Tamra Barney takes out the trash {The Real Housewives of Orange County}

January 14, 2009

Viewers were surely annoyed that they had to wait a half hour before getting to the “Drunk Gretchen” scene at Tamra’s so called formal dinner party, a party so embarrassingly distasteful, I thought the hired chef, Brian Malarkey, might torch the entire table with his fire-themed deserts.  The big storyline “Tamra gets Gretchen drunk to bring out Gretchen’s dark side,” apparently backfired on Tamra when Gretchen and Tamra’s son, Ryan, looked like they were

Tamra's son, Ryan, brings out "The Dark Side of Gretchen"

Tamra's son, Ryan, brings out "The Dark Side of Gretchen"

going to “hook up.”  Ironically, Tamra stated in an interview segment that a person’s actions are more important to her than what a person says.  She was referring to Gretchen, but Tamra might have well been looking in a mirror. Gretchen has no one to blame but herself for drinking too much Tequila, but Tamra kept ordering her son to bring Gretchen shot after shot as well as encouraging everyone else to go along with her scheme.  The most entertaining part of this whole fiasco was that the other housewives looked mortified at what was happening.  It was clear that none of them wanted to be there; Jeana was the only one who made any attempt to socialize, and the husbands just sat back and watched as if they had front row seats to the WWE.

Simon Barney in his pre-Tequila days

Simon Barney in his pre-Tequila days

The men reminded me of the husbands from The Real Housewives of Atlanta who sat back at numerous dinner parties and watched their alpha wives mark their territory. Bottom line:  Tequila doesn’t lead to bad behavior, Tamra Barney does: she embarrassed herself, her guests, her etiquette teacher, the chef, her husband and his new Tequila brand business venture, and me—for admitting I watch this show.  Calling her son a “manwhore” didn’t help either, and hopefully that phrase will not become Ryan’s latest tattoo.  The funniest line from the show, however, did come from a tipsy Gretchen: I have big boobs, I con do what I want. Click here for Bravo TV’s rogue’s gallery of photos.

PJ

P.S. As of today, Vicki is the only housewife to write in about last night’s episode:

I had a great time at Tamra’s dinner party. It was fun getting all dressed up for a formal party at home instead of going out to a restaurant. All of our homes are so beautiful and I feel we don’t spend as much time in them as we should. It was amazing having Chef Brian Malarkey cook for us. It was overwhelming to watch how much work goes into the preparations for each dish. I have been to his restaurant Oceanaire in San Diego a few times, so it was nice to experience his menu and

Vicki Gunvalson

Vicki Gunvalson

talent at Tamra’s.

The only reason I made the comment at dinner about Lynne being so laid back was because I have never been around anyone like her before. It seems like nothing would ever bother her at all, and it doesn’t seem like she has a care in the world. Coming from me, Ms. Type-A Personality, it is nice to see someone with that level of calmness.

Yeah, right.  (I guess she forgot about almost vomiting over the oyster appetizers).


Stephanie wins Top Chef after lackluster finale {Top Chef Chicago}

June 12, 2008

Stephanie wins Top Chef Chicago and becomes the first female Top Chef, but aside from her victory, the rest of the show was BORING! I decided to post this in fancy “Vivaldi” style font because it suits the high brow foodie audience for which the finale was intended. I could not appreciate Stephanie’s daring pecan and olive ingredients that so impressed the judges. The producers keep forgetting that those of us at home can’t taste the food.. I could appreciate, however, that Lisa’s soup caused the renowned guest chefs to “slurp” and ask for seconds. Like I have said before, Lisa did her homework before arriving in Puerto Rico and performed better than she ever did in Chicago. She was uncharacteristically at ease during the finale due to the fact that there wasn’t anyone around to argue with her. If you have ever watched Hell’s Kitchen, you can easily imagine Chef Gordon Ramsey eating Lisa alive (and probably throw up afterwards). Richard’s tanks of exotic gasses didn’t set him apart from the others. As I watched him pour liquid nitrogen into his bacon flavored ice cream, I thought isn’t that the stuff doctor’s use to freeze warts off of people? (ick) I believe Richard’s downfall was that he thought he could pull it all together on the second day, but surprise—no sous chefs! They bring back the old format for the finale: 2 finalists cooking head to head with the help of former cast mates. Otherwise,Top Chef should move over to the FOOD network. I hope to see more of Stephanie! Maybe she will write a cookbook or get her own television show. She is a heck of a lot less annoying that Rachael Ray!

