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Eat ! Drink ! Italy ! with Vic Rallo

vikingkaj Oct 31, 2013 09:04 AM

So how does the owner of two rather mediocre overpriced Italian restaurants (Basil T's and Undici) in Monmouth get his own TV show and free half hour commercial on local PBS ?

I mean, what were they thinking ? It's not like they don't have enough Italian cooking shows on local PBS already.

At last count this includes:

Lidia, who is now looking to Italian American eateries for inspiration (?) Guess we ran out of real Italian/Croatian ideas...

Nick Stellino, who has also run out of Italian recipes and is now ghost hosting for other chefs.

Ciao Italia with Mary Ann Esposito, not sure if Ciao means hello or goodbye in this context.

Brindiamo with Ornella Fado, whom I can barely understand.

Christina Cooks, an Italian (oops Mediterranean) take on vegan.

Mike Colameco's Real Food, I have to confess this is my favorite and does not focus solely on Italian.

So what was the braintrust at WNET thinking when they greenlighted yet another Italian food show? And why this guy since his restaurants cater to the blue haired set in Red Bank and Rumson? (Check out the bar at Basil T's on a Wednesday evening if you don't believe me.) I think the board of WNET should have to eat there for a week before they make up their minds to renew.

Or, as usual in New Jersey, was the fix in on this one too?

How about a different cuisine for change, what could we do that would be local and interesting?

  1. j
    joonjoon Nov 6, 2013 07:12 AM

    We should try to get a NJ Chowhoundin' show.

    1. vikingkaj Nov 4, 2013 08:46 AM

      Ok so I actually watched about 5 minutes of the Rallo show on PBS over the weekend.

      Cooking consisted of him making something he called a "Rustica" sauce, which was basically roughly chopped seeded tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil.

      He then proceeded to show how you could make three dishes from one sauce: 1) mix it with blanched green beans and you had a "contorni"; 2) mix it with chicken stock, stale bread and parmesan and you had authentic "tuscan" bread soup; or 3) you could just have the sauce over pasta.

      I found this very illuminating since making three dishes from one sauce could explain a lot about why the food at Undici and Basil T's tastes the way it does.

      I will leave you to form your own conclusions...

      2 Replies
      1. re: vikingkaj
        sockii Nov 5, 2013 04:06 PM

        "Ok so I actually watched about 5 minutes of the Rallo show on PBS over the weekend."

        I'll draw some conclusions based on that as well...

        1. re: sockii
          vikingkaj Nov 6, 2013 06:56 AM

          5 minutes was about all I could stomach.

      2. s
        scarlet knight Nov 3, 2013 05:26 AM

        I love food and travel shows.

        I GUARANTEE you will like any place that Mike Colameco recommends!

        I find the Scandanavian cooking show transfixing based on their locations.

        Jacques Pepin is a genius and very talented. I will watch his shows from any decade.

        4 Replies
        1. re: scarlet knight
          sandiasingh Nov 3, 2013 06:56 AM

          Second that on Jacques Pepin. I adore him. He posts the most endearing photos of himself and his daughter, Claudine, and others, on Facebook and it always makes me smile. He's such a great and patient teacher.

          1. re: sandiasingh
            equal_Mark Nov 3, 2013 12:03 PM

            Any self professed fan of Jacques Pepin owes it to themselves to read his book "The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen"

            A truly good read that goes in depth into the life & times of the culinary genius behind Howard Johnson's!

            1. re: equal_Mark
              sandiasingh Nov 4, 2013 05:36 AM

              As it happens, I have it on order right now. Looking forward to reading it. I recently saw his "Chefography" on Cooking Channel and did not know about the life-changing car accident he had many years ago.

          2. re: scarlet knight
            vikingkaj Nov 4, 2013 08:53 AM

            Pepin is always interesting, he has so many little tricks that you can't help but learn something from his shows.

            I always remember the way he cut up olives so that they looked like little rabbits... Amazing...

          3. sockii Nov 3, 2013 05:16 AM

            I've made recipes from Stellino and Esposito's shows that have come out fabulous and received plenty of praise. I enjoy watching them both.

            Sometimes I find Lidia interesting to watch, but not her more recent shows focused on "Italian American" food. I do like Vic Rallo's show, actually, the few shows I've seen.

            Personally I'd enjoy a Jersey-themed cooking or food show focusing on some of our great wineries in state; perhaps local chefs doing meals to pair well with or use these wines.

