Rosh Hashanah Challah

So with Rosh Hashanah being next week and all (yes, next week), this post cropped up from The Shiksa: How To Braid Challah.  I marveled at her many methods to make a round challah, particularly the fill-a-square (with raisins, etc), roll it, and snail it version.  Which made me want to share with you how I braid round challah for Rosh Hashanah.  Everybody has a different recipe, rolls it out in their own special way, and the braiding comes in quite a few forms with different numbers of strands.  It's very personalAlthough I do a six-strand like this lady, I'm practically morally opposed to her method of rolling out the strands, tapering the ends (just rip off any weird/uneven ends, or tuck the ugly edge under!), pinching so gently that it doesn't actually do anything, etc.  Too complicated!

Now I bring you: round challah via the tic-tac-toe method, in my very ill-lit kitchen that has zero natural light.  These instructions were taught to me by a lovely, smart young lady, a family friend we've probably known since she was just a little ball of challah dough.

Start with four even(ish) strands.  I yank (small) fist-sized balls of challah out of the bowl onto a floured surface (not too flour-y unless it's very sticky--in which case, add flour) and apply pressure with both hands, rolling back and forth until I have a nice, smooth, even strand of dough.

Arrange two of them side by side.  Take a third and position it perpendicular, over one strand and under the other.

Take the fourth strand and position that one perpendicular to your original 2, weaving under/over opposite to Strand 3 from before (remember?  Right above here?).  Maybe inch them together closer like you are a little basketweaver.

OK, this is where it gets interesting.  You have 8 "legs" sticking out, some are "overs" and some are "unders."  Each of the four sides has one Under and one Over. Here, I took an Under (start wherever) and moved it to the right, over and Over, which is it's neighbor.   I feel like I'm explaining this badly.  Are you with me? 

Repeat three more times counter-clockwise (in this case it's counterclockwise because of the way I set up my tic-tac-toe, yours may not be--doesn't matter!).  Pick up the next Under (which will be right next to the strand you just put down, see above) and move it over to the right, on top of the Over next to it.  It'll look like this now:

So what now?  After you've got the above, you need to turn the boat around, and start going clockwise.  You can start anywhere, but it's the same idea--take that strand that's crossed Under and move it to the left, laying it on top of the Over strand.  Repeat another 3x.

Then turn the boat around AGAIN and go counter-clockwise.  Go go go!  When you run out of strands, feel free to tuck strange strand-ends under, even ripping off the too-much extra for another loaf or a small knot roll.

I also like to add cinnamon and sugar after an egg wash for some sweetness for a sweet new year.  J isn't a raisin fan, but if he were, I'd probably add some golden ones during the kneading process.

Bake.  Place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet and pop in the oven at 325 or 350 (I forget and have done each) until it's getting golden on top and it sounds hollow when you tap the bottom.  Sometimes the top browns better than other times--it's a work in progress, and it's not perfect.  But it's mine.

[I put them in the freezer to stay fresh for next week before taking the picture, then yanked it out and displayed it on my lovely birthday coasters for you all.  Hence a few frozey flakes mixed in with the cinnamon and sugar.  Below, some challahs of my past.]

Challah!  Yo.


Top Chef Episode 11 Recap

Yes, we're just watching it now.  Don't tease us.

Open on Ed walking around in Tiffany's floor-length yellow maxi dress.  Amanda thinks Angelo's weird, which may be true, but at least he can cook.  Zing!  Later he says she's a "dark horse," even though other chefs talk trash about her.  Aww, how you gonna feel about saying bad stuff about him NOW, Amanda!

The Quickfire: Rick Moonen is in the house for a seafood challenge.  Challenge Food Idioms. A dish inspired by idioms that are around for the taking, including Hide the Salami, The Big Cheese, Hot Potato, and Spill the Beans.  Winner gets their meal in a frozen Schwan's situation.

Amanda, The Big Cheese, wants to put together an awesome mac & cheese--with a side of pork chop.  Tiffany, Spill the Beans, figures beans + fish = awesome.  Kevin, Bring Home the Bacon, is making bacon three ways--but froth can't be frozen.  Ed, Hot Potato, is making gnocchi in an hour.  Sounds good and looks good, too.  Kelly, Sour Grapes, did a grilled chicken with a grape sauce or something.

