Tuesday, March 31, 2009

April Food Day

Tomorrow is

People who never had a worry in the world now have to think about where their next meal is coming from. People who never would have dreamt that they would need help are now showing up at the local food banks. But when they get there, the shelves are bare. There is not enough food being donated to meet the sudden rise in demand. There is not enough money to buy the food for the food banks. There is not a general understanding that food banks need help to help fill their shelves.

Help alleviate hunger in America by making a donation. Feeding America (formerly Second Harvest) is a national food bank with 200 member banks across the country.

Every dollar contributed provides seven meals or 10 pounds of food. A gift of $25 provides 75 meals. So every little bit helps. Please help to make a difference in your community by making a donation.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Buh-bye Chopping Block

The Chopping Block, NBC's foodie reality show featuring intimidating chef Marco Pierre White has been 86ed. The ratings started out poor and went downhill from there. The show will be replaced by repeats of Law and Order: Criminal Intent.

Sad.

Vegetabletarians


This little cocker spaniel reminds me of my doggie, who died in 1994 but I still miss him very much.

Thai Noodles

I decided to do a riff on Thai food for dinner last night - part Pad Thai, part Pad Kee Mao Talay. I checked the Food Network site to see if I could find a recipe for Pad Thai as made by Nongkran Daks on an episode of Throwdown...and found one by Paula Deen. Suprisingly, it didn't have mayonnaise OR butter in it.  I don't have to tell you I wasn't going to use that recipe regardless.

I did find Ms Daks recipe, and cribbed the sauce portion of it.  I added some of my favorite Thai chili basil paste to it, tossed it with some shrimp, scallops, and langoustino tails (courtesy of Trader Joe's frozen seafood department), and stir fried the lot with fresh rice noodles (from the tofu section at H-Mart).

Looks pretty good, doesn't it? It tasted good too, except that the noodles turned completely into mush for some reason. I haven't had that problem with them before, and now I'm going to be wary of buying them in the future.

I'd definitely try this concoction again - it was tangy, spicy, slightly sweet - but with either dried rice noodles, or good old Western-style pasta (fettuccine or pappardelle).

Friday, March 27, 2009

Padma Likes 'em Thick

Have you seen this bit of food porn yet? I had avoided watching it until last night, when Cliff sent me the link. I felt obligated to take a look. If you do too, a little warning: it's somewhat nauseating.


Watch it Padma - that thing has 900 calories and 2040 mg of sodium! Can a "culinary expert" like you afford that?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Coming Soon - An Interview with Top Chef's Fabio Viviani

That's right - my fabulous friend Vavi sat down with Fabio and had a nice chat about...well, you'll just have to stay tuned right here to see exactly what was said!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mini Cheesesteaks

We often pick up a package of thinly sliced bulgogi beef at the Asian market but have yet to prepare that Korean dish.  Why, when cheesesteaks are so much more fun?  These little dudes, topped with cheddar and Jarlsberg, sautéed mushrooms and onions, and a little spicy mayo, are served on leftover toasted hot dog buns.

Beats the hell out of nasty greasy Steak-Umms.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Guess the Recipe

"Scald the  penis, then drain and clean. Place it in a saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Remove any scum, then simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and slice."

Whose cookbook does this come from?  Any guesses?  

Friday, March 20, 2009

Bánh Mi at Saigon Remembered

I've never eaten bánh mi before, the Vietnamese sandwich comprised of pickled vegetables, meat, and sometimes paté on a baguette, so when I read on Dining@Large that Saigon Remembered has started serving them at lunchtime, I made a point to give one a try.  Since I had off from work because of "Spring break" (one whole day), today was my opportunity.

After noticing bánh mi was not on the menu, and a misunderstanding with the very new waitress who thought I was looking for a special pad Thai (come on - why would I order pad Thai in a Vietnamese restaurant?), I opted instead for a pork dish on the lunch menu, plus a fried spring roll, served with a heaping helping of disappointment.  Mr Minx ordered the special fried rice.  

As we were enjoying our very good spring rolls, the manager came over and questioned me about my request for a special pad Thai.  When I clarified that I was hoping to try bánh mi, he said they *did* have them, and he would be happy to change my order.  Yay!  So I ordered a pork sandwich.  This is what I got: 

A toasted roll (not a baguette) filled with a stir-fried pork and onion mixture, lightly pickled carrots, daikon, and cucumber, and a plethora of cilantro.  It was...delicious.  Because the roll was not a heavy baguette, the whole sandwich had a very light quality.  

