Thursday, February 28, 2013

Top Chef Finale: The Tatted Queen takes her Throne

Top Chef - Season 10
79 Brooke Williamson Top Chef 1001 134Before we get into the course vs course culinary cook off, can we please acknowledge just how tatted up Brooke was on Watch What Happens Live? So I've noticed in last chance kitchen Kristen has quite a few tatts on her arms and when she came back for the finale during the hiatus she got a couple more tatts, but did you notice Brooke's shoulders on Watch What Happens Live?  They are some kind of symmetrical image and I noticed something peeking through from the back. I didn't expect that one, here I was thinking she was just a mommy running two restaurants, but girl's got some goth hiding under her chef's coat. So are tattoos a requisite of being a chef? I wonder what Tom is hiding under that conservatively intimidating demeanor? Anyways, I just had to acknowledge this.

Ok, now how awesome was last night's finale format? It was a highly needed change! The whole concept of two opposing restaurants where the judges go into each restaurant to taste the food just wasn't working. There was too much cheating going on. And by cheating I mean that the competitors would listen to the responses of people and go back and change the food for the next service to make it better for judges. Remember Richard and his fois gras ice cream in Top Chef All Stars, he went back and made a new batch for the second set of judges! Or in last season Sarah's boyfriend informed her of a flaw in her dish so she was able to go change it. This year's format of Iron Chef style actually  put each dish head to head. There was no changing it for a second attempt. Everything was happening in front of the diners and nothing could be changed after one tasting, I loved it!

Click below for the winner reveal.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Watch What Happens Live in Austin, TX!

Watch What Happens: Live

Since I first started watching Watch What Happens Live! with the Bravo headmistresses, Andy Cohen, I've wanted to have a seat in the cozy clubhouse sipping on some Ramona Pinot Grigio with hopes that my nasal laughter would be heard for the masses. I imagine the clubhouse to be a small, warm crater where the Bravo obsessed conglomerate to participate in a cult following that ironically is far larger than the clubhouse can imagine. But isn't that the draw? For instance, take a musician that you love. Once they start playing in Madison Square Garden it's not as coveted of a concert to see, but play in a small, smoky bar and i'll be front row to have the sweat slung on to me!

Jerry Seinfeld Nixes the 'Seinfeld Curse' on 'Watch What Happens Live' (Video)From watching the hilarity ensue on the show, Jerry Seinfeld belittling Andy for making his talk show the small show after the massive franchise that is the Housewives instead of flipping it around and making his show the powerhouse show on Bravo and Housewives the 30 minute after show to lying scandals, Kim Zolciak blatantly stating she's not pregnant only for Life and Style magazine to come out the next day exposing that she is to the hard hitting issues of Jill Zarin being given 30 minutes to lament about her firing from Bravo, Andy has kept me hooked to the show.

When WWHL! first started filming once a week, I never watched. 11pm was far too late for me to be awake on a weeknight! And then when I had my Sweet Pea and going through sleepless nights of nursing and basically just holding her through the night my obsessive affinity to Bravo was nurtured and blossomed into a geeky teenager who is consumed with reality television and reality television blogs. It was then that I was hooked to the quirky show and watched it religiously. I mean, I was getting all sorts of Housewives drama beyond the show, it didn't get better! 

And then the show moved to five nights a week. It was like watching Housewives every night. Schreeeech. Did you hear the tires screeching from me hitting the breaks? (So maybe my attempt at onomatopoeia didn't quite work.) Yeah, when it moved to five nights a week it wasn't completely about Housewives and sometimes they even had guests from some of the other shows I don't like, such as Patti Sanger or Curtis Stone. (Yes, I love me some Top Chef, but Top Chef Masters just doesn't have that jen ne sais quoi that TC has. Probably because they don't have the genius pairing of Padma and Tom.) So I would DVR every episode and nitpick which episodes to watch, only to find that celebrities are Housewives fans too, or should I say Housewives Super Fans? Yes, that's right. Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos like to come on and imitate Housewives of Jersey characters. And Jay Mohr (wait, is he a celebrity?) even blogged about Housewives of Jersey! And then you find how many celebrities actually know these Housewives! Serious A and B list crossover to Housewife territory, and I loved it! 

