Texas Dogs

Please understand that I have no interest in discrediting the standard summer hot dog served up on that doughy white bread bun and weighed down in yellow mustard or store-bought ketchup.  Plant one of those babies in front of me right now and I dare you to predict how long it lasts!

The whole experience of the low-brow, shiny stadium-style dogs clumsily wrapped in cheap wax paper and dripping with salty juices will never get old. Forget that they’re considered traditionally American, family-oriented, and best of all, cheap.  They just taste good!

But a simple, inexpensive hot dog can go so much further.  And right now is the perfect time of the year to take this standard summer staple out for a test drive, and see what it can really do for you.

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The Kitchen is Broken! The Top 10 Tv Food and Drink for 2012

Tv Food and Drink’s Central Nervous System has gone into the shop for graphics card repairs. We should be back at full power in time for the 1/23/12 episode of The Bachelor. Until then, please feel free to wander down memory lane with my top 10 articles of 2012 (so far), including Bachelor, Celebrity Apprentice, Dancing with the Stars, cookies, arsonists, hot dogs, pizza and Sarah Michelle Gellar’s visit to Alcoholics Anonymous!

1.) Bachelor 16-1 Recap: Winemaker Ben “Sloppylocks” Flajnik Seeks SWF to Help Squeeze His Grapes

2.) Nacho Dogs

3.) Celebrity Apprentice: Are you becoming more and more curious to see what Lil John looks like without those stupid glasses?

Ringer Sarah Michelle Gellar The CW4.) Watching: Ringer: Pilot (The CW)

5.) Five Things I Learned From the Hollywood Arsonist OR “Cornmeal Thyme Cookies”

6.) Tv Food and Drink: Podcast #1 Featuring Sammy Davis Jr, Ann-Margret and Frank Sinatra

7.) Chipotle Chicken and Apple Pizza

Nancy Grace Nipple Slip Wardrobe Malfunction Dancing with the Stars8.) Dancing with the Stars: Nancy Grace Nipple Slip Twitter-Cap

9.) The Bachelor 15-5: Brad Womack and the Two We Know Are Gonna Be in the Finals

10.) Portobello Buffalo Burgers

Food Network Star Recap: July 24, 2011

I wouldn’t be able to say I thought much of the “What-does-your-cupcake-say-about-you?” challenge that opened last night’s Food Network Star.  Generally, if a cupcake is saying anything more than, “Hey Gary… I bet you can’t stuff this whole me in your mouth at one time!” I’ll generally pass on it altogether.

Thank God for Guest Judge Ina Garten.

I admire Ina.  On The Barefoot Contessa, she’s always so tranquil… so calmly in command, no matter what may come her way.  It could be a last-minute birthday party for seventeen, an impromptu brunch along The Seine, or a flash flood that ravages her entire dill weed garden.

It doesn’t matter.

Ina would simply tuck her head to the side, give a warm, comforting giggle, and suddenly everything would be wonderful again.

Ina’s astonishing equanimity is such a God-given talent that I’d love her to branch out from cooking and show people how to remain calm in other situations where it really matters. Say, for example, prison.

I’m sure there’d be a huge interest in a show where instead of decorating pear tarts and planning baby showers, Ina enters a maximum security detention facility and demonstrates how she can make the best of it while collecting all kinds of new friends. “Today, I’ll be teaching a little stool pigeon what’s good for her using this attractive oyster fork!  It’s a great way to let them know you’re thinking about them, plus it’s so much fun.  Be sure your pigeon is sound asleep before you shank her, or her blood will splatter everywhere… and that’s a mess no one will want to clean.”

Of all the personalities on Food Network, Ina is the one I’d most like to be trapped with in an elevator.  Not only would she remain totally serene, she almost certainly would have a large picnic basket with her, filled with all kinds of rustic breads and iconic cheeses.  We could pick out a little cozy spot in the corner and have a nice lunch and learn more about one another.  She could teach me how to make the perfect coffee cake.  I could teach her how to get her cat to give high-fives.  She could recount her experience writing nuclear energy budgets during President Ford’s administration.  I could tell her how one time I met The Harlem Globetrotters, including the bald one!

Yes, my patience was tested during the cupcake challenge, but not Ina’s… even when Sandwich King Jeff presented her with his creation… an Italian sub cupcake, piled high with five different cured cold cuts, including salami, prosciutto and pancetta.