Rick's least favorites were Kelly's chicken/Brussels sprouts/grape puree and Amanda's heavy-handed dish.  His favorites were Kevin's (much to Angelo's surprise, not to mine--that with the most bacon usually wins) and Ed's fab gnocchi spring dish.  Obv Ed wins because his makes the best frozen meal, which I could have told you.

Elimination Challenge: Take Me Out To The Ballgame, serving high end concession stand food at Nats Stadium.  Team challenge, which isn't so awesome.  Kelly is bossing everyone around, like she's some sort of team leader.  Last time she took charge she ended up winning.  I think there's going to be some tension between what's more baseball food, and the more high-end stuff.  Amanda's making tuna tartare--this seems like a bad idea.  Raw, outdoors, large quantities, potential heat...sounds gross.

Angelo decided he'll take the orders, because they aren't sure if they have staff.  Then he realizes he can't cook, plate, and take orders at the same time.  Ed is going to take care of Angelo's pork dish for him.  Amanda's tuna is starting to oxidize and turn gray.  Ew.  Told ya.

Long lines, ballplayers jokin' around (and loving the meatballs from Tiffany, obvs), and Padma in uniform. 

Too much stuff at the house.  Too much background, like this is part reality show and part cooking competition.  Not interested.  Don't care.  Showing the stew room while other people are at Judge's Table?  Stop that.  You too, Project Runway.

Kelly's open-face crabcake sandwich, Tiffany's meatball sub, Amanda's tuna tartare

Everybody went into Judges' Table at once.  First was a long boring explanation/argument about Angelo being expediter.  The judges liked Ed's molten aroncini and Tiffany's messy juicy meatballs.  Ed pulls out the win with his 500+ risotto balls.  He gets Chef Moonen's cookbook (zzzz) and A TRIP TO AUSTRALIA.  Jealous?

The judges liked that Amanda tried to do something different, and her veggies were nicely cooked. She looks flabbergasted.  Kevin's chicken was boring, and too short for the skewer.  I always felt like the skewer was more an easy way to cook and handle it, and less of a lollipop sort of thing.  I never go end-first into my mouth with a sharp skewer!  Kelly's was too salty, but I know they didn't hate it as much as the others.  Angelo's was too sweet, his proportions were off with the bread (and he owns a sandwich shop!), and they felt sad about it generally.  Amanda goes home.  Finally.  Since bothering me in Episode 3, she's gone nowhere but downhill in my mind. She's all rationalizations on her way out (I'm the only sous chef here, competition was really fierce, yada yada).

Quote of the Ep is between two:  "I could actually see his face on the packaging.  He kind of looks like a potato."  Angelo on Ed, who won the quickfire (and thus will have his dish made into a frozen Schwan's dinner).   "Raw fish at a stadium--that takes some baseballs."  Rick Moonen.

And, bonus information:  Top Chef won the Emmy for best reality show.  Congrats, guys!


Pete's New Haven Style Apizza - Ten-Frien

Ten-Frien!  That's Tenleytown-Friendship Heights for the uninitiated.  The newest Pete's outpost is in between the two red line stops, not quite part of the shopping fiasco that is FHeights, but also not the Big Box hubbub at the AU stop.  There appears to be a cute newish coffee shop and pet shop nearby, and an unfortunate Italian/pizza joint across the way. 

Pete's has become our latest "why not?" on nights we don't feel like cooking or we have guests who want some local flavor.  We can walk there, which is convenient, and although there isn't any outside seating yet--likely due to a permit delay--the walk to and from gets enough of that muggy, summer air for this gal.  The food is great, mixing up my own Boylan's soda is fun (because I'm 5), and the pies are huge.  HUGE.  We always have leftover, and it makes my workday lunch that much more interesting. 

