Monday, December 6, 2010

Bragging Rights

Time to tuck into some All Star food. We start with the Quickfire. I have to say this is one of the few times I was happy to see a team challenge, was not looking forward to checking out eighteen dishes for the Quickfire and then eighteen for the Elim. The Quickfire requirements were very straight forward, you team up with your season's chefs to make a dish that best represents your season's location. I was curious to see what came out of the first Quickfire because they are all familiar with it and there was no money at stake. Yes there was immunity but still there was wiggle room to go crazy. Seven seasons and seven cities and twenty five minutes to cook, who do we think had the advantage? San Fran, New York, Chicago and Miami offer the most range. LA, Las Vegas and DC suffer from just not having a national food identity. That's not to say each doesn't offer some spectacular food there's just no singular dish or cuisine that sets them apart. Miami you could go Cuban or Seafood. Chicago you could go meat or go molecular gastronomy. San Fran you could go local and seasonal in a nod to Chez Paniesse and Alice Waters and New York is wide open from street food hot dogs and pretzels to the delis like Katz and Carnegie, from China Town to the Russian Tea Room, Le Bernadin and Le Cirque. Let's check out how they did.
Season One, San Francisco, Tiffani and Stephen's Cioppino Gazpacho. Cioppino is a fish stew made famous in San Francisco by combining the catch of the day into a tomato and wine based stew and accompanied by a hearty bread such as San Fran's well known sour dough bread. Looks like they took quite a bit of the hearty out of it.

Season Two, LA, Marcel and Elia's play on fish tacos, Shrimp Tacos with Guacamole in an Fresh Apple Wrapper. I love shrimp and I love fish tacos in general but the I can tell you right now it looks like there's too much Guac in proportion to shrimp especially when you're using a non-traditional taco shell.

Season Three, Miami, Tre, Dale and Casey's Pork Tenderloin with Avocado Lime Puree, Tostones, and Mango Habanero Sauce. Continuing their lovefest with all things pork while they were in Miami, looks excellent as long as the pork is nice and juicy.

Season Four, Chicago, Antonia, Dale, Richard and Asshat's Pork and Black Pepper Sausage with Mustard Ice Cream. That looks like a train wreck. I only mention this because later on in the Elim there are some plating train wrecks that were harshly called out. This was not. It should have been.

Season Five, New York, Fabio, Carla and Jamie's Trio of Apple, Ginger Curried Apple Soup, Pasta with Spicy Sausage and Caramelized Apple and Rib Eye with Apple, Walnut and Blue Cheese Slaw. Because of the Big Apple. I think I heard all of NY groan at the appearance of these three dishes.

Season Six, Las Vegas, Mike and Jen's Bucatini with Bacon Lobster Carbonara. I don't care what kind of twisted Mafia logic they used to get to this dish, I'm just glad they got there. Lobster and bacon? Be still my bacon grease riddled heart. It appears that Bravo is not posting recipes (yet?) from this season but if you want to make a close version of this try Food and Wine's 2009 version by Linton Hopkins and just add lobster.

Season Seven, DC, Angelo and Tiffany's Crabcake Essence with Rockfish, Lemongrass, JalapeƱo and Old Bay. You'd think I'd be all over this with the crab and rockfish but not so much. If you were following along in our comments section (and really, speak up people, I know you've got opinions) you'd know that Angelo, for some yet unexplained reason, is wandering around with his finished rockfish, all on one plate when he's bumped by Stephen coming out of the pantry.

All the pieces of his fish end up on the floor, rendering them unusable. Suddenly they have nothing to put on the plate. So Angelo grabs more fish...

...which looks more like Trout than Rockfish that comes out of the Chesapeake Bay.

So what did they serve? Unknown, the way their dish review was edited we're never shown a closeup of what Tom and Padma tasted and Tiffany never says the word Rockfish. Fascinating.

What did Tom and Padma think? The bottom four teams are LA's Shrimp Taco from Marcel and Elia for bland shrimp and a too thin apple taco shell, San Francisco's Cioppini from Tiff and Stephen, noting the overabundance of raw garlic (perhaps in a nod to the Stinking Rose, another San Franciscan restaurant icon) Season Seven's crab and fish is pinged for a tiny bit too much salt and New York's Apple Trio from Fabio, Carla and Jamie for having three dishes that did not relate to each other except that all three made use of an apple.

Carla is not surprised nor amused.

The top three turn out to be Miami's Pork, Chicago's messy Sausage, and Las Vegas's Lobster pasta dish. Tom's favorite dish of the first Quickfire? The Chicago Allstars, more than likely for Richard Blaise's Mustard Ice Cream. All four chefs receive immunity for the Elimination Challenge and that's a good thing because they will soon be facing their nemesis that laid them all low.


Melissa said...

yurgh. that deconstructed dog looked icky. and mustard icecream? I'm just not that cool.

But, speaking of cool icecream! My neighbor just got the icecream bowl to her KitchenAid stand mixer, she's been making boozy far, pina colada, limoncello, and chocolate espresso martini with chocolate covered espresso beans. oh my, my.

Big Shamu said...

Bwhahahahahham, Melissa, I see a sudden spike in both Kitchen Aid mixers and booze.

Making Space said...

Moving next door to Melissa... hic

My impression of this Quickfire was that it was about letting the chefs get their sea legs again, so to speak. I'm a little hampered by not having watched Season 4, but visually none of this food made me sit up and say "Ah!" So I found the win perplexing since I would have picked Miami just for the cuisine (tostones, vengan aqui mis amiguitos).

It wasn't so much an eye candy kind of a Quickfire though. And it did, going back to your previous post, show who the chief offenders in the "I'm The Best" wars were gonna be.

Praise the Quickfire and pass the tostones.

Big Shamu said...

Miami's was good but I was loving Las Vegas. It's hard to go wrong with lobster and bacon.

Buzz Kill said...

I'm with MS in that none of the dishes looked very impressive, but they did only have 25 minutes. So I guess it was all about taste for Tom. But based on looks, I was liking the Miami and New York entries.

As an aside, I actualy ate at the Stinking Rose in San Francisco probably 20 years ago. And for the life of me I can't remember what I had - but I remembered the name. The customer I was with at the time and I just stumbled onto the place by accident. I went to their website and I don't remember the garlic hanging from the ceiling, so I'm guessing they've renovated since I was there. I love their slogan, "We Season Our Garlic With Food".

Dani said...

I gotta get a kitchen aid mixer!

Jenny said...

did someone say "boozie ice cream"?????

I'm sorry, I know there's a post here Shamu, but "boozie ice cream" is all I can remember.

Big Shamu said...

No, no, it's OK, I think you'd quite enjoy a Vodka Sorbet.

Captain Obvious said...

Captain Obvious has seen the Stinking Rose in Beverly Hills many times, but has never stopped by.

LaDivaCucina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LaDivaCucina said...

Sham, why is the cioppino all on one side of the bowl? And yes, agreed, too much guac for those tacos, who wants to bite into a bunch of mush? I can't believe it was too bland, how hard are fish tacos to make? Not very! And the Chicago sausage is sloppy, looks like the fry up I make hungover on a sunday morn.

Re the rockfish incident: uh, wash it off?

This is going to be good. I wonder just how long poncy Stephen will last?!

December 8, 2010 7:13 AM

Big Shamu said...

I think the rockfish had already been seasoned and cooked. He was holding the plate with a napkin as if it were hot. Who knows, one of those little mysteries we never get to know.

LaDivaCucina said...

I am constantly amazed by what you (and Intuitive Eggplant) actually remember from the show! Well done, girl.