And can we talk about these games? Yes, the crazy, nothingness games. Sometimes I am angry with Cohen for wasting times with these games when I actually want more juicy questions answered. And when the nothingness games are so bad that the celebrities don't even understand them (Ahem, Khloe Kardashian-Odom) it makes for a waste of time and a bit of a chuckle. Occasionally there are hits, and I think they consider this the niche of their show, but often times I could do without.

And of course we can't forget the hodge podge bartenders. I recall when Shahs of Sunset characters appeared for their season premiere they picked out a random Persian person from the street and made her bartender. (So if you do a show on Indian Americans, please call me, I can pour Skinnygirl Margaritas for the audience!) The gay Sigmund Freud was the worst. Really, with the bare chest faux facial hair? Something tells me Cohen promises his conquests a spot on his show and a chance for stardom? Maybe?

So  hearing about Bravo coming to my beloved town of Austin for SXSW initially brought me to much sadness. Why? Because I no longer live in this oasis of Texas, but do live three hours away. Mid week travel to see the show with two small children is not a menial task.  And then I hear that SXSW is having a panel discussion regarding the show much like last years Top Chef panel! What? I need to go to that! I have such perplexing insight regarding the obsession with a talk show revolving around the lives of  ego inflated middle aged women! Ahh! I'm so close, yet so far.

And then I emailed a girlfriend of mine who lives in Austin to sign up for tickets and she did telling me she requested two so I could join her if available. I called up hubby who willingly offered to watch the kids. Could it be true? Am I going to meet THE Andy Cohen? My pop culture idol?  A dorky boy from a Midwestern town makes it big in New York city mingling with the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker? Could I be the next contender for such a position?

And so I did a little more research and requesting tickets is not as simple as when I saw the Jimmy Fallon show back in 2009. Oh no. Bravo is considering this a sweepstakes. For the five shows they are filming they will pick 100 people at random and they will get a total of three tickets. (I think, it sounds odd though.) If that day doesn't work for you then you get put back in the hat to be pulled for another day. So the more people who sign up, the less of a chance you have of winning. Oh. What happened to first come first serve? Apparently these tickets are that coveted. And so my hopes of actually meeting The Man have significantly fallen.  Ok, so I'll put all my cards on the table. I have yet to leave Mr. Bambino for more than an hour so the likelihood that I can be away from him for an overnight trip is probably not going to happen for this controlling mother, so maybe its best that we don't get tickets.

I wonder where they'll film the show? If you go to it says that they will provide transportation to the venue, and on their policy page, it says that you will meet at 500 E. Cesar Chavez St which is the Austin Convention Center. Please tell me that is just the pick up location, I expect more than a convention center to see Pinot Singer and Cloris Leachman discuss the reunion of Vanderpump Rules. I would assume they will commute you to a bar downtown and not in some massive place like the Erwin Center or Darryl K. Royal stadium. I mean Bravo has a big following, but nothing compared to the University of Texas football team. Right?  But what bar? On the rooftop at Maggie Mae's? No, their website is filled with musical acts for SXSW. Or maybe out on the patio at Moonshine, it is right around the corner from the Austin Convention Ceneter? Or maybe at Sandy Bullock's restaurant, is he friends with that A-lister?Maybe Sandy would be a guest!  The wheels are turning and me stating I'm bummed that I most likely won't go is like saying the Japan tsunami was just a big wave.

And so I will be watching the show from my living room, three hours away from the show and probably about 15 hours later since I don't stay up until 10pm. But if I see my Alma mater's tower in the background of wherever they film there will be tears in my eyes.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Vanderpump Rules: The Talented Mr. Jax...err Jason

Confessions Spill on Vanderpump Rules Season Finale

Start-Ups Silicon Valley Cast - H 2012Last night's season finale was the perfect ending for a fictitious 20 something dramedy, oh I'm sorry the perfect ending for a reality show. Right, reality show. Wink wink. Seriously, after that conclusion I refuse to believe that any of this show is real. And thats fine with me!  Bravo has shattered reality television ceilings and knows the proper calculated steps to achieve ratings gold. Unfortunately, a true reality show like Silicon Valley achieved no ratings (None of them got a guest spot on WWHL, not even quirky Hermione! Nor did they get a reunion.) and thus Bravo must concoct a show that resembles a reality show but is purely fictitious to achieve a fan base, and thus Vanderpump Rules was born. 

