Saturday, April 27, 2013

Singapore Sling Slush - Cocktails and Gossip - Should Cooking Competition Shows Come to An End?

In today's installment of Cocktails and Gossip I'd like to talk about food programming - and more specifically, cooking competition reality shows.

Never fear, though, there will be a cocktail coming at the end of the blog - this week, featuring a fabulously refreshing large batch summer make ahead that can be stored in the freezer called Singapore Sling Slush.






















 But first let's get back to a little gossip...

Where once, competition shows on the Food Network, for example, had us on the edges of our seats (who could forget Bobby Flay nearly getting electrocuted and then standing atop his cutting board during the inaugural episode of Iron Chef America, or Gordon Ramsay the first time he spit food into a garbage can on Hell's Kitchen?) but with today's blander fare like Worst Cooks in America, or the sad debacle known as The Taste, it is my contention that the cooking competition reality show is on its way out.

And not with a bang, either.

While we still have CHOPPED, Top Chef (which I love), and Iron Chef America to wet our appetites, my hope is that the powers that be will bring original new cooking, lifestyle, and travel shows to prime time TV that don't always feature cooking competitions, restaurant makeovers, Guy Fieri, or shameless plugs for Walmart... *ahem* master Chef anyone?

Shows with a little culinary pizazz that make us tune in because we can't wait to see what that person is going to be cooking next.

In that sense, I think the Brits did it best in the late 1990's and early to mid 2000's, which was really the time cooking related programming began to make a resurgence.

They managed to find cooking personalities who not only had authentic talent, knowledge and passion for food and cooking - the best shows that came out of the UK at that time featured people who were funny, quirky, imperfect, and interesting.

One of my favourite Food TV memories is the first time I saw Jamie Oliver. He looked like he was about 14 years old, and in a tiny little kitchen with hardly any counter space, he prepared a pork roast by stuffing cloves of garlic, olive oil, and fresh herbs into slits he made in the meat.

And I was riveted.

Not just because Oliver looked so young, but because he was introducing me to something new, the food looked amazing, and he had pizazz.

That he was cooking in a cramped little kitchen made it that much better because it taught me that I didn't need state of the art equipment to create great food.

Nothing against Giada and her ever gleaming cleavage smile, or The Barefoot Contessa and her modest beachfront home in the Hamptons, but what I loved about the Brits is they showed us you didn't necessarily have to be rich, beautiful, or perky to have a successful career as an on air cook.

The Two Fat Ladies are the perfect example of this - driving all over the UK in their Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle with "double wide" side car, drinking, smoking and quoting Yeats, Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Patterson are in many ways the grandmothers of the farm to table movement.

From Wikipedia:

"They traveled to various destinations, such as an army camp or an all-girls school, where they prepared large meals, often with unusual ingredients. Both ladies were very fond of strong flavors, often using anchovies, garlic, and seasonings quite liberally. The recipes were gleaned from an older time and tradition when rendered fat and drippings, raw eggs, and unpasteurized milk products were commonplace. They emphasized the importance of using fresh ingredients of the very best quality, eschewing supermarkets for farms and roadside markets." 

And while they did so, they awakened in me a passion for getting back to basics.


Have you tried my recipe for Lemon Roasted Pork Loin?














As did my ultimate foodie Goddess Nigella Lawson whose loquacious use of the English language, and impeccable entertaining ideas were something I looked forward to watching every week.

That's why I was so excited about last winter's television show The Taste that featured, not only Nigella, but another one of my food world heroes, Anthony Bourdain.

My God! I had dreams of the two of them sloshing back martinis while noshing truffles, potted pigeon,  and  black garlic.

But much like Master Chef, Hell's Kitchen, Worst Cooks in America, Celebrity Cook Off, and yadda yadda, yadda, et al, The Taste had about as much essence as a bowl of Cream of Wheat (without the sugar) and didn't do Bourdain or Nigella the justice they both deserve.

Things are looking up, however, as Bourdain has a new show on CNN called Parts Unknown. I have the first few episodes saved on my PVR and will be talking about that in next week's installment of Cocktails and Gossip.

I will also be talking about Martha Stewart in a few weeks time because, love her or hate her, in the realm of cooking, entertaining, gardening, home keeping, and so much more, she changed the world.

And for the record, I love her.

Shall we toast that?

***

Want to learn how to make today's amazing cocktail? Please enjoy my easy to follow step by step video and while you're there, be sure to subscribe! I put out four new videos each week.

To visit the printable recipe, click here: Singapore Slush


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