Ina’s assessment of Jeff’s meat monstrosity was as sunny and it was stinging: “Am I right that you prefer to cook rather than bake?  Yeah… it shows here.  Thank you.” And with that, she dismissed our Sandwich King the way she might dismiss a ladybug from her lapel. And yet, she was so sweet and endearing throughout, I wouldn’t have been surprised if Jeff had leaped into Ina’s lap and started telling her what he wanted for Christmas.

As for me, I’d like to mock Jeff more for his stunningly bad cupcake mash-up, but I can’t.  I was the guy who once invented something called “The Pizza-Ttini.”  I was so very proud of it.  I was certain it would be the perfect blending of my two favorite flavor sensations: pepperoni pizza and martinis.  Instead, it tasted like feet.


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Food Network Star Recap: July 17, 2011

Well, I can’t say after watching tonight’s Food Network Star I’m any closer to knowing who will win, but I’ve definitely found an excellent contestant in case Food Network ever wants to produce a show called America’s Most Obnoxious Dinner Guest.

Did anybody else think that Wolfgang Puck took his celebrity judge status a little too far when he dragged Our Gal Jyll back to the kitchen and gave her an Evelyn Wood-style crash course in risotto?

True, the stuff Jyll served up looked like it would be better suited to filling a cavity-ridden molar, but Puck’s singling her out like that and showing off how he could do it oh so much better had a definite “neener-neener” quality to it.  I think Jyll would have preferred to go stand in the corner with a rice cooker on her head while Wolfie used a slingshot to fire Brazil nuts at her.

Nevertheless, I thought Jyll held it together pretty well.  She seemed to adopt the attitude of “Shit howdy!  A free cooking lesson with Wolfgang!  This is way better than that “Everything’s Coming Up Cupcakes” class at Sur La Table!”

And perhaps I’m being too hard on Wolfgang.  After all, could it be I read the entire situation wrong from the get-go?

Maybe it wasn’t that Wolfgang was so disgusted with Jyll’s risotto he had no choice but to tear away from dinner and run to the kitchen.  Maybe he was just trying to get away from everyone else at that damn table.

Consider the tedium…. Bob Tuschman endlessly showing off what he knows about whoopie pies.  Giada de Laurentiis forever manipulating the conversation so she can work in the word “free-TAH-TAH.”  Bobby Flay’s non-stop bragging about the new limit on his Gold AmEx.  Susie Fogelson throwing back one too many Moscow Mules and getting a little “handsy” under the table.

I’d have probably bolted for the kitchen too.


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Food Network Star Recap: July 3, 2011

It’s going to be a bit painful watching the opening titles for the rest of this season’s Food Network Star knowing that one of my personal favorites was sent home way too soon.

Yes, Justin B., the nine foot tall hobbit with the tat sleeves, eyebrows about to go to war with one another, and those creepy Coraline buttons in his ears crapped out on the horrifically forced Cougar Town catering challenge last week and was ordered to pack up his meat saws and drag hooks and skee-daddle-it back to Georgia butcher life.

In terms of food, Justin nearly always received high marks from the judges, but whenever it came to demonstrating a flair for describing his meals or displaying anything close to a vibrant and compelling personality… well, as my Jewish friend Michelle would say, “Oy! HIM we have to watch again??”

Was it really Justin B.’s time to go?  Wouldn’t FNS have been better served by ditching Frat Boy Chris at this point… a man whose every move seems to be more of a surprise to him than anyone else?  Or what about the other Justin… Justin D., who doesn’t have any cool tats or disconcerting ear wear and seems more defined by his wallpaper wardrobe than anything he’s actually cooked, done or said in the last five weeks of competition?

We start this week’s episode with yet another declaration from Middle Eastern Mama (formerly Bitch on Heels) Penny that she is “here to win,” as if it should be news to the viewers at home or any of the other nine finalists that a human being is actually competing on this show with the objective of beating other human beings.

Just once I’d like to see any contestant on any reality competition show openly admit to the camera, “I couldn’t care less about the stupid win. I’m just here because I have an insatiable ego and I wanted to see what I look like on television, further my career, make a few bucks and get laid more.” I could actually get behind a contestant like that (see Bentley on this season’s Bachelorette).

Does Penny really think that her pushy, intrusive nature comes off as “delightfully competitive” and “oh-so-viewer-friendly”?  What kind of massive personality car-wash would the executives at The Food Network have to put this woman through if she actually won and got her own show?

No, Penny’s days are numbered, I think we can all agree.  With each snotty remark and superior dismissal she passes along to camera, she’s getting further and further away from the “win” she proclaims to care so darn much about.