            1. k
              KMP1964 Nov 3, 2013 05:07 AM

              Lidia has a homey way with the food she presents and I have copied a recipe of hers from time to time.
              Stellino is kind of goofball but he respects food but I will change the channel when he gets too, you know, Stellino.
              Ciao Italy makes me cringe but she has been on FOREVER so I give her props just for longevity.
              Brindiamo has not aired in my area yet... have to hit the internet.
              Christina Cooks is as Italian (ahem Mediterranean) as Christina herself (not much since she is half Irish and pushes macrobiotics).
              Real Food is another that hasn't aired in my area... internet again!
              What about Taste This! with Joe Ciminera? Although his show is about as Italian as Christina Cooks... His show is the only one I just can't watch!
              Nick Rallo's show just began airing in FL (my market) so I know nothing of him or his restaurants. I was determined to not like him only based on the slightest resemblance to Ciminera! However this weekend on CreateTV (a PBS channel) they ran a marathon of Eat! Drink! Italy with Nick Rallo and I found that he is kind of sincere about his connection to good ingredients and creating nourishing food... although the Jersey kind of oozes out in his presentations!
              As for Andres Viestad and his magnum opus New Scandinavian Cooking... you can't deny the scenery is AWESOME!!! What I take away from his show is to not faithfully recreate his dishes but to search my own area for local ingredients and try a different was of preparing food... plus, if he can roast venison on a glacier I can be more adventurous too... with a little help from Steven Raichlen!

              1. JustJake Nov 1, 2013 07:09 AM

                It's all about marketing and there's no one more prominent in that regard in our area than Rallo.

                As for the blue haired commentary, maybe that was the deal on a Wednesday. I don't believe that it fits the demographic/clientele of either restaurant on a consistent basis.

                In closing, I don't watch the Food Channel anymore nor PBS for the most part (though I will from time to time). I'm tired of the competition, the dog eat dog bullspit that is the M.O. of most of tv these days.

                Dining isn't a competition, as is sex. It's to be savored, enjoyed and produce a wonderful outcome/experience. Not, "you've been chopped" or "is that all there is?" ;-)

                2 Replies
                1. re: JustJake
                  equal_Mark Nov 1, 2013 07:57 AM

                  All of this is an excellent reason to watch Mike Colameco. A couple weeks ago he did a great show on Cape May.

                  1. re: JustJake
                    seal Nov 5, 2013 04:24 PM

                    "Dining isn't a competition, as is sex."

                    I've been doing something all wrong.

                  2. s
                    saltylady Oct 31, 2013 11:16 AM

                    Do you have a show you would like to promote? Maybe just contact the station and see what happens? Nothing ventured nothing gained .
                    Since i believe about 40 per cent of Nj has Italian ancestry there may be a built in market / Based on your name maybe you could promote Scandinavian cooking ? If no one proposes a show , no one will produce it .
                    Oh and for bashing the blue haired set , you will be surprised how fast the time goes from now to when you are an elder of the tribe . Just wait .

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: saltylady
                      b
                      bropaul Nov 1, 2013 04:19 AM

                      Actually WNYC airs a show called "New Scandinavian Cooking". Thursday night at 9:30.
                      I agree in principle, though, that WNET could vary it's cooking show line-up.

                      1. re: bropaul
                        vikingkaj Nov 1, 2013 10:43 AM

                        Yeah but that guy is working with ingredients that you can't find in the average Norwegian grocery store, much less over here.

                        Oh, and he is cooking outdoors on top of a glacier half of the time.

                        Propane, anyone?

                        1. re: vikingkaj
                          b
                          bropaul Nov 1, 2013 05:37 PM

                          I'm not going to disagree about the glacier- you can always see his breath! Not sure about the ingredients.

                          1. re: bropaul
                            vikingkaj Nov 2, 2013 09:33 AM

                            I think he was making lamb tongues last week...

                        2. re: bropaul
                          sandiasingh Nov 3, 2013 06:05 AM

                          I love "New Scandinavian Cooking" and find it inspirational. I may not be able to recreate his exact dishes, but that is not necessarily what I'm looking for in every cooking or travel show. I'm looking for inspiration and technique. And the locations are gorgeous. I just saw one in Iceland, a country I find fascinating and beautiful.

                          It was cold and rainy here last night and I found myself snuggled in front of the tv when Eat! Drink! Italy aired for about two hours. I must admit I wondered the same thing as the OP, but as salty lady said, it is probably geared to the NJ/NY audience and was a cheap buy for local stations. I didn't find his dishes very appealing, but I did enjoy the wine segments and also getting a peek into some of the more out-of-the-way kitchens.

                          There are a couple of Chinese/Asian shows on Cooking Channel that are OK. My favorite is Luke Nguyen's Mekong Delta series and now he has another one I can't recall the name of. Ming Tsai has a whole series on Singapore which I find especially delightful since I used to live there. How people cook in those teeny weeny kitchens is beyond me.

                          I would love to see a show on contemporary German cooking (being from Wisconsin, ya know).

                        3. re: saltylady
                          vikingkaj Nov 1, 2013 10:40 AM

                          Just for the record I have nothing against the blue hair set, since I am tending towards old and crotchety myself. Seniors are an important demographic. They eat out a lot and it would be difficult to survive in the rest business without them.

                          However, in my experience, seniors just tend to be a little less adventurous in their choice of locales. Not all seniors, but most.

                        4. jrvedivici Oct 31, 2013 11:08 AM

                          "Or, as usual in New Jersey, was the fix in on this one too?"

                          Are you insinuating that there could be some level of corruption in the state of New Jersey. {{facial expression of shock}}

                          Nooooooooo can't be!!!!!

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