Thursday, November 23, 2017

800 Words S3E3

They seemed to go full-farce in this episode. Woody can't marry Tracey because he is already married, but doesn't dare tell her. George is worried about the kumera network (grape vine): it will be awful if Tracey finds out but Woody is determined to find his wife (Mary Kelly), get a divorce and leave Tracey in the dark. Of course, by the end of the episode, half the town is in on it. George uses the phone book and finds all the Mary Kelly's he can, leaving Woody to make the calls (he's very chatty in doing so). They are hiding out in someone's bach: Smiler notices and comes in, uses geneology as his method to track her down. Constable Tom sees the vehicles lined up outside a place that should be empty, asks about their "command centre" and offers to help using official channels: only then does it turn out that Woody hasn't even given his wife's proper name. Good old Constable Tom - what does it matter if civil liberties are infringed in the name of love? Somehow seveal other people are involved by the end.

As for Tracey, she has work problems: no-one to teach the numpties. Katie brings some soup to school for Billy and lands herself in it: because she has taught in a kohanga reo, that makes her qualified to teach High School in Weld.

The other big story line revolved around Shay: she's having trouble dealing with the break up with Ike and why he has gone "full mystical" on her. Lindsay is surprisingly wise, says that Shay has not yet hit bottom - of course, that is a set up for her doing so. Shay loses it in the Super Centre when she sees Zac, goes off to him (and of course, some girls are there to film it and share it with all and sundry) and then hides out in the beer chiller. In another surprise, Siouxsie comes in and comforts her (and later on brings the oh so necessary ice cream). Eventually, Shay goes off and tackles Ike again - all he can say is that voices of his ancestors spoke while he was nearly dead, he has to find his "path" without Shay - it may or may not lead him to her. Instead of saying it is all bullshit, Shay sees he is more confused than she is.

Back to Woody - now that he has finally found Rosemary, he makes the call - she is in the Silverton Hotel (I've visited it, it is near Broken Hill - it has featured in many movies including one of the Mad Max ones and Wake In Fright). She does not seem happy to hear from him or even to divorce him: if he wants to sign the papers, he has to take them to her. In Woody fashion, he tells his mates there is "a bit of a complication". 

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Masterchef 14

This was the relay episode - I’ve seen some disasters with this, where cooks forget to be team players and really screw up the dish. It depends on the first member setting things up, then all others following along. They need to use a special ingredient - we're told it is something harvested from a tree for over 500 years “magic water” i.e. maple syrup. Volunteers are needed to start the cook - they jump in quickly - but are they up to designing a good dish? Benita is Green, Tamara is Blue, Benjamin is yellow and Diana is Red. Benita - chilli crab and prawn with maple syrup as sweetener. Judges “very interesting” when they get to hear - they don’t look convinced. Tamara - Asian sticky pork belly, slaw and bao buns. Benjamin  setting up idea not full dish - maple ice cream, others can add own idea. Gets the ice cream in the blast chiller in his time, couple of minutes downtime. Diana maple syrup ice cream, maple glazed bacon, jelly and crunch.

Second team:
Eloise is yellow, she cools ice cream over ice bath - but what is she adding? She sees it as the perfect centrepiece but wants complementary flavours - smoke the ice cream! Add white chocolate foam. Sarah is blue - really happy with choice made, portions the dough for the bao buns and she’s “all over this”, gets slaw under way. Tamara is watching from another room and is also happy - says Sarah is "a machine". For the green team, Ben is a “little bit perplexed - completely wrong dish” no maple syrup used yet - Benita frustrated, wants him to put more in. But he can taste the maple. Red is Trent - puts jelly in fridge, his team wants in freezer.

Third Team:
Bryan makes some inspired choices for yellow - adds crispy maple bacon crisps and pickled apple (includes bourbon) to the maple ice cream and his team mates are happy. For the blue team, Michelle hoped she would be working on something sweet but the dish is savoury, she gets very lost and stuffs the dish up. The pressure cooker confuses her, Sarah is worried, more so when Michelle puts bao in steamer too early, without shaping and not on paper - has she ruined them? For the red team ice cream dish, Samuel adds almond and maple syrup biscuit for texture and flavour. Will he put jelly in freezer? Sees is runny, but thinks the next cook can sort it. Poor Nicole in the green team: she can’t see how the dish will work, losing flavour of sauce because heating maple syrup destroys its flavour. Back to Michelle: she is chopping the pork belly up, but when it is deep fried, it will dry out, buns on too quick. Will the next cook fix it?