PJ


I would love to have a personal (Top) Chef, if only for one meal

May 31, 2008

I have watched Top Chef for a few seasons, but only this season have I actually wished I could try the food. I was really impressed with the dishes the five chefs came up with at Rick Tramonto’s Steak and Seafood restaurant last week. I am not a “foodie” so I can not appreciate food like “squid emulsion” or “foam.” Unfortunately, my palette is limited to mostly sweet and salty. Remember the blind junk food test from Season One? I could do that! In the past, I had to wait until the last final episode to appreciate how these chefs can create dishes from experience, how they can adapt the ingredients into their recipes, and how they can cook a meal in thirty minutes without a microwave! This season, you can’t just be a good chef, your food has to have meaning; the “foodies” have to feel your love, your passion, your soul. In a perfect world, my own personal chef would emerge happily from the kitchen and in a friendly manner discuss the courses for the evening meal. It would be so different from a server reading “tonight’s specials” at a restaurant. My personal chef would explain the whole history of the meal, from conception to birth: how he or she shopped for special ingredients to make my meal healthy and memorable: found the certain fresh vegetables at the market for the salad, and how he or she came across this one exotic fruit for the dessert. For a brief moment I could pretend I was a “foodie” about to be served dinner with love. I guess the the feeling I’m imagininging is “nurtured” and I am reminded how far I have gotten away from the “nourishing” aspect of food; meals have become just things to whip up and woof down. Although I would enjoy the pampering a personal chef would provide during a dinner service, I would want him or her to help me make my own positive connections with food. Is it possible for me to get excited about shopping for ingredients or do I have to out-source this ability? Is the goal of a personal chef to get you into a dependent-on-them lifestyle or to teach you to be more independent?

For more information try these links: The American Personal & Private Chef Institute and chef2chef a culinary portal

PJ


Chef Spike could not revive his frozen scallops {Top Chef}

May 30, 2008

The Quickfire Challenge this week was a vegetarian’s nightmare. The chefs had to show their “butchery skills” at Allen Brother’s meat plant and cut seven chops with a “frenched bone” from an American raised long-boned rib-eye, USDA Dry Aged Prime Rib rack in 20 minutes. After returning to the Top Chef Kitchen, each of the five remaining chefs had to cook a tomahawk chop in thirty minutes. Spike, a grandson of two butchers, soared through both parts of this challenge, and as a reward he was able to have first pick of ingredients from Rick Tramonto’s kitchen in Rick Tramonto’s Steak and Seafood restaurant. For the elimination challenge, each chef had to create an original appetizer and entree. Chef Tom Collicico took on the role of “Expediter” for the dinner service. Tom’s quiet demeanor was quite a switch from Chef Ramsey’s famous freak-outs in Hell’s Kitchen. Previous Top Chef winners Harold Dieterle (Season One), Ilan Hall (Season Two), and Hung Hynh (Season Three) were invited as the judges’ VIP guests. (I must say that Ilan looked a little out of place wearing a brown tee-shirt)

Stephanie won the challenge with her Sweetbreads with Golden Raisins & Pine Nuts appetizer (she was proud that she could make sweetbreads taste like Chicken McNuggets) and her Beef Tenderloin with Wild Mushrooms & Apple Sauce entree . Richard’s Hamachi with Crispy Sweatbreads, Radish, Avocado & Yuzu appetizer was the favorite dish of the evening, and Lisa’s Peanut Butter Mashed Potatoes was the best side dish. Chef Tom thought that Antonio’s entree tasted best out of all the steak dishes.

Lisa and Spike wound up as the bottom two, Lisa was at the bottom for the fifth time. I think Padma saved her because she thought Lisa had “an amazing pallet.” The frozen scallops turned out to be Spike’s downfall. Spike tried for a long time to drain the water out of them with paper towels, but he still could not turn them into fresh scallops. Moreover, at the Judge’s Table Spike told Rick that he shouldn’t have had scallops in his walk-in that “weren’t high quality.” (Ouch) Rick rebounded with, “I’ll take that shot, bro. I had frozen scallops in my cooler, but you got to take the shot that you used them.” On the positive side, working in Rick’s hot kitchen made Spike remove his signature silly hat. I really hope he tossed it into the wood burning oven. Next week the four remaining chefs head off to Puerto Rico. Will there be an all women final three?

PJ


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