Friday, August 22, 2008

Melon... yuck!

So I haven't posted in a month or so, and we got a request for a blog about the Garces v. Flay Iron Chef America episode where Philadelphia chef Jose Garces of Amada fame beat out Bobby Flay in Battle Melon Brainfreeze. So here we go.

1. I wonder why Garces didn't choose Iron Chef Morimoto as his competitor and have a Philadelphia battle.

2. I don't like melon, so as exciting as it was to have Garces on Iron Chef, I didn't enjoy it as much as other battles.

3. That said, Steve and I are going to Amada, Garces' award-winning tapas restaurant in September, and I am very excited for that (even though it is Restaurant Week, so the menu will be restricted).

4. Brainfreeze? Wierd. Its already pretty hard to create a 5-course meal out of melon, but adding the requirement that every dish must have a frozen element really increased the difficulty. Not sure how the chefs did it, and although I've often wanted to be a judge on the show, I'm glad I wasn't asked to judge this time. I wonder if Garces thought "last week the secret ingredient was bass (or something like that), how did I get frozen and melon? This sucks."

5. Bobby Flay is pretty good. Especially at grilling. So why did judge Jeffrey Steingarten feel the need to tell him that he shouldn't use the phrase "throw it on the grill," because grilling is an art. I think Flay knows that. By the way, Flay's Mesa Grill cookbook is pretty good - we used in in our cookbook book club last month and made some pretty good truffled quesadillas.

6. Wow! I was on Iron Chef America's website and found this:

How Do You Iron Chef? Food Network is asking Iron Chef America fans: How do you Iron Chef? From videos of you in Japanese costumes to your latest home-hosted cooking competitions – we want to see it all!
Upload your videos and tell us why nobody Iron Chefs like you do! If your video is picked, you could appear on Food Network in all your Iron Chef glory.

Now's the time I wish Jess Sum hadn't moved away!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Just when I thought I was out...

I keep getting pulled back in. Or something like that.

The Ardmorons blog is just so popular with our two regular readers, that it just cannot die.

So, as promised, here's a short review of the Dark Knight, after having seen it for the second time. Look out for spoilers, weinies.

First, the difference between IMAX and regular screen is more subtle than I expected, but you could really detect the increase in screen size and definition during the scenes filmed in IMAX. This is most evident in the opening aerial view of Gotham City, where your entire field of vision is filled.

As you've no doubt heard by now (way to review a movie that's been out for a month - maybe next month I should discuss this year's Olympics) the movie is pretty awesome.

First, the depiction of the Joker was spot on. Dead Heath Ledger really went out with a bang, and no Dark Knight review is complete without the phrase 'posthumous nomination' somewhere within, so there. I liked what the script did with the character, including his two television appearances (One a Nicholas Berg-like video of the Joker terrorizing the copy cat Batman, the other a call-in to Gotham Tonight with a funny/disturbing call to action for the city). Making appearances on the television is classic Joker, and the script found ways to do it in modern and relatively believable manners. Awesome. The Joker's tactics of turning the citizens of Gotham against Batman and each other were also a nod to classic plots, as was the practice of painting a smile on the face of the victims (no goofy smile-gas needed.)

As good as the Joker was, the movie didn't handle Two-Face in nearly as appropriate a manner. His rushed transformation, his relationship with the Joker, and his quick exit, all added up to a real squandered opportunity. Now, on the second viewing, I realized that the film was carefully edited to be very ambiguous as to Two-Face's fate, so in light of what happened in real life since filming, I think there's a good chance that we haven't seen the last of him. His character means a lot more to both Batman and Gordon than this movie displayed, and while the use of the character as a setup for Batman's sacrifice was impactful, there is more in the way of deep plot to be extracted from that relationship - especially considering Batman's status at the end of the film. Oh, he did look pretty cool, though.

Things I could have done without: The Hong Kong scene seemed a little out of place, even if the setup for it was darn cool. The sonar vision at the end...why? But I choose to focus on the positive. I can't wait to see the return of a new Batmobile next time around.

On the point of sequels, I would be very surprised to see director Christopher Nolan return for a third go-round, and if he goes, we'll probably see many of the principle actors go with him (my guess is that Bale, Freeman, and Oldman would go.) Since the movie is still making megabucks, to think that Warner Brothers would quit while they're ahead is crazy-talk, so I'm hoping we don't see another Batman Forever/X-Men 3.

One solution that could be intriguing is to forego a feature film for a serious and reverent live action HBO/Showtime series. If there is a mass exodus of any type, this is the only way that recasts (including a recast of the Joker) could possibly come off as acceptable. On the other hand, Warner should be willing to offer whatever it takes to keep Nolan et al on board for a third, so maybe my idea would happen afterward. Now that would be must-see TV.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Curried Plastic

Steve picked up dinner for me last night at an Unnamed Establishment* on Lancaster Ave in Haverford. I was at a work happy hour late and he already ate, so he ordered me a curry chicken sandwich. Yum.

However, halfway through the sandwich I bit into something hard. At first I thought it was one of those gizzardy rubbery things that are sometimes in take out chicken, and which completely gross me out and cause me to stop eating the meal for good. But I looked at the hard particle and realized it was a "U" shaped piece of plastic.

It was absolutely probably nothing at all, but we called to let Unnamed Establishment know that trash was intermingled with their curry chicken. And the manager at Unnamed Establishment asked if we'd like anything to replace the sandwich. Steve requested a dessert, and the manager asked if we wanted something from the kitchen, so I asked for a Thai salad, one of the only things that I remembered off their menu. When we got to Unnamed Establishment, another curry chicken sandwich was waiting for us along with our other orders! So Steve and I both have lunch for today, and we got about $26 worth of food for free! Steve really used to hate Unnamed Establishment, and only ordered from there last night because he knows I like it. But he commented that now he likes Unnamed Establishment. They have a pretty decent single-bottle take-out beer selection, too!

*Steve thinks that because we accepted ***'s "buy-off" we shouldn't include their name in the blog.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Stupid Me

Phone in pocket. Pants off. Des in shower. Pants in washer. Phone dead.

Oops.

Instead of Zoolander phone, now stuck with huge chunk of four year old metal with crack from Tyson the dog.

Possible bright side: Steve's getting new iPhone; I inherit old iPhone. Unfortunately iPhone is too big for girl-pockets. Fortunately no chance of putting iPhone in washer.

D

UPDATE: The Zoolander phone has dried out mostly, and now sort of works. I knew that it was the best phone I ever had - it even recovers from the washer. It'll be better than the chunk o' metal for the next few days before the iPhone.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Dark knight Cometh

Tomorrow is the big night! Technically, tonight in 40 minutes, but even I am not a big enough dork for that. Unfortunately, I didn't act quickly enough to get IMAX tickets, so its the regular screen for us. Why I didn't think of speculating on Dark Knight IMAX premiere tickets is beyond me. They're going for upwards of $150 on eBay.

A story: This weekend I was in Philly for an errand and as I walked through LOVE park, I saw some old guy with a beard and sunglasses with a chessboard laid out in front of him. I kind of fixated on the chess board as I passed until he yelled:

"You playing? Or just looking?"

I looked at my watch and said "Let's do this."

He said "What's the bet?"

I said "Five bucks," and it was on.

It took about seven minutes for my new friend, Buddakahn, to checkmate me with his queen and knight. A youngster asked him how long he'd been playing chess, and his response was "I been playing this game, longer than you been drawing breath."

He didn't have to work hard for it, but he earned it. I've blown five bucks on worse things. I'll win it back after a little practice.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Raindrops on roses

We only got one comment to our list of things that annoy us (see below). Either no one checks our blog anymore because we never write, or we offended some porn-loving bad-driving white-zinfindel-drinking parent. Sorry. To make up for it, here are a few things we do like:

1. Fresh cherry tomatoes from our garden.
2. Kittens
3. Good boxed wine
4. Spicy dry red wine
5. Karaoke
6. Batman and Indiana Jones
7. Fruit and ice shakes from one of the many lunch carts in the city
8. Slovak princesses
9. Ardmore
10. Sitting on the porch during thunderstorms
11. Steve shopping
12. The Hooters and Manfred Mann's Earth Band
13. Full scholarships for the next two years

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Airport Delay Blues



We went to (are still in) Florida on vacation with Des's parents. We spent three days at Vero Beach, and three hours and counting at Orlando airport. Unfortunately, our plane is delayed from a 12:45 departure to 3:40 (Edit: Good news, the flight was moved up to 3:30!).

Other than Steve being annoying during the entire stay, we had a great time. Des developed a new appreciation for swimming in the ocean, as long as Steve carried her on his back over the area where all of the broken shells gather. We also went kayaking in a tandem boat in the Indian River Lagoon, where we saw a dolphin, s possible manatee, and flying fish (that liked Des's mom).