Fourth team:
New yellow member Eliza seems to get it, don’t really see her much. Michelle can’t explain her dish to Karlie, which leaves her a lot to sort out - “what a mess”. Buns - really odd and gluey, fried pork drying, soggy slaw - nothing that will work. Poor thing. Ditch two, start again. Now Michelle realises has taken team backwards. Karlie - goes rogue, adds crispy pancake - Sarah happy. Sticky maple sauce as well. This is tense! Red man = Callan. He finds the jelly, which is still liquid and finally puts in freezer. Green - no maple flavour in dish, maple syrup prawns. Jelly drama over - has set.

Fifth team:
Jess is blue - team happy with that. Finds some pork crackling for salad - banging! Dish has little resemblance to what was intended but looks tasty. Eliza does good hand over. More confusion for green team with Pete. No maple flavour in sauce - heating kills flavour. Yellow man Sam eating lots, forgets tuille - is a bit dark. Maple comb made - makes team mates very happy. Ice cream has just made it. Teams all shouting at their player - who can’t hear them! Ray on Red, dithering over plates.Does he even know about the jelly? After all that? Nope, it does not get plated.

Yellow up first - I think they like it! Yep. Amazing clarity - despite the way the dish was put together. Blue - judges like original idea. Clear expression. What of the finished product? There are things to love, but little mistakes - pork a bit dry. Green - is it about maple syrup? ”We used a whole bottle.” Nice dish, lots of flavour, but maple syrup lost. Red - “where’s the jelly?” Bacon sails - like ancient pirate ship. George - really enjoying it, flavours connect. Biscuits make it for Matt. Special mention for Diana in her set up. Got to be green which goes into elimination. Yep.  

Thursday, October 26, 2017

800 Words S3E2

The last episode ended with Ike making his way ashore, much to Shay's relief, and with Jan in surgery, with her suitors waiting to find out which is the father of the twins. It is reasonably obviously not Zac - the boys are so white - yet he has his blood taken along with the other two in the hope a blood test will reveal all. George really enjoys his time with the wee boys and is maye revising his attitude that he's not up for any more kids, the thing that split him and Fiona. He kind of puts his foot in it by saying it is these boys that he'd like to bring up, not one with her. Steve is all in, however - even if he's not the dad, he's happy to bring them up and is in love with Jan. She, in the meantime, suggests she has a preferred choice and it looks a bit like George thinks it is him and warms to the idea.

Woody has proposed to Tracey and now there are all sorts of plans to organise an engagement party and speculation about when the wedding will be. Monty has the job of bringing the two of them to the party but he's a bit slow and, when he's told to take them to look at a house, takes them literally. Minor humour and of course he gets them there in the end. There's been several mentions in trailers that Woody has a shocking secret, and it turns out to be the most obvious one of all - he's married - and he reacts strangely: makes a great speech and flees. George to the rescue, to talk him down.

There's a bit of miscommunication between Arlo and Lindsay: he thinks she wants him to have a baby. At least he fronts up and says it is not for him, and everything is cleared up quickly. That's not the case with Shay and Ike: he tells her he heard voices when he was out on the ocean, including that of Tangaroa (God of the Sea) and so they have to break up while he sorts himself out.  

Monday, October 23, 2017

800 Words S3E1

I love 800 Words and am very glad to see it back for a third series. The last series finished with a couple of cliff-hangers. First, Jan is having twins and there were three contenders for being the father - Zac, George and a bloke who shows up from Sydney, Steve, (Mark Ferguson, who played Darryl Nielsen many years ago in Shortland Street). Second, Ike, Steve and Zac all go off on a fishing trip but their boat washes up without them.

So these are obviously the storylines to be played out in the first episode of the new series. Jan is rushed off to hospital to have the babies, but is kept in the dark about the missing men. George is caught up in the search so Big Mac is left to look after her - he seems to be having second thoughts about his rather rash proposal, and is very happy to hand over to George when he does turn up.

As for the search, poor old Constable Tom is a bit out of his depth running it (and weirdly, Gloria decides to cut and run half way through the episode) but they're good people in Weld and don't really need him to keep them on point. Even Ollie, who has an interest in seeing Ike is never found, comes to the party and uses his drone to search the coastline. It's nerd Billy, however, who has the best answers: he has been researching shipwrecks in the museum and has an idea of where the three men might be. Being a kid, no-one listens to him but he and Arlo go it alone. As soon as I saw the life-jackets it was pretty clear they'd got ashore, exactly where he predicted, but no-one in the show seemed to see it that way and got caught up in grief. So Zac and Steve had to rescue themselves, turning up at just the right moment but there's no Ike! He'd swum ashore from where the boat capsized but there is no sign of him - which tears old Shay up enormously.

