I don’t have TV and it’s a rare show that wins my subscription. I will dabble in a little Glee here, or a No Reservations there…and with the exception of The Closer, I don’t perch on my couch with numbing anticipation yawning away at an upcoming show……
Unless it it Top Chef.
I would marry Top Chef.
I dream about Top Chef challenges. Re-runs are cradled with amore as they offer creative stimulation for me to ponder “What would would I produce out of a vending machine?” In my professional life, I analyze, I diagnose, I gather all these serious bits of information to attempt to discern how to enhance development, and how to accept it. I get my (geeky) kicks living vicariously in foam emulsions, pulled sugar, stacked terrines and all sorts of staples…….done two ways, of course!
And so when a new friend, almost a stranger I met signing up for a ski trip over MLK in Austria this January, boasted about “cooking with a passion,” I upted the ante: Put your money where your mouth is. Literally.
My menu scrolled through my mind during jogs, meetings, shaving my legs, preparing all goodies for my share week at work
The challenger, this lame excuse competing against my creative whim and obsessive spirit, arrived at 5pm…one hours to set the scene….
Table, Champagne Flutes, Wine Glasses, Water Pitcher, Silverware
Which left little time to prepare course #1 (good thing I had almost all of #2 and #3 lovingly gathered and just waiting to combine)
My First Course: Water
Almond Stuff Medit Dates, Watercress, Homemade Orange Brioche Croutons in a Marscapone Broth
Tasting Notes: The dates SUPER SWEET, but my lord…pureed Marscapone with orange zest, salt, and a dash of rum makes one HAPPY dressing…but the delicateness BROKE down paired with
His First Course: French Onion Soup
Tasting Notes: The RICHNESS of this soup absolutely melted those onions…which must have taken butter into their sweetness and made love children with them. WOW. Big flavor…a little too BIG for that fingery greens
My Second Course: Earth
Pumpkin Mushroom Stuffed Homemade crispy ravioli, with proscuitto risotto, truffle oil, gorgonzola
Tasting Notes: If I can say so myself…absolute wonderful layering. The truffle oil opened up the tuber and the woody-ness of the mushrooms sang…but the risotto fell short. It sat for more than 30 minutes and was gummy.
His Second Course: Air (Chicken) and Earth (bread?)
Tasting Notes: Guests loved this sturdy, wine butter soaked chicken, with stuffing sitting on top on cranberry sauce and served with a roll. Classically strong armed dish.
My Third Course: Fire & Air
Homemade Toasted Coconut Marshmallow with Chili Chocolate Sauce
Tasting Notes: Outta this world and into Heaven! Not only did making these goodies bring smiles and wonder as the sticky stuff ogt into my hair, elevating me to a whole new dimension…but it challenged me as a cook. SUPERB!
His Third Course: ALCHEYHOL lit chocolate lava cakes
Tasting Notes: The oohs and ahhs with fire outdid the taste.
AND THE WINNER IS!
In the end, his flaming volcano molten lava cake pushed him over the edge. Falshbacks to my Chili’s days, I am sticking licking my wounds and insisting my homemade toasted coconut marshmallows with chili chocolate sauce (AIR AND FIRE) must have been melted on people’s tongues before PROPERLY tasted.
Marshmallow making made me feel wondorous, like a child…the sweet goo clinging to my hair in the morning.
I love being creative and SHARING it with others
Don’t serve both contenders food side by side, unless you direct people HOW to taste, as the flavor combination can derail chef intentions…also, taking turns will make the food being presented more “fresh” (e.g. one person can cook while the guests sample the other’s chefs course)
Lighting something on fire always makes for a winning menu
This is my life, people….putting myself through unnecessary challenges for the spite of it.
…and on this night, my cup, and plate, runneth over.
…and….do I have a crush?