Besides writing out an itinerary of our trip, which would be boring, there's not too much more to say, so here's a list of things (besides being stuck in an airport for hours) which annoy us:

1. Most kids and parents in pubic.

2. Drivers who don't use their turn signals (sure, there may not be anyone behind you, but there is some other driver out there who could make their turn or go straight based on your direction).

3. Drivers who make a production out of turning or turn into the wrong lane (I swear there is a law that when you make a turn, you have to turn into the lane closest to you. No one follows this).

4. People who congregate at really inconvenient spots, like the bottom of an escalator or right inside a doorway.

5. People who drink white zinfindel.

6. When people take the stall right next to your's in a public restroom when there are plenty of other stalls empty and not next to anyone (also goes for seats at movie theaters).

7. Engine revving.

8. Sales clerks who ask what you're looking for in a store that only sells one thing (I'm talking to you, leather-face from Sunglass Hut).

9. Loud-talkers on planes. The person you're talking to is in the seat right next to you. There's no reason I should know about your aunt's medical history when I'm sitting four rows behind you. Plus, you laugh like a chimpanzee.

10. When people say "Bow-chicka-wow-wow" or whatever the hell that stupid crap is.

11. Soup slurppers and whistlers (oh wait, that's Steve).

12. Foot shufflers. What do you think your legs are for?

13. Internet ad companies that kick you off for no reason so you don't feel like blogging anymore.


There's more, but we're bored now. Feel free to add your own pet peeves in the comment section (The first genius to write "People who create lists" or "People who talk about what annoys them" will be #14 on our list).

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

SPOILER WARNING! Don't read if you haven't already seen the movie!

By popular demand, I'll now do a quick review of the latest installment of the Indiana Jones saga. This movie has received mixed reviews. The general film-going public and critics received it fairly positively, and its box office performance was more than respectable, but the internet community has been pretty hard on the further adventure of the rawest archaelogist ever.

I enjoyed the movie for what it was, but I see some validity in the gripes, if not in the ferocity in which they're voiced.

Many complaints started a few seconds into the movie when the CGI prairie dog emerged from the Paramount-logo-faded molehill. Is this a complaint against the concept or the use of CGI? I'm not sure, but I understood that the scene was a pre-emptive in-joke against many of the very fanboy types who now slag the film. As someone who eagerly awaited the film enough to follow the internet banter leading up to it, I know that the old logo-fades-into-a-mountain was one of the overly quoted must-haves for the movie, as if the film-makers didn't understand their own tradition.

Next, the setting: The 50's replace the 30's, and this is emphasized over and over again in the first part of the movie in ways that are much less subtle than in the previous films. Perhaps this was a little gratuitous, and in some ways detracts from the timelessness of the series, but at the same time, it serves the story in an important way.

As the climax of the introductory event displays very clearly, this is truly a new era. The supernatural powers of the Ark, the Shankara Stones, and the Grail are no longer relevant in a world where man has attained greater power through science in the form of a nuclear bomb. As Indy's unlikely escape from a test blast proves, this type of adventurer is out of place in this setting, and when he emerges from the lead lined fridge, he steps foot into a very unfamiliar territory.

The unfamiliar realm opens up even more when the finale leads Indy and his crew to come face to face with a very different kind of otherworldly power than he had faced before. The inclusion of an alien-based artifact was in many ways the logical next step for the film, from a thematic standpoint (escalation of technological power) and the mood of the movie (50's extraterrestrial fascination). Ultimately, I would have liked to see a little bit less of the alien, to leave a little more mystery, and the UFO could have looked a bit more organic, but otherwise I could handle the change in direction.

The often maligned Shia LeBoeuf performed well, with a great reaction line ("Oh, it's just a...thing) although his Tarzan scene is the only other place I wish the film-makers would have used a bit more discretion. However, Desiree's observation that since Mutt was Indy's son, swinging was in his blood, was enough for me to give the sequence a pass.

Yes, there were a few other instances of oversights in plot construction, but truly there were as many in the original trilogy as well. I won't list them here, but they are real. We accepted them then as a younger, less skeptical film audience, and there is no reason we can't accept them now in the name of harmless entertainment.

That being said, I rate this film about on par with Temple of Doom (they are the most similar in pacing and characterization) and therefore at the lower end of the Indiana Jones spectrum. However, still worthy to bear the name, and a lot of fun to watch if the audience takes themselves no more seriously than did the film-makers.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I Have a Culinary Boner

The Top Chef reunion show featured a shirt that Des will have to start wearing in the kitchen, courtesy of her fan favorite chef, Andrew the Spazz.

It was funny when Lisa mentioned that people were giving her dirty looks on the street. Probably nothing new, just the first she noticed it.

So there's going to be a teen top chef next. Not sure if I'll bother watching what happens for that. There's enough mac n' cheese and hot dogs in the grown-up version.

Says Des: "What are we going to do Wednesday nights now?"

Also, rumor has it that Top Chef 5 will be in New York. Hopefully rumor is wrong and Phila has a chance!

Off topic: Our tomatoes, by request.




Next time: I'll review Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls, also by request.

Monday, June 16, 2008

"Don't take that squash away from me, and leave me with that broccoli..."

We grew broccoli! And we already harvested it! And ate it!


Here's the broccoli less than 2 weeks ago when we first noticed the head.


Watch it grow!






After we harvested it.



The final product - chicken and broccoli stir fry.

Bruno (we call him Broccoli sometimes)

We also have teeny tomatoes, strawberries, and bell peppers. Yum!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The last one

The Top Chef season finale was really kind of low key compared to previous seasons. No live cut in for the results. No reunion. Really not much hype throughout the episode, and the challenge itself just kind of slid by without much real drama. Maybe this had to do with the relatively minor personalities left standing, or maybe as I've hypothesized before, the show just isn't what it once was. (Kind of like this blog.)

Nowhere near the euphoria of Hung's great victory of last season.

Richard was putting on a clinic in mad-scientist cooking for the celebrity guest chefs, including Eric Ripert, who is opening a new restaurant, 10 Arts, in Center City Philadelphia.

But, he said it himself, he choked. No where near his best showing. I'm a little disappointed, but on the other hand, it could have went way worse.

"My menu is really going to reflect my personality." - Lisa. You would think that meant her menu would feature dogshit, armpit hair, and grease, but it really looked like she was going to win for a minute. I'm sure 96% of Top Chef viewers were ready to puke.

So Stephanie wins (Jess Sum's favorite) and at least saves the show from the indignity of having Lisa represent the pinnacle of Top Chef. Unfortunately, since they always bring back finalists in later season episodes, we probably haven't seen the last of her.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Letter to Tom at Top Chef

Dear Tom Colicchio,

Thanks a lot.

I was considering buying one of your cookbooks. But you obviously like your food greasy, so I'm not so sure that your recipes would be any good.

S & D

--

Despite our disdain toward Tom and the rest of the judges, at least they realize that Lisa sucks. From Tom's blog: "I think Lisa, along with a few chefs from past seasons (Dave Martin and Mike Midgley are two that come to mind,) benefited from a phenomenon I call the "lucky-dog-who-keeps-skating-by-effect," in which a chef of decent, but not stellar, skills gets lucky and doesn’t screw up at precisely the moment that one of their more gifted opponents does."

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Summer Job

Things I like so far at my summer job at a law firm:

1. The listerine pump and tiny disposable cups in the bathroom.

2. The crazy contraption that is our coffee/tea maker. There are individual packets of about 15 kinds of coffee and 10 kinds of tea that you slip into a machine, press a button, and your cup of coffee or tea is ready in about 15 seconds... even the tea, without any steeping!

3. Walking down Market Street every morning and afternoon.

4. That the attorneys' assistants manage their attorney's bank accounts for them.

5. That in a writing seminar, all the first year associates' blackberrys were constantly vibrating with email alerts. I don't think all the buzzing would be accepted anywhere else.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Another point for my team

Back to the old The Girls Next Door controversy (and here's part 2), I just got another supporter in my camp. It turns out my grandfather likes the show!

D

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Foodie Night and Top Chef

We had our first foodie book club meeting at Jess's place last night, and I was the only guy. I probably should have seen that coming. I got to enjoy some fine company with some lovely ladies and dine on African cuisine from The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa by Marcus Samuelsson.

Our spread consisted of the following:

Vegetable samosas, spicy okra, spicy tilapia stew, callaloo (a creamed spinach-like soup from Trinidad and Tobago).
Des and I brought yellow rice and red lamb curry (to which we forgot to add yogurt, but it still turned out well).
Finally, we had yummy fried banana fritters for dessert.

Everything turned out really well, the only problem was that we all kind of went in the same spicy direction, so there was little to balance the spiciness from dish to dish.

