Jazz Fest 2014 is getting pretty close! And deciding who you're going to see at a music festival can be the toughest part, even tougher than the heat. It usually involves heartbreak ... like last year when I had to choose between Hall & Oats and The Black Keys. But it's something that must be done. Some folks will try to do both, but I don't recommend it. I say stick to one and enjoy it, don't spend half the set making your way from one crazy crowd to another.
So here is my list of shows that I'm planning on making it to. Some of these decisions were not easy to make.
Just for funzies. Thursdays are usually the chill day of Jazz Fest. It should be a plesant set ... and all the hippies will be at String Cheese Incident.
9. Better Than Ezra
It's a 90's thing. I bought their CD for one song back when people still did that.
8. Alabama Shakes
I've been loving this band. I can't wait to see Brittany Howard sing live. Her voice kills me sometimes. In a good way.
7. North Mississippi Allstars
I've been wanting to see these guys live for awhile. They seem like they put on a good show.
6. Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
I love me some Trombone Shorty. It will be the perfect way to end Jazz Fest.
This is a nostalgia thing. I've had some pretty amazing times at Phish shows. It might be interesting to see them not under the influence of the things I used to do in my younger years. But then again, that might have been a requirement to enjoy them ... I guess we'll find out.
This was a tough decision though, because Big Freedia plays at the same time ... but I figured that since I live in New Orleans, I'll have plenty more chances to see her. Also, I'm going against my own advice here because I'll only be watching part of their set and then head over to Robert Plant before he goes on ... but only because Phish starts an hour and a half earlier. That's a solid amount of time.
This was also a tough one. The Avett Brothers play at the same time ... but Santana won out because he puts on an amazing show and I think he translates better to a festival. The Avett Brothers would be better to see in a smaller venue.
3. Foster the People
This decision is sure to be met with the shaking of heads from my friends ... and I may just have to go see Foster the People alone while they go watch The Boss, but I don't care. I must see them. I played their album Torches constantly. No matter what, it always put me in a good mood ... and I can't listen to "Pumped Up Kicks" without dancing ... at least a little bit.
2. Eric Clapton
I've never seen him before and figured I should since he's a legend. I hear he's a decent guitar player.
1. Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters
Robert Plant holds a spot among my top 5 rock gods (living or dead) ... so if he's there, it's a given that I'll be watching. And if you go see Robin Thicke instead ... just please don't tell me about it.
1. You can go to a different restaurant every day for months, feeling like you're becoming a New Orleans-cuisine expert and still be reminded that there's an endless list of places you've yet to try. And there's always new places opening up. Constantly. It's impossible to keep up.
2. For me, the show Treme was boring because living in New Orleans can actually be a lot more exciting than the show ever depicted it being.
3. I believe that the humidity is great for your skin. I haven't discovered one wrinkle since moving here.
4. The Saints are less of a football team and more of a religion. The Pelicans? More like a hobby to take up when it's not football season.
5. Men wear pastels here in the spring/summer months and it's not ironic.
6. Living through the southern snowpocalypse of 2014 taught me that If the Yankees had wanted to win the Civil War a lot quicker, all they needed to do was ice the roads. 1/2 inch of sleet > The Great State of Louisina.
7. Easter, my least favorite holiday growing up because of its intrinsically depressing nature (a new dress and chocolate never helped), is actually a wonderful time here. Seriously, go to the "Gay Easter Parade".
8. Mardi Gras is f*ing crazy.
9. Don't believe any of the "best of" lists that you read, the best burger in New Orleans is from Yo Mama's and it's topped with peanut butter and bacon.
10. Direction here is meaningless. You need a Jack Sparrow compass that doesn't point north. You must go east to reach the Westbank.
11. Jazz Fest is not just a music festival. It's a holiday.
12. Vietnamese food is amazing.
13. You get used to all the bugs but still jump a little when a cockroach crosses your path.
14. Most famous people are short.
15. The summer is just one big party, with little breaks in the middle called a "work week". Every weekend brings a different festival.
16. Halloween is only one day out of about 50 in the year in which wearing a costume would be appropriate.
17. Abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent isn't exactly much of a sacrifice, because crawfish.
18. Contrary to the popular show The Originals, respectable vampires never say "New Orleenz".
19. It might be one of the only cities where it's sometimes easier to get around on a bike. I'm always passing by stopped traffic on my way through the French Quarter.