The show started out with Stassi and Jax perusing dog collars. The scene was so representative of their relationship. Stassi picking out attire for her bitch while she treats her boyfriend...ex-boyfriend...boyfriend in waiting like the same female animal. She berates him for dating Laura Leigh, berates him for allowing Laura Leigh to watch her dog and berates him for breathing. Jax promises the world to Stassi if only they can get back together. Stassi is loving having a tiny Jax in her pocket, with complete control and dominance. It's her very own Giggy. 

Then we cut to Tom, mid band practice. I was hoping to see Lisa's son Max practicing with him, but no luck. Pandy always parades around the cameras but I want to get to know Max a little better. I suppose he doesn't follow in the rest of the family's camera loving ways, and does he work at Sur too? I thought I saw him in a Sur t-shirt like the other servers in the episode where Ken drives up in that hilarious pink sham of a car. Oh yeah, so Tom's at practice and stops mid song to answer Kristen's call so she can lament her angst over her friendship with Stassi. Staged much?

We're the Millers (2013) PosterAnd now it's time for Laura Leigh to strut down the take that carpet. That's right, the woman who was referred to as "bat shit crazy" in the previous scene just landed a role in Jennifer Aniston's movie, We Are the Millers. While Stassi is serving chicken tenders and blogging on her coffee break, Laura Leigh will be in South Carolina filming opposite Jennifer Aniston, so boom! 

Stassi and Kristen have a sit down. Cry cry. I'm sorry, yada yada. Ok, we're biffles together forever! I hope they clocked out before having that conversation. I would hate to think they did this on company time! Especially considering Kristen did go off to Peter about Stassi clocking in and then sitting down in the main room to eat her take out fried chicken. The nerve!

Then off to the photo shoot at some bread and breakfast in Beverly Hills. Oh no, that was Lisa's house! Whether it was simply for the cameras or not, I thought it was sweet of Lisa to loan her jewelry to the ladies for the photo shoot, not to mention her house! Granted, she could possibly be the Lou Pearlman of  West Hollywood. These kids have nothing and Lisa knows she can make money off of them. Nahh. Lisa wouldn't do that to us, would she? 

Before the gratuitous bikini moment with all of the ladies during the photo shoot, Lisa pulls Stassi to the side to give her a finger wagging for bringing Frank to Villa Blanca. That piece must be on the cutting room floor, I assume there was no gasps and whispers by the servers surrounding that event and thus it wasn't worth showing. 

Back to the photo shoot. Bikinis, speedos, socks, oh my! I loved when the accent ridden photographer continuously referred to Stassi as Stacey only for her to angrily scream StAHssi! 

And then Jax pulls Stassi to the side and discuses the Frank situation. Is he a lost cause, should he give up? No, thinking Stassi in her mind. I like you groveling at my feet. I shall date whoever I want but you must remain at my feet. Then Stassi dips her hair partly in the water for dramatic effect. Girlfriend, you are in the middle of the photo shoot, why did you do that? And then she immerses all of her hair and it actually looks better slicked back! The two then shoot some provocative promos for Stassi Loves Jax, I mean Vanderpump Rules

Onto Jax's session on the couch and Jax's face is unmasked and we learn that the true Jason is just a boy from Michigan  who didn't complete Junior College but creates a grandiose image of himself in hopes of being loved. Personality Disorder? Borderline Personality Disorder? Hmm, lying? Check. Impulsive behavior? Check. Fear of being abandoned? Check. Maybe? I love how the therapist doesn't even believe how he didn't cheat but instead of full steam ahead calling him on it she discusses other patients who lie and then come clean four years later. And did he say that he met Stassi on a Wednesday and moved in with her on a Saturday and was together for two years? Does he just want his Sugar Mama back? Is that all the relationship was to him? 

