About SusanF

Top Chef D.C., Sept. 1 – Run Short-Ribs Run!


Hi all, my name is Susan and I do the Hell’s Kitchen recaps. Jeremy will be back next week, and I promised I would try not to offend any of his readers. I tend to be a little snarky when I write; maybe like Marcel, runner up of Season 2, without all that crazy hair. I also tend to drift away, but I promise I always come back to the original thought. Although, with the eliminations of the last two weeks I am a little happier, still getting over the loss of Kenny though.

Top Chef is one of my favorite shows and, in case any of you missed it, this week it won the Outstanding Reality-Competition Program Emmy award. I have watched this show since season one and find it ironic that the weakest cast (in my opinion) was in place the year they accepted the Emmy. The win, however, is a testament to last season’s fantastic chefs. Hopefully I haven’t offended anyone yet, and with that said it is time for the episode they call “Gastro-Nauts”.

The chefs are greeted at the Hilton Kitchen this morning for their Quickfire with different wines and Dana Cowan, Editor-in-Chief of Food & Wine Magazine. When I write I watch the show on my DVR and pause it every minute or so to talk about what I have seen. I like doing it this way because I am not skewed by who won or a major mistake that could happen later. I just happen to pause the DVR while Dana and Padma are standing together.

I know this is not a fashion show, it is a cooking show, but I just have to say this. Padma is dressed looking like a waiter in a grey tux looking blazer, black tie and white crisp shirt. She looks like she stepped off the set of Mad Men. Dana looks like a wine label with her frumpy grape floral dress. Anyway, it made me laugh – food and wine, grapes and waiter. Now remember I warned you about my style of writing, I promise Jeremy will be back next week.

The quickfire challenge is to be in the 10% of wonderful in creating a dish based on a wine pairing. They take turns going up to the table and are allowed to taste which wines they would like to taste before choosing their bottle. Angelo goes first and is very excited; he tells us that wine is his passion. Tiffany is second and a little nervous, as she doesn’t have to do this in her kitchen. They just kind of zip through the rest and aren’t spending much time on the selection process. Padma tells them this is the last high stakes quickfire. The winner will be going to London for an all-expense paid 6 night trip. They are given an hour.

Kevin chose a wine that tasted peppery, with berries and a little plum. He decides to do a braised pork belly with the Merlot. Due to the time constraints, he cooks it in a pressure cooker and hopes for the best. Kelly picks a zinfandel for the deep red fruit and spice notes. She is making wild boar tenderloin with a blue cheese emulsion. Angelo seems back to his confident self and chooses a white Oregon wine and believes it will go well with a foie gras. Ed chooses an Italian red wine. He is making a wagyu rib eye. Lastly Tiffany chooses another red wine with caramel undertones and is also preparing a wagyu rib eye.

With eleven minutes left on the clock, Kevin opens his pressure cooker to find that his pork belly is not ready. He has to change his plans, and makes quail on the grill which he knows will not work with the wine. He is lucky this is not an elimination challenge.

Tiffany presents first her Cocoa & Black Pepper-Crusted Wagyu Tenderloin with Spring Risotto. It looks really good, even though I am watching this at 6 in the morning while drinking coffee. It might be the word cocoa that hooked me. I made cocoa muffins this morning at 5am for my teen, her 3 school bus companions and the bus driver. They looked great, but when I bit into one, they have a horrible aftertaste of wheat. I looked at the box and they are a new whole wheat product by Duncan Hines. Yuck! A chocolate muffin is a chocolate muffin; don’t be putting whole wheat into it. It tasted like barley or rice, not chocolate. The kids on the bus probably think I can’t cook, and I filled them up with fiber before school. Anyway, back to Tiffany’s dish. Padma tells her that her meat is cooked beautifully.

Kevin makes a Grilled Quail with Shaved Apple, Fennel Salad & Apple Vinaigrette. Dana Cowan remarks that the quail is very delicate and Kevin knows he has made a bad pairing.

Angelo prepares a Sautéed Foie Gras with Black Salt and Fennel Salad. Dana Cowan comments that it is an interesting dish; Angelo thanks her. I don’t know; is interesting a good adjective to get?

Kelly cooks a Wild Boar Tenderloin, Blackberry Conserve, Mache Salad with a Bleu Cheese Emulsion. We hear an “mmm” from Padma.

Ed presents a Grilled Wagyu Rib Eye with Spring Potato Risotto and Mushroom Ragout.


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