In addition to the pork variety, Saigon Remembered also has combination (chicken, pork, beef), shrimp, and vegetarian versions (all veg and veg + tofu).

Let's not forget Mr Minx's fried rice:

Lots of scrambled egg and various meats in a soft, slightly sweet rice mixture. Different from Chinese fried rice, but still quite nice.

After we had eaten, the manager tried to tempt us with dessert.  When we demurred, he comped us a flan because of my earlier miscommunication issues. The flan was dense and firm, a welcome departure from the usual snotty-texture, wobby flans that I've had in the past. It was also eggy without tasting like scrambled eggs, another issue I've encountered with this dessert.

I enjoyed my first taste of bánh mi in Baltimore.  Next I plan to taste one in New York.

Saigon Remembered
5857 York Rd
Baltimore, MD 21212
(410) 435-1200

Saigon Remembered on Urbanspoon

So Which Do You Prefer?

Are you a fan of chocolate, or of vanilla? I love chocolate - brownies, cakes, cookies, candy - but sometimes I like "plain ol" vanilla. When given the choice between chocolate and vanilla ice cream for example, I'll take vanilla every time.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bacon!

I found a new site, This is Why You're Fat, that features photos of some gruesome-looking chow. But I don't see any problem with these items:

Chocolate-covered bacon.

Country fried bacon and gravy.

Candied bacon ice cream.

Bacon donut.

Bacon chocolate chip cookies.

Are you getting the theme yet?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Mushrooms

Just letting the photo speak for itself.

Time to Stop Partying....

funny pictures of cats with captions

Ok, all you St Patrick's revelers can put the green beer down now.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Natasha Richardson

Actress, amfAR supporter, and guest on season 5 of Top Chef, Natasha Richardson, has sustained brain trauma during a skiing accident. She is rumored to be brain dead.

Richardson is married to actor Liam Neeson, with whom she has two sons.

UPDATE: On March 18th, Ms Richardson passed away as a result of her head injuries. May she rest in peace.

Miley Cyrus Causes Salmonella

There's a recall on Hannah Montana granola bars because of possible salmonella contamination. What? Not because of saccharine overload?

Faux Meat - Why?

Whilst looking for Bourdain photos the other day, I stumbled upon this blog, Hezbollah Tofu, dedicated to veganizing all of the recipes in the Les Halles Cookbook. The idea for the name came from this quote from Bourdain's book, Kitchen Confidential:
Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, and an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food.
I like a good meat-free meal as much as any vegetarian. I enjoy tofu - as tofu, not as faux meat. Love tempeh, but I'm allergic to it. And I think dishes like Pot au Feu made with seitan and tofu "scallops" are an abomination. It's not going to taste like meat, no matter what you do to it. It would be like a carnivore taking steak and trying to make it taste like broccoli.

Why fake meat at all? Because you miss it so much, right? How about some nice bacon? Mmmmm!

There's a Chinese restaurant in town that makes several dishes with "meatless chicken" and I have tasted them. I find the meatless orange-flavored chicken tastes like donut holes in a sweet sauce. And nothing like meat. I'd only order it if I wanted to have dessert for my entrée.

I remind myself of a story. I used to work with this bizarre woman who was not a vegetarian, but she did occasional horrific vegan-esque things to food. One day, she brought in homemade lasagne for lunch. It looked like lasagne, but when she explained that she used tahini instead of cheese, I laughed at her. How the f*ck is that an appropriate substitute? Crumbled tofu, ok, that might work, but it's going to taste like tofu (and I don't care what you say, tofu always tastes like tofu). Tahini is going to taste like...sesame seeds.

Said weirdo stood up, said she was sick of me making fun of her lunch, and stomped off. She didn't speak to me again. Ever. And we shared a cubicle....

This post is not meant to malign vegans or vegetarians. I appreciate your choice to not eat meat. But a wise veg-head should be more interested in creating a new cuisine, rather than faking an existing one. It's akin to using carob in chocolate mousse - it ain't never going to be chocolate or taste like chocolate. Oh wait...you all do that too.

