This won’t hurt a bit.
Bring me the lobsters!
Oranges and Lem- Ginger?
For their first Invention Test, the third lot of Quarterfinalists had to create a spur of the moment dish that made Orange and Ginger the focal point of the dish which meant they had to take as much consideration into what styles of ginger and varieties oranges they used as well as what they’d use to carry the flavours – of course there was a gaping Duck a l’orange shaped trapdoor for someone to fall through, as well as two whole lobster that would go completely untouched
I’m not saying the production team do this on purpose to get some premium seafood to go home with but I’m also not not saying that.
James made a beeline for the duck and immediately came up against the high expectations that Marcus Wareing has for any classical European dish but James was firmly sticking to his guns in the face of Marcus trying to send the fear of God into him. Sadly for James, as duck rapidly becomes the new lamb, it was still quacking when he cut into it after having roasted it on the traditional raft of carrots
and there just wasn’t enough time to panickedly throw it back in the pan to cook a bit more
but the undercooked duck wasn’t the only flaw, with there being a general lack of orange and ginger throughout but the presentation was smart and Anna really liked the caramelised orange flavour of his carrots.
James may have dived headfirst down the Trappe a l’Orange, but Tasoula was running to that whole chicken like it had £50,000 stuffed inside it
and I’m really not entirely sure why considering her grand plan was to just serve the chicken with an Orange and Ginger Sauce, which she seemingly could have done with any of the meat available
admittedly the chicken was very well cooked and looked very nice but I do find the fact some of the pan-fried mushrooms look like flaccid duck feet to be deeply upsetting. I also don’t know if I love the sound of the earthy flavour of mushrooms combined with the sweetness of orange, but as it turned out you didn’t need to worry about that because the sauce was a little bit weak and there was nothing about the dish that could really wow Anna or Marcus.
Both Sagar and Shane had opted to make desserts, both of which were rather expected Chocolate Orange Mousses with everyone having to deftly sidestep mentioning a Terry’s Chocolate Orange. It was a tale of two halves for Shane and Sagar, with the latter getting up the only truly well received dish of the challenge
I did think the dish looked prettier before he had hidden everything between the Almond Tuile hurricane defences
but the challenge was more about the flavours and he had truly succeeded with the orange of his mousse being well balanced and the Ginger Creme Fraiche being a really good accompaniment. The only complaint was that there wasn’t enough of the Orange Salted Caramel, presumably because Sagar was using its shininess for his daily affirmations
he’s like a parakeet, one look in a mirror and he’s gone. Also if you drape a tea towel over his head he’ll got to sleep immediately.
Shane’s mousse-making didn’t go quite so smoothly, with the mixture over setting and having to be rewhipped to loosen it up which unfortunately diluted the orange flavour but did make it perfect for piping into the worst possible shape imaginable
literally any other shape would have been better, but by this point he was just trying to cover up the fact his tuiles were raw, with Marcus flapping it around like a medieval courtesan looking for a knight’s favour at a joust
and I did appreciate that whoever the camera operator was chose to mostly film the distinctly upsetting looking mousse from an aerial shot
this one’s still not going on Instagram though, is it?
A Ginger and Orange Dish Ranking
1. Sagar’s Hurricane-ready Mousse
2. Tasoula’s Was At Least Cooked
3. James’s Quacking Duck a l’Orange
4. Shane’s Deeply Traumatising Mousse
The Critics’ Chamber
This week batch of critics were Grace Dent, returning for Round 2
Tom Parker Bowles
and Tracey MacLeod who I feel like we haven’t seen in a while
*insert completely neutral statement here*
Up first was Tasoula who was going with the classic Critics Round option of a mostly raw starter but instead of the usual tartare or ceviche, had opted to just sashimi a scallop, serving it alongside a sort of ocean floor marmite she’d dubbed “Oceanmite” and a seaweed broth that by all accounts tasted a bit like you were drinking directly out of a rockpool
it’s one of those dishes that nobody can call delicious but admire it mostly on the strength that it made them think – so it’s a bit like the Lars Von Trier of raw fish.
