ICA - Holiday Dessert Battle (spoiler)
Paula Dean and Cat Cora rightfully won that battle because they just seemed to have cleaner more focused desserts with much better aesthetics. Robert Irvine and Tyler Florence's desserts seemed like "a guy's room" - kind of sloppy. Plus they used cranberries in three of their desserts. Anyways, the battle wasn't interesting but did anyone else's jaw drop when Cat Cora gave Robert Irvine a full straddle? Did I really just see that? Are you kidding me?
Gee I could not disagree more!
I thought the Florence/Irvine creations were well conceived and well executed (except for Tyler's Buche - as soon as he set it down to cool in the pan I thought, "ooh, gotta roll that baby up in a towel."). Everything they made was something I wanted to eat : chocolate mousse filled croquembouche, cranberry clafouti (uncharacteristically mispronounced by Alton), figgy pudding, ginger cakes - Mmmm. They hit all the dessert notes - chocolate, fruit, cream, spice, caramel. Wow.
On the other hand, Cora/Dean produced one horror after another:
"Fudge" made from Velveeta (for the love of God what's next - truffles made of Spam?)
Trumpet cookies filled with sweetened whipped Crisco. My mouth still feels coated with waxy grease just thinking about it. (Transfats are surely the premiere hallmark of Dean "cuisine".)
An ugly mess of a parfait made of lava cakes (cliche and boring) crumbled with melting white chocolate "mousse" and dubbed "budino" in an effort to class it up into something edible. Lipstick on a pig.
Lumpy chocolate cookies that I thought looked like poop in a mailbox (My sister assumed this was what the "naughty" listers received.)
And my favorite for pure freakishness of presentation - I huge foot-high turban of a challah with a thin layer of strawberries and pastry cream. "Timmy, if you don't finish your dessert, you can't have any vegetables."
And if you want to criticize for repetition their cocktail and two dishes all featured mint and crushed peppermint. I have to guess Cora's props (mailbox, gift box, etc.) carried the day for them.
On balance I thought the participants were poorly chosen and the time limit was absurd. No time to bake full size cakes, no time to cool ganaches or mouses, no time to temper and set chocolate. Obvious cheats on the clock - marshmallows take a good 20-30 minutes to come up to temperature, 15-20 minutes just to whip, and an hour or more to set and cool.
I agree about the win. The guys really didn't get original with their dishes, going with traditionals like croquembouche (sp?), a failed buche-de-noel, clafouti, etc., while the ladies got into some interesting, albeit very Paula-ubersweet stuff.
And yes, it was a surprising end with Cat Cora jumped Irvine. But then, just because she's a lesbian doesn't mean she can't have a little fun like that, especially with the guy Tony Bourdain calls an "over-muscled f**kwit". Besides, Paula and Tyler had been having a little kissy-fest, so it was only fair.
My husband thought this one was easily the funniest ICA ever, although I was surprised that Tina Fey was so quiet and subdued. I think, if they had it all to do over again, they should have brought in a different judge. Even Mo Rocca would have put more oomph into it...
agreed. BC is my favorite judge, hands down.
the moment i saw katie lee joel, i turned off the recording [gotta love tivo] and took a few moments to regroup and fortify myself before i could continue watching. i was just so disturbed at the thought of having to listen to her whiny voice again after believing [foolishly] that top chef was the last we'd seen of her.
so now we've got minnie mouse as a judge, plus paula deen making velveeta fudge, licking spoons as she stirs sauces & batters [did anyone else catch that?], and drizzling sauces directly onto her protruding tongue...oh, and let's not forget lori lynn in that ridiculous elf getup. i can't believe they made her wear that. talk about degrading!
i really didn't think i'd make it through the entire episode, but i hung in there only because i wanted to see the guys win. so much for that.
the entire thing was absurd, and a complete circus.
The scores had the gals only barely edging out the guys with one point on plating (and they were very creative with the Santa mailbox and the gift bag, etc) and one point on originality (again, definitely more creative with the marshmallows, extreme fudge balls on sticks, etc). You could definitely see Cat's experience as an IC and Paula's experience with sweets. Tyler may be a southern boy (and thus we can assume he grew up around sweets), but Alton's comment about not having made a buche (plank) de noel since culinary school was spot on.
I've actually heard of Velveeta fudge before (I'm from the south but have lived in New England for, well, a couple decades), but haven't been curious enough to try it. You can google velveeta fudge and get plenty of hits.
I agree that Mo or Jeffrey would have added even more amusement.