Sunday, December 29, 2013

More Amazing Graze

So, The Amazing Graze was much more difficult than expected. I would like to keep doing this, but I'm not sure if we'll be able to. It takes 2-3 hours to plan the meal, a few hours to procure exotic ingredients, and usually several hours to make the food. Not to mention that the food is usually quite expensive, how busy I was at work, traveling, holidays, etc. All in all, we only had meals for 5 of the 11 episodes. But each was really a great culinary experience.

Another season of The Amazing Race (all-stars!) starts in February. Here's to wishful thinking that I'll be able to continue the new tradition.

Episode 3 - "King Arthur Style"
Location: Lisbon, Portugal
1st Course: Caldo Verde Soup with Broa
2nd Course: Potato Arugula Salad with Sardines
3rd Course: Salt Cod with Onions and Potato Slices (Bacalhau a minhota)

Reactions: The Caldo Verde was excellent. Kind of like Olive Garden's famed Zuppa Toscano, but better. And the broa loaf (Portuguese cornbread) was also great. The arugula salad had an excellent vinaigrette, though most were turned off by the sardines. I've gotta say though; fresh sardines are downright tasty. The Salt Cod? Practically inedible due to its high salt content. Of course, it didn't help that I prepared it incorrectly...

Episode 8 - "One Hot Camel"
Location - United Arab Emirates
Course 1: Flat bread with Hummus and Baba Ghanoush
Course 2: Lamb Kebabs and Falafel with Saffron Jasmine Rice
Course 3 (dessert): Basboosa and Pomegranate Peppermint Tea

Reactions: This was, hands down, my favorite week and what I was most excited to prepare as I love Mid-Eastern cuisine above any other. I catered out the first course to a Lebanese restaurant nearby. I made the kebabs in a rosemary greek yogurt marinade that was heavenly. My falafel was spicy but well-flavored. The peppermint tea was the perfect way to end the meal and relax while watching an episode. The only flaw in the night was the basboosa which...well...sucked as a dessert. It's basically cream of wheat with rose flavor. Those daring enough to try it only had a bite or two before pushing it aside. I should have stuck to basic puff pastries, but I did want to branch out. Oh well.

Episode 12 - "Amazing Crazy Race"
Location 1 - Tokyo, Japan
Location 2 - Juneau, Alaska
Course 1: Red Miso Soup
Course 2: Green Machine Spring Rolls
Course 3: Alaskan Salmon Sashimi
Course 4: Neopolitan Baked Alaska with Raspberry Sauce

Reactions: Is miso soup ever truly great? Well, it wasn't this time either. I catered out the spring rolls and sashimi to Bamboo Sushi, a wonderful sushi joint that Cynthia discovered. Their spring rolls with some tempura are probably the most wonderful bite I've ever placed in my mouth. Sadly, we didn't order them with tempura this time (who knows why). The sashimi was excellent, of course. Do you see how I tied in both Japan and Alaska to one dish??!! The Baked Alaska was pretty good, but mostly it was just fun to make. Each guest covered their ice cream serving with meringue so we had about a 15-minute intermission in the middle of the 2-hour episode. Each meringue pattern was unique and it was just fun to talk and watch each guest bring a bit of creativity to the menu. I also prepared a raspberry sauce for the dish, but I forgot to bring it out until almost everyone was done chowing down.

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