-S

The foodie book club meeting was a success, I think! It was fun to be able to try 7 or 8 different things from one cookbook, when usually it would take a long time to get through that many recipes on your own. And I liked the cookbook - there are 10-15 pages of different rubs and seasonings that I want to try out - berbere, ras-al-hanout, etc.


As for Top Chef: I cannot believe Lisa didn't go home again!! Spike was sent home instead of her. This has happened two or three weeks in a row, where Lisa and someone else are up on the chopping block, and Lisa stays. And she's been staying not for the food, but because of some technicality that the other person supposedly messed up (last week, not enough leadership; this week, didn't send back the scallops when they didn't look so great - but how could Spike have known that he COULD send back the scallops? If he would have tried, they probably would have faulted him for that, too!). Ridiculousness.

Anyway, left are "Greasa"-Lisa, Stephanie, Richard, and Antonia. Of course no one is rooting for Greasa, but I'm rooting for Antonia, and Steve is for Richard. If Lisa makes it to the Top 3 and one of the others is sent home, I may have to stop watching or send some sort of nasty email to Tom Colicchio.

-D

Monday, May 26, 2008

Culinary experiment

After a nice weekend of kayaking and greasy desserts (deep-fried oreos?!) at the beach, Des and I came home to a hodge-podge of random components from which to craft our dinner left in the kitchen. We had a few frozen striped bass fillets, so we decided to make a variation of the Hawaiian coconut chicken burgers we had last week (which were el bango-rific).

Here is what we came up with:

Fish burger patties:

2 tablespoons coconut milk
3 scallions, chopped
1 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
2 teaspoons of minced ginger
2 striped bass fillets, diced to 1 cm cubes
1 egg
salt and pepper
Oatmeal for consistency

After mixing all of the above ingredients, shape into patties (we made 3), adding enough oatmeal to keep the patties together. Place the patties into a hot oil skillet (on high)for about 3-4 minutes on the first side, then flip. Finish on medium heat for about 10 minutes. The patties don't look like they'll stick together very well until after the first flip.

Des made a sweet curry relish to go on the bottom of the burger, which really helped to round out the flavor. It was a little bit sweet for Des, but Steve liked it.

1 cup of coconut milk
1 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tbsp cumin
1/2 lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoon minced ginger
splash of soy sauce
1/2 cup of diced pineapple and strawberries

Reduce all ingredients over medium heat until thickened.

Serve on hamburger bun with the relish on the bottom bun and a romaine leaf on top of the patty.

Try it, it's el-bango.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Restaurant Wars

We missed last week's episode of Top Chef, so here is my reaction: I CANNOT BELIEVE ANDREW WAS SENT HOME! He was my favorite from the beginning - well, him and Mark. And now they're both gone!

Onto this week.

I CANNOT BELIEVE THAT DALE WENT HOME INSTEAD OF LISA! I REALLY REALLY REALLY THOUGHT LISA WAS GOING HOME.. She just sucks. Her sticky rice and laksa probably sucked so much because grease from her hair dripped into it. Ew. Dale wasn't my favorite person, but I thought his food seemed really good, he was a great chef, and I don't buy this sending people home because of leadership skills. Maybe that can be a factor when looking at two very comparable chefs who performed similarly. But when someone's food is sooo bad, you cannot send someone home because of leadership skills in a COOKING SHOW!

It was nice for Bourdain to be on. Maybe they're auditioning him to take over as judge for someone. I really like his show, No Reservations, but I don't get the chance to watch it too much.

The commercials. First, if you were an actor/ress, even if you couldn't find any other work, would you really be on an Arbor Mist commercial? Second, I am really sick of hearing about the Grand Pumbaa of Pasta. Enough. Glad - you get enough air time just on the show, can't you nix Erica?

It kind of seemed like Restaurant Wars was a bigger deal in other seasons than this one. Warehouse Kitchen seemed to have no difficulties or even criticisms from the judges, which is amazing. But I would really enjoy eating there - everything looked good! I may have to check out the recipes on bravo.com. And Stephanie got an amazing prize. A few episodes ago, Richard gave his pretty amazing prize to Stephanie (for no reason - it turns out that even though he admired her cake-baking skills, the judges thought the other team's cake tasted better). I think it would be only considerate for her to take him on her prize trip to Spain.

Til next week (unless I can muster something up to blog about before then),

D

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Mal-Mal-Moo-Moo

A happy belated birthday to my sister Mallory, who turned 22 yesterday! Also, a con"grad"ulations to Mallory for graduating from college on May 11!

We have a picture of Mallory around somewhere, but thought we'd continue with tradition and post another picture of the cats in celebration instead.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I hear its not good...

Thanks to Jess Sum, our guest-blogger this week! Steve and I missed Top Chef last night, as we were at a party celebrating the end of my 1L year at law school! I'm sure we'll catch the ep at some point during the week - I'm pretty sure Bravo only has about three shows, and they just constantly re-run them to fill the schedule. So here is Jess' take on last night's Top Chef:

We all should have known it wasn't going to end well when one of the first shots included Richard climbing out of bed with the perfect faux-hawk and purple clogs in full display.

So the quick fire was hosted by "Tall, Dark, and Boring as Corrugated Cardboard" Sam from Season Two, AKA the season Steve, Desiree, and I all fell in love...with Top Chef. Salad? Salad! Padma, fighting a love-hate relationship with all things Botox, fights the power and informs the remaining seven contestants the challenge is the nebulous vegetable/fruit/???? presentation. Forty-five minutes is a ridonculous chunk of time, yet underdog Stephanie still fails to plate her artichoke chips. To sum up? Blais is a looooser and Spike is a weeeeiner. We've officially entered bizarro foodieville. Dead face, er, Padma informs the chefs that the challenge is a health one, where they must incorporate a whole wheat, lean protein, one fruit, and one veggie. The prize (Spike) consists of a 10 minute shopping advantage and the "I saw it first so it's MINE" rule: Anything he picks, no one else can have. Of course, our be-hatted Lame-poleon is in it to F--- it...so he elects BREAD, TOMATO, LETTUCE, and CHICKEN. If there were only some way to rearrange those letters to "Yeah, you're right, I'm the world's supreme d-bag. It's cool. Bartender?"

So, we're off. Our audience? The Chicago police force, a group of hard-working, well-deserving citizens. As a member of Kill-a-delphia, we love our boys in blue!! False Maki by Andrew (the allegeded nutrition expert), "DO YOU LIKE BURRITOS??" by Richard, grease-follicle rice with Lisa, and I-bought-every-standard-ingredient-I-could-think-of-to-f----over-my-competitors Spike and his "Pedestrian" lunch. With supremely subtle editing and pedamtic teasers, we often can call the ending twenty minutes into an episode. And thing would be an example.

I do not agree with the eliminaton. Rules certainly do exist, but garbage is what it is. Restaraunt Wars awaits us all.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Wedding Wars

Top Chef started with a little bit of mourning for our fallen hero, Mark the Kiwi. Then mean ol' Tom surprised the chefs at the quickfire...the dreaded relay prep race. I love monkfish, aka poor man's lobster, but man is that one ugly looking fish. So ugly that it's kind of pretty, actually. Dale's outburst at the end of the challenge reminded me of a time or two that I punched my locker in high school because I was pissed off about getting detention or something. Or the time a few months ago when I punched a door because Des was needling me.
Padma also disappointed by proclaiming a moratorium on Restaurant Wars for the season, in favor of Wedding Wars. Pretty bold move on the part of the bride and groom I guess, but a pretty lousy reward for winning the quickfire...the winning team got to choose whether to cater to the bride or the groom. Big deal. Were they given any clue as to which one had more challenging tastes or who would be most difficult to deal with? It didn't appear so. I don't see how that was such an 'important advantage' for the winners considering immunity was kaput.
The coolest part about Wedding Wars was the all-nighter the chefs were forced to endure, kind of like a spiritual journey inward, only less miles traversed. But a heck of a lot more food prepared. I'd like to try a brisket that was cooking for 24 hours, I bet it would fall apart when you tapped it with a fork.
Around 10:55 I remembered that this was an extra long episode, and the glass of wine I had with dinner had me feeling like I pulled an all-nighter...OK, maybe not really. But I'm ready for the judge's table.
So how about my main man Richard deferring the big win to Stephanie for her wedding cake heroics? Pretty classy move...maybe a little too classy. As it turned out, the judges liked the other team's cake better (not so much its look, but its flavor).
Dale and Spike got into a little spat at the judge's table, and I can't wait to read David Dust's description.
I personally didn't hate Nikki as much as everyone else seemed to, but I can definitely see why she deserved to go home. She didn't display the kind of leadership that a top chef needs to show. Yeah, pretty heavy stuff.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

10 miles of rawesomeness

Desiree talked me into running the Broad Street Run this year. Her aunt and her cousin's fiancee decided to run it, and so she thought it was fitting that we would run it too, since after all, a 10 mile run has nothing on the triathlon she finished last year.
Well, I probably should have known how that would end, considering Des has been ultra swamped with school work the past few months and had no time to train. So I ended up training for it and ran it this morning.

