smells and sounds and with burning candles and food so that you are supposed to feel like you just walked into someones home in a different time period. It sounds a little kitschy but it is actually very interesting because it is so different from a regular museum. The candlelight evening hours are supposed to be best for getting into the mood but the rainy afternoon we visited was pretty good (and it was cheaper). The website is http://www.dennissevershouse.co.uk/ and I recommend it if you want to do something different in London.

We also saw Avenue Q at the Noel Coward Theatre because it hasn't come to Los Angeles yet. Eric already knew some of the music but I didn't. We both really enjoyed it. We had dinner with an artist friend, Michael Petry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Petry), and his partner and heard about the new shows he has opening in Houston (In the Garden of Eden at the Devin Borden Hiram Butler Gallery) and New York (America the Beautiful at the Sundaram Tagore Gallery, http://www.sundaramtagore.com/) and then we went to a club called Duckie at the old Royal Vauxhall Tavern. Coincidentally, there was a feature article about the Vauxhall in that week's Time Out London and it is a pretty interesting story: the tavern has been important in the history of gay London since World War II and it was built in 1863 on the site of a 17th-century pleasure garden. It was pretty packed on a Saturday night and Eric and I almost died from the smoke but we had a good time.

The weather was much better than we were expecting but we were expecting constant downpours. It was really just intermittent light rain and it was unseasonably warm (I think it was in the fifties. The weather report was for 9 to 13 degrees and I was all, "what is that; like 50 below zero?" Anyway, the only problem was the wind, which was pretty bad at times. But, all in all, we really lucked out with the weather.

Oh, one last thing for fans of food and comedy: on the plane back I watched an episode of the British comedy Posh Nosh with Richard E. Grant and Arabella Weir. Now, I realize my standards for in-flight entertainment are exceedingly low but I found this show to be hysterical and if you get a chance to see it I recommend it. It doesn't appear to be available on Amazon but you can see clips on their website http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/poshnosh/. There are some classic cooking tips such as: "There are a number of incredibly overpriced vinegars on the market right now. So any one of them will do."

OK, now on to my Bravo recaps!
Eric Three Thousand Talks International Dining.

We just got back from London and I thought I'd share a little dining observation before I get to a quick review of our trip. Let me know if you have had the same experience or if I'm just crazy.

OK, so this is how dining works in Los Angeles: After you've finished your meal your server will come to your table and ask you if there is anything else you would like, at which point you can say, "No, thank you; we'll just take the bill." This process seems to make sense but it is not practiced everywhere.

In fine-dining restaurants in New York, for instance, this is how it seems to work: After you've finished your meal your very attentive server stands patiently nearby so that you can signal him or her to come to the table and you can ask for your bill. I completely understand that it can seem rude for the server to simply bring you a bill, as that can appear as though they are trying to kick you out of the restaurant; and this system works perfectly well as long as you realize you have to do this. The first time I was in a nice restaurant in New York many years ago with some coworkers from Los Angeles we sat at the table for a very long time wondering when we would get the bill.

Now, I'm not sure why I've never noticed this before, but this seems to be the system in London: after you've finished your meal your server, who has been very attentive up to this point, suddenly refuses to acknowledge you existence, hiding at the far end of the room and refusing to look in your direction. After a while you eventually give up and are forced to set your table linens on fire, at which point your sever will come to the table and you can request your bill. I really don't understand how this is supposed to work. Does anyone have any insights?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Project Runway Recap: Season One, Episode 9: Grammy Panties!

Warning!!! This is the recap for episode 9 that the Project Rungay boys and their fans are watching tonight on DVD. I'm putting this up a few hours early because I'm on my way to the airport. If you are planning to watch this episode tonight, don't read this yet! Come back later! And, as a courtesy to other readers, please remember to turn off your cellular phones and pagers. Thank you.

We begin with a note from Robert:

Dear Jay and Austin,
I was just kicked off the show. I was surprised to learn I had been participating in some sort of design competition. This was a complete shock to me; I thought I was on Big Brother! Well, it was a blast, anyway! You guys rock!
Love, Robert

Aw, wasn't that sweet?

Wendy explains why she's still here:

Wendy: "There was always someone worse."

Come on; you have to give her credit for her honesty! Isn't it refreshing to not have a crappy designer bragging about how great she is? Well, if that isn't enough to win you over, how about printing out her pictures of the other designers?:

Wendy: "Remember when everyone didn't hate my guts?"

Oh, yeah; I remember back when the world was new and life was full of promise.

Wendy: "It wasn't that long ago."

OK, so they have to pick models. Jay, for some reason, picks Julia again.

Other Eric: "Well, maybe she had a really good reason for not being there last time."

I don't care; I think the most important part of modeling is showing up. Anyway, It gives Austin the opportunity to have a dramatic moment because Jay didn't pick him to model again after the kick-ass job he did in the last challenge.

So, they are designing for the red carpet ...

Austin: "Oh My God! Oh My God!"

... for the Grammy Awards.

Austin: "Aw, crap."

Tim: "But being Project Runway you know there's a twist! Who's the most glamorous person in the world?"

Austin: "Grace Kelly!"

Tim: "No; try someone living."

Jay: "Halle Berry?"

Kara: "Catherine Zeta Jones?"

Wendy: "You, Tim, are the most glamorous person in the world."