For her Main Course, she’d opted for the Greek beef stew, Kokkinisto – her twist mostly being to swap out the tomatoes and replace them with as much red wine as she could fit in the pan, which seems a very Patsy Stone approach to cooking
and while you might expect a red wine flavoured beef stew to be served as a delicious, rich bowl of pure comfort – that was distinctly not the case as Tasoula moulded it into domes and hid it beneath pickled carrots
which I would have dubbed The Beef Boob, but it pales in mammary shapliness to Shane’s dessert which we’ll get to, but for now we focus on Tasoula’s slightly disappointing structural stew with the accompanying sauce being too thin and failing to pack the unctuous beefy punch Tom wanted, thus forcing him to say the words “beefy tickle”
Tasoula wasn’t the only to have sauce woes, with James’s Champagne Sauce coming out of the sauce like the last dregs of the Ambrosia box which doesn’t scream “luxurious French cooking”
but unlike Tasoula, he’d managed to pack it with flavour – even if that flavour was about an entire kilogram of butter but it complimented his pan-fried Turbot and various leeks very well
and it suited the decadence of the dish.
James had gone even riskier with his dessert, choosing both the stress of making a souffle and flavouring it entirely with something as divisive as banana
which was even too banana-y for Tom Parker Bowles who had not even 5 minutes beforehand talked about how much he loves bananas, but while the critics thought it was a bit one note, Anna and Marcus both thought it was a very good balanced of sweetness and banana – I do enjoy it when Marcus and Anna’s critique of a dish completely undermines anything the critics say.
James wasn’t the only one going for a risky dessert, with both Shane and Sagar opting for divisive flavours – Shane still looking for dessert redemption after failing to serve up his Banana and Date cake in its entirety and you know… inflicting THIS upon us
his third attempt at dessert glory being an Irish Stout Panna Cotta, which Anna was already lodging an HR Complaint about
that “Yeah, well” was incredibly loaded – and that was before she knew that it looked like a severed boob
luckily he chose to mostly hide the blackberry smear so the dessert did thankfully look marginally less like a viscerally misplaced boob
sadly it was still an incomplete dish as Marcus and Anna had to just about chase Shane out of the kitchen without his Stout Punch because he was falling further and further behind, but it might have been a bit of a relief considering everyone was already complaining a bit about the unrelenting stoutiness of the whole dessert.
Sagar’s dessert was his take on a Ghewar, a traditional Indian sweet served for Raksha Bandhan, a Hindu festival, which is made by intermittently dropping a very light batter into ghee to slowly build up a sort of cakey basket which looks a bit like a crumpet and an exfoliator had a baby
and which he was serving topped with Balsamic Strawberries, Fennel Pollen and Goat’s Curd
anything goat-related is always divisive to most British palates, with Tom and Grace’s entire bodies rejecting the, in Tom’s own words “farm floor tanginess” of the curd
but even though Grace described it as a weird quiche, much like Tasoula’s Scallop and Rockpool Jus, they admired the dish on the grounds that it was thought provoking and unlike anything they’d tasted before – but should a dessert truly taste like you’re reading Kafka? is the real question.
Both Shane and Sagar were doing Halibut for their main courses, Shane pan-frying his and serving it with a Thai-flavoured Sweetcorn Chowder
it’s a confusing sounding dish – and it also looks a bit too much like you’re back in 2012 and everyone on Tumblr is filming themselves eating fish and custard
but the dish was a hit with everyone, although the fact it was served 5 minutes late had fried Marcus’s last nerve and as Shane fell further and further behind over the course of his two dishes, Marcus looked like he’d been waiting for a bus for 45 minutes and had given up all hope for humanity
to be fair to Shane, if I had served up a distinctly 💩 mousse in the last round, I would have taken 5 minutes to plate up my food too.
Sagar’s Masala Halibut and Potato Bonbon was again, probably the msot successful dish of the round
and as well cooked as the fish was, the highlights for a lot of the diners were either the sort of Fennel Compote or the Carom Seed Sauce he’d served it with.
Based off of his two courses, I fully expect to see Sagar in the finals, at the very least.
A Critics’ Chamber Dish Ranking:
1. Carom On Halibut
2. James Goes B-A-N-A-N-A-S
3. Shane’s Fish and Custard
4. The Franz Kafka of Desserts
5. Buttery, Champagny Sauce
6. Tasoula Goes Rockpool Fishing
7. Shane’s Misplaced Boobs
8. Tasoula’s Structural Stew
It was a pretty cut and dry decision as to who was going onto Semi-finals week – Shane never managed to get over his timing issues and Tasoula, while having some great ideas, had too many missteps so Sagar and James become the latest additions to Semifinal lineup
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