I woke up at 5:45 this morning and met my neighbor, Paul, who I rode down to the sports complex with...traffic was worse than game traffic, and kind of surprising because with an estimated 18,000 runners, we were no where near the same capacity as any of the stadiums. I guess not many people took public transportation or carpooled. Bummer for the environment.
After parking outside the spectrum, we took a quick pitstop at the porta-potties, and hopped on the subway up to the start of the race. We made our way to the 8-minute pace zone of the staging area, which was a bit faster than I ever thought I would run the race. Honestly, when I first started training I was only looking for a 10-minute pace which would have put me at 100 minutes. But Paul's previous 3 years experience of running the race told him that nobody lines up properly and we'd be weaving our way through walls of slower runners regardless.
Well, after a few brief speeches, including one from Mix Master Mike himself, Mayor Nutter, Paul's prediction proved correct. It took about 2 and a half minutes to even make it to the starting line after the horn sounded due to the 22,000 final count of runners, and hordes of them that were in front of us didn't seem to be in any kind of hurry.
The race starts in North Philly straight down Broad Street, and the first few miles go through some neighborhoods that have been hit pretty hard with some urban blight. But the residents who came out to cheer the runners on represented their neighborhoods well, dressed in their Sunday finest. Good people, and the encouragement was welcomed by all.
I remember hitting the 1 mile mark kind of surprised at how quick it came up, and then not seeing another mile marker until mile 4. I thought, 'does that mean I just ran 4 miles, or I am starting the fourth mile?' All this before I really started flagging.
It was a foggy morning, and the top of the Comcast tower in center city disappeared into the clouds. Not long after, larger pockets of spectators began to appear, and the first of two Stevie Ray Vaughn cover bands were jamming a bit south of Temple University. The race was over halfway complete by the time I passed the second one near City Hall.
South of City Hall was where the course started getting congested again, and I started to feel the fatigue a little.
There were a few other bands along the way, including a Polish folk four piece who played the Navy anthem, Anchors Aweigh, as I passed. That got me worked up until about the time I reached the sports complex again, and by now the sun was out and the sky was clear. The Rocky theme played over a PA somewhere, and I knew I was getting close. I missed a lot of the mile markers, presumably in an internal daze, but it was right around the 8 mile mark that I started hitting a wall. My vision was tunneling a little narrow and a few runners were falling out around me, but I wasn't going to stop for anything.
Soon enough, the 9 mile mark appeared, and the crowds were cheering and banging cowbells. I knew that the entrance to the Navy yard meant only a quarter mile to go, so I took off in a weak sprint, almost knocking somebody over trying to break through a gap in a wall of runners.

I reached the end of the race with a chip time of about 1 hour and 23 minutes, so I ended up with about an 8 minute and 20 second pace...far kicking the rear of the pace I was going after. Woo-hoo!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Like a bad Penny...

Happy Birthday to Des's mom, Penny!

We don't have a picture of Penny, so here's another picture that invokes motherliness from about a year ago.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Top Chef plus kids

Quickfire: 15 minutes with Uncle Ben...yeah, OK, it was a decent challenge, designed to showcase the Uncle Ben's product more than anything else.
Everybody went 'back to their roots' and 'stayed true to who they are,' which I guess is a good thing. Ouch, my man Mark (who apparently has a lady, sorry girls, and plays a mean dirigidoo) hasn't been on a good run lately. Padma couldn't tell his turkey from chicken, and needed some sauce.
As usual, Richard and Dale are on top, but Antonia emerged as another consistent contender with her mother's rice and salad. That doesn't sound to me so bizarre that Oprah's personal chef needed to be 'made a believer.'
The elimination challenge involved creating a dish for four on a $10 budget. Considering that the chefs shop at Whole Foods, I expected that they'd each be able to buy a bag of peanuts...trust me, with Des on her juice-mania cleanse, we've done a little shopping there.
Then the little kids came into the picture, and when they got to pick which chef they would help out petshop-style, Mark was the first chosen. So I guess you don't have to be the best chef in the judge's eyes to be the coolest. Too bad the big Hell's Angel dude (Papa Souffle) wasn't still around for this, he would have either scared the kids away, or they would have loved him.


-S

Oh no, our New Zealander is gone! When does Flight of the Conchords start again?! Do they realize that Lisa is gross?

And speaking of kids, have I written yet about how they should NOT be allowed in restaurants? I apologize in advance to those readers who have kids.

Who wants to either go out for a nice dinner or go out for dinner or even happy hour at a bar restaurant, only to turn around and see kids at a table with their crayons? In the nice restaurant situation, you are paying money to enjoy the food AND the atmosphere. When you have to deal with kids running around, popping up under tables, crying, etc. you are not getting what you paid for. At the Indian restaurant down the street, a family allowed their kids to bounce up and down on seats - and not even their own seats, but seats at an empty table near us. And when you go out to a bar, who wants to have to worry about having a kid around while you are drinking a beer?

From the parents' point of view, I guess they may want to go out to eat and have to bring the kids. But stick to Pizza Hut - I remember going there every week when I was a kid to use my Book-it coupon for a personal pan pizza. My parents were happy too, because they got a pitcher of beer.

There are a few exceptions to this general rule of no kids. First, bring them to any mid-range exotic-ish place - sushi, Indian, Moroccan, etc. (unless of course they are bouncing, cryers, or brats). Teach a kid to like good food instead of just hot dogs and mac and cheese (hmm... previous Top Chef episodes?) early - it works to "expand their culinary language", as judge Gail says. Second, if you must go somewhere nice, go during the week. My birthday was on a Wednesday this year, and Steve and I went to Patou in Philly that night. There was a very well-behaved 7-10 year old, and I didn't have any problem with her being there.

Finally, if the kids do come along, make sure they are dressed appropriately. Appropriate dress for a nice BYO does not include tight pink sweatpants with words like 'juicy' on the butt. I hope you are listening family-from-Narberth-who-took-the-kids-to-Margot-on-Saturday-night!

-D

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Juice-mania

I'm on day 16 of my 21-day all juice and pureed veggie detox. I have got to say that a homemade juice blend of carrot, celery, cucumber, broccoli, spinach, and kiwi is actually not bad (besides the fact that it is my entire lunch...)! At this point the kiwi is even too sweet for me - I think I'll have to switch to using 1/2 an apple instead. The Naked Juice brand Green Machine Drink, featuring spirulina, chlorella, broccoli, spinach, barley grass, wheat grass, parsley, and blue green algae is similarly good. Surprising, huh (blue green algae!)? However, the powdered green drink that I am supposed to mix into water is horrible.

I'm looking forward to some day in the future when I can eat (chew) again, but these juices and my mom's salt-free split pea soup aren't too bad. But just ask me how I feel about all this on the weekend or during the Manayunk brewfest and my feelings may be different.

5 days left and my body will be detoxified!

D

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Birthday Shout Outs

Happy birthday to a few people today:

Charlie and Brian, my two oldest brothers, born on the same day, but two years apart.



Also, Charlotte and Bruno, our two kitties, one year old today.

April 24 is one special day!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Michael Skarn shoots first and asks questions later

The Quickfire Challenge featured lots of yummy looking desserts, like a pineapple and rum souffle, fresh young coconut, and something called a walla seed from Australia. Richard became immune and immortal, with his recipe for scallop bananas with guacamole ending up in the Top Chef cook book. You may recall that I called him for my pick for winner starting on day 1. Maybe that's not a big accomplishment, considering some of the competition.
Take Lisa, for example. Her grease collection with a few strands of hair in it is beginning to burn into my retinas in a way that does not flatter. But if she was in any way attractive, she would make up for it completely with her flat tire personality.
When the chefs went to the improv house, we were waiting for an appearance of Michael Skarn. It's always funny how surprised the chefs are when their 'leisure' activities turn out to actually be precursors to the elimination challenge.
The self-selection process allowed the hip hoppers, Spike and Andrew, to work together. They were forced to improvise while fulfilling Spike's missed opportunity to make a squash soup, due to the electrical equipment disappearing. Mark and Nikki formed the 70's shades team, which I must admit, I have an awesome pair of as well.
Judge Tom dropped the bomb by sending them packing from the kitchen to the chef's house in the middle of prep. OK, we get it, improv is the theme.
Anyway, Richard and Dale won with their purple perplexed tofu, which came as a surprise to no one.
I was routing for Lisa to get kicked off, if you couldn't have already guessed that. But instead, Jenn, who was doing it for Zoi, joined her. I guess the lesbian angle didn't inspire Bravo to keep her anymore now that her girlfriend was gone.
There was a neverending stream of innuendo during this episode, that I'm sure David Dust will quote ad nauseum.
Anyway, I have to say that this blogging thing has gotten a little cumbersome ever since the Nazis at Adsense kicked us off. I wonder how long we'll keep this up...I'm sure that the world would lament losing a great contribution to humanity if we gave this up.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A close call

We had a special guest with us as we watched Padma and the crew shamelessly sporting Bears jersies at the tailgate outside of Soldier Field (I didn't realize that there was such a lag between filming and airing of these shows). Yes, we welcomed our favorite third wheel foodie, Ms. Jessica Sum, who delivered me some bangin' goodies from DiBruno Brothers: Some Calamata olives, mole sausage (made by Mario Battali's father!), and a block of chocolate tinged cheese. Forgive me, Jess, for the bad description and the third wheel comment, I was just joking!