This week’s first challenge took place at Mel’s Drive-In on Highland Avenue in Hollywood, just eight tenths of a mile from where I live!  How I would have kicked myself for missing this tape day if Super Hobbit was still on board!  But since he’s not, as my Jewish friend Michelle says, “This I could take or leave.”

Our finalists were tasked with hosting their own segments of Guy Fieri’s Drive-Ins, Diners and Dives from show open, to staff interviews, to wrap-up and show close, with that cuddly bleach bombshell Guy providing tutelage the entire time.

Up first was Frat Boy Chris who you had to feel a little sorry for. Try as he might, Chris just could not figure out the concept of “blocking” – the positioning and movement of people on camera in relation to said camera with which they are supposed to be interacting.  You know… television.

“Here I am with the chef from Mel’s Drive-in!” Chris proudly announced… looking directly at the chef from Mel’s Drive-In the entire time.  The poor chef looked plenty confused, and seemed about ready to help Chris out with a, “Yep… you got it… here you are… with me… I’m the chef alright!”

But Chris didn’t seem to have the slightest notion that anything was wrong.  When Guy finally pointed out the mistake, Frat Boy could only offer up,  “Man!  The hardest thing about this is knowing where the camera is!”

Hey Chris… look about two inches to your left.

No Chris… your OTHER left.

To be honest, it didn’t really seem like most anyone came off particularly well in this challenge.  Orchid used up all the interview time talking about herself.  Susie fumbled over her words.  Vegas Vic lumbered in front of the camera with the grace of a beached grunion. The only one who really redeemed herself was Don’t-Forget-Me Whitney, who was awkward and charming with her interview subject and slightly more confident with a giant burger placed smack in front of her punim.  If this shot alone doesn’t earn her a pass from the judges to next week, there is no fairness in reality food television.

And couldn’t someone have been nice enough to tell poor Not-Bland Mary Beth about her hair?  Anyone?


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Nacho Dogs

She often laid on the floor of the family room, watching television and eating hot dogs.

The hot dogs were almost always on a paper plate.  This was because washing the dishes was one of her household chores, and she excelled at creating less work for herself.  She would spear each hot dog with a fork and eat it skewer-style.  That eliminated the need for a knife.  With a swipe through the mustard mound on the edge of the plate and then up to her mouth, her eyes never even had to leave the screen.

I have many memories of growing up with my older sister, Kelli, and much of it relates to food.

There was the time she brought a peperoncini to me and asked me if I wanted to eat it.
“What is it?” I asked innocently.
“A deflated pickle!” she cheerily replied, then relished as I popped it into my mouth only to scream moments later at the sour bile exploding on my tongue.  I immediately reported this violation to my mom, who went looking for the peperoncini jar intending to force Kelli to eat one as punishment.  But Kid Kelli had quite cleverly already dumped the rest of the jar’s contents down the garbage disposal.  At family get-togethers, she still boasts about this story.

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Food Network Star Recap: June 19, 2011

TV Food and Drink proudly presents “Phenomenal Foodie Failures,” the classic sounds from the cast of this season’s Food Network Star.  Sit back, dim the lights and re-live the moments that make you glad you have absolutely no involvement in this show whatsoever.

You get ’em all!  The zingers! The questionable admissions!  The pathetic pleas!  All here for the first time in a single blog post.  Who can forget these timeless classics…

“They were having a blast. They just forgot to make food that tasted good!”
Duff Goldman, Cupcake Wars

“I happen to be a connoisseur of whoopie pies.”
Judge Bob Tuschman

“You’re like a one year old horse that needs to be broken.”
Bobby Flay

“This dish was so shockingly bad in its execution… but also…  just as a decision!”
Judge Susie Fogelson

“I actually spit it out!”
Random Nobody Food Taster

It was a pretty brutal week for just about everyone… except for Giada De Laurentiis.  You can’t ever look bad standing next to a vending machine full of candy.
This week’s first challenge (creating savory meals using chocolate) was more a heavy-handed plug for every Hershey product under the sun and less an opportunity to create pleasing finished products.  Yes, I’m talking to you, Vic Vegas.  If the idea of combining chocolate and asparagus didn’t strike you as…. risky at least… the finished product should have tipped you off that you weren’t doing yourself, the chocolate industry, or the general appetites of humans everywhere, any favors.

I won’t take the imagery any further, and it probably goes without saying that Vic did not, in fact, win this challenge.


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Next Food Network Star Recap: June 12, 2011

I learned one thing watching last night’s first Food Network Star challenge: That Giada De Laurentiis really likes to say the word “pizza.”

