Last Sunday two things happened: my daughter turned 21 and The Next Iron Chef finale aired.
As I said in Monday’s post, we took Alexzandra out to dinner to Napa Rose ~ a beautiful restaurant in the Grand Californian Hotel at the Disneyland Resort. It’s one of those places where chefs like Elizabeth Falkner and Geoffrey Zakarian would create edible masterpieces like they showcased on this weeks’ finale.
As we perused the menu, I made a decision to take a risk with my dinner choice. I would order wine (I don’t usually drink wine, but Napa Rose is known for their incredible wine selection, I sort of felt it would be rude not to) and I went with the Christmas Goose dish. Now, I’ve never had goose before, but it seemed to me that it would be similar to duck and I like duck, so what the heck.
Michael, to my utter surprise, ordered the lamb. Alexzandra went with venison, and David played it safe with a filet mignon. Alexzandra is our wild eater ~ she could live in the wild and survive by eating only what she could find. Not only that, she’d find a way to cook it and make it gourmet. She didn’t inherit those skills from me, obviously.
So, we took a risk with our meal choices and they were all delicious. Michael loved his lamb and while he tried the venison, wasn’t as enamored of it. Why is this surprising to us? Michael thinks pizza should be served every day and prefers Papa John’s over artisanal pizza. If you serve him anything other than my mac’n’cheese or Kraft, he’ll refuse it (last time we went to Napa Rose, they tried to serve him mac’n’cheese with truffles. Gasp! The horror! The horror!). For Michael to get adventurous with his food choices is huge. My babies are growing up.
What does all this have to do with The Next Iron Chef? Everything!
In this, the finale of the series, the Chairman himself set the challenge for the chefs ~ to create a holiday meal with a bazillion ingredients. Wow! It was like our table at Napa Rose (see how it all ties in there?)
The theme of the week was Pressure. Yeah, those two chefs were under a ton of pressure! They had to make the best darn dinner of their lives. And they had to take risks.
In true Kitchen Stadium style, the chefs had one hour to prepare five dishes, but there was a catch to this competition. The Chairman would stop them every fifteen minutes and throw a surprise at them. Talk about pressure! Dang, cooking five dishes in an hour is hard enough, then he goes and messes with them as well? Sheesh! They both deserve that Iron Chef coat. Seriously. I would’ve thrown a candy cane at that Chairman.
The first ‘gift’ the Chairman gave the chefs was a helper ~ so they picked Chef Alex. Each chef got her for 15 minutes. I sort of felt bad for Chef Alex, she was thrown into the fire without any prewarning! Poor thing thought she was there to watch and the next thing you know, she’s cooking for half the show. Yikes. She did awesome, though so props to her.
The second ‘gift’ was to make a dish with cranberries. Simple enough. Although, Chef Zakarian’s cranberry risotto thing and soup thing looked kind of gross. Eh, what do I know? I’m 46 years old and just had my first goose.
The third ‘gift’ was to make an ice cream dish. Okay, no problem there. Except, that silly ice cream machine has been the bane of many a challenge. Chef Falkner was already planning to make a sorbet, so she just made an eggnog ice cream as well. I think she’s made ice cream about forty-six times in this competition. Well, maybe not that many, but she does love the ice cream machine. Too bad it didn’t love her in this challenge. It froze up and she lost valuable minutes cleaning it. Oops.
Chef Zakarian made a buttermilk ice cream, which sounds eww to me, but the judges liked. At least that wacky English dude really liked it. Is it just me, or do his ears look bigger? I never noticed before, but dang! They are just flopping out there.
The final ‘gift’ was to make a cocktail. Yes! Now we’re talking. Both chefs used clementines (a small sweet/tart orange, kind of like a mandarin, but not quite), but Chef Zakarian used rum and ginger in his while Chef Falkner used lemon and vodka (I think it was vodka, I was too busy trying to remember what Zakarian used). They both looked super yum.
I was near peeing my pants as the final seconds ticked down and it looked like Chef Falkner wasn’t going to get her food on the plates. I would’ve been screaming at the TV, but Alexzandra was still sleeping (late night celebrating her 21st birthday, poor dear) and so I just jumped up and down instead.
She made it!
Both chefs presented the judges with a veritable feast of culinary excellence. Beef Wellington, fritters, pasta, Brussel’s sprouts, a parsnip-cardamom bisque, oh the list goes on and on! I don’t even know what half the things are that they made. Bordellaise? Armagnac? Brendade? They were like culinary Thesauri. I loved it!
Look how cute these little veggies are. Chef Zakarian wrapped each one to look like a sweet present.
So, who won The Next Iron Chef? As you know, both Zakarian and Falkner were my favorites, but when it came down to it and the winner was revealed, I realized I really, really wanted Chef Falkner to win.
Chef Geoffrey Zakarian became the Next Iron Chef. Congratulations Chef Zakarian!!
I’m bummed Chef Falkner didn’t win. I guess I’ll just have to scamper on up to San Francisco and visit her restaurants.
Well done for these chefs taking risks and cooking their hearts out to make the best darn holiday meal they could. In an hour.
What risks have you taken lately? Have you ever tried Christmas Goose? If not, I highly recommend it.
This will be the final Trashy TV Recap for awhile. The blog is begging me to take some risks and try new things on Friday. I love writing the recap, but there is just so much more fantastical information out there that I want to share with all of you.
So on this, the day before the day before Christmas, I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. May you find the light you seek, drink a glass of wine to friends old and new, and take a risk in life and love.
With all my heart, I hope all your wishes come true!