So, the chefs were back in lowbrow cooking mode with the tailgate theme for the elimination challenge. The quickfire was more interesting again, because the challenge was to pair a dish with a beer. There a lot of discussion taking place at casa de Steve'nDes, so we missed a lot, and consequently we don't have as much to say about this episode.

But here are a few excepts from our conversation:

Des: "Either Nikki is always raising her eyebrows, or she plucked them wierdly."
Steve: "Why would they have 'touch yourself'' as an option on the poll question, but not 'touch Gail?'"
Jess: "Well at least Steve warned me that his boring ass was going to be on the computer blogging the whole time."
Tom Colicchio: "Sausage is a religion."

Some of those were paraphrased.

It was a real knuckle clencher wit my man Mark on the chopping block, but he made it, as did Jess and Des's favorite person to bash, Nikki. David Dust will have a little more on the show.

The Ardmorons Top Chef Archives

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Happy Tax Day


Some of blog followers might have seen this picture last year on Los's site, but it's very appropriate for today. I took this picture in DC about two years ago, and it is not a faux-to.

Here's a more recent picture from last Saturday:



The big guy almost stepped on Des and I as he used the seat backs as a staircase. Never noticed how big the Phanatic's shoes were until then.

Monday, April 14, 2008

You'll not see nothing like the mighty Bru

Bruno saved the day (actually the night) last night.


Around midnight he started darting into the bedroom making his guttural meow, then darting back out. He did this for about a half hour or so. Steve and I both admitted later that we knew something was up, but we didn't want to get up so we decided that Bruno and Charlotte were just chasing each other. Eventually Bruno gave up on us. But a little while later I heard another meow and decided to see what was going on. I went into the guest bedroom to find that the window screen was pushed out and that Charlotte was missing! I yelled to Steve, who looked out our bedroom window to see Charlotte looking in at him. She had been on the roof for a half hour! She is such a brat! And without Bruno alerting us to the situation and then sitting calmly at the wide-open window to keep Charlotte company, we wouldn't have discovered her disappearance until the morning. Now this is a big deal, because the cats don't have their front claws so it's not really a good idea for them to get out.

Bruno has displayed this same heroic before - Charlotte was stuck in a coat closet for a few hours one day, and when Steve and I got home Bruno meowed and ran to the closet to let us know that Charlotte was in there. But has Charlotte ever helped Bruno? No way! Bruno was stuck upstairs for a few hours one day, and we never knew it until we went up on our own. Charlotte just stayed downstairs with us and purred, got pets, etc! She is such a brat and Bru is such a hero! But they're both cute.

-D

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I got my birthday wish!

Rewatching the end of last week's Top Chef, I'm again impressed with the class and dignity that Manuel departed with. A lot of time those humble speeches sound fake and full of rhetoric, but his show of humility and accountability was admirable.

This week's quickfire challenge examined once again the concept of the The Pepsi Challenge. Even trained palettes cannot always identify the best ingredients from a mere taste, since the quality of many products are based on reasonable consumption, not small doses.

Zoi got rightfully sent home, fulfilling my birthday wish...and yet she and Jenn never faced the truth that she was only on the show because of the television value of featuring a lesbian couple. I agree that it is a nice twist, but I'm sure there are plenty of better ones out there in the talent pool.

The post-elimination outburst may have been the classic moment of Top Chef. Here's the play-by-play: Spike tore into immune Antonia because she talked their team out of making a soup, leading to their loss. Jenn then tore into Spike because her lover Zoi got the axe, as if it wasn't well deserved and long overdue. Dale threw in his two cents on Spike's behalf, Lisa yapped like a little dog, and Dale lit her up. Can't wait to watch it again next week!

Top Chef Archives

Now, onto more important things...the kittens got me a blue polo shirt for my birthday. Des got two little cakes for us, and she got me with the old trick candle! First time for that, and it was kind of cool. We split an Avery Pale Ale and a Dock Street Amber we've been saving from Total Wine in Delaware. Both were excellent. I'm a lucky guy! Thanks to everybody, friends and family, who sent birthday wishes!

-S

Update on the lost shoe

So apparently one of my classmates saw the shoe that I lost yesterday (see below) at 30th and Market Sts - right across the street from 30th St. Station. She thought 'hey, that looks like Desiree's shoe' but decided against picking it up, because who wants to pick up a random shoe on the street? I don't blame her at all! Unfortunately, the shoe wasn't there today, so it must be lost for good. On the other hand, I don't think I would have picked up the shoe even if I saw it there today and started wearing it again... yuck!

D

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to Steve
Happy Birthday to Steve
Happy Birthday dear Ste-phen
Happy Birthday to Steve


Tomorrow is Steve's birthday - April 9. He'll be turning 29, so everyone tell him Happy Birthday and console him for no longer even being able to pretend that he is in his mid-20s.

Unfortunately, he has school tomorrow and won't be home until almost 10. But at least he has Top Chef to look forward to! And on Friday I will be taking him out to Bridget Foy's for a birthday dinner.

On a different subject, I lost a shoe today! I had two interviews for a co-op this summer and I also had school. So I wore a pair of comfortable flats to walk around in and carried my heels so my feet wouldn't hurt and the heels wouldn't rub off from walking on pavement. At the end of the day, I was walking from school to the train station and had my heels sticking out of my open briefcase-type bag. When I got on the train, I only had one! So if anyone happens to see a size 7 black heeled shoe somewhere on Market St or in 30th St Station, please let me know!

D

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Oompa Loompa

Pre-show text message that pretty much sums up my sentiments of this season:
Jess: Here's to Nikki getting voted off tonight!
Des: And to Lisa washing her hair!

The bad news is that a nice guy left, and neither of those two did...nor did my least favorite, drama queen Zoi. It's going to be so much fun to watch the whining when the couple gets broken up.

The good news:

We finally got a chance to see some actual culinary technique, after a few weeks of mac n' cheese and corn-dogs. During the quickfire, the chefs had to use 3 classical culinary techniques on vegetables...have the producers been listening to us about too much lowbrow cooking? Dale's nifty knife techniques got him immunity for the round. (By the way, i gotta get one of those cool scallion crowners!)

Lots of love was thrown around for my boy Richard...looks like I'm not the only one who thinks he's the guy to beat.

The movie themed dishes from the elimination challenge looked good overall. I think a few of the movie references were stretching it a bit, but the interesting techniques from Andrew's winning team were worth the price of admission. I was surprised not to see Mark in the finalists for that round, I thought his team did a nice job of combining Asian cuisine and Christmas flavors to get to A Christmas Story.

I'm feeling pretty good about my prediction. Richard all the way.

-S


The Ardmorons Top Chef Archive

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

New Post

I'm sick of the last post Steve put up about the Tudors. I have absolutely no intention of reviewing the episode and am sick of seeing the picture every time I go on our site, so I decided that I had to write something to cover it up (sorry Steve, you can blog about the Tudors). The problem is I don't have anything to blog about. So I will just take this time to complain about law school.

I didn't mind it until this quarter - so until about a month ago. But all of the sudden, I don't have time to do anything but work, and the quality of the work I do is substandard. I don't understand why the assignments are so looong. Well, partly I do: this is law school, it is supposed to be hard and time consuming; they are trying to simulate time-crunches that we will have in practice; why should a professor have to modify his assignment just because another professor went out of control on assignments that week; etc. But, on the other hand, do they really think we are learning?

I spent the entire weekend doing nothing but sitting on the couch, hunched over the computer, writing and researching. I understand that in any school or program students will have to write and it will take a long time. And that would be OK, except it hasn't ended! I have to have a conference on my paper (and come prepared with ways that I plan to change the paper, which I just wrote), substantially improve the paper, prepare a binder of the cases I've used on the paper to prepare for my oral argument, further investigate the issues from my paper for my oral argument, come up with questions that opposing counsel will likely have trouble answering so we can have a lightening round in class (come on!), read tons of useless articles that could really be condensed into one paragraph, et al. And that is all for one class, this week. I also have to read about 40 pages a night for each class (which doesn't sound like much, but in legal reading it is!) which takes 2 - 3 hours per class. Today, by the time I got to the last half of each 40-page assignment, I was just trying to get it done, instead of getting it done right.