20. I never want to leave.
Do you remember that part in the movie "Hook" where Tinkerbell pulls Peter Pan back by the suspenders in front of Captain Hook after he agrees that he's not actually Peter Pan? It's one of my favorite movies of all time so I have it committed to memory, but she says, "You. Are. EMBARRASSING ME!"
This is how I feel sometimes when I read about New Orleans transplants.
Case in point ... A New York Times in which a transplanted actress says that you can't get kale in NOLA. As in the leafy green ... in The South where greens are an undisputed staple.
These are the moments when as a transplant myself, I close my eyes and say, "You. Are. EMBARRASSING ME."
And as one of my favorite New Orleans writers, Jarvis DeBerry said, kale is everywhere. He called several grocery stores to confirm it. Everyone has kale! I daresay you could even find ready-made kale chips at Whole Foods right on Magazine St. You can put kale juice in your daily enzyme-pick-me-up at Satsuma in the Bywater. And I'm sure that in response to the article, at least a few restaurants with a sense of humor will feature a dish of kale as a special.
And the thing is, as a transplant, I've probably said some pretty embarrassing things too that fortunately didn't end up in a NYT article, but I did write a blog post last year about hipsters and some comments were very nice and others not so nice. I read every single one and I learned from all of them and I thank every person for their opinion ... they gave me quite a bit to think about and perhaps also caused little cringy sensations to crawl up my neck while making me hide my eyes with my hands like I was watching a scary movie, but I digress.
I've been wanting to write a follow-up to the blog post for quite some time now but could never really work up the nerve ... because while I usually feel like I have a firm grasp on what it means to be a New Orleanian, I'm taught over and over again that I still have much to learn. Also, a lot of what I write is dripping with sarcasm or is meant to be tongue-in-cheek and I fear that I'm taken too literally sometimes. I can't help from using sarcasm even while talking about something serious ... and the fear that I'm not conveying that properly has kind of messed with my writing lately, but you know? I've decided to give up self-doubt for Lent.
And so the kale situation gives me the perfect opportunity for my further exploration of the subject and to write about the NOLA pestilence known as "hipster transplants"... despised for running over New Orleans like a twee zombie horde on a level not unlike the orange-toothed nutria and disease-carrying foreign mosquitoes.
A tiny bit of back-story ... I did not move to the Bywater from Ohio because it was hip, I moved there simply because my friend got a house and she wanted a roommate. And every day I feel like throwing my arms around her and kissing her because I've never been happier in a place. When I first got here, I had no idea what Mid City was ... and the West Bank was in the Middle East as far as I was concerned. I was in culture shock. When I started dating my then New Orleans-born boyfriend and now husband, we both saw the other as vaguely exotic. Sure, we're from the same country, but sometimes Southern Louisiana can seem like a whole different world.
He would wonder how 30 degree weather had little to no effect on me and I marveled at his expert crawfish-peeling technique and how instead of saying "house", he said something a little closer to "hose". He would also choke back chuckles as I stumbled through the various regional pronunciations of words like "Calliope" or "Burgundy" ... but couldn't contain a full-out belly laugh as I pronounced "lagniappe" as LANG-A-PEE.
So naturally after having never heard of such a word as "lagniappe", I did what any embarrassed newbie would do and looked it up on Wikipedia along with other NOLA-isms because I wanted to do the city justice. I didn't want to be a clueless transplant who had no intention of learning all of my new city's intricacies. I love New Orleans and wanted to do her justice.
So to my comrades in transplant-dom, here are a few ways in which you can learn to do her justice. Take heed.
Don't be ignorant.
It's cute to fumble when you first arrive, however ... if you've been here for a few years and you haven't attempted to peel a crawfish, learn how to say "Chartres" correctly or still think that "neutral ground" is kind of like being "Switzerland", then you're doing it wrong. And you're only exempt from that first thing if you're allergic to shellfish, I might add.
Don't be an ass.
Don't constantly begin sentences in conversations with ... "Well, in Seattle ... " This can be interchanged with other cities such as Portland, Boston, New York, Pittsburgh, etc ...
