“The Taste”

Anthony Bourdain being interviewed in the WNYC...

Anthony Bourdain being interviewed in the WNYC radio studio 2006-06-21. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The Taste”  is a show where contestants cook their signature dish down to a taste (a spoon) to compete for a spot on the show. Then each of the four chefs: Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre and Marcus Samuelsson taste the ” spoons”with blindfolds on not knowing who cooked them. I like this a lot.

The whole premise is that to get on the show all you need to do, whether home chef or professional is cook an amazing bite of food. You can be 85 or 18,  any race, ethnic background, size, color of hair, wearing pajamas, or standing on your head, it doesn’t matter. It’s like “The Voice” except they are not singing, they are cooking. No rating on anything but talent, as it should be.

Last week, a contestant named Audrey,(aka “the whining blogger in our house) used the word “fans” so many times that the other contestants were mocking her. I was surprised that the other contestants didn’t throw eggs at her (sorry, Justin Bieber, didn’t want to steal your thunder) or maybe in her case, egg whites? Apparently in her blog she makes fattening recipes healthier. Good for you, Audrey, way to go. Now, shut up. Please.

Anthony Bourdain, for me, is the real deal and star of the show, (and yes, he knows it.) He deserves to know it, he owns this show.He is the dominant food dude. He is the bad boy, been around town, charming, smart and who can resist him when he is smiling and there’s a twinkle in his eye? But, contestants, LISTEN TO HIM. He is  incredibly smart and he knows his stuff. If the man specifically says HE HATES TRUFFLE OIL, do not USE truffle oil. Simple, right? You would think. One member of his group either forgot (or decided he wouldn’t notice ) used truffle oil. What were you thinking? AS IF he wouldn’t notice? Don’t be stupid and don’t cross him.

Nigella Lawson, you’ve already lost two on your team and frankly you were seconds away from losing another person the other night. Nigella, you’re scaring me. You need to be more assertive and you are giving female chefs a bad name. We see you running around, doubting yourself and everyone else.  Don’t let a contestant make eggs and bacon if that’s not what you think will win. Can’t you give some suggestions for the sweet element? You are not going to make it, again, if you don’t step up. Now.

Marcus Samuelsson seems nice but he is quiet and understated, I can’t honestly describe him or get a feeling for him, so I’m not judging. He’s no Ludow or Bourdain so he doesn’t have a strong personality.  I’m sure he is a very fine chef but I just don’t know too much about him. The only thing that stood out was that one contestant was clearly confused about the challenge all the way to the end and she should have gotten demerits, at least. He didn’t confront that at all.

Ah, Ludow, Ludow Lefebvre, we know you are French. You keep reminding us. Say no more. Sure you are conceited and competitive but look who has won so far. You shout like a maniac, you micro manage but let’s face it you win. Who can argue with a person that has won the last two times in a row. It’s not my style but apparently it has worked. Good for you Ludow and your arrogant attitude, you deserve yourself. So far, you are in the lead.

It’s a fun show to watch if you like (love) food. Check out the dynamics that go on but more importantly check out the food and the combinations. More importantly, make sure you have a big plate of snacks ready for when you are finished watching the show, my husband and I are starving when this show ends.

Be forewarned.

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Eating Key Lime Pie At Midnight With My Hands

Key lime pie

Key lime pie (Photo credit: nebulux76)

Not having utensils does not stop a sugar obsessed person from eating her leftover key lime pie for dessert. Why should it? My daughter had leftovers from her chocolate cake too. “We have no utensils” my daughter mentioned politely. That, as a problem, had never crossed my mind. My mind was on the authentic, Florida, key lime pie, the half sour, half sweet piece of juicy pie waiting for me to take a large bite. The utensil issue was really just a technicality. I grinned at my daughter and said “So? we use are hands!”

It was our first vacation alone together and we were having fun. Seeing me grab my key lime pie, take a big bite out of it and looking quite pleased with myself, grinning widely, she was happy to put her chocolate cake in her hand and take a bite. Isn’t that what vacations are for? To be able to do things like this and not be judged?     (We weren’t in the restaurant, We were alone in our room.)  It was definitely one of the high points of the trip for me. So, I’m a little addicted to dessert, there are certainly worse things, I don’t smoke, I don’t drink (much to the disgust of my two teenagers) and I’m not addicted to crack cocaine. An oatmeal raisin cookie occasionally or a piece of marzipan ( I’m drooling) after a well-balanced meal just makes me happy.