What is the thought process behind this? There is a limit to what people can retain, and a limit on how much work you should do per credit! Isn't is a better pedagogy to assign a little less so that we actually understand and retain the material than to assign the entire book in one night so we only get a cursory understanding of the issue (but with expectations that we thoroughly know the issues)? I'm not saying that we should cut down on the substance of the class - we can still get through each subject, but instead of four cases per each little element of every issue, maybe two will work. And the worst part is that the majority of the time we get so behind in class because of this overburdensome assignment structure that we are discussing cases in class from 2-3 classes ago! So I hunched over my computer for hours the night before for nothing, and have to re-read all the cases in addition to reading the cases assigned for the next class.

I'll end this by saying that I think my problem is just arising from a coincidental maelstrom of assignments. It's really not all that horrible, and I think it will start to get better next week. But I hope I'm not called on to discuss the reading tomorrow!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Tudors Season 2





As we reported a few weeks ago, the season 2 premeire of the Tudors is tonight, but has been available with Comcast On Demand for the past few weeks.

This is a good thing for us, because Des has been sequestered in the living room for the past week working on her brief for her legal methods class. So, basically, now that the cable finally works, I can't watch it. Consequently, no Tudors for us tonight, but we already saw it. We'll post a review as soon as Des is done her paper.

-S

Saturday, March 29, 2008

funny, but depressing...

I've been working this whole weekend on a paper that is 100% of my grade for one of my classes (speaking of grades, I got my last quarter grades finally, and am happy to report that I far exceeded the 1.91 GPA that I dreamed I got!), and the first draft is due Monday. It's not fun. But as I was finishing up for the night, I looked around me and had to laugh. My work area is ridiculous. I have an office, but for some reason I've been kicking Steve out of the living room and working there. So here is a picture of the amazing organization I display while writing and researching. And I'm not cleaning up until I'm done!



-D

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sexy Drinks and Home Invasions

This week's Top Chef episode wasn't any good.

It started out with a good idea - invading homes to find what you can. Steve and I actually already had this idea for a show, but Top Chef really messed it up. In our version, each chef would pick a house and cook some sort of gourmet entree based on what was there, be it a foodie kitchen or not. Of course I'm sure the judges would make sure that something could be made in each kitchen, but in this episode I got the impression that Top Chef gave each house money to stock up before the raid. What fun is that? You need to work with what the people really have on hand.

While we're on the subject, my other cooking show idea: me, Steve, Jess Sum, and Danny-Boy try to recreate cooking show meals using a regular kitchen and without having much, if any, training. I think it would be interesting to see if real people in a real, non-studio, kitchen could pull off the recipes. So Bravo or Food Network, if you are reading this, let me know and we'll talk.

So besides the botched idea, the block party concept was also no good. I don't watch this to see pasta salad and mini-hamburgers. I know they have to vary the episodes so we're not seeing the same things every time, but I don't see how picnic food is relevant to winning $100,000 from the Glad family of products toward opening your own restaurant and the title of Top Chef (by the way, that prize sucks! $100,000?!).

Two final points. First, for Jess Mac - Mark wore Hyde glasses! Second, Nikki needs to go. I am sick of her stupid hats and excuses for her ruined dishes (mac & cheese dried out and turd-like mushrooms).

-D

My early prediction looked good again as Richard won immunity during quickfire for his jicama taco, but I was disappointed not to see much of the kiwi this week.

The show was kind of boring until the end when the very confident red team found out they lost the elimination challenge. The tensions and bravado flared up like the match in the old hemorhoid commercials. Sadly, I think we all saw Erik's departure coming from a mile a way. All his food looked like crap, even if I am a little nervous that he'll seek me out and kill me for saying so. Zoe would have left, I'm sure, if Bravo didn't have the disclaimer at the end of the show that allows elimination decisions to be governed by the network-breaking up the lesbian couple so soon wouldn't be good for the ratings.

The funny thing about Stephanie picking up her second win was that when she described her contribution to the team, it sounded like she was an appendix.

I think the show needs some work right now. Part of the problem is that there are no awards for winning the elimination challenges as there had been in the past. The quick fire provides more of an incentive because the winner gets immunity. In the elimination challenge, all you have to do is not come in last place.

-S

The Ardmorons Top Chef Archive

Friday, March 21, 2008

Sola

One of the things we promised to write about in the intro to our blog was restaurants, but we have not done so thus far because we've been sticking to our favorites the past few months - Thai, Indian, and sushi. But tonight we decided to go on a date, and finally tried out the BYO right down the road in Bryn Mawr, Sola. The yellow stucco interior, wine cork motif, and dim lighting supplemented with candles created a nice atmosphere.

The bread wasn't really worth it, and the amuse-bouche of hot-smoked salmon on a mini toast was decent, but nothing special.

We both ordered appetizers off of the daily special list: a rabbit, arugula, pancetta, and fingerling salad and a brandade (a cod cake) with slaw and stewed tomatoes. We enjoyed both, the brandade was like a gourmet fish stick, which to me (S) is a good thing.

The entrees were very rich, refined, and filling. The venison rack came with a horseradish spatzel (a German pasta and one of Des' specialties). Venison is usually a little too lean and gamy for Steve's taste, but the rack was tender and flavorful. Our other entree was a pork duo. The excellently tender tenderloin (served medium over a sweet potato puree and wrapped in bacon) was superior to the shoulder served with glaze and caramelized onions.

At the bottom of our bottle of zinfandel, ignoring the protests of our full stomachs, we ordered tea and dessert. The cherry tart on the menu was replaced with a pear tart served with homemade vanilla ice cream and a baklava cigar. Homemade maple-walnut chocolate chunk gelatto was served in what looked like a tea light holder with berries and dark cocoa sauce, and would have been amazing on an emptier stomach.The mint green tea was a good way to end and settle us. We probably could have split a dessert, and regretted eating a little too much during the walk home. Luckily, we had a 20 minute walk there and back, so we were able to walk off a bit of the fullness. We didn't end up stopping at Roach and O'Brien's Bar for a drink as intended, and made it home to find the cable still malfunctioning.

S & D

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A royal suprise?

According to our countdown (see left-hand panel), the Tudors shouldn't be back on for a new season for 9 days. But today, while searching on Showtime on Demand, we found that episode 1 of the new season is already out there. So if you just can't wait the 9 days left until the official broadcast, you are in luck!

By the way, the cable still doesn't work.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Ardmorons Top Chef Archive

Week 6: A close call

Week 5: I got my birthday wish!

Week 4: Oompa Loompa

Week 3: Sexy Drinks and Home Invasions

Week 2: Top Chef Goes to the Zoo!

Week 1: Top Chef Chicago

Top Chef goes to the Zoo!

Edits: For spelling and grammar because JSum is a nag.

Much jubilation in this camp as our kiwi favorite Mark won immunity during the quick-fire despite leaving his lettuce at the market. Maybe it was his sideburns. The quick fire challenge itself seemed a little uninspired this week. A visit to the farmers market had a lot of potential, but the rules limited each dish to five ingredients without any other guidelines to shape the outcome.
The chefs next faced a zoologically themed elimination challenge, which combined two of my favorite things, zoos and food. Teams of three were each given an unlikely animal totem (vultures, penguins) to emulate the diet as they catered hor doeuvres for the Chicago Zoo staff. I think Chef Collicio came up with the challenge concept considering his beaming inquiry of how the chefs enjoyed it.
Desiree's favorite spaz Andrew won the elimination challenge with a penguin-themed squid dish (although he got caught cheating during the quickfire). Somehow, an anchovy dish almost gave Mark his second victory of the episode, making converts of everyone's favorite judges, Padma and Gayle. (Well, they're my favorite judges.)
Valeri, who we didn't see or hear enough of to care much about, took the long hike after making blinis 24 hours ahead of service, but it looked like there were others just as worthy to go with her. It looks like tensions are beginning to build with some teams close to implosion by service time.
My early pick, Richard, had a lackluster performance (I had high hopes for the eucalyptus) even with a fellow student of molecular gastronomy as a guest judge. I still stand by my prognostication.

The Ardmorons Top Chef Archive


S

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

On Arms

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments today for DC v. Heller about the right to bear arms under the 2nd Amendment. DC wants to uphold its strict gun control laws that don't allow residents to have guns, and Heller says this ban is unconstitutional.