What it says to some people is, "Things are actually better where I'm from, we're actually so much more refined than you people, but I've decided to slum it here for awhile in order to know myself and The Universe at a deeper level."
And this would be why the eyes of the locals you're talking to gets so big ... with the restraint they're using to not pull a muscle in their head from rolling them so hard.
And I totally admit to doing this on several occasions as the words "Well, in Ohio ..." have definitely come out of my mouth, but it's usually something like ... "Well, in Ohio we have a lot of corn fields, isn't that interesting?" ... or "in Ohio, we're actually worth more than other Americans because we decide every presidential election, so ha!"
I have actively tried to tone that down.
This is self-explanatory. I've come to find that New Orleanians love to be neighborly. They like to smile, hang out and ask how you're doing. To a cynical northerner, this might be misconstrued as condescension. Nope, people are just trying to be nice.
And I'd also like to speak for myself as well as my neighbors on my street when I say FOR THE LOVE OF BABY JESUS PICK UP AFTER YOUR DOG.
Accept what is.
In addition to talking about there being no kale, the actress in the New York Times article in question also said, “So many of the cool places here are really rundown. And not because a stylist designed them that way.”
That makes BJs or Vaughn's sound like an exhibit at the Audubon Zoo. A special section for hipsters from cosmopolitan cities looking to get a break from posh urban living in order to experience a little salt of earth "authenticity".
Why not just take something how it is. Don't try to analyze it to death and be patronizing about it ... and don't try to change it. Just let it be.
Some places in New Orleans might be a little "run down" but it's an aesthetic that is oddly comforting to many of its residents. It's kind of like wearing your old comfortable hoodie that's been washed a million times instead of a crisp new blouse that doesn't fit right in the chest area. I know what I'd rather wear quite honestly and that makes me decidedly un-cosmopolitan.
Also accept that there will be potholes the size of your bathtub, long grocery store lines, minimal chain restaurants, brake tags, corrupt politicians, and scary things on the local news. Which leads us to ...
This is not Cleveland.
Tennessee Williams famously said, "“America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland.”
Don't expect Cleveland. (Our football team in New Orleans has actually won a superbowl ... zing!)
I asked my NOLA-born co-worker Tal what he thought of all the transplants and he said that he generally liked them but didn't appreciate when they tried to drastically change things or complain that things were different. He said, "If I go to New York, I ain't goin for the gumbo, I'm goin for the pizza ... know what I'm sayin'?
And hey, I'm guilty sometimes. I've wished for a Skyline Chili down the street after a night of questionable decisions at the corner bar. But I've come to the conclusion that no one needs to eat that shit regularly and living four states away from any "Cincinnati-style Chili" fast food restaurant is actually a huge blessing.
So seriously, just take the time to do these few things a little better and then perhaps transplants can jump ahead a few spots to "just barely more tolerable than termite swarms" on the Annoying Things in New Orleans Scale™.
Now, I'll be taking my leave to go make myself some kale chips because I love those things even though, Dana Cowin pointed out on "Top Chef: New Orleans", that they are totally passe in the food world. I know this because I wrote the recap. Also? The episode happened in New Orleans. Kale. In New Orleans. Proof that kale happens in NOLA because it was on TV. So there.
Over the weekend I had the supreme pleasure of being in the Chewbacchus parade. I can't begin to describe how much fun it was to sport elf ears, crazy contact lenses, and a lit up bow & arrow and throw party glasses to the crowds. I also had to spend most of Sunday in recovery but it was well worth it ... and i'm actually feeling a little depressed now since I spent so much time preparing for it and making my lightsaber Mardi Gras beads and now I feel like I have nothing to do anymore.
But that's not true since we're getting into the serious party-time of Carnival season and I'll be going to watch several of the parades roll through the classic Uptown route and engaging in the long-time Mardi Gras traditions of the great city of New Orleans. And I am completely confident that with these traditions, the more that things change, the more things stay the same ... I'm sure that decades ago you'd find the same kind of dynamic in the crowds as you do today, and I'm sure we'll still be seeing them in the years to come.
Like last year with my "Sacred Archetypes of the Crawfish Boil", I've also observed the same kind of spirits present at our parades this year, starting a few weeks ago at Krewe du Vieux. Here are but a few ...
