Thursday, June 22, 2017

Watching - Wednesday 21 June


First up, it is Masterchef Australia #5, which is the first elimination show of the season. Our lucky contestants are Benita, Rashedul, Benjamin and Lee - interesting that they all arrive in separate Jaguars, even though they all came from the same house and possibly shared a bunk. They enter to find a line of 14 ingredients and cloches: they have to pick an ingredient, but must pair it with the mystery ingredient under the cloche. Benjamin strategises, avoids chicken on the bases that chicken is so common, he’d both need to outdo himself with it and there’d be a hard mystery ingredient. He picks walnuts, gets dates. Rashedul goes for mangoes plus - what are they? Green peppercorn! Fuck! (Google tells me there’s a mango tart with green peppercorn dish.) Lee - plays to his strengths and picks salmon, gets aniseed (that could work). Benita - peaches and, is that tea? Yes! Earl Grey.

Benjamin’s going for Greek dish, Katoumari - fine pastry, a kind of baklava ice cream - he has the walnuts sorted but the dates not so much. Lee is thinking confit salmon aniseed sauce. Benita - earl grey ice cream, short bread for a sandwich and baked peach - determined not to repeat yesterday’s brain freeze. 15 minutes in and Rashedul has no idea what to make with his tricky combination. Inspiration - mum’s dish from back home - mango pepper sorbet with coconut pot stickers and coconut broth (we cut to him with his son, then Benita with her family - she wants to host ladies long charity lunches, says you’re never too old to follow dream).

Rashedul  knows he needs to get balance right - pepper can’t overpower but it must be tastable - so he doesn’t really need George’s warning - but will he get it right? Lee sous viding his salmon, also worried about aniseed balance - the audience seem to think it smells great. Benjamin works out to add a date puree - but how to make dish not too sweet? Pomegranate! He’s a happy man - tells us it’s a traditional Mediterranean ingredient, perfect combo. Benita’s ice cream not working, she hits panic mode.

20 minutes to go, people are running around, Benita seems stuck. Gary gives hint - forget the churner, go for blast freezer. Benjamin hand stretches his dough, adds liberal butter, rolls it up, creates a circle of pastry, then fries it as a spiral - it looks good. Rashedul is way behind, hit by nerves - gets a George pep talk - breathe, you can do it - twice they show us yesterday’s disaster. Lee all happy, roasts tomatoes to tie dish together. Benita still doesn’t have ice cream. Five minutes. Won’t give up - custard! What about the biscuits? Benjamin’s pastry looks good - it is spiralled and fried. Makes a mess of his plating.

Judging: Lee has fancy looking dish, Rashedul’s not so good, Ben’s is terrible! Benita’s a hodge podge. Lee brings up aniseed beurre blanc, confit salmon. Matt: Dish a thousand miles away from what you did yesterday. George “so beautiful”. Gary only one to eat the lot, but all like it. Wonderful food. Benjamin: Greek dish for George, best Greek chef around, maybe in the whole world!! He’s not impressed at the look of it.

Smells right, looks like trainwreck - should have been in foil, steams flavour back into pastry. “I hope it tastes good.” Gary - he’s done the job of blending dates and walnuts. George - totally. Then a wee “wow” as he eats, “really delicious”, fantastic with dough, old technique. Gary “Bloody hell”. Matt forgives rustic. Rashedul: thinks he has hit brief, but can they taste peppercorn? He tells a family story from Bangladesh - George always loves the nostalgic value. His dish looks good, modern and beautiful. No peppercorn, but. Could have worked. Good dish, but not on brief. Benita: “Dead man walking” without ice cream. Not convinced she’ll stay - “hoping, on hoping on hoping”.

Her dish really doesn’t look good except the peaches - poorly plated but came out right with flavour, “it all makes sense”. George wishing for ice cream. Still - no surprise when it was Rashedul who got the chop. Pep talk at end possibly a bit OTT.

Breaking Bad

Last night I had a double episode of Breaking Bad. First the last of season five, Gliding Over It All. Walter and Lydia have a meet at a cafe, he’s after the names of Mike’s nine guys, the ones he’s been paying to stay quiet - now that Mike is out of the picture. She persuades him to go international, sell into the Czech republic, where the best quality is about 60% (Walt hits 98% or so). It makes perfect sense - his product is a long way away from him, and she has the distribution. Quite a lot of the episode shows him cooking from house to house, raking in the money - everything is so normal! But he has to deal to Mike’s guys - the DEA has grabbed them all, and they’re locked up in three different prisons - the balloon could go up at any time. Todd has connections, a tough family - Walt demands that they see to the nine guys within a 3 minute space of each other! It’s terrible to say, but there was a strange beauty to the way the nine deaths were choreographed - I couldn’t wait to see Hank’s face when he got the news - it comes in while he’s giving a photo op to a bunch of school girls. He’s not a happy man, years for a simpler time when he had a job in the woods.

Time goes by - about three months. Walt presses Skyler to come home: she has something to show him - a huge pile of notes, beyond what she can count: how much more do you want? After a weird chat with Jesse about the old times (and giving him his $5 mill), Walt decides he’s out and happy family times ensue - until Hank makes a discovery. They’ve been having time by the pool, Hank goes in to the loo and, looking for something to read, finds Leaves of Grass - the copy Gael gave Walt, in which he had written a dedication to Walt. Hank recognises the writing: end of season.

The final season starts with a flash-forward: the White family home derelict, the swimming pool a skate park, and Walt breaking in to retrieve some ricin he’d stashed - the episode is called Blood Money. I didn’t pick it, but this is a follow on from the flash forward at the beginning of the 5th season, when Walt is alone in a diner, celebrating his 52nd birthday. Back in real time, Walt is proving to be a real nuisance - with no meth to cook, he’s spending all his time at the car-wash: I think Skyler is pleased when he suggests they buy another. Poor Jesse is a mess, guilt ridden and with $5 mill to get rid of: he thinks giving half to Mike’s grand daughter and the other half to the parents of the boy Todd shot will expiate his guilt. Saul, however, won’t do it. So Jesse starts randomly throwing bundles of money out of his car. Hank is committed to proving Walt is Heisenberg, stays away from work and has all the files brought over. Walt misses the book, works out where it is and confronts Hank - the gloves are off. Apparently, the cancer is back.

Picket Fences

Another show we’ve been watching on a Tuesday night is Picket Fences, although it’s been a few weeks since the last one. We saw Bad Moons Rising - Alice Freeman kills her husband by running over him with what they keep calling a steamroller, although it wasn’t actually steam powered. This happens after Alice goes on a date with Carter - when he kisses her, she bashes him with a flower pot, and goes to see Jill to report hot flushes, sore back etc. Wambaugh is on the case: Alice’s defence is temporary insanity brought on by menopause. Jill is all for it, Jimmy can’t see it, Carter ends up giving evidence to establish her insanity and the doctor who originally diagnosed her gives evidence that menopause can’t cause insanity. I called it: she gets off on the ground of insanity, and then we’re shown she was never insane, it was all a set-up (which had been Jimmy’s case). Poor Matthew is having sex dreams about Maxine, nocturnal emissions, and is mortified - ends up talking to Jimmy “I think my penis is broken”! Luckily, Jimmy can handle it. I’d have liked to see Matthew and Maxine in the same room, to see how the former would react, but it was not to be


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