New Haven-style apizza (a-BEATS, rhymes with a-TWEETS--not Pete's Apizza = Pizza Pizza) has a super thin crust.  Now, I'm no NH expert.  I only drive through/fly over Connecticut, for the most part.  But the apizza has a nice chewy/doughy end (or as my mom calls it, the bones), and the bottom is impossibly thin and crisp without being burned.  HOW DO THEY DO IT!?  It must be magic.  You can't even really fold this pizza if you try, because it's that crispy.  Nosh nosh.

Shall we look at some dishes?  I'm getting hungry just thinking about it, and luckily I just baked 2 lbs of banana bread. 

Fried goat cheese.  Can you go wrong?  (Answer: no.)

Mmmm fried eggplant (named Edge of the Woods)--we've gotten this pizza TWICE.  And the 2009 World Series Champions!!!

Arugula!  So fresh and tasty, like having a salad (with dough underneath).

Deeeelightful antipasti plate with housemade pickles (so crunchy and fresh and light), roasted corn and tomato salad (I loved this the most), fried risotto balls (dec.a.dent.). 

Solid salad. 

Halfsies--eggplant from earlier (this is a separate occasion, you see) and meatballs on the Boola Boola!

We really like Pete's.  These people are series about their apizza.  Just check out this ride:

Yes, I got permission (in writing...sort of) to use this image.  Because you know, it's shady to take pictures of people's license plates (I'm talking to you, Facebook friends who think those mobile uploads are an Olympic sport).

Pete's New Haven Style Apizza
4940 Wisconsin Ave NW
Metro: Red Line to AU/Tenleytown or Friendship Heights--it's really in between.  Maybe a little closer to FH if you take the Jenifer St exit.

Pete's New Haven Style Apizza on Urbanspoon


Top Chef Episode 10 Recap

 [Conch fritter at Cafe Atlantico.  Read on to see why it's featured.]

Scene:  And the crew is still reeling from Alex's save and Kenny's demise.

The Quickfire: Wylie Dufresne is in the house--molecular gastronomist extraordinaire and former Top Chef Masters contestant.  Create a dish with contents of mystery boxes.  More mystery boxes will arrive while you're cooking, and you need to incorporate everything.  I haven't seen Mr. Dufresne since his guest appearance on Treme.  Winner gets $10K.  Angelo lets on that he has a bride-to-be on the way from Russia--so he has a kid, and now a fiancee?  Who knew?  Various boxes had fish, hominy, oysters, black garlic, squid, ramps...some chefs were unfamiliar with one or more ingredients.

Alex's dish was all over the place, and he and Amanda were at the bottom--her dish was too oily.  Wylie's favorites were Tiffany's fish stew (great broth) and Kevin's seared rockfish (puree at the bottom, his dish just looked NORMAL!).  Tiffany takes it home! 

Elimination Challenge: Off to Langley for the Secret Agent Challenge (laaaaame).  Disguise a classic dish while keeping it's flavors.  What, like it looks like a hot dog but it's really a cake?  Don't play games with me, Padma.  They are cooking for CIA officers and Leon Panetta.  Winner gets a trip to Paris.

As I told J to begin with: I want Amanda to make a fritter with a liquid center of French onion soup-iness.  I <3 liquid center, take a page from Chef Andres girl!

Cooking is a little crazy, and Kelly has a rice-cooking issue that Tiffany helps her solve.  Chef Ripert is back.  And Angelo is having an existential crisis. 

Angelo's Beef Wellington "tartlet" was deemed a poor disguise by Mr. Panetta.  It was also "salty, and the pastry was a little hard."  Kelly's spicy shrimp broth with the Kung Pao spin fared pretty well--good disguise, and people liked it, but there may have been too much broth.  Tiffany's roasted leg of lamb, a deconstructed gyro, and Ripert calls it "the most elegant gyro I've ever had in my life."  They loved it.  Then I caught a glimpse of someone I wish I knew!  Kevin's Cobb salad was good, but not so hidden.  Amanda's marmalade was like "honey and lemon cough syrup" according to one guest.  It looked pretty but wasn't good.  Alex's veal Parmesan was very tough, but a good disguise.  Ed's chicken cordon bleu was tasty but not well-disguised.