These are the planners who get there early, scope out a good spot, bring their fold-out chairs/coolers/beer and are there for the long haul and watch every parade of the day. They might have even set up ladders for the kids ahead of time on the parade route. They take this seriously as they are the "type-A" of the Carnival crowd.
These are the folks who show up later, usually the last and most exciting parade of the evening and proceed to work their way in front of the marathoners who have been there all day saving the good spots. They are sort of maddening like the people who rush the stage at a concert when the band starts playing ... but they're also kind of awesome because they're the honey badgers of the parade world.
First-timers. We usually have at least one in our midst because I usually get a visitor around this time of year and it's always interesting to see people realize just how intense and crazy Carnival season gets. I'm pretty sure that a good portion of the country thinks that Mardi Gras is just one day with a couple of parades ... they have no idea. I had no idea when I first moved down here. I was totally mystified and it's a lot of fun to hang out with someone enjoying their first experience. Just don't let them wear those beads to anywhere but a parade ...
The are the guys that hang back and watch the spectacle. They have no use for throws and have no need to be up front. They were probably talked into going by their spouse or friend who needed a DD for the evening. They've "been there done that" and quite frankly would have probably been just as happy staying home and watching "Scandal" or "Law & Order: SVU".
They come equipped with lots of bags and are seriously intense about collecting as many beads as possible in order to use them in a parade they are in next year or in a few days. Throws can be expensive and this is an incredibly cheap (or free) way to cut down on the cost of being in a krewe. Hunter/Gatherers might also be collecting in order to sell them at a later date ... and many will run out into the street to pick up the beads that didn't make it to their intended parade-goer.
I think these guys watch too many doomsday shows where people stock up on canned food and guns for the apocalypse. They run around thinking that there's only so much to go around and they have to be willing to fight for their share in order to survive. They take "The Walking Dead" and other zombie shows/movies very very seriously. They will cut you over that light-up ring or inflatable sword. It's a matter of life and death. They have an instinct to horde as many throws as possible because most of them are so useful the next day (they're not at all). They will jump in front of kids and push past groups of teenage girls in order to get a good stash. They are incredibly annoying. Avoid.
The Tall Guy
This dude also shows up to most of the concerts I attend. He's the 6'5 guy who insists on standing in front of you and he's like "Don't hate me because I'm tall, I have rights too." There's really nothing you can do about it.
Okay, so of course most of us are going to drink at parades ... but these people make it their job for the day. The reason they wake up in the morning. They're also the ones taking away from the parade with their drunken antics and stumbling and bumbling and knocking your kids over. This happens to a lot of virgins because they don't know how to pace themselves when exposed to our open container laws and 24-hour bars ... also tourists who come to Mardi Gras in order to have their own special drunken debauched experience like in that movie "The Hangover". These people should also be avoided, but really it's a given that you'll run into them ... like with wild animals, just try not to make eye-contact.
I have witnessed this a few times, people who reach into a parade walker's bag or contraption and just take throws without their knowledge. I saw this happen last week when a few dude-bros reached into my friend's cart and absconded with several glow sticks. Do you really need those glow sticks so bad? Let me tell you something ... people put a lot of thought into those throws, they put a lot of care into them, and money and time ... they're not for entitled drunk dude-bros. If you engage in this kind of activity, you are an asshole. Just stay at home and play Call of Duty, or whatever.
Children. They get the best stuff. They also get the best seats in the form of ladders and tall people's shoulders. I guess it's because they're small and cute. Fun-sized. I don't know, I tried to give just as many throws to adults as I did kids because adults need to feel special too.
This was my husband at the Chewbacchus parade. I kept asking him later if he saw cool sub-krewes like the "Rolling Elliots" or the "Krewe du Who" or "Ewokus" ... and he would look at me weird and be like, "No?" ... and I came to the conclusion that he didn't watch any of the parade at all because he was running after his kids the whole time making sure they didn't get run over by the Bar-ship Enterprise.
The ones who are just there to have a good time. They're not stressed, they're just going with the flow. If they catch a throw, great ... if they don't, it's not the end of the world. They're just enjoying hanging out with their friends and family, knocking back a few cold ones or a daiquiri and relishing in the season, being groovy. These are the people I like hanging out with.