Lucky for you, yesterday I presented an oral argument in my Constitutional Law class about this. I took what is essentially DC's side - that the 2nd Amendment does not give individuals the right to bear arms, and even if it does, restrictions are reasonable. Obviously, DC's lawyers present arguments that are more concise, more detailed, more numerous, and that are better overall; and as I don't really have time to listen to the 75-minute recording of the actual oral arguments on C-SPAN, I cannot say that what I write below is their argument - but here is my argument that I presented (and that I got the best grade possible on!).

The Amendment - it is a little hard to figure out:
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed".

This gives "collective rights" to bear arms, not "individual rights" - meaning the amendment gives states the right to arm their militia (now the National Guard).

There are two clauses in the Amendment - "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State" and "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed".

The first clause is the purpose of the 2nd Amendment - and the purpose it conveys is that the State, as opposed to the country, needs (needed) to have the ability to protect itself though military.

Militia means military - not, as opponents will say, any independent group of men who are able to fight for their state. It means a state military because of "being necessary to the security of a free state". Originally, the framers were going to have this phrase say "the best security of a free country". By changing from "country" to "state", the framers were assuaging the fears of anti-federalists (who did not want a federal government) that there would be federal tyranny and the states would not be able to protect themselves - so, the Amendment is saying that states can protect themselves. Second is the phrase "well-regulated". As the 2nd Amendment was enacted shortly after Shay's rebellion, we can take "well-regulated" to mean trained and regulated by the state, as opposed to mere ability to use a gun.

The 2nd clause is the substantive portion of the Amendment. Generally, "bear arms" refers to the military being able to bear arms. Opposition will say that "bear arms" has no military connotation, but when you read this 2nd clause in light of the first clause, you see that as the 1st clasue was speaking of a state-regulated military, so "bear arms" has a military connotation here. Now, "keep...arms" does not have any sort of military connotation here, but you have to read "keep and bear arms" together - otherwise, people could keep arms but they couldn't do anything with them... and what is the point of that. So "keep and bear arms" has a military connotation.

Now we have to read the two clauses together, or else the 1st clause wouldn't really mean anything. The 1st clause would just be a statement that doesn't convey any rights - and you can't interpret the Constitution in a way that makes another part have no meaning, because why would the framers have included a phrase that means nothing when they had to exclude other things due to the fact that the Constitution is written, therefore limited? So read the clauses together, and the most plausible construction is that the 2nd Amendment seeks to ensure effective state militias and states have the right to arm their military - the 2nd Amendment does not guarantee gun rights to individuals.

Today, more and more people and courts are interpreting the 2nd Amendment as giving individual rights to bear arms as opposed to collective rights. But even if that is the case, governments can still impose some reasonable restrictions on these individual rights, as long as the restrictions are not inconsistent with the individual right to keep and bear guns - we already restrict felons, infants, etc. So in this case the question is whether the restriction that doesn't allow DC residents to have guns is reasonable. Here I am not sure. I can validate a restriciton on gun ownership that just limits small groups of people who we cannot trust with guns, or limitations on the numbers or types (machine guns!) of guns individuals can own - but I'm not really sure whether a total ban on guns in a city is reasonable.

Overall, the 2nd Amendment does not confer individual rights to bear arms - it just gives states the right to arm their militias. If, however, I am wrong, and it does confer individual rights, then a reasonable restriction on that gun ownership is valid -- to determine whether the regulation in this case is reasonable, I need more facts, which I don't have time to research because I am in law school and just wasted 20 minutes re-writing an assignment that I already presented...

D

Sunday, March 16, 2008

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Top Chef Chicago

The cable is working again (at least for now) and not a moment too soon...Top Chef Chicago debuted tonight.

Let's see what Des has to say about it:

First of all, I liked the commercials. Finally, an ad for boxed wine! It was Fish Eye, though, which I have never had and don't think I'd ever buy. But boxed wine is great - if you get something other than White Zinfindel or Franzia, it will be good. Try Pinot Evil, a good boxed pinot noir, or the Black Box Shiraz or Cab. Last season some of the commercial products were featured on the show - who knows, maybe they'll use boxed wine!

I don't have too much to say about the episode. I don't like Lisa - I don't like the way she looks or how she reacted to being told that she poached her egg better than the other guy - she acted like she was so superior just for poaching an egg better. Now, poaching an egg well can be hard - too short of a cook time and the white part is slimy, too long of a cook time and the yolk isn't runny (Steve sometimes has problems with poaching eggs; my dad is good at it if I remember correctly). But still.

The two people I do like are Mark and Andrew.

Mark is from New Zealand, so I'm getting my New Zealand fix until Flight of the Concords is back and I can listen to Bret and Jemaine. And Andrew seems like a tool, but I like him anyway. ("Yo, casa motherf***s, like fatness." - he's like the celebrities from the Geico commercials.) He reminds me of Adam Goldberg in his intense, spastic, and hyped up on cocaine way. Although it seems like he may be a jerk and co-contenstants will not like him, he will be entertaining.

I'm glad Nimma went home.

Now lets see what Steve has to say:

It seemed like the judges (Tom, Padma, and guests Rocco DiSpirito and Anthony Bourdain) were really impressed with the four finalists from the elimination challenge. Stephanie ultimately won with her duck a l'orange. On the other side of the challenge, Des and I held our breath as our favorite, New Zealander Mark, faced elimination for his own duck a l'orange, but ultimately Nimma's oversalted shrimp scampi flan-kenstein sent her home.

Two things I noticed with Bravo's positioning strategy: It seems that they made a point to bring in more corrosive personalities than before...I think it took at least a few weeks for people to start hating Howie last season, but I think I already see a few smacked-asses. Also, the product placement and brand plugs appear to be saturated into the programming more than ever before, following the general trend of the industry.

One last point. I have a feeling the lesbian couple situation won't end well, but we'll all enjoy watching the train wreck.

All in all, it looks like the Top Chef formula is still working, it will be interesting to see what they do to keep things fresh. My early pick for this season's winner: Richard, whose smoked crab cake wowed Chef Colicchio.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Reminder

Top Chef starts tomorrow at 10 on Bravo!

By the way - cable still not working. But we did have a record 3-day run during which it did work!

Monday, March 10, 2008

If McCain can do it, so can I!

I've always wondered if I could be President. Today I found out that I can (in 9 years).

Apparently there is a debate going on about whether John McCain is eligible to be President. Article II of the Constitution provides that to be eligible for the Presidency, you need to be a natural born citizen, or a citizen, at the time of the adoption of the Constitution; 35 years old; and a resident of the US for 14 years. McCain was born on an army base in Panama. Statute, not this constitutional provision, makes people born abroad on army bases citizens. So I guess the issue is whether a person made citizen by statute is a natural born citizen; or, depending on how you interpret "...a citizen, at the time of the adoption of the Constitution", whether an army-base citizen is a type of citizen the framers of the Constitution may have envisioned in 1786. There are other interpretations too, but I won't get into those.

So anyway, it seems that most, except some far right wing Republicans, don't really think there is a problem with McCain's eligibility. So, as I was born in Germany on a base hospital, I too will one day be eligible to be President.

I've always wondered about this. My Certificate of Birth Abroad, opposed to a regular birth certificate, always confused the Tee Ball coaches during registration... but it looks like I'm alright. Watch out 2020!

D

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Food Rocks!

Last night Steve and I went to Yeats for karaoke with my sister, Mallory. Someone sang Bohemian Rapsody, and it reminded Mal and me of our favorite Disney attraction:Food Rocks!

Mal and I have been going to Disney World with our parents every year since I was in middle school or something like that. My favorite park was/is EPCOT, I always made sure to see my two favorite attractions multiple times. First, there is Space Station Cool (or something like that), where you can taste sodas from around the world. Italy's soda was gross, but Japan's Vegitabeta was great!

The second and best attraction was Food Rocks. It was a musical benefit show about nutrition featuring Pita Gabriel, the Peach Boys, the Refrigerator Police, and others, who changed lyrics to famous songs to talk about nutrition ("I wanna be your...high fiber" - Pita Gabriel). Anyway, they closed down the show about 3 years ago and replaced it with a new ride - Soarin' or something like that. Soarin' is a pretty cool hang-gliding simulation, but I couldn't believe they took away Food Rocks! So it had been about 3 years since I had heard Food Rocks until last night when we heard Bohemian Rapsody at karaoke. At the end of the Food Rocks concert, the U-Tensils and all the other acts sing along to Bohemian Rapsody. So we came home and found Food Rocks on YouTube. Enjoy (and make sure to watch both parts)!





D

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Flowers are nice, but...

The Philadelphia Flower Show started it all.

As I was pulling into the Haverford train station this morning at 8:56, I saw the train speeding away. It left the station 3 minutes early. Another person left behind on the track told me it was because of the flower show. I'm not quite sure that I grasp why a flower show would cause my train, which usually comes 2-3 minutes late, to leave 3 minutes early. But anyway, I missed my train because of the flower show. I was warned that train regulars hate the flower show crowd, and now I know why.