:::shudder::::

Bourdain on TV Food

Remember the good old days when Tony Bourdain was hating on Emeril and Rachael Ray? Having a kid and a new wife has mellowed him out considerably. He's no fun anymore. :(

Read all of the relatively nice things he has to say about today's top food shows here. And, while you're at it, check out the extra-pretty photo of Rocco DiSpirito - from "The Restaurant" days, ya think?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Neuropol

Despite being St Urho's and all that, today's lunch consisted of goodies from Neopol Savory Smokery in the Belvedere Market - 1/4 lb green tea-flavored hot-smoked salmon, 2 smoked lamb sausages, and 1/2 lb of curried smoked chicken salad. That wee bit of food (the slice of salmon was only about an inch wide) set us back $20+. But it was all good. The salmon was silky and rich, with a hint of sweetness. The lamb sausage (we ate one and saved one for another time) was akin to a Middle Eastern kielbasa - smoky and fatty with a hint of cumin. And the chicken salad was an unusual twist on a favorite. With a couple slices of hearty Irish brown bread from Atwater's, it made for a filling and unusual lunch.

Speaking of Atwater's...they are extending their hours at Belvedere Square: 8am to 8pm Monday - Saturday and 8am to 5pm on Sunday. And did you know you could find out their daily specials (for all locations) online? Just check the Web site.

Illonen St. Urho's Paivaa!

Quite a while ago, my friend Kate used to have an annual party to celebrate St. Urho's Day. This started sometime after discovering a can of St. Urho's Brew at a DC bar called the Brickskeller. As the years went by, the party evolved to serving purple and green foods (the official holiday colors), and there was always a ceremonial reading of the Ode to St. Urho (found on the back of the beer can) by the drunkest or the most self-conscious person in the room.

Today, March 16th, is St Urho's Day. To learn more about the holiday, read up on it here. Be sure to check out the pics on the party page, featuring yours truly as a blonde in a pink and green bustier (done before we found out that the official color was royal purple, not hot pink. But look at the can - you can see it was an easy mistake to make.)

So what to eat on a fake holiday celebrating a fake Finnish saint? Finnish food, of course (although fake Finnish food would be most appropriate)!

According to the Ode, St Urho got "tall and trong" on "feelia sour" a yogurt-like substance with a stretchy texture, aka Viilia. Here's a quick recipe.

Viilia

1 to 2 tablespoons cultured buttermilk
½ cup milk

Let milk warm to room temperature and combine with buttermilk in a custard cup. Place in a slightly warm spot (on the pilot light of a gas stove is a good place, if it’s not too hot.) Cover loosely to keep the dust out, and leave it overnight. Don’t shake it, or it may become watery. In the morning it should have the texture of gelatin. If not, let it stand until it coagulates. Chill in the refrigerator, then season with salt and eat it with dark bread, or sprinkle it with sugar and cinnamon for a sweet treat. Serves 1.

The Happy Herbalist sells viilia culture/starter. No affiliation, just providing a link.


How about a recipe for fish soup (kala = fish, keitto = soup)?

Kalakeitto

Ingredients
6 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 onion, diced (a larger size onion) or two leeks, well-washed, cut into 1" pieces
2 teaspoons salt
5 whole allspice berries
6 cups water
3 lbs fish (salmon is especially nice)
1 cup cream
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons minced fresh dill

Directions
In a large kettle, place potatoes, onion, salt, allspice and water. Cover and bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Cut fish into bite-size chunks and add to potato mixture. Simmer covered for another 15 to 20 minutes or just until fish flakes easily.

Do not boil the soup.

Stir in cream, milk, butter and dill; heat through and serve.

This is what your soup should look like:
Image courtesy Stefan Richter



Want more recipes?

Mmm...doesn't blood pancakes sound yummy?

No? Maybe filet of reindeer with cranberry sauce is more up your alley? (Sounds like a perfect Christmas dish!)

I'm kinda intrigued about the beet burgers myself.



Maybe fried grasshopper would be most appropriate?

No post on Finnish food is complete without a pic of everyone's favorite Finn, Stefan Richter! Doesn't he make a cute St. Urho? ;)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Comments on The Chopping Block

I'm not going to be recapping The Chopping Block because I'm still recovering from Top Chef. I'm sure you understand. But I do have a couple of random comments on the show.