I hope that whoever you happen to run into over the remainder of Carnival season, that you have a safe and fun and most-happy Mardi Gras! ... just avoid the drunks and assholes and you'll be fine. You'll have the time of your life.
So in case you didn't know, I'm a bit of a nerd. I'm a music nerd, a TV nerd, movie nerd, book nerd and just all-around nerd nerd. Though I don't really identify as a geek, I am prone to "geeking out" ... which is how I spent last weekend. Geeking out at the Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con.
(My pop culture childhood in a nutshell).
If you love pop culture and you've never been to a "con", you're serisouly missing out. They're filled to the brim with comic book artists, fan artists, sellers of TV shirts, toys, costumes, you name it. They also usually feature a variety of TV/Movie actors who are popular in the sci-fi/horror/fantasy genres. The NOLA Comic Con brought several fan-favorites like Norman Reedus (who will be a grand-marshall for the Endymion parade) from "The Walking Dead" (along with other cast members Michael Rooker, Steven Yeun and the dearly departed "Shane" Jon Bernthal") and easily the biggest draw of the whole con, Matt Smith, the 11th Doctor on the wildly popular British series "Doctor Who".
I usually don't bother with meeting famous people mainly because it can cost a lot of money and I just don't see the point in paying to feel awkward. If I'm around someone that I really love, I can't speak and I blush and feel like I'm making a fool of myself so I'm not going to waste $100 on talking to Norman Reedus while feeling like the biggest idiot in the world. I once sat next to Michael Fassbender in a hole-in-the-wall Bywater bar and couldn't say a word, I was so nervous and tongue-tied, and that meeting was free ... why pay to feel like that?
My favorite part of comic cons, however, is all the artwork. As someone who creates fan art myself, I like to support other artists while using up every available space on my walls with clever "Ghostbusters" and "Back to the Future" posters.
And this sweet poster by Damon Bowie:
Also fun are all the cosplayers. Here are a few of my favorites:
This is my friend Dane (and master of face paint) as he's waiting in a very looooong line to see Matt Smith. He's an "ood" from Dr. Who.
I'm including this picture here because I was practically forced into taking it. These girls were surrounded by cameras as they are castmembers of the SyFy show "Heroes of Cosplay". One of the producers saw me and kept saying "WE WANT YOU to take their picture! GET UP CLOSE! NO, not there, GET UP CLOSE". They basically just wanted a shot of a bunch of people taking pictures of these cosplayers. Oh, manufactured reality television!
The dwarf on the left is also a castmember of "Hero's of Cosplay", Jesse Lagers, but I actually followed him around for a few seconds because I had spotted him from behind and was having fun pretending that Richard Armitage in his Thorin Oakenshield costume was wandering around the steampunk booth, but then he turned around. I still had to have a pic though because he's a pretty spot-on Thorin. Very nice guy. I hope he actually wins something next season as I always thought he had the best costumes on the show. And to the right we have Radagast the Brown complete with a little bird on her head. I'm a huge Tolkein freak so these two were easily my favorites.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Very straight-forward.
Me and the 10th Doctor who looked like a spot-on David Tennant, hair and all.
Also representing New Orleans nerds was my personal favorite Mardi Gras Krewe, the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus (who I'll be marching with this year), and a few of their contraptions including the "Bar2-D2" (photobomb by the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man).
If you missed Comic Con you can still make the Chewbacchus parade as it rolls through the Marigny on February 22. There will be every manner of fandom represented from Star Wars to Star Trek to superheros, 80's movies like E.T., and zombies. This year their theme is "The Wrath of Khan-ival" so if you're even the tiniest bit of a trekkie, you must make it out. They like to focus on D.I.Y. throws, much like Krewe Du Vieux (which is this weekend!) so if you come to watch, you can be sure to know that most of the things you catch have been thoughtfully put together.
As for me, I'll be sporting my Kanye glasses and pointy ears while hanging out with the Hobbit-inspired sub-krewe "Party Elves of Mirkwood", because like I said, I'm a Tolkien freak so I pretty much had to join.
It's going to be an exciting couple of weeks!
So Nick won and I knew it would happen because deep down inside I wanted Nina to win.
Just like deep down, I wanted the Broncos to win the Super Bowl meaning that Seattle was sure to clobber them. Ugh.