Scheana and Stassi Kiss in Vanderpump Rules Season 1, Episode 8Then on to another photo shoot of just the women at Sur where Lisa informs us she closes the restaurant down for the day for the shoot and is going to shoot some individual shots for the girls own portfolios. Saint Vanderpump, no? Did anyone else notice Kristen and Katie's tattoos? Katie's was more modest but Kristen's whole back is colorfully tatted up! And of course the Scheana and Stassi kiss. It happened, it was awkward, it didn't get any Madonna/Britney Spears hoopla, but it just was there like a bottle of ketchup on the table. It's no chocolate mousse cheesecake, just ketchup. 

Drinking and Tweeting: And Other Brandi BlundersOh, and mid photo shoot Scheana and Lisa sit down to hash the Brandi cheating scandal. Seriously, is this the only thing that she garners face time for? Are they just riding on the coattails of Brandi's bestselling tell all regarding the cheating of her ex-Baywatch Nights hubby? Enough already. I found it to be just a filler scene. 

And on to the finale party. And here comes the week long Vanderpump Rules alleged Bravo imposed Vandershocker, Jax quits and then admits that he did lie, he did indeed cheat on Stassi and get a girl pregnant in Vegas when they were dating. (Which, did this girl just swindle him for some money? He's had no communication with her since giving her money. Hmm.) Lots of tears and screaming by Stassi, lots of vindication by Stassi, lots of thoughts running through her head on how she's going to scream from the roof tops "I told you so." And so Jax is going to scurry away and give Stassi her space and never speak to her again until they have to do appearances together promoting the show six months later. 

Stassi Breaks Down in Vanderpump Rules Season 1, Episode 8

Next week is the reunion episode and I'm anxious to see what everyone has to say to him regarding Vegasgate. I wonder if Laura Leigh will be there, or is she too Hollywood now? And will Andy Cohen please get a health teacher there to explain the repercussions of unprotected sex? Or perhaps they've already dealt with the repercussions. If so, Andy I suggest you stay back. 

Click below for image sources.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Academy Awards: And The Ladies Brought it Out

I am not a movie person, most of my life resolves around Bravo, PBS and the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Occasionally I stray to watch How I Met Your Mother or the Mindy Project, but usually veer back to Housewives. The movies I do enjoy are 60s Movies, specifically Disney movies (Like the original Parent Trap or the original Shaggy Dog) and Doris Day movies. And of course the cheesy teenage 80s movies like anything Molly Ringwald, Girls Just Want to Have Fun and well you get the jist.  I say this so you will understand when I say that I have not seen any of the movies that were nominated for Best Picture,  nor  have I heard of most of them. (I was familiar with Argo from seeing an interview on the news with the man the movie was centered around.) So of course I cannot tell you who won and who lost last night, but I can tell you what I thought about the clothes!

Celebrities Hide of Paparazzi (9)Can I just say the women really stepped up after this mediocre award season. I think much of the reason is because the A-listers stepped out and they know how to dress. When I say A-listers, I'm talking about the women that are legitimate movie stars who actually choose to veer away from the papparazzi rather than eat dinner at The Ivy with their ex-boyfriend in hopes to make it to the cover of Us Weekly with a title questioning whether she is back together with her ex. No, no. These ladies live in gated communities with security guards and don't shop on Robertson Ave, and when they do go shopping they wear a ball cap and glasses so not to be recognized. So no, they don't need to dress in some hideous garb to gain attention a la Bjork and the swan dress, they dress in what they and their stylist find appropriate and fitting for their body type and age. And with said equation the results were gorgeous!

While reviewing these styles I felt like Tom Colicchio having to critique two amazing dishes and send someone home. There was a lot of nitpicking of what was best and what wasn't quite as good, but there was nothing that was blatantly bad. Ok, so maybe Helena Bonham Carter, but that's just her own style and so I chose to not even place her on this list. 

And with that said, lets admire the chic attire from last night...

