It’s only about a fistful of butter, but sure.
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Set Phasers To Nuts
Starting off the first quarterfinal of the series was the Invention Test as the 5 chefs were tasked with creating a dish that showcased nuts as the core ingredient because they had to use them all up before November.
Most of them opted for desserts and then most of them opted to make a Frangipane tart but Tommy’s not like the other girls and decided he was going to do a savoury duck dish
as you can tell this episode was a minefield of inevitable innuendo and potential HR nightmares
I’ll forgive Monica for not showing up for this one.
The risk with doing any savoury dish is that the meat pretty easily becomes the star of the dish, Tommy’s solution to this was to mostly just throw every kind of nut he could get his hands on at the plate – hazelnuts, chestnuts, pinenuts, KT Tunstall’s critically acclaimed 2022 album and peanuts all featured and he probably prayed to the Egyptian sky goddess for good measure
the duck was perfectly cooked but the star of the dish was his “fabulous nut sauce” a phrase so horrible I subconsciously brainfarted during my note taking and wrote “fabulous nutsaice” and spent several minutes trying to work out what culinary wonder Nutsaice was but could only find guitar lubricant which I didn’t know was a thing
see, we’re all learning here.
The battle of the Frangipane Tarts was between Rosie and Charlie – the former was in a slightly better position because her restaurant is apparently a living hell for the atopic
and she wasn’t going to get flustered during an invention test because she’s fought bigger and uglier fisherman in the wilds of the Arctic Circle
literally everyone this series has the backstory of a Dungeons and Dragons character – I’m fully expecting someone to walk through those doors claiming they were orphaned as a child and raised by wolves, whose deaths at the hand of a local lamb farmer they’re trying to avenge.
For her Frangipane Tart, Rosie was flavouring it with orange and pistachios and serving it alongside a pistachio ice cream (of which there was not enough of this challenge, GET IT TOGETHER GUYS.)
they absolutely loved her pistachio ice cream (which is the only valid opinion of Pistachio Ice Cream) and made sure to lavish praise upon her balance of the tart’s flavours because 5 minutes earlier they’d criticised Charlie for his very well made but mostly apricot centric dish
and to be fair he should probably have realised this was a bit of a nonstarter when he was having to insist that folding some chopped pistachios through a Chantilly Cream made it a Pistachio Chantilly Cream – it does not, it just makes it a textural mystery. But Charlie wasn’t the only one to just sprinkle some nuts on something, do jazz hands and shout “TA-DA!” because Dara did exactly that with his lumpy Paris-Brest
the most baffling part of it was probably the use of the superfluous strawberries which weren’t even a panicked addition to meet the criteria and actively make the Paris-Brest less of a Paris-Brest.
Lastly we have Cameron who came under fire for his Chocolate Cremeux washing out the flavour of the four different nuts that he’d used for his dessert
I imagine he chickened out of making it a Chocolate and Hazelnut Cremeux because he would have just been serving them a brick of Nutella and that would violate the BBC’s stance on advertising. They did however love the presentation and were particularly wowed by his Dry-roasted Peanut and Caramel Ice Cream
ok, maybe I owe an apology to Charlie’s Pistachio-laced Chantilly Cream.
A Nut Dish Ranking
1. The Horrible Implications of Someone Shouting “Duck! And Nut.”
2. Rosie’s Tart Worthy of the Loneliest Fisherman
3. Cameron’s Chocolate Overload
4. Charlie’s Apricot Centrism
5. Dara’s Lumpy-Brest
A few of the chefs hadn’t quite met the required nuttiness levels, but Dara had made the grave error of getting Gregg’s hopes up so was sent home
I’m still not unconvinced he isn’t John Torode’s long lost son.