First, the show reminds me, ominously, of another NBC food-related reality show and Rocco DiSpirito's downfall, The Restaurant.

Second, I am happy to see that Marco Pierre White is (so far) not a raging lunatic screamer, like Gordon Ramsay.

Third, is anyone else disappointed in Xan and Than? With those names, I expected this:

Siamese Twins

but got this:

Snotnoses

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Baltimore Magazine's Best Restaurants

Baltimore Magazine publishes a yearly list of the best restaurants in the Baltimore area. This year they did the daring and ranked them. I've highlighted the ones I have visited in the past - only 14! I need to get out more. Unfortunately, many of the remaining joints are a bit pricey, and there are not enough special occasions during the year to merit a fancy dinner at an untried restaurant.

I've only been to Charleston and The Black Olive once each, and can tell you I was not particularly impressed. I've complained about this before - the sauces at Charleston were too reduced, the veal stock becoming the equivalent of glue, leaving our lips sticking together for hours afterwards (and I don't mean in an embrace).

Pazo and Petit Louis, also owned by Cindy Wolf and Tony Foreman, are two of our favorites, both worth multiple excursions. Apart from The Bicycle, I've been to each of the other restaurants more than once. I was thrilled to see that Crush made the list; hopefully this means the place will stick around for a while.

Dear readers - where do you recommend that we visit next?

1. Charleston
2.The Black Olive
3. Cinghiale
4. Linwoods
5. The Oregon Grille
6. Woodberry Kitchen
7. Aldo's Ristorante Italiano
8. Antrim 1844 Country House Hotel
9. Pazo
10. Meli
11. Salt
12. The Oceanaire Seafood Room
13. Petit Louis Bistro
14. Kali's Court
15 .The Prime Rib
16. Shula's Steakhouse
17.The Capital Grille
18. Sotto Sopra
19. Fin Steak & Seafood
20. Blue Sea Grill
21. O'Leary's Seafood Restaurant
22. Ixia
23. Milton Inn
24. Chameleon Cafe
25. Tio Pepe
26. Baltimore Pho
27. Trattoria Alberto
28. Della Notte Ristorante
29. The Helmand
30. Roy's
31. The Dogwood
32. Jack's Bistro
33. TD Lounge
34. The Brass Elephant
35. Peter's Inn
36. Iron Bridge Wine Company
37. Aida Bistro & Wine Bar
38. Osteria 177
39. Darker Than Blue Cafe
40. Tersiguel's
41. The Wine Market
42. Fogo de Chão
43. The Bicycle
44. Corks
45. Crush
46. b
47. Victoria Gastro Pub
48. Jordan's Steakhouse
49. Gertrude's at the BMA
50. Ze Mean Bean Cafe

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Don't Forget...

...Chopping Block starts tonight!

Here are links to videos that introduce the competing couples:
Chad and Mikey
Michael and Payna
Anapol and Lisa
Zan and Than
Angie and Samantha
Vanessa and Kelsey
Dean and Shari
Khoa and Denise

...and a clip of Marco Pierre White on the Today show:


8pm tonight! Hopefully it will be good enough to recap. ;)

Chiles Rellenos

I bought several poblano chiles at H Mart last week in order to make chiles rellenos. Rather than the traditional cheese-filled, egg-white-battered, deep-fried variety, I decided to go rogue.

After roasting the chiles over an open flame (read: the two front burners on my gas stove), I plopped them into a bag to steam a while, the rubbed off the skin under running water. I also cut a slit in one side and removed the seeds.

My filling consisted of finely chopped onion, one Mexican chorizo, a couple chunks of leftover cornbread, plus vegetable stock to moisten. I also added a handful of chopped cheddar cheese, some cilantro, and various spices: chile powder, cumin, garlic, smoked paprika. This mixure went into the chiles, which were secured shut with pieces of broken wooden skewer (since I can never find toothpicks in this house). I then rolled the peppers in beaten egg and seasoned breadcrumbs (chile powder, cumin, salt) and put them in the oven for about half an hour, in order for the cheese to melt and the filling to heat through.

The garnishes are roasted tomato salsa (Trader Joe's - a molé sauce would have been better but I didn't have the resources), a drizzle of crema, and some chopped walnuts and cilantro.