Best Dressed
jennifer lawrence oscar dress 2013jennifer lawrence oscar dress 2013
Jennifer Lawrence
I'm going to jump on the bandwagon and agree that Jennifer was the best dressed. The silhouette of the gown, the backwards necklace and the pulled back hair. Breathtaking. Only she could still look beautiful after her tumble up the stairs to accept her award.
gty jennifer lawrence fall thg 130224 wblog Oscars 2013: Jennifer Lawrence Trips on Her Way to Collect Best Actress Award

Charlize Theron
Despite the channeling of Demi Moore in GI Jane (which I'm hoping is for a movie), the dress is stunning. I love large bracelets and the rest of the jewelry being minimal. 

Jennifer Garner
I was a little hesitant of the feather ruffles in the back, but together with the print, the cut, the blinged out jewelry and the loosely pulled back hair she looks beautiful. Perfect accessory for the winner of Best Picture.

Sandra Bullock
Sandy's sleek straight hair slightly pulled back, the homage to a 1920's flapper girl and flawless make up is a winning combination.     

Reese Witherspoon
The color, the fabric, the cut is all perfect for Reese's body type. I love the hairstyle, while I prefer up do's with strapless dresses, she did it right.

Stacey Kiebler
As a girl who is simply George Clooney's eye candy (Sorry, honey) she looks amazing. The shoulder cut is pleasing to her athletic but slim build and the pulled up hair gives a full visual of the dress. Amazing.

Judith Holste
I'm not quite sure who she is, the wife of an actor, I presume? Regardless, the woman knows how to dress her age in a chic manner. Her dress and hairstyle is beautiful and classic. 

Queen Latifah
The Queen has traveled far from her U.N.I.T.Y days. She found the perfect fit for her figure. Beautiful color, silhouette and jewelry. 

Alicia Vikander
I have no idea who this woman is, but I think she is the second best dressed after Jennifer Lawrence. This dress is stunning! I don't care for the yellow colored belt, but the look is so gorgeous that I can negate the belt. Love! 

Almost Best Dressed
Naomi Watts
For some reason I feel an intense bond to this dress, but then when I look up and see the exposed shoulder I vehemently dislike it. If only it were covered up, or all strapless it would be best dressed. And I actually like the bouffant!

Kerry Washington
This dress is beautiful, the coral color is lovely against her skin, but what happneed to the hair? Is it brushed?  It looks like she just got out of a convertible.

Olivia Munn
I love Olivia Munn. She's exotically gorgeous, but throws down some serious funny. I had such high expectations for her and she fell short. I love the dramatic hair and make-up, but the bottom half of the dress looks like a fairy tale gown, the poor girl takes her drapes and throws them around her body like a ball gown in the hopes of impressing the prince. Take out the sariesque  style and the gold embroidery and its beautiful.

Amy Adams
I kept going back and forth with this one, first she was best dressed and then she was worst dress. I love the color of the dress, the bodice and the hair, but the feathered petticoat isn't quite working. It's just too much.

Samantha Barks
I absolutely adore this dress, the tousled hair, but it's just doesn't have that oomph that you wear to the Oscars. It's more appropriate for a black tie affair, but not the Oscars. Oh, and who is Samantha?

Worst Dressed
Nicole Kidman
I don't know what's going on with Nicole, she's had a rough award season, she's hit my worst dress every time. This dress just looks like a disco ball that's lost it's shimmer. The accent colors don't work and her hair is in her face. Just bad.

Jennifer Aniston
Rachel, what were you thinking? This dress just isn't working for her. I think she was trying to go for a different style, but it just isn't her. She has a very slim figure and I think this dress is meant for more of a curvy, buxom girl. Or maybe it just doesn't fit appropriately? Is it me, or is it reminiscent to Lea Michele at the SAG Awards, which I also didn't care for?

Helen Hunt
Yes, I know this dress was H&M, but just because it's the dress of an affordable, trendy, mall invading store, doesn't make it look good. It needs to be steamed, perhaps if so it would look better? The material is too similar to a bridesmaid dress. 

Sally Field
Oh, Gidg. You usually always bring it out, but what happened? It's just all around wrong. I don't even know what to say.