Wow, I really went into some detail here--but that's because we have a reasonable number of people who prepared a reasonable number of dishes.  We can get into the knitty gritty!

Tiffany, Kelly, & Ed are on top.  My bets are on Tiffany from the start, and if the too-much-broth and not-good-enough-disguise are enough to down K&E, T will win again.  WOOT!  Tiffany wins the quickfire AND the elimination challenge.  It's basically episode 8 all over again!  And considering Tiffany is the only one I really like, I'm rooting for her big time these days.

Angelo, Alex, and Amanda are on the bottom.  All kinds of problems, from Angelo's lack of imagination and crappy frozen pastry dough to Amanda's weird sweet marmalade and Alex's tough veal.  Alex goes home, which is good, because nobody likes him...except Amanda.

QOTD goes to Amanda: "I really like Alex.  He's like the wise old Jewish uncle that I never had."  I have a lot of Jewish uncles, and I'm glad they're nothing like Alex.  Runner up for QOTD was Eric Ripert: "Angelo's beef wellington would make Julia Child very sad."  Agree.

Things That Surprise Me:
- OMG.  Alex used to video bar mitzvahs and weddings.  I'd like to see some of that footage, y'all.
- Amanda wants to carry a gun in her garter; TMI babe.
- Ed has a girlfriend.

We watched some No Reservations: Rome and all I want to do is cut open a wheel of 2007 Parmesan and eat from the middle of it.  Sigh.


First half of August Links

On your left is a size small gelato that wasn't $5, even though we were barely a block from the ocean.  Maybe it wasn't artisinally handmade that morning by royalty, but it hit the spot.  My link list for you all is getting out of control, so I need to put some out there.

In the news (if you can call it that):

Speaking of the price of gelato in DC, WSJ published an Ode to the Toasted Almond Bar.  Then everybody talked about the WSJ Ode to the Toasted Almond Bar while the Times compared fancy ice creams.  Also in WSJ, Honeycrisps are (were?) hot, but what's the next apple? (h/t J). 

Slideshow of 100 things Baltimore foodies must try, from the Baltimore Sun.

Red velvet fried chicken WHAAAAT?! (from Consumerist, h/t EmGusk.)

Ramadan began at the end of last week, and J and I were wondering in awe just how people observing get through long summer days (and evenings).  This article in WSJ (love the new NY section) is about food vendors and restaurant owners/employees who observe Ramadan. 

Apparently the carrot cake at the prison on Riker's Island is pretty awesome, but it's only meant for special occasions.  See the full recipe, which by the way makes twenty-five 9.5 lb loaves.  Speaking of dessert, how about a giant chocolate chip cookie made in a cast iron skillet (from Kitchn via Inkpad).  Is that insane or what?

And if you haven't heard yet, Foggy Bottom is getting a big ol' Whole Foods.  Between TJ and WF, folks in the Fog Bot/West End area can now cobble together a decent pantry and fridge.  But the Watergate Safeway will still suck.

Virginia peach salsa from Corcoran Street Kitchen looks divine.  So does this Pizza Bianca from Sweetsonian (which I added to my Google Reader from a #ff post of somebody...not sure who).  I totally bookmarked that bad boy for brunch.

Happy Tuesday everybody!


Top Chef DC Episode 9 Recap

 [Bethesda Lane in June 2010]

The Quickfire:  Tag-team cookoff--each team member gets 10 minutes to cook, and they each have to pick up where the last left off.  Those not cooking are blindfolded.  Immunity is off the table, but the winning team gets $10K.   Kenny is the Preppin' Weapon.

Order of cooking:
Prep/heating pans: Kenny and Tiffany
Second: Amanda and Alex (Alex seasons the fish even though he won't be cooking it--whaaa)
Third: Kevin and Ed
Fourth: Kelly and Angelo

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi arrives in a fabulous pantsuit to taste the dishes.  Padma makes NP look short! 

Team K Cubed + A: Sauteed shrimp with a mustard sauce and a tomato basil salad.  The speaker is impressed with their al dente pasta.

Team TAEA: Red snapper with broth and shiitake mushrooms.  A little salty.

Team K Cubed + A pulls it out. 