Tim: "Don't be such a suck-up, Wendy. No, obviously I'm talking about Nancy O'dell!"

Designers: "oh. right."

Other Eric: "That's not really a twist."

Tim: "Would you give me a break here and try to act like getting Nancy O'dell is a big deal?"

Sorry. Holy Crap; Nancy O'dell! How did Bravo get such a huge star? I don't think my heart can take such an exciting twist!

Tim: "Alright; that's enough. But wait, there's more! If you call right now you'll also get someone to help you in the design room! Guess who it is?"

Jay: "Is it a deformed Korean woman with extra fingers?"

Tim: "What? Jesus, you people are terrible at guessing today. No, it's Robert!"

Designers: "Tim, why are you punishing us?"

Robert: "Their excitement at seeing me was almost embarrassing."

At Mood Wendy and Kara both pick orange fabric. Everyone decides that clearly Kara is copying Wendy:

Jay: "God, Kara can't come up with any of her own ideas so she has to copy Wendy all the time. It's pathetic."

Wendy: "Oh, I don't mind. I find it flattering that Kara respects me so much as a designer that she would want to take inspiration from me."

Jay: "Aw, Wendy is so generous and kind. Don't you just love her to death?"

OK, so that's not really how it happened. Obviously everyone assumes that Wendy is not capable of thinking of the color orange on her own and is stealing from Kara. And Kara is not flattered:

Kara: "I am such a great designer and I'm not going to let it bother me if that old no-talent wants to copy me. I'm just going to stand here complaining and not letting it bother me. Nope, doesn't bother me at all. Why should it? I'm so talented! If she can't come up with her own ideas then just let her copy me. I'm not going to let it get to me. You think I care? Because I don't!"

Well good; that's settled, then.

The designers go to Michael Kors's studio. I still have no idea why. They walk through Bryant Park:

Kara: "Oh, it feels like coming home again. Have I told you all about how I had a show here and how great it was and how I got in the paper and how talented I am and that I've designed for rock stars?"

Other Designers: "Yes."

Kara: "OK; just checking."

While the designers are gone Robert finishes all their outfits. Just kidding.

On to the runway:

Wendy creates a pretty cute little outfit with a feathered mini-skirt. Nancy only likes the top, which I thought was pretty boring:

Nancy: "I think that one could work. I pick Wendy's."

Nina: "Heidi, do you think sometime you could get us a guest judge who isn't on crack?"

Austin totally steals a design from Santino and creates a very pretty but completely uninspired gown that is really inappropriate for the Grammy's. It causes Nina to break into song:

How do you solve a problem like Austin?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you find a word that means Austin?

A flibbertijibbet, a will o the wisp, a clown
Many a thing you know you'd like to tell him

Many a thing he ought to understand
But how do you make him stay
And listen to all you say?
How do you keep a wave upon the sand?
Oh how do you solve a problem like Austin?
How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?
When I'm with him I'm confused,

Out of focus and bemused
And I never know exactly where I am
Unpredictable as weather
He's as flighty as a feather
He's a darling, he's a demon, he's a lamb
He'd outpester any pest

Drive a hornet from its nest
He can throw a whirling dervish out of whirl
He is gentle, he is wild

He's a riddle, he's a child
He's a headache, he's an angel
He's a girl!

Wow! Nina really has a set of lungs on her!

Jay's dress is really cool. I'm not sure why he made it in the one color Nancy said she hates. I think he intentionally sabotages himself because he's afraid of success. But that's just my professional opinion. So, Nancy complains about the color. Nina and Michael complain about the fabric of the top. We get a flashback to where Kara is telling Jay to put that fabric on the top. The producers clearly want us to think it's Kara's fault. But she was absolutely right; the top looks so much better with her suggestion. I thought the top worked with the skirt but I could see that if you were being filmed from the waist up it would be pretty boring.

Kara pairs a very pretty but, like Austin, uninspired dress over a wide pant. It had a slight Indian look to it. No, not Native American; India Indian; you know, like, from India. Michael thought it was a tired look. He's probably right. Nancy says she could never wear that much beading on camera.

OK, so what's the verdict?:

Nina: "You all suck!"

Michael: "Yeah; what she said."

Heidi: "Since your designs were all so terrible we've decided to just kick all of you off and end the show right now. Auf Wiedersehen!"

Tune in next time to see none of the designers preparing for Olympus Fashion Week!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Because We Can Can Can!


So, last night for New Year's Eve we attended your typical Scottish/Moulin Rouge/Carnival/Pirate party for a friend's birthday and we had a really good time. Many of the guests wore hand-made costumes and Eric and I really agonized over what we were going to wear (would we wear the same antique military uniforms we wore to the birthday girl's wedding last year? would we buy or rent tails and top hats? Would we wear really elaborate Carnival masks? Oh, we can't because of our glasses. How about fancy crowns?) before finally settling on no costumes at all. I know; pretty daring move. Well, we got dressed up in nice suits, anyway. The birthday girl was in an elaborate Flamenco dress she was still working on minutes before showing up to the party. Our friend Aimee (see the Aimee in Chaos link) made an amazing riding-outfit-inspired Can-Can dress for the Moulin Rouge theme. Other Eric thought she looked like a tarted up Disney Dickens caroler:



Is this the cutest thing you've ever seen?!

Happy New Year!