On the side: homemade guacamole (2 avocados, 1/4 cup chopped onion, handful cilantro, juice of one lime).

All I can say is - I done good. It was quite delicious. Next time I'd use two chorizos, or maybe some other pork product in the filling, and find a molé sauce....

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

3rd Annual Washington Post Peeps Diorama Contest

You have until Sunday, March 15th to get your entries in for this fun contest. Info here on the Washington Post site, along with a gallery of the last show.

Shown above: semifinalist Kate Bowen's hilarious "Peepator Craig's Wide Stance."

Monday, March 09, 2009

Top Chef Quaker Oats Challenge

Remember that oatmeal challenge featured on Top Chef I posted about some weeks ago?  Well people entered the contest and now they're waiting for your vote.

Click HERE to vote for your favorite recipe from the 10 semi-finalists and the top three will compete in the first ever Quaker Oats Viewer Quickfire Challenge on March 27th for the chance to attend a future Top Chef taping.  You can vote once per day, until on or about the 13th of March.

Some of the recipes actually sound pretty good....
 

Bourdain and Bánh mì

Where does one find a good bánh mì in the Baltimore area? I think I read somewhere that Saigon Remembered has started serving them at lunch, but that does me no good....

The Chopping Block

The more previews they release of this show, the more intriguing I find it to be. Season premiere is this Wednesday, the 11th, 8/7c on NBC.



Friday, March 06, 2009

Gone Wild at H-Mart

I decided to take advantage of a half day at work and headed to H-Mart to pick up some Asian provisions. Mr Minx and I went a little crazy in the produce department, coming home with baby bok choy, Asian eggplant, Chinese broccoli, shiitake and oyster mushrooms, sugar snap peas, poblano peppers, several kinds of rice noodles, smoked tofu, and turnip cake. The fridge is completely full of vegetation, but that's a good thing, since it's usually the other way around in this house.

That night, we had a vegan feast.


Baby Bok Choy with Shiitake Mushrooms (adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian)

8 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed
2 t cornstarch
1 cup vegetable broth
1 T soy sauce
1 T Xiao Hsing wine or dry sherry
1 1/2 t sugar
2 t toasted sesame oil
1 lb. baby bok choy, halved or quartered, depending on size
2 T canola oil
3 small cloves garlic, sliced
1 t chopped fresh ginger
1/4 t salt, or to taste

Put the cornstarch in a bowl. Slowly add the stock, mixing as you go. Add soy sauce, wine, sugar, and sesame oil. Mix well and set aside.

Blanch bok choy in 4 quarts of rapidly boiling water. When crisp tender, remove from pot and shock in a large bowl of ice water.

Place oil in a large sauté pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, add the garlic and ginger and stir fry for about a minute. Add the mushrooms and stir for a few more seconds. Put in the well-drained boy choy and stir for another 30 seconds or so. Stir the cornstarch mixture and pour into the pan. Cook until sauce has thickened. Remove from heat and serve immediately.



Hot and Spicy Szechuan-style Eggplant (adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian)

1 pound Asian eggplants
2 T canola oil
2 scallions, cut crosswise into fine rings
3 thin slices of peeled ginger, diced
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
5 t soy sauce
2 t sambal oelek
2 t sugar
2 t rice wine vinegar
salt to taste
1 t toasted sesame oil
chopped cilantro

Cut eggplant into 2" - 3" lengths, on an angle.

Put the oil in a wok or sauté pan and set over high heat. Add the scallion, ginger, and garlic and stir fry for one minute. Put in the eggplant and stir for another minute. Add soy sauce, sambal oelek, sugar, and vinegar and stir. Lower heat and cover the pan. Check and stir occasionally, until the eggplant has softened and collapsed and the sauce is thickened and sticky, about 10 minutes. Stir in sesame oil and sprinkle with cilantro before serving. Serves 4.

Brussels Sprouts

For a whopping $3.99, Mr. Minx and I scored a ton of Brussels sprouts, still on the stalk. We routinely pay that much for about 10 aging sprouts in a plastic cup.

So what to do with 50 or 60 of the little buggers? Any favorite Brussels sprout recipes you'd like to share?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Cocky Chef Clothing

You've probably read (here and elsewhere) about Stefan Richter's upcoming line of t-shirts and panties, Cocky Chef Clothing. Well - it's finally available to his adoring fans. ;) Click here to see.