Jane Fonda
Jane knows how to carry herself with some attitude, and this dress style is perfect for her, but the fluorescent color completely negates the entire look. Were it in black or navy blue she would have been best dressed. Unfortunately she just looks like a crossing guard.

The Preggers Category
Georgina Chapman
This is a beautiful maternity dress. I love that she doesn't feel the need to have her chest on parade as many Hollywood women feel the need to due when pregnant. Elegant, yet conservative. Gorge.

Jenna Dewan-Tatum
Jenna is absolutely stunning in this dress. The hair, the make-up she looks amazing!

As usual, we shall conclude with Giules. While the dress is Oscar appropriate, what happened to the hair? She usually is all over the place with her hairstyles on E! News, but ever since she got this haircut, she doesn't experiment too much. She desperately needed an up-do.

Giuliana Rancic

I was highly impressed with the attire last night. The women were absolutely stunning and I love that there were no obnoxious statement pieces, although Jane Fonda's just may be toying with that title!

Now can anyone tell me who won or lost? Does any of that matter? No, I'm too busy watching Bravo anyways.

Click below for links to the images.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Shake 'n Bake Chicken: The Best Pedestrian Dinner You're Not Making

You may think I'm a bit crazy, but my family has been eating Shake 'n Bake since I was a child. And while I am a vegetarian, I have been eating chicken on and off throughout my life. Now, I've never cared for a full chicken breast or anything with bones, although as a child I did always enjoy tandoori chicken in Indian restaurants and that is usually legs and wings, but I have always enjoyed my mother's moist and juicy Shake 'n Bake chicken strips.  I never really thought much of it nor was I embarrassed about it until going to college when I was telling a friend that my mom makes the Shake. Her amusement and laughter were far unnecessary. What was wrong with Shakey Bakey? (Granted, at this time in life I had a deep affinity to the chicken tenders at TGI Fridays, so Shake 'n Bake wasn't that far off.)Was it considered poor people food? Was it just too banal of a meal? Was it the same as me saying that we ate canned creamed corn? (Images of Dan Conner consuming massive amounts of creamed corn come to mind, no?)

Whatever the reason, it then made me go into the closet when it came to S n B. I never told my mother and after I got married I made it on the regular in the closet.

It wasn't until I realized how common baked, breaded chicken was that reminded me of my friend's comment.  Seriously, if I use egg and bread crumbs, that's ok but just Shake n Bake is not? I don't understand! I've used bread crumbs before, mixed with some Parmesan cheese just so I could feel a little more culinarily sophisticated, but I found that the breading was far too soggy and I don't like having to add more cholesterol to the dish by adding in egg. The chicken has protein, I don't want to put egg on it too.

And so I went  back to my old school Shake 'n Bake. No, I don't use the bag, place the chicken and shake. I just pour the contents into a bowl and bread the chicken as if I'm using bread crumbs. It needs no adhesive to get the shakeys to stick to the chicken. It easily coats the chicken (or even pork chops, as I've tried before), and then I sprinkle some olive oil and water mid cooking and it makes the chicken moist, but not soggy. And of course, I marinade the chicken before coating with shakeys. Often times I use Indian spices a la my mom's traditional recipe, but on occasion I use fat free ranch dressing which Hubby loves.

Into the oven, ready to cook on a Pam sprayed, aluminum foiled baking sheet...

Out of the oven, after flipped mid way and more oil (or sometimes water) is sprinkled on to the chicken...

And so I've decided to come out of the proverbial closet and  hold my head up high and continue using Shake 'n Bake chicken. I'm throwing stereotypes to the wind and going to keep making the Shakes. Hubby loves it and so does my Sweet Pea, she'll gobble up the whole thing with her own hands! While leftovers usually don't taste as well, you have to hydrate the chicken by wrapping it in a moist paper towel and gently heat, because if you over heat it's far too chewy and difficult to consume, as poor Sweet Pea learned earlier this, it's still a dish worth making!

Sunday night's dinner, Shake n Bake chicken with couscous. Doesn't look pedestrian to me, does it?