Cactus, camping, and cowboys — that’s what last week’s Top Chef episode brought us. The chefs left the Vegas strip and headed to the desert. Tim Love, whose website describes him as a chef of urban Western cuisine, was guest judge.
The Quickfire challenged the chefs to cook with cactus, and Mike Isabella won. In addition to knowing that risotto is a way of cooking, he apparently knows how to make cactus less slimy. Good for him. For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs went camping and prepared an outdoor lunch for cowboys. I’m sure the desert heat was brutal, but I felt the chefs were a little too whiny about this challenge (Eli and Michael Voltaggio included). I don’t think it’s too much to ask professional chefs to cook something on a grill, which is why I was so baffled that two people prepared ceviche, (Mattin was sent home as a result), and no one cooked steak.
The Voltaggio brothers found themselves in their usual spot at judge’s table — at the top. For a second time in a row, Bryan won. His Roasted Pork Loin with Corn Polenta, Dandelion Greens, and Glazed Rutabega captured the spirit of the challenge. In addition to being a talented chef (obviously), he appears to be incredibly organized. If that isn’t enough, he’s totally likable.
For the drink pairing – when you’re outdoors, in the heat, and grilling — you want a cold beer. You’re not going to bother with simple syrups, crushing ice, and garnishes. And lord knows, you don’t want that coconut mojito that Ron made. Anchor Steam, the flagship beer of the Anchor Brewing Company, is my choice for Bryan’s pork loin and polenta. Steam beer, also referred to as California Common Beer, is an unique beer. The brewing technique is a combination of ale and lager methods (brewing lager yeasts at ale fermentation temperatures). This technique gives the beer the easy-drinking quality of a lager, but it has the noticeable hop flavor and amber color of an ale.
posted by Ms. S&C