Elimination Challenge: Restaurant Wars.  Before it even starts I'm wondering who is going to be front of house, who is decorating, etc.  The cheftestants take over the enormous Redwood in Bethesda.  J and I don't <3 Redwood so much, but there's no denying that the space is enormous, and they have that open the giant windows and it's like you are eating outside sort of thing going on.  Frank Bruni, former restaurant critic from the New York Times and author of Born Round is the guest judge.  The Terlato brothers are part of the prize package and will be supplying the wine for the challenge. 

First the judges go to EVOO* with TAEA:  Crudo of fish, tomato confit (Angelo's soup), pan-seared bass (Tiffany), slow-baked turbot (Ed), pan-seared lamb chop (Alex), ribeye steak.  Angelo is executive chef.

Alex is front of house, and he is a major dick to the servers.  For no apparent reason.  He also misses it when the judges walk in, and they sort of stand around awkwardly--that happens to me sometimes, I hate it!  Then he doesn't say goodbye when the judges leave.  Angelo is also yelling at the servers.

Next, 2121 with K3A: Chilled corn soup (Kelly), beet salad (Kenny), strip steak (Amanda), halibut (Kevin), ganache torte (Kelly), cheese course (Kenny).  Kenny is executive chef.

Kelly seems to be a good hostess.  She's warm and attentive.  Amanda has trouble cooking the grass-fed beef because it turns out it behaves differently than other beef.  The judges really like Kevin's dish in look and taste.  But they hate the goat cheese dish that Kenny prepared.

Better service at 2121, but neither restaurant really stuck to the theme they threw out there.  Both had hit dishes and some misses.  At Judge's Table TAEA/EVOO is on top.  They really liked their food, but the winner is Ed for the delicious turbot.  He wins a trip to the Terlato vineyards in Napa. 

So someone from 2121 has to go home.  The judges have a lot of complaints, including thin soup and crappy beef.  Eventually Kenny starts blabbing that the other team didn't act like a team, and Kevin starts saying Alex should go home because he's the one who didn't do anything.  They go back to the stew room and Kevin is pissed, there's cussing and shouting.  Unbecoming!  C'mon, Jersey, behave!  Kenny is sent home, a shock to many people, including him.  He was uberconfident, and an early frontrunner.

Overall a pretty good episode.  I didn't miss the decorating portion that we usually need to watch for RW, I guess because they took over Redwood instead of decorating a big empty space.  Back to the weekend, everybody!!!

*A note on the name EVOO (which was not E-V-O-O but "e"-voo, according to Angelo.  A lot of people were yammering about this being an annoying name because they hate Rachael Ray, etc.  I don't.  I really don't hate Rachael Ray.  I feel like a traitor saying it because it seems to be popular to talk smack about her, the way it's cool to be obsessed with Meyer lemons


Pizzeria Orso

Pizzeria OrsoThe myth, the legend.  Or really, just the yummy new joint in NoVa. 

To cut to the chase, I liked Pizzeria Orso, but I wasn't obsessed.  We waited way too long for a table, and while waiting we saw a child upchuck his meal the second his family was 10 feet from the door.  Not that it's Orso's fault, but it does something to your appetite that can't be undone. 

As a sidenote, I'd prob be even more into Orso if I didn't live pretty darn close to 2 Amys.  And in the end, I prefer 2A.  If I had never left Arlington, who knows, maybe I'd tell you that it's SO MUCH BETTER, etc etc. Convenience is a factor, and it's all a bit psychological anyway, I think.

I really enjoyed the bruschetta--ours had a tomato olive tapenade kind of thing, and that sourdough was perfect--crispy and chewy, not like the countless crappy bruschetta dishes I've had where you it's dry with the crumbs and the oily-ness.  LOVED.  We also had the arrosticini (skewered lamb)--tasty. 