And why am I hawking his clothes on my site? 'Cuz I designed 'em. (Yes, the Minx is a graphic designer.) Now go buy!

Top Chef New York Reunion Special

Andy Cohen opens the show by asking the assembled cheftestants if any of them think they have been voted fan favorite. Stefan actually raises his hand. Seriously, with the asshole edit they gave him, he thinks he has a chance at winning Fan Favorite?

C'mon, we're not that all-powerful. Plus we haven't exactly been nice.

Don't mince words, Tom, tell him what you really think. Stefan then admits that he voted for himself so he would get at least a couple of votes.

Next up on the reunion:

We then see a montage of the Hose. I'll spare you the gory details.

They discuss the finale a bit. Tom says the food was pretty good, and Padma says the judging was very close. Stefan tells them he was happy that he did not win, and everyone looks at him as if he's suddenly got three heads. Or sprouted some hair.

Then:

But you also have a predilection towards pan-European guys. We have proof.

Maybe it's just his perfectly-shaped bald head that turns Fabio on?

Thanks to Stefan for telling us that he and Fabio did not have "sexy time." Not that I wanted a mental image of that, thankyouverymuch.

To show his undying love for his European compatriot, Stefan is presented with an I Heart Fabio t-shirt, available, of course, at the Bravo store.

Several of the cheftestants were eliminated on or around their birthdays: Daniel, Gene, Radhika, and everyone's favorite ho....

So now we know the explanation for Padma's face when she PPYKAGed Leah. She found humor in the situation.

Ok - enough with the montages for now.

Andy reads a viewer question aimed at Gail: is Toby the Simon Cowell of Top Chef? She doesn't think so. In fact, she didn't seem impressed by him at all.

Ok - let's have another montage. Sigh.

Next comes several questions relating to this season's little fauxmance:

When asked about their home situations, both the Hose and Leah admitted that their significant others dumped their cheating asses soon after they arrived back home.

The Hose had a perfectly reasonable excuse for their actions:

They were drunk and horny. And extremely desperate.

When asked if they were currently in a romantic relationship, Hosea was quick to claim they were just friends. "Friends with benefits?" snarked Andy. The hose said they were in different cities, so that made things difficult. And neither would move for the other. Uh-huh. But as this Page Six item shows, they're happy to make time for each other when both happen to be in New York. (ugh)

Tom then asked if anyone had an issue with their relationship. Besides the viewers who were squicked out by the whole thing. Stefan, in his charming way, said "who gives a shit?"

We then see scenes of the cheftestants going crazy in the Glad Family of Products Commemorative Stew 'n' Imbibe Room, where they made beds and volleyball nets using Glad products. Gotta get that product placement into the reunion special somehow!

We also see scenes of Leah and Jamie getting hammered on beer while waiting for the verdict of the Superbowl challenge. Both knew they were safe from elimination, so they figured it couldn't hurt. They looked like idiots, but this was one case where Bravo's editors saved their asses. As Padma reminded them, they were on national television. Or in this case, on the cutting room floor.

Next was a question for Stefan regarding his cockiness. This was a good time for Andy to remind us that...

Stefan thinks Gail is "so cute" and Padma is "totally hot." (But we know Fabio has his heart.) He still loves Jamie, of course, even if no amount of tequila would let her sleep with him. According to him, she has a "great rack." At that comment, Tom retorted, "rack of lamb, right?"

The cheftestants then reveal their nicknames, which the viewers did not get to hear during the show. Stefan dubbed Jeff "Don 'Sorbet' Johnson" because he made sorbets in just about every challenge. Leah was "Ho fo' sho'" which couldn't have been any more appropriate. And Ariane seemed to like being called "Cougar" or "Coogs" even though that nickname is actually somewhat insulting.

Another astute viewer wrote in to suggest that Jamie was a big whiner, something I pointed out early on.

Finally, we were back to the task at hand:

Andy said there was lots of campaigning for the prize, particularly on Facebook. Richard was one of the guilty parties.

And the winner is: Fabio!

And that's all folks! Top Chef Season Five is finito! But don't dispair - Top Chef Masters will start up sometime this calendar year (I'm hoping) and I'll be recapping that here as well. Stick around!
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