For the very last challenge of "Top Chef New Orleans", which is really now "Top Chef Hawaii", the two remaining cheftestants cook their dream menu for esteemed chefs, judges, and restaurateurs. There is no quickfire this week so they delve right into the cooking but not before picking their sous chefs.
Nick gets to pick first because he won the last challenge. He picks our old pal Sexy Jason first, the guy who was kicked off in episode two and happens to be one of Nick's buddies from Philly. This will prove to be the best decision he has ever made in his life as Jason happens to know how to make the best noodle dish of all time apparently. Nick also picks Louis and Brian.
Nina then chooses Shirley, Travis, and Stephanie, which sounds like a solid group and Janine, Carlos, and Sara are made to feel like the losers in gym class that no one wants ton their team. Also, several chefs either were not invited to Hawaii or had had enough of Top Chef and didn't feel like coming because neither of the New Orleans chefs (Justin and Michael) or even Carrie (who was knifed pretty late in the game) showed up to be a potential sous.
After a day of prepping, the judges take Nina and Nick out to dinner and surprise them with members of their family. Nick is visibly verklempt to see his wife and mother and Nina is excited to see her husband and brother. Everyone seems like lovely people. Nick laments that he met his wife seven years ago and was smitten on their first date but was hesitant to go on a second date because he knew he'd marry her and was happy with his single life. HOW ROMANTIC.
The next day they get down to business. Here are the menus:
Tuna and Escolar Tartar with Tomato Water and Jalapeno
Swordfish with Squash Puree, Braised Kale and Smoked Onion Jus
Breadfruit with Whipped Foie Gras Butter
Chocolate Zeppole with Macademia Nuts and Passion Fruit Anglaise
She also had a two surprise courses but they ended up counting against her because the judges thought she should have just focused on making her required four courses perfect. Also, dessert on "Top Chef" has been the kiss of death for many a cheftestant throughout the seasons, so they should all know that if your dessert isn't the absolute BOMB of a last course, then they should absolutely do something else.
Hamachi and Tuna with Green Apple Wasabi, Celery, and Maui-Meyer Lemon
Sweet Shrimp Bisque, Scallop, and Daikon Noodles with Thai Basil
Kombu Cured Duck Breast with Kabocha Squash, Hijiki, and Ginger
Caramalized White Chocolate Panna Cotta with Almond Cocoa Crumble and Tropical Fruit
Tom says that Nick's daikon noodle dish is the best of the whole season and it happens to be something that Sexy Jason is famous for back in Philly. Maybe he isn't just a pretty face after all, kids.
Everything goes pretty smoothly for service except for a few mishaps about what side of the customer to serve plates of fish on and Nick totally losing his shit in the kitchen yelling at the servers. The problem isn't that he was screaming at them because in reality this is what happens in restaurants on any given busy Friday or Saturday night; the "front of house" and "back of house" do battle. The problem is that the diners heard it. Diners are never to hear such things. It was tacky.
After much deliberation and claiming that this was the CLOSEST! FINALE! EVER! they finally make their choice. Nick.
And I spend the rest of the evening shaking my head. Whenever someone sends me a text message for the rest of the evening, my response is: "smh".
Nina, why did you make that dessert? You would have won.
But hey, congrats to Nick. The Universe gave him the perfect amount of dumb luck on the days that he was off and inspired greatness on the days when he needed to be get shit done.
What I could have done without:
• Gratuitous shot of Padma emerging from ocean in a bikini. Nope. Didn't need to see that.
• The airing of grievances or sad stories. That shit makes me uncomfortable when all I really want to watch is stone cold competition. This is probably because I'm way too cynical and have a heart made of ice, but when people start getting super-sentimental I have to flip channels for a second.
• Tom scoffing at pretty much everyone's opinion. Hugh thinks that Nick's service should have been taken into account? (Tom: "Pshhhhh") Emeril thinks NIck's duck was undercooked? (Tom: "Yeah, whatever Emeril"). If Tom is going to be the one that picks in the end, why even employ the other judges?
And the thing is, you could say that gratuitous bikini shots, sad stories, and mean judges pretty much sums up what reality television is as a whole, and you'd be right. But "Top Chef", to me, has always been a step above that. And now that things have gotten so formulaic this far into the series, I think it's starting to get phoned in and might be reaching the end of the road, for me anyways. I don't get the feeling that the main players, Tom and Padma, really want to be there anymore.