It only made sense to order my fave 2A dish, for comparison's sake.  The Orso edition of my beloved Ripieno Basilico just didn't stack up.  The insides of it didn't ooze out--it wasn't particularly stuffed, and the filling was barely room temperature.  It still tasted good--c'mon people, it's dough, cheese, sauce, and pesto.  But I didn't want to marry it

Ripieno I want to marry:

Ripieno that I just liked okay (sorry, the lighting wasn't great):

J dug his crudo pizze with tomato, mozzarella, basil, grana, arugula, and a thin prosciutto (is there any other kind?) across the top.  I liked that it sort of glimmered.  He found it to be fresh-tasting; he enjoyed the dough, and was surprised that the arugula wasn't too bitter.  He's not one to jump on arugula salads and things of that nature.

Our pals K & P had a pie with mushrooms and one with lots of meat--perhaps the Giamette (sausage, pepperoni, ham, and salami), is that right K? 

Check out the oven:

Dolcezza gelato is offered for dessert; I'm turned off by how expensive it is---even Orso can't mark it up more than the store itself.  At Boccato a small was about $3.50 but it was a very generous small.  At Dolcezza it's about a dollar more for a small but I swear you get half as much (at least in Bethesda).  Very very sad.  I've gone off on a tangent.  Anyway, Dolcezza gelato is good and you can find it at Orso.  At 2A, for those keeping score at home, they make their own ice cream in house, and it is divine. 

Orso means bear.  J thought you might want to know!

Pizzeria Orso
400 South Maple Ave
Falls Church, VA
Metro: Bus from East Falls Church Metro, on the Orange Line.  You can prob take a few ART buses or Metrobus.

Pizzeria Orso on Urbanspoon


Good deeds + potential to win amazing cookies = win for all

A few days ago I saw, shared on Google Reader, and tweeted about this recipe from Eat, Run, Read; cookies with a brownie bite INSIDE.  Oh my goodness.  I basically just stare at the Cakes of the Week on this blog with my mouth hanging open and a rumbling in my tummy.  I rarely actually MAKE anything because a) I'm lazy, and b) I'd need to do a lot more of the "run" part. 

When Mollie from ERR put forward this giveaway I knew I would enter, and if you'd like, you can too.  You can donate (no amount too small) to Niger Food Relief and follow the giveaway instructions for your entries--1 for commenting that you donated, 1 for tweeting the giveaway, and 1 for blogging. 

I knew I wanted those cookies the moment I laid eyes on them.  And I know that I'd pay for them, if they were for sale.  So instead of buying them, I bought my chance to win them while feeding a family in Niger.  Everybody wins. 

You can read about Mollie's experience in Niger here.

Disclosure:  I met Mollie for about 5-10 mins at a DCFBHH months ago.  She's nice.  I like her blog a lot.  End of disclosure.


Top Chef DC Episode 8 Recap

[In honor of today's guest chef, I bring you Café Atlantico and tiny pretty jicama-avocado ravioli.]

The Quickfire: Marcus Samuelsson doles out the challenge--immunity to the person who makes the top Ethiopian-inspired dish.  INJERA! We love it.  But is it kosher for Passover?  Careful not to overspice, ever'body!  Angelo, Ed, and Kenny are all somewhat familiar with Ethiopian cuisine, so Kenny feels confident.  Kelly's never eaten Ethiopian food.  Umm.  Most of Samuelsson's comments as he went to each station were about how much or little heat there was.  At the bottom were Kevin (dish was shy), Stephen (interesting but meatballs were juicy), and Alex (stew was too dry).  Favorites were Amanda (yummy spicy tomato), Angelo (knowledge came through, it was beautiful), and Tiffany (modern approach).  Tiffany won immunity!  And she's from Dallas, and said there's not much Ethiopian food there.  But she used the spices, balanced up her flavors, and BAM she wins. 

The Elimination Challenge: In rolls a giant map.  They each need to choose a dish from a country represented on the map.  100 portions of each dish, served at the Meridian International Center to diplomats and such.  Plus, no kitchen--just sternos.  Tiffany draws the #1 to pick her country first, and grabs Mexico.  It is her day. 