I would gladly give up all potatoes and pasta in the world, ( Sorry Nona) if I could have dessert and generally that’s what I do. I pass on the carbohydrates there, which pretty much don’t interest me, and save it up for what  I really care about, dessert. The only thing I have a tough time with is if there is really good ( son-approved warm) bread on the table, then I’m down and out. Or, if I’m lucky, there will be nothing on the dessert menu that I want to order, that’s a win-win situation. I want dessert but if there is nothing on the menu I want, I don’t order it anyway. I do have my standards. I save those calories and carbs for the next time I really want something and I know, that will be very, very soon.

I  love food way too much to give some things up entirely, so eating smaller portions is key and yes, I am finally forcing myself to drink more water. I really don’t like it any more than I did but I got so sick of every doctor telling me to do it, I just gave in. Is it my drink of choice? No, but it is certainly healthier than any chemical diet soda which I now limit. Lately, if I want something to drink that tastes good I get a mixture of cranberry and pineapple juice. There’s sugar, sure, but at least there is nothing artificial.

It’s Sunday, we all need to love our dinner, it’s a tradition in our house actually it’s been a tradition since I was six years old. It’s been decided, tonight is pizza and salad (maybe some bread too) and that’s okay because there is no cake or pie lurking in the refrigerator. There’s only ice cream which for me is just a source of calcium, so it doesn’t count at all.

Hope everyone enjoys their dinner tonight.

What Should I Eat?

One Bad Egg

One Bad Egg (Photo credit: fordsbasement)

I LOVE TO EAT, JUST GENERALLY NOT MY OWN FOOD

It’s 8:30 PM and the only thing I’ve had to eat today was the rest of my OCD Banana Smoothie from last night. I think I might be getting bored with them finally, so tonight I’ll take a break. I’m really not that hungry but I do know that once I start, it will be hard to stop. I don’t actually have to “cook” seeing that my husband had “cold pizza” but that was his choice.

We have eggs, always an easy dinner, with toast and some strawberry jam. We’ve had leftovers all week, we haven’t gone out to dinner AT ALL. Trying to save money and not go out. What else can I think of? Greek yogurt is a staple in our house, we do have that and of course more bananas, cheese, bread, over-ripe avocados and bitter chocolate cookies (don’t look at me that’s ALL my husband and daughter.) My son and I tend to like milk chocolate but I’m not saying that this is a meal; this would definitely be a treat. Right.

I usually know exactly what I want to eat, where to buy it and how to make it but storm SANDY has been getting in the way of just about everything. I went to the supermarket once and the shelves were bare, and this was before the storm hit. Now, I am one of those “doubting debbies” and I need to know if the shipment (if there is one) is fresh. Who on earth will tell me “actually ma’am it isn’t fresh at all.” I’m suspicious. Very suspicious.

That brings us down to safe food that I have at home. I’m so sick of tuna, maybe cereal if the milk is still good-the double sniff test is in order. Maybe my daughter’s old stand-by, a grilled cheese. Now, that’s sounding more and more comforting every second. Bread is good, cheese is fine, it’s easy and there is something to be said about plain food when you feel you need it but….boring.

I’m heading down to the kitchen in my pajamas, slippers and bathrobe, with my dog, always hopeful, by my side.  I’ll find something, I always do. It will be comforting and safe and if not nourishing, I will feel nourished and warmed by food I trust. We all have our own comfort foods, mine is usually scrambled eggs with toast, butter and JAM (sorry friends, I know you hate this) but that is without a doubt a strong contender.

I’m padding down to the kitchen now. I won’t end this post until I’ve eaten, I’m sure you want to know. Be back in a few.

****

Yeah, about that. I’m back. It was a combination gone very wrong: multi-grain bread (too hungry to toast it), two fried eggs (big mistake, they should have been scrambled) two pieces of American Cheese (another mistake) flipped over and the whole thing looked like vomit. I did dip it, however, in strawberry jam. Let’s just say it was NOT a success. Even for me. Even my small milk chocolate heart couldn’t make up for it. There’s always tomorrow……

Love Food Shows, Hate To Cook: What’s Up With That?