Giving Me The Critic
In order to decide which three chefs were moving on to Semi-finals Week they each had to cook two courses for this week’s trio of critics which included Tracey MacLeod who I feel like we haven’t seen in a while, my Queen of the Critics: Leyla Kazim and Jay Rayner who has had a new etiquette chip installed
I’ll miss the old gravy drinker
The first chef to the pass was Cameron who was on a mission to showcase his skills as a seafood chef with two fish courses, the first being a dish of Mackerel and Not Much Else
and I imagine having his mackerel, which was 99% of the plate, described as “just about ok” was a bit like if Leonardo DaVinci’s parents stuck one of his painting on the side of the fridge instead of the door
and he wasn’t winning back many Fishy Bonus Points with his Monkfish Dish
mostly because if you say it’s a monkfish dish, the people want it to be a monkfish dish not a Dulux paint wheel of questionable living room colours
and it’s even worse when a fair amount of the green you’ve hidden your monkfish beneath isn’t fun to eat
poor lad, so concerned about proving himself as a dab hand at seafood cookery that he didn’t think to watch out for Chekhov’s legumes
they’ll get you every time.
Not helping Cameron one bit was that everyone had apparently gone on a fieldtrip to Rosie’s Frozen Fish Graveyard
meaning he was up against 4 other fish dishes, but one of them was Tommy’s Seabass and Watermelon so all was not lost for him because the judges were not enamoured by Harry Styles’s less successful single
it’s very much one of those dishes that comes to you in a dream and you probably shouldn’t actualise into reality – like Hobnob Porridge or Onion Ring Lasagne
but after swinging wild, Tommy was reigning it in for his main course which was a pretty straightforward lamb dish
it was extremely well cooked but perhaps a little ordinary? Although because he’s Marcus’s Adoptive Son of the Series™ he must be protected at all costs so they made a big deal about the fact he was smoking it in hay
SIR. I have written so many paragraphs about hay-smoked lamb on this blog, you CANNOT act like this is in any way a novelty, it is not 2015 anymore.
Tommy wasn’t the only one to forgo fish in their main course, Rosie ended her Mexican-inspired menu with a dish of braised Pork Cheek with Buckwheat and a Fennel and Orange Salad
there was also whipped feta and a side of shots being fired at Wahaca
Rosie’s addition of the feta may have worked, with her main course being dubbed the Dish of the Day, but I still want Thomasina Miers to answer to the Crown Court of Nachos.
Rosie’s two course Mexican inspired menu had started with a Scallop Tostada
which everyone thoroughly enjoyed – if as much for the quality of the cookery as how fun it was to say “Achiote Puree”, which is also a very good drag name.
Lastly we have Charlie whose first course was a Tuna Ceviche of which I have stated my piece about numerous times before, but at least he seems self-aware
he might as well have just conga-lined himself out of the room
although the thing really going for Charlie in this instance was the fact he was following Cameron’s iotas or mackerel and monkfish so by all means a pile of raw tuna looked positively generous and everyone was a little bit very hungry
and he was continuing to outshine Cameron McFish-Chef with a main course of Brill, of which he was cooking on the bone like a sort of hasselback flatfish that looked a bit like it’s being tortured on the grounds someone in the Medieval period was accusing it of high treason
his hanged-drawn-and-quartered brill was then served with gnocchi, as was traditional under the rule of Edward Longshanks
the dish does somewhat unnerve me, I don’t like that everything looks a little bit like it could be some sort of insect’s egg – I think we could have used a few more trapezoids to break it all up, or a blanket of verjus will do
and he received rave reviews for it – his fish cookery was perfection and an excellent choice of accompaniments that made it feel like something genuinely slightly new and exciting.
A Critics Challenge Dish Ranking
1. Rosie’ Main’s Cheeky Pork Dish
2. Charlie’ Main’s Treasonous Flatfish
3. Welcome to the stage, Miss Achiote Puree!
4. Tommy’s Smoking Lamb
5. Charlie’s Friend Winning Salad
6. Cameron’s Just About OK Mackerel
7. 50 Shades of Green
8. Watermelon Seabass (High)
Rosie and Charlie were easily through in the eyes of the judges, so the decision came down to either Cameron and Tommy – the latter may have had the weakest dish of the round with his Watermelon Seabass (High) but his lamb main course was extremely well received whereas Cameron had two quite mid-tier dishes that hadn’t done him, as a seafood chef, much justice and so he fell just short of the semi-finals
and thus I have to spend at least another week of endlessly confusing Tommy and Charlie who are just the same man to me.
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