There's an amusing moment when Siouxsie turns up without any makeup, and no-one knows who she is. But she keeps Ollie going with his drone, and he finally sees Ike. I don't think there was much of an internal struggle - he maybe accepted what Siouxsie told him that even without Ike around, Shay still won't be interested or maybe he's just a decent guy - but he saved Ike's life.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Masterchef 13

Immunity challenge - Sarah, Eloise and Sam have to use waffles! They're apparently a worldwide culinary treat, yet I can barely remember eating them. except for the tragic versions you make yourself for breakfast in cheap American hotels. This is the second time round for Sarah. Eloise said "going forward". I thought I liked her! Sam’s family is big on waffles, so he’s keen. Eloise terrified, Sarah has a plan - kaya (Malaysian coconut jam) and mangoes. Coconut is the go for Sam as well. Eloise has a mighty big chicken - going to have fried chicken and waffles. No time to shake, mate! But she doesn’t know how to make waffles! Sam has test waffles already - needs to make some adjustments (more butter). Sarah has fried off some curry leaves. Eloise has a mess, not waffles. Sam has no toppings at 15 minutes in - his plan is for caramelised banana, chocolate and rum, toasted macadamia. But will they match his batter? Passionfruit pulp might be the answer. Sarah’s belting at cardamom with a saucepan because she can’t find mortar and pestle. Getting a panic on. Whisking egg whites by hand - at a million miles an hour! Don’t get in the way George. No time for a test waffle. Eloise doing karaage chicken but how are the waffles? Beautiful! Yikes - four minutes to go, waffles take six and Sarah is just putting them on to cook. A wee bit blonde, crispy enough? Wow - what a high energy round!

Judging: Sarah first.Only Shannon seems to know the origins of the dish. Not quite cooked, sadly, although tastes come through. Sam - pours his rum and chocolate sauce over, very liberal with it. Toppings are great - lots of sweetness, real crowd pleaser. Eloise - she’s played into the hands of the judges, and the look they give when the dish turns up says it all. I like the look of it, even the salad. Matt just chuckles as he eats. She’s obviously done it. Chili caramel sauce. Cafe quality food.

Round two - Eloise v Charlie Carrington (left school at 14 to cook, has worked with Shannon, David Thompson has a place called Atlas Dining - 100% cooks with fire). Matt puts the scare into Charlie by talking about Eloise’s previous efforts. Pantry choice is between healthy v indulgent! Booze tips the balance I suspect. No butter and cream on the healthy side doesn’t help. I’m really liking Eloise, despite her use of going forward. Going right into indulgence with a rich chocolate mousse and peanut butter ice cream. But eggs are on the wrong side - how to make mousse? Thickened cream might do the job, and make it even more indulgent.Uses a, iSi gun to force out the mousse. Honey roasted macadamias and a nut biscuit crumble to add textures. Ice cream has come out perfect, despite no eggs. Belts in the whiskey! Don’t fall apart now, Eloise - 1 minute and nothing on the plate.
Charlie - says he’s nervous, looking for savoury, seafood. Ha! Not his bag.Oreos, fried bread, cherries in ginger beer, chocolate ganache, cashew praline.Nothing fresh. Ah - the oreos are for his snacks. He found a mortar and pestle - where was it when Sarah was looking for it? He can hear Eloise is doing well, no fresh produce is his worst nightmare. What can he add? Mascarpone and ginger beer foam. But will it hold? Nice quenelles of chocolate.
Judging: Charlie first. “Interesting”. Clever, whimsical, pretty, cherries add tartness - but a bit non-committal, and they don’t like the foam. Shows how tough the challenge was. Eloise: it’s a big mousse! Sauce is rock and roll, a proper whiskey sauce, amazing colour, shiny mousse. No lack of commitment here! Matt - “I’m having a moment” - so delicious, so balanced, really is the complete dessert and a thing of beauty. Eloise has just outclassed Charlie on all counts! Dessert of the competition! Are they going to be surprised? Scoring: Charlie 7, 7 and 7. Eloise: 9, 9, 10! Brings a tear to my eye.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Masterchef 12

So Pia, Pete and Ray are in an elimination challenge. Andy Bowdy - Sydney’s King of Cake - set this challenge and it is insane! They say this is where they hone their skills to win, but they’re still the weakest three, and Matt says today’s challenge is “terrifying”. The cake they are to make has multiple layers, involves 12 recipes and the decoration comes from his art school background. Too much! I wonder how many of the judges could make it.
I’d have trouble eating it, let alone making it, because it is so big and involved - meringue, salted caramel, ginger cake (4 times), passionfruit bavarois, brown sugar pecans, pineapple jam, toasted coconut cream, ginger crumb, pineapple crisps. They have 4 ½ hours. How long before someone messes up the recipe? Pia and Pete read it, promise to follow it. Ray has a lot of oil going on in his cake - should have added in parts. Pete might have a problem with his candied pecans: he took them off early to avoid burning them, doesn't like the result, does them again. Is he paying enough attention? People smell burning: “Pete watch your nuts.” Not seeing much of Ray, but he seems to be doing well. Pia uses the mixer to save time with the passionfruit custard: reason to worry? Cakes are coming out of the oven.