“As you can probably tell, today is all about PEET-zah! Now, you will have one hour to make your PEET-zah!. It’s up to YOU to create a PEET-zah that reflects your culinary style! When you present to camera you must tell us a story that relates to your PEET-zah! The winner of today’s challenge will have their PEET-zah featured in Food Network Magazine!”

Now I realize why I haven’t been more successful in life. I’ve been saying “pizza” wrong all these years. No one ever told me I was supposed to put an emphasis on the PEET part of it it. So instead, I blew my youth publicly going around emphasizing the ZAH!  Boy, the laughs my friends must have had behind my back all these years. Well, we all learn when the time is right for us, don’t we? From now on, I’m leading a PEET-driven life. Thank you Giada De Laurentiis!

By the way, this challenge suddenly made Food Network Star so much more accessible to me. For once, I didn’t have to worry about not knowing a thing about reductions or braising, and I didn’t have to give a fake nod of understanding whenever someone on the show said “crème fraiche.” I may not be the most educated dude in the kitchen, but there’s one thing I know, and that’s how to make a PEET-zah!

Also, I think the reason the show introduced an early elimination this week was specifically to shed itself of Juba. Good looking? Yes! Youth on his side? For sure! Able to speak while standing still in front of a plate? I give you Exhibit A:

“Um… today’s pizza was um… an, a, an inspired dish… from ah, this half-priced… it was prepared, the sauce was p-p-p-prepared with tomatoes. It’s called the Triple… the Triple Holy Trinity because I used three different kinds of peppers, toasted pine nuts, clam juice and white wine!”

I’m not sure who I felt worse for… Juba, or Judge Susie Fogelson as she bit the insides of her cheeks to keep from laughing.

Actually, I think I felt the worst for Katy… this season’s Stepford Chef, or as Judge Bob Tuschman put it, this season’s “morning show host.”  Katy seems to have it all: the smile, the pluck, big hoop earrings that glisten with confidence.  Unfortunately, it all reads oh-so insincere.  She’s like the lady at the garage sale who seems endlessly interested in your life story while trying to get you to cough up a buck for her old VCR.  Katy’s “story behind the pizza” didn’t help matters much either.

“I had a Chinese worker stay with me a couple weeks ago and we made pizza, and she said it was the best thing she had ALL WEEKEND…. making pizza with me!”

Yeah, you read that right.

Suddenly, Katy’s pizza held no interest for me whatsoever.  Who was this Chinese worker? Where did she come from? And where did she go? Did Katy make the Chinese worker wear a pink helmet and goggles while she was in the kitchen?  Did she give her five minutes every seventy-two hours to pee and make phone calls to her loved ones?  Did the Chinese worker thank Katy for the totally awesome pizza by building her an iPad before she left?

This story could have been an episode all its own!


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Next Food Network Star Recap: June 5, 2011

Yes, I’ve often secretly fantasized about being a contestant on The Next Food Network Star.

At least I think it’s still called The Next Food Network Star. It’s possible this year Food Network has decided to have it just go by the shortened Food Network Star, though I’m still uncertain. The show titles say one thing, the commercials say another, and the the website contradicts both.

But that’s all beside the point. How I would love to be regularly put under a 45-minute time limit to come up with a “Sophistcated Breakfast,” or concoct a “Gourmet Concession Snack” to be presented at an NBA game, or make a seven-course meal using only what I find in the dumpster behind a South Central Pic-N-Save… but I think it’s most likely never to be.

Much like the themes on Frank Sinatra’s September of My Years album, my days of showing off youthful exuberance and exploitable ignorance are, hopefully, all behind me.  I have nothing left to contribute to the genre of reality television but a sneering superiority and the safety of judging those younger and more easily manipulated than I behind the safety of a laptop Mac computer with a vodka martini close at hand and an obese cat semi-conscious on the knit throw at the end of my bed waiting for me to hit the pillows and give him a cozy armpit nook in which to nuzzle.

I could have been a star, if only Food Network had exploded on the scene ten years earlier. But similar to the day I realized I was too old to ever be on The Real World, I’ll have to accept the fact that I’ll most likely never be able to cook for Bobby Flay, he with his endless incredulous sneering, and the nearly immaculately-visaged Giada De Laurentiis… ah Giada, no one effortlessly tumbles out the word “ricotta” the way you do.

So I merely serve to judge.  And judge I will.  If I can’t be a Food Network Star, I’m gonna do my damned best to make sure no else unworthy squirms their way through either.  And with that, I give you my recap of this season’s premiere episode of The Next Food Network Star… or Next Food Network Star… or Food Network Star.  Whatever.  Just be grateful I’m not making you read about Chopped!


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