So anyway, I had to drive to school, and I had three mini-adventures. First, I was in the parking garage for the first time, pulling into an impossibly thin spot (I later found out that these were compact spots, but there was no sign). I backed out a little because I was having trouble getting into the spot, and I heard a beep. Now, I knew there was a car a little behind me, but it was stopped, waiting for me to park. I turned my head to look at the beeping, silver car, of course mouthing the words "What, you asshole", when I recognized my professor as the driver. So I stop - it's my professor, I'll let him have his way - and he peels by. This is a parking garage, and I can hear his tires screech against the concrete because he started up so fast. So now I am wondering if the professor recognized me or not. I guess it doesn't really matter, but he seems to be kind of a jerk (although I like him as a prof), so I don't want to be on his bad side and I want to know if I am on his bad side.

Second, I was in the garage later to leave. As I got to the unmanned ticket window, the red and white striped arm raised, allowing me to drive through, so I proceeded. All of the sudden, a loud, fire alarm-sounding beep starts, so I figured I did something wrong. I backed up and found no ticket slot, no one coming, people peering into the garage wondering about the noise, and a silver car behind me again. So I just left. Hopefully the silver car wasn't my professor again, and hopefully I won't get a call from the garage asking why I just left (I did pay!).

Third - and this is the big adventure - I drove down Lancaster Ave through West Philly. I've done this before, put it was particularly circus-like this time. There were double-parked cars (I've never actually seen one before, and there were multiple here!), wheelchaired-men with one elevated leg pushing themselves along with their other leg while jaywalking through the crowded and busy road, groups of 10 leisurely crossing the street at a 60-degree angle, cars passing trollys, cars driving in the bike lane, bikers zigzaging between the bike lane and the road. It goes on. If you want to test your driving skills, I'd recommend Lancaster Ave in West Philly - maybe try it during rush hour!

Now I remember why I take the train. Thanks for the reminder, flower show.

D

PS Still working on the cable.

S

Monday, March 3, 2008

Reply to Steve

Dear Steve,

Your reasoning is crap.

I don't really care to get into a debate about Playboy so I'm not even going to go beyond that.

Well, maybe just one thing - when have we ever heard one of the Girls Next Door ever talking about how hard they worked to get where they are? Maybe Bridget, as she has mentioned that she has 2 master's degrees or something like that, but that is a legitimate thing to be proud of and to brag about. Or maybe I've heard Kendra say something once about how she is a model now and she worked hard to get to that - but that would be hard work. But the girls are not saying that they worked so hard to get where they are as in getting to Hef's mansion - if they mention how hard they worked they mean other pursuits that we don't see too much of on TV. And how would you know? You don't watch the show - you just play on your iphone or computer whenever it is on (but I guess that is no different than any other time).

Anyway, the show is fun and it is something to watch for lazy entertainment. But your arguments about the show and about the show related to your magazine subscription are crap. I realize that my reasoning here is also probably crap, but that is because I haven't been thinking this through as you have and I am just posting my initial reaction to your tirade below.

Love,
Des

Why I am letting my Playboy prescription lapse

No, it's not just because Des always had to move them from the basket on the toilet whenever her parents visited. And I still plan on hiding my stack in an obvious place when I someday have an adolescent child.
However, I can't continue to feed the hijacked media monster any more, even if I just read it for the articles. And it's all because of a woman...or three women.
Yes, of course, I'm talking about the Girls Next Door, Holly, Bridget, and Kendra. I really just don't get them, I suppose. Playboy claims to be the premier men's entertainment outlet, and yet this program runs on E!...and seriously, would any man watch E!? I won't get into the fact that these three vacuums do about as much for women as did Monica Lewinski, yet their viewership is primarily women...including the one I live with.
The popularity of their show has really opened up a lot of opportunities for these women, and more power to them, I suppose. But how many times do we have to hear at least one of them talk about 'how hard they've worked to get where they are?' Seriously. If you consider sleeping with an emaciated old Skipper wannabe 'hard work' (which it is, no doubt) then I'm sure they have worked really hard to get to where they are, but if there was ever a need for a group to get a reality check, I think this is it.
And speaking of the Hefner, what is up with the ladies always talking about what a 'gentleman' he is? The only difference between that 'gentleman' and any dirty old man at the train station is that the gentleman gets to do what the dirty old man only fantasizes about. That and a pile of cash, a mansion, a stable full of luxury vehicles, and a never-ending chain of parties with celebrity guests. That must be what makes a gentleman.
The problem with all of this is that the more I look at my expiring subscription, the more I realize that the magazine has become simply a platform to promote the TV show. The three girls are taking up more and more copy every month, and when the new DVD review column is primarily devoted to talking up the release of last season's boxed set (5 bunnies, of course) I start to wonder if the magazine has lost its identity.
The magazine has always been focused on the materialistic side of culture, but now I fear it is moving from the civilized man's brand of refined materialism to the valley girl's shopping day brand.
So before anyone says "If you don't like them, don't watch them!" I say, hey, that's exactly what I'm going to do, and I'm not going to contribute to the institution that facilitates it anymore. I'm sure they won't miss me.

S

A nice day for a run

Because it was so nice out today I decided to skip out on my usual library time after class and go for a run. I'm pretty happy because I ran around 5 miles - 2 laps of the Haverford College Trail. I know 5 miles isn't that far and I've definately done more before, but I really haven't gone more than 3-4 miles at a time since my triathlon this past summer. So I guess I am halfway prepared for the 10-mile Broad Street Run in May! Broad Street should be fun - Steve and I are going to do it, as well as my dad and a few other family members. I've also been trying to convince other people to join in - so sign up here. It's only $25 and it is on Sunday, May 4 - that is 2 months to train.

On another note (I have to write this because I told a few people at Jess' party that I would), here is the best Taboo clue I've heard for a long time: An antagonistic bat. Answer: Vampire.

And now, because I didn't do my work after class like I should have, I have to get to my assignments for tomorrow. Luckily I only have the normal 13 pages for one class and 2 chapters for another, as opposed to the 57-page behemoth that was my Criminal Law assignment for today!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

3 Easy Recipes

Trader Joe's is having a recipe contest. Winning entries will be served at the sample food counter, plus the winners get a bag of Trader Joe's goodies!

The recipes can only have up to 5 ingredients, so we labeled some as optional. Here are our entries:

Knife-and-Fork Flatbread Pizza
1 piece Trader Joe's Flatbread
1/4 c. Trader Joe's pizza sauce
handful shredded mozzerella cheese
sliced fresh mozzerella cheese
fresh basil leaves
optional: sliced fresh vegetables

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray tin foil or baking sheet with non-stick spray (VERY important if you use tin foil!). Place flatbread on tinfoil or baking sheet. Spread flatbread with pizza sauce (not too much or pizza becomes sloppy). Place fresh basil leaves on top of sauce. Sprinkle with desired amount of shredded cheese. Place slices of fresh mozzerella on top of the shredded cheese. Sprinke with salt and pepper. Add any desired fresh vegetables (optional). Bake until cheese is melted. Transfer pizza to a large plate or cutting board and eat with a knife and fork.

Autumn Butternut Squash and Chicken Bake
1 pack Trader Joe's whole cut chicken
2 c. Trader Joe's brown rice (instant works best, but the frozen also works)
2 c. Trader Joe's Butternut Squash soup (diluted with 1 c. water or chicken broth)
1 package Trader Joe's cubed butternut squash (or other cubed squash available)
spices to taste: coriander, cinnamon, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper
due to the 5 ingredient max, we did not include broccoli in this recipe

Place brown rice in a large casserole dish. Pour diluted butternut squash soup over rice. Mix in cubed butternut squash (and broccoli). Place chicken pieces over rice mixture. Coat chicken with spices.

Cover casserole dish and place in preheated 400 degree oven for 50 minutes. Remove cover and cook for 10 minutes.

Chicken and Tomato Bake (adapted from a dish my parents ate and loved in Italy)
4 skinless chicken breasts
1-2 potatoes
2 sliced tomatoes (with the jelly!)
fresh basil leaves
olive oil
optional: 1/4 c. tomato sauce
due to ingredient limit, we didn't include an extra veggie, but I usually like to add zucchini slices or something else

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice potatoes very thin (use the slicer on your cheese grater). Spread sliced potatoes on the bottom of a large greased baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. You can spread a small amount of tomato sauce over the potatoes, if desired. Place chicken breasts (thin, if possible) on top. Salt and pepper the chicken. Place tomato slices and fresh basil on top (also the extra veggie). Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Cover with tin foil and bake 20 minutes. Uncover and bake 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.