Shark, you've been jumped.
Having said that, "Top Chef" treated New Orleans superbly, in my humble opinion. Save for a few minor cliches, I thought the show represented the cuisine of our city quite well and I don't think I ever saw one shot of Bourbon St. throughout the whole season. Well done, "Top Chef". Well done.
I have enjoyed writing these recaps. Over and out.
Well, this episode of Top Chef was pretty hard to watch. For one, the episode took place in Maui with all its insanely gorgeous beaches and turquoise see-through water and I've been stuck inside all day huddled next to my space heater for warmth during the New Orleans freak snowpocalypse of 2014. And for two, my favorite chef from way back in the beginning of the season, Louis and his adorable smile, fought his way through eight Last Chance Kitchen challenges (EIGHT!) to come back as a breath of fresh air and then lost again. Ugh. Also, Nick won both challenges, the Quickfire and the Elimination and I'm just so over him.
I'm sure he's a nice guy in real life, and he seems to be dedicated to his family and is a great chef when he doesn't over-think every tiny detail and dust everything with fennel pollen, but he's just been such a drip. And so sad. Even Padma mentioned that it was nice to actually see him smile after he won the quickfire challenge and 10,000 dollars. I've just been like, hey can we get this guy out of the competition so that we don't have to focus on his feelings all the time?
Doesn't he look happy to be in Maui?
I kid, I kid ... but seriously, can Nina win please? Or perhaps I should just start rooting for Nick since I've pretty much rooted for everyone else to beat him and I always end up disappointed. So if you can't beat em, join em, right?
Anyways, the two challenges from this episode were both pretty cool but had nothing to do with New Orleans. The only remnant left of our fair city in the competition is judge Emeril Lagasse. Also pretty cool? Padma's outfit.
A blue jumpsuit. I can't even.
Anyways, the Quickfire revolves around Spam, which has its own food group in Hawaii, they love the stuff so much there. Everyone does a pretty decent job though Nick doesn't seem all that impressed with the Spam even though its default high salt content pretty much wins him the challenge because everyone is all like, "Wow, Nick actually seasoned his food and it tastes awesome!"
Next up is the Elimination Challenge which as Tom puts it, is a double elimination! Two people will be knifed by the end of the episode. Then famed Hawaiian chef Sam Choy introduces "canoe crops" which are then brought to shore by a boat filled with dudes in loin cloths. Some of the things they'll be working with are sweet potatoes, coconuts, sugar cane, taro and breadfruit.
At this stage in the game, everyone makes great dishes so it's the little tiny details that get a person sent home. Shirley expects to shine with her pork dish since everyone else is using fish, but Tom wasn't too sure about her liberal use of honey. The judges also applaud Louis on his risky simple dish of Grilled Opah, but Gail finds inconsistencies. They both get knifed and when Louis gives his second post-knifing interview a tear runs down his cheek and it SLAYS me because he won so many challenges to get there only to leave us so quickly yet again. Oh, the humanity! Also, Shirley's exit is sad too because she says she doesn't want to disappoint her family and I'm just like, hey, if your family is disappointed that you made it so far on Top Chef while being totally awesome and not the least bit assholish, then they suck. Hold your head high, guuuurl!
Nick's Opakapaka with Jalapeno and Crispy Chicken Skin
So naturally, Nina makes it through with her Grilled Opah with Taro Root and Coconut and Nick wins the whole damn thing with his Opakapaka with Jalapeno and Crispy Chicken Skin. And I don't know, I'm just not very happy with this turn of events. I like Nina and it would be cool for another woman to take the title, but Shirley was my fave girl in the end. And Nick? Meh. He could win Top Chef and 150,000 dollars + a lifetime supply of Healthy Choice meals and probably still find something to complain about. He's like the archetypal sad sack friend that everyone has in their group that is always talking about their pain. Oh, my pain!
So maybe I'm a little bitter. Maybe I wanted Louis to win the whole thing as I'm a fan of the underdog. And now the underdog is probably Nick because Nina is the Seattle Seahawks to Nick's Broncos. She's Beastmode. And just like the Superbowl on Sunday, I just really don't care anymore because all of my favorites are out.
Next week is the end, my friends! The finale.