Here's a little rundown of the assignments:

Alex - Spain - Veal, and a lot of other stuff.  Also we got to watch him fall while running in the kitchen.
Angelo - Japan - Tuna ribbons (?) with something avocado and something wasabi.
Ed - China - He's "had a lot of Chinese girlfriends," so he's got this.  Tea-smoked duck breast sounds interesting though.
Kevin - India - Oy.  Stewed chicken with parsnip, etc.  He's not totally sure.  Then we see him talking to his kid on the phone--that's never a good sign.
Kenny - Thailand
Amanda - France - Boeuf bourguignon
Tiffany - Mexico - Chicken tamales with radish pico de gallo. 
Kelly - Italy - Beef carpaccio; looks gorgeous.  A guy from the Italian embassy loved it.

Stephen - Brazil- Only good if he bought it from a cart for $5, says a Brazilian.

Setup is a little hectic, things are getting overcooked, dry, etc.  Tiffany is behind, still chopping things up.  Kelly's beef looks pretty awesome.

Guest judge José Andrés!!!  He tweeted about his appearance, so I was well-prepared.  Poor Alex, stuck with Spanish tapas.  Of the man from Oyamel and Cafe Atlantico and his own flippin' show about Spanish food. 

Kevin had no clue, but he did well--Chef Andrés  loves just the smell of it.  And he loves the look of Angelo's tuna--the color, specifically.  And Tiffany wins, too!  Guests, Chef Andrés, and Tom are all psyched.  Kenny's Thai is balanced and yum. 

A lot of people were good--our guess is that Alex or Stephen go home.  Maybe Amanda, but probably not.  And it's 9:42.

Kevin, Kelly, & Tiffany are brought in to Judge's Table, and you know they are on top.  Tiffany provided Gail's dream of a very meaty tamale.  Kevin's dish had great layers.  Kelly's food was great and she had that local spin--her beef was from the great Commonwealth of Virginia, and she made sure we knew it.  TIFFANY WINS!  And she is two for two today.  She gets an extra $10K from a sponsor, too, with $10K matched (by the sponsor or Bravo, I'm not sure) to DC Central Kitchen (which really touched Chef Andrés).  Extra mazel tov to her because that could have gone allll wrong with Chef Andrés there.

Alex (Chef Andrés wanted to enjoy it because it was Spain, but that wasn't possible), Ed (overpromised and underdelivered), and Stephen (badly-cooked rice, too much garlic) were at the bottom.  If it were up to me, just ax all three.  Why not?  Alas, it's Stephen

I'm glad we're whittling down here, but I have to say that I just don't see a star this season.  A Jen.  A Steph.  A Bryan.  A Kevin.  I don't love anyone.  But if Tiffany won, I think I'd smile.

Lastly, Padma, your necklace is crazy.  Not a fan of bibs.  Now we're watching a couple of married fitness instructors look for their ginormous second home in Fiji.  Jealous much?

Dinner & Snack in NYC

Let's backtrack a bit, shall we?  Because I am the kind of person that sometimes starts a blog post and continues it two months later.  I bring you, lovely readers, a day in late spring 2010, a time before the storms, before the heat, and even before Top Chef DC

Fornino in Park Slope:  Mentioned in the Attack on Children's Menus as a place that was pressured into conforming, Fornino Pizza is a pleaser for adults and children alike. It's reasonably priced, has a pleasant interior, and we walked right in (on the late-ish side) on a Friday night.  We enjoyed the Monzese, a pizza with fennel sausage, mozzarella, and parmesan.  We went to Fornino shortly after it opened, which I don't mind...hey, if it's good in the beginning, then you KNOW it's good, right?  Sorry about the iPhone photo...

Fornino Park Slope on Urbanspoon

Now let's bounce outta Brooklyn and head back to the island of Manhattan for some nosh.  If you were wondering, in between Fornino and the Hester Street Fair came Dizzy's

Mmmmm piles of pretzels.  Sigmund's does it right.  Chewy, with a crisp on the outside, a bit of salt but not too much, a choice of dipping sauces, and general overall deliciosity.  WANT.  I'd been meaning to go to the Shop itself, but instead it came to us (sort of, not really) at the Hester Street Market. Get your shop on while you get your snack on. 

Sigmund's Pretzel Shop

Sigmund Pretzel Shop on Urbanspoon