It took me a while to post this week because I promised some friends I would wait until this morning to watch the episode with them after getting together for breakfast. Granted, I already knew by Wednesday night who had won the challenges because all of my other friends were crowing about it on Facebook, but I waited. As much as I love the friends I breakfasted with, I am not going to wait next week. I am going to watch the episode at Volt and DVR it, so that I can enjoy the experience of watching the show there and then actually hear it later at home.
On the good side, about breakfast: we made gluten free blueberry pancakes with blueberries I had gotten at Glade Link Farms and frozen. We ate them with vanilla yogurt and strawberry preserves and they were awesome. And we had Danny Rohrer's bacon.
Now let's discuss this week's episode. The challenge had a Southwestern feel, with guest judge Tim Love. The quickfire challenge was to come up with a dish made of cactus. (Once, I was camping with a friend in the North Dakota badlands, and I decided I was going to cook and eat cactus. Needless to say I ended up with the spines all over my pants. The cactus itself tasted a lot like a mild roasted green pepper, but with less pepper taste and more slime. Anyway I was determined and I ate it. It was not particularly good but I was still proud of myself. My camping friend refused to try it). Chef Mike Isabella won the challenge and $15K with a preparation that involved soaking the cactus in salt to draw out the slime, and serving it with a tuna tartare. It was a well-executed dish that showed the knowledge necessary to showcase the main ingredient, and he deserved to win, though his comments on the show about women certainly don't make him my favorite contestant. I have it on good authority from a friend that he is actually a very nice person and I am willing to believe this is true and that he just needs to learn how to put a cork in it. But this he desperately needs to learn.
The elimination challenge saw our friends deposited in a desert ranch with very crude cooking conditions, including fire pits (these pits were actually supplied with propane, so not quite as crude as they appeared). The food storage was even more crude; several of the dishes ultimately served to the judges were rancid and made them ill. This was brought out some in the show, but even more in the blogs, where the judges complained about food poisoning. For preparing a ceviche with rancid cod, Mattin was sent home. Judge Tom Colicchio called Mattin "the Dauphin of the Overplan" in his blog, which was funny and smart but not very nice; nevertheless, I am not sorry to see Mattin go because he was always talking so highly of himself and making crappy food and the chasm just got to me. I also watched Mattin throw Ashley under the bus over a non-asparagus veloute last week and I had it in for him. I gave Mattin a going-away scarf for his exit.
Oh, and Bryan won. Again. His pork loin with polenta, dandelion greens, and rutabaga was solid, the pork perfect, and the quality so much higher than that of most of the other challengers. He also attempted to work within the language of the local food, and I think this won him the challenge. Frankly under the conditions he did exceptionally well.
I didn't think I had any point in writing these updates other than for my own amusement until I discovered today that some people actually do read them and get a synopsis from them. Sorry I was late this week-it won't happen again!