Dear Food Network and Bravo:

Can I consider myself a foodie if I don’t like to cook? In fact, I pretty much hate it. But watching it on television? I’m an addict. I guess the fact that I obsess about food, look forward to it, think about it, crave, it entitles me to be a non-cooking foodie. I think that I may be inspired one day to try real cooking; but not right now. I can get by on cooking meals for my family but it’s the basic stuff. Pasta and home-made cheese sauce (Ok, almost home-made: I confess I use Kraft American slices, individually wrapped.)I also bake the best and the most delicious banana bread in the world (plain, with raisins, chocolate chips or both). I can do a roast and I’m definitely fine with sticking a chicken (with kosher salt and pepper)  and a couple of squeezes of fresh lemon, in the oven. Baked potatoes? Anytime. My new favorite: a well-toasted english muffin with lite cream cheese and slices of tomato and a hint of salt and pepper. My beverage of choice with this? Need you ask? Yoo-Hoo, cold or room temperature.

I need to work for the FOOD NETWORK  OR BRAVO FOOD) station. Anybody here have any connections? I’m very likable, love to eat (although I have to say I might gag if I had to eat some of the things that they make on the show, octopus and goat, I can barely do lamb). But, for a job working, preparing, serving, ANYTHING with food I would (have to) be flexible. Seriously?  I am the most conscientious worker you ever have known. I’m neurotically early so if you wanted me there at 9am, guaranteed you would see my smiling face at 8:45am. Having grown up with a German mom and a Viennese dad, they taught us about punctuality. Being on time, in my family, is being LATE.  When we get together we all are 10-15 minutes early; it’s in our neurotic, eager to please, Jewish blood.

So, Padma, Tom, Bob, Eric?  Dick, Jane, Sally? Bobby, Bob, Paula Deen?  I want to do something I love, other than writing. That thing, is food. I could be a tester, a taster, a candle stick maker, whatever you want. I need a job and Oprah always said “do what you love.” You don’t doubt Oprah, do you? That reminds me, dear Oprah, I need a hook-up, with the Food Network or Bravo, can you help?

The Tuna Test

What is your criteria for checking out a new lunch spot? Decor? Waitstaff? Cleanliness? Prices?  All of the above? Mine is how good their tuna sandwich is. I’m very fussy about tuna. I only want solid white, nothing even remotely looking or smelling like cat food.Usually I make my mom try it out first, maybe take a small bite. Looking at it is important; texture imperative. Is it in chunks or all mushed up together?  Does it taste fishy (hello? waitress, this smells old, can i please have a grilled cheese instead?) The grilled cheese, one of the safest foods you can order from a coffee shop or  diner.We literally pick places to eat by whether their tuna is acceptable, even admirable when we need a tuna fix. My friend, Susie, poisoned my mind  years ago, by telling me that you cannot save a half eaten tuna sandwich in the refrigerator overnight. You can never have the other half the next day. According to her one date with a Pharmacist there is something about the tuna and the mayonnaise that take some compounds of one and minerals in the other to make it unacceptable for her pharmacy friend’s private FDA. For months I went along with this, being the highly suggestible hypochondriac that I am. Later, I decided it was “Kvatch” translation, crap or made up. What could happen, I say now? So I get food poisoning and I lose a pound, nothing gained, nothing lost.

Another thing to be aware of is coffee and this is tough but also optional. The weak brown water coffee or the thick as mud coffee is not necessarily a deal breaker providing there is a Starbucks nearby ( or a Dunkin Donuts if you were my sister.)

The last item on our coffee shop/diner inspection is the distinctive 3+ layered  revolving dessert case. WHAT? no   revolving dessert carousel? That one gives us pause to think. If you don’t have the option to buy a g0od dessert, and one that is revolving  has many tantalizing choices how good can it really be?  I’m not saying you Have to have dessert but you definitely should have the option. Dessert requirements include: a rainbow cake or rainbow cookies, a chocolate cake, cheesecake with fake strawberries, rice pudding with raisins and cinnamon and something oozing with honey and gooey with nuts like the ever so delicious backlava to which I am a self proclaimed slave.

By all means, wrap up the leftovers, proudly tag them in your refrigerator. Resolve NOT to go out to eat for a month; dine on Lean Cuisine’s and Weight Watcher’s dinners for only 6 points. But, next time you do decide to go out, think carefully. We all are short of money these days, order carefully, let the good times roll,weigh the options, enjoy your meals, and always leave a tip. The waitstaff thanks you.