Two hours to go. Ray’s meringue looks good, Pia’s not so much - did she use the right number of eggs? She does it again, understands she can’t have it wrong. One hour to go. Hard to know what has to be done. Pete has all his elements - "time to make this bad boy". Ray a little bit behind, gets some guidance from Andy about keeping a straight cake. Pia’s custard is setting, which makes it hard to make a bavarois (custard needs to blend with whipped cream, so needs to still be runny). 30 minutes.  Ray’s cake won’t fit the structure - messy. Pete worried about his crane driver hands and lack of finesse. Seems to be doing OK, really. Pia in her element. All of their cakes actually look nice - no disasters.

Judging: Pete - everyone smiling. Gracious about possibility others have done better. Nailed it in terms of appearance. George loves the burnt pecans. Andy might steal the idea! How good is this! Ray - cake a bit bulgey in places. Happy he’s given this everything. Nice story about his wee girls. Andy: needs a bit more colour, stuff on top. Taste - done good. Pia - cake looks good, a "beautiful chaos". It has lots of ginger cake but does it have enough bavarois? Her cake is heavier, the meringue is not right. This is probably enough to see her go (although Ray had a couple of problems too, must be about the eating). Yep: Pia is eliminated.  

A Date for Mad Mary

I loved this movie: it is billed as a comedy and it really is very funny but has its sad moments as well. I want to say it is set in Dublin but when I think about it, I don't know where it is set. Ah - Drogheda, halfway between Dublin and the border with Northern Ireland. Mary (Seána Kerslake) is just out of prison - she bottled another girl in a nightclub and spent six months inside as a result. She is ostensibly chief bridesmaid for her best friend, Charlene, who is rather absent from the friendship. Mary can't really understand why and is hurt but still wants to play her part, even to the point of signing up to a dating site so she can bring a suitable plus one to the wedding. But she is a wild thing and has spent time in prison, so its kind of understandable that Charlene might have misgivings about the friendship and, indeed, to have moved on a bit. We spend most of the movie seeing things from Mary's point of view, who can't really see this. One consequence is that Charlene and her friends come across in a rather unflattering light.
There is a sequence of unsuitable dates but then Mary meets someone, the videographer for the wedding, as it happens. Mary becomes a sort of assistant videographer, one night they're put up in a hotel, they drink the minibar dry, one thing leads to another but they realise that they have a lot in common. I think it is fair to say it is a big surprise to both of them, but I really enjoyed the way they recognised each other, and how we got to see another side of Mary.

But, well, the path of true love does not run smooth and Mary manages to simultaneously get offside with Charleen and the videographer. Here the movie is following the typical plotline of a romantic comedy, so of course there needs to then be the possibility of reconciliation.

While Mary was a great character, the best line went to her Nan (Mary lives with her mum and Nan but family support is not particularly strong): "Fucking sniper wouldn't take you out".



Monday, August 28, 2017

Summer 1993

This is apparently based on the director's own experiences when she was orphaned as a six year old. Frida is living in Barcelona when her mum dies and is taken in by her uncle and aunt, who live in the country (possibly the Catalan area in Spain, although this is not clear). Obviously it is a bit of a transition for all involved - possibly the happiest with the change is Frida's tiny cousin Anna. For the most part, the two are great companions, and there are some very sweet scenes featuring them, such as when they're dancing together. But there are a few concerning moments - maybe Frida entices Anna into a water hole so that she gets out of her depth, and there is a scary incident when Frida takes Anna into the bush to play hide and seek and leaves her there. The kids came across as remarkbly real.
There were a few times when the adoptive parents might have been a bit slower off the mark in involving Frida, and the whole situation of having a new family plus the loss of her mum must have sometimes made her feel a bit uncertain of her welcome. I also suspect she had a bit more active parenting than she had had from her mum. Ultimately, the movie becomes a tribute to the aunt and uncle: they both do a tremendous job of helping her to get past the teething troubles. The most touching scene for me is when the aunt sits down with Frida and they have a pretty candid talk about where her mum is.

There are also grandparents and other relations who come - I couldn't work out the relationships of them all.