Nibbles 12.0 (including: Chili, Top Chef, Broadway, Art, and Lamb)

I apologize for my lack of posts towards the end of the week: I had a big one planned and then I decided to watch “You Can Count On Me” for the 8th time on DVD. It’s one of my top five favorite movies, a list that also includes “Defending Your Life” which has two of my favorite movie themes: life-after-death and food. What follows is a random list of Nibbles, small bites of content for you to nibble on over the weekend.

– This chili is awesome:

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It was from last month’s Bon Apetit, you can read the recipe here and it’s the perfect thing to eat when you’re freezing. The night I made this our heat was out because a construction crew hit the gas pipe on the street and our apartment fell to 55 degrees which Craig says isn’t really that awful but I think it is. Making chili when you’re that cold is one of the smartest things you can do next to buying a space heater. Two things that make this chili soar: the chipolte chilis in adobo sauce (which I found in the ethnic food aisle of my Key Foods) and the Sam Adams cream stout. Not only does it give the chili lots of flavor, it’s great to drink with the chili when you’re done. I served the chili with tortilla chips instead of spoons. Diana said it was the best chili she’d ever had.

– Let’s talk about part one of the Top Chef season finale. I think I’m ready to acknowledge that the quality of this season is beneath that of last season. It feels more dramatic, yes, but it also feels less credible. I don’t believe that either of the two finalists are ready to command a kitchen. Marcel is the more obvious bonehead, but he’s a social bonehead.

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I do think his food looks good and I really believe that the judges like it. The bigger bonehead, though, is Ilan.

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He reminds me of the worst sort of bully, the one who doesn’t have the spine to actually stand up to his victim but who prefers to skulk around egging everyone else on. Like when Cliff had Marcel pinned and he was urging Elia to shave his head; or, on this episode, when he tells Elia to say something about Marcel at the judge’s table: my cringes had cringes. I’m sure that his disgust for Marcel is justified–it seems that everyone on the show, even the most likable, took issue with Marcel–but what Ilan doesn’t realize is that he’s an adult and when you’re an adult you have to ignore people like that. Especially when you’re on national television and your entire career swings on how people perceive you. I completely disagree with Tom Colicchio about kitchen behavior being irrelevant: it’s incredibly relevant. Great chefs are great leaders, they lead the people who work for them to greatness. So ta-ta to Sam, a natural leader who made good solid food, and hello to Ilan: the world’s biggest follower. Wouldn’t it be great if, at the end, Marcel wins but he breaks down crying and he says to Ilan, “You were right. I am a ruthless virgin” and he passes the prize to Ilan who, incredibly touched, reveals that beneath his disgust is raw animal attraction and the two start making out and they stay in Hawaii and they get married? Umm… is this thing on? Ok, next nibble.

– Hey! I saw a show last week for free (I know, I know, I’m the world’s biggest mooch: but there’s a difference between getting things for free passively, and actively seeking them out—I get free theater tickets from a company that asks that I blog about shows if I like them, which I’m very honest about: there’ve been plenty of shows we’ve seen for free that I haven’t blogged about, one of which Craig said, “If you had a gun to my head and said I had to see this show again or get shot, I’d have a really hard time answering”). This show was “The Little Dog Laughed,” a really fun romp about a gay movie star and his lesbian agent who tries to get him to stay in the closet so he doesn’t ruin his career. The best thing about the show is Julie White who is hilarious in her part: a part that’s garnered her tons of critical praise. So check it out before it closes in a few weeks. We really liked it.

– Another thing to check out is the Spanish art exhibit at the Guggenheim. I went yesterday and took the free audio tour and really enjoyed spiraling my way through. There is a food connection here, much of the art features food–including this really cool painting by Juan Sánchez Cotán called “Still Life with Fruit and Vegetables.” Can you name all the fruit and vegetables you see here?

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– When you’re done at the Guggenheim, don’t miss the excellent coffee and pastries at Cafe Sabarsky only two blocks down. It’s a great New York afternoon: Spanish art and Austrian pastries. Can life get any better?

– Another awesome winter dish (and our final nibble for the day) is the Lamb Shank with Oranges and Olives from Mario Batali’s “Molto Italiano”:

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As you can see I served it on wet polenta. The key is browning the shank for the full 15 minutes on high heat so it really gets seared and dark brown:

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The braise has whole oranges that are cut up into segments:

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It’s really easy to do and will fill your apartment with joy and warmth and good cheer, especially if there’s wine:

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Stay warm this weekend!

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