Lazy Sundays: What's Cooking on My TV
I don't often watch TV, but when I do, it involves food. Below are some brief reviews of the shows and documentaries that have been playing on our TV.
Lazy Sundays is a series where I feature random tips and curious things that I come across in my food journey.
If I watch this show while eating, my fork will hang suspended in the air as I fixate on the TV, mouth slightly agape. The visuals alone make Chef's Table a must watch. Netflix, when are we getting more episodes!? The editors are occasionally heavy-handed when trying to emotionally move the viewer, but overall this is one of my favorite food programs since it's chock-full of inspiration.
This 4-part series by Michael Pollan is broken down into: Air, Water, Earth, and Fire . The Air episode is by far the best and I don't say that because I'm an avid bread geek. Michael Pollan's passion for the breadmaking process really shows. Also, naturally leavened bread is one of the most magical and enjoyable examples of food science. Ok, maybe I'm partial to Air because of the bread. The Fire episode was not a standout but it's worth watching the series in its entirety.
The Search for General Tso
This is my kind of documentary. The story was compelling, the cast of characters were perfect, and the film actually taught me something. It also gave me the urge to make the General Tso's Chicken recipe from Every Grain of Rice.
Two Fat Ladies
I came across my first Two Fat Ladies video when researching Scratch Mayonnaise. The show had been recommended to me several times but I just never got around to watching. They're fabulous, and I mean that in the literal "phenomenal" and "legendary" sense of the word. It doesn't even matter what these fine women are making, I could sit and watch them gab for hours. Anchovy paste with parmesan on pastry crust? Disgusting. But please, do show me how to assemble it so I can sit here and be entertained.
I didn't know Chef Curtis Duffy's backstory prior to watching this documentary and recommend that you not Google it beforehand. The conclusion becomes somewhat predicable as the story progresses, but Rob and I both enjoyed learning about Grace and thought the filmmakers did a nice job.
Diner's, Drive-ins, and Dives
Guy Fieri is a bit of a tool (stop with the egg hate, man) but the chefs he features aren't. Though I don't watch DDD all that much anymore, I've picked up some great tips over the years. From grating frozen butter into biscuits to proper marinating, there are often inspirational ingredient combinations and useful bits of info. Not to mention the fact that great diner food is an American treasure. Just don't watch Guy eat - hard to unsee. // Recommended for folks beginning their food journey or in need of food bubble gum.
Recommended with Reservations
The Great British Baking Show
In the span of a week, two different people recommended this show to me so Rob and I decided to give it a go. I really wanted to like The Great British Baking Show if only for the cheesy humor and charming way Brits deal with stressful situations. Starting with the positive, the best part of the show is the beginning of each episode when the contestants are able to make a recipe of their choosing that fits with the specified theme (sponge cake was one example). Alas, that's the only thing I had any interest in.
Generally speaking, I struggle to enjoy competitive food shows. The gotchas, missing instructions, and ticking of the clock takes the joy out of the process. How are the contestants supposed to figure out the highly specific nut chopping/flaky/spongy qualities of Mary's recipes if the instructions are incomplete? That's not a test of a baker's talent, it's manufactured chaos. I get that they have to make the show interesting, but come on. I can definitely see why people would like TGBBS but my ability to watch the show depends entirely on how much wine I've had. Recommended if you like competitive cooking.
Kings of Pastry
As mentioned under TGBBS, food and competition aren't really my thing. That being said, this documentary was interesting albeit a little stressful.
Not Strongly Recommended (i.e. good enough for a long plane ride)
Somm: Into the Bottle
The only things I can recall from this documentary are an arrogant guy having a picnic with himself and a different guy using a machete to slice the top off of a wine bottle. Ringing endorsement, yes?
Perhaps the original Somm is better. Update: Just watched Somm tonight, see below.
Similar to Somm: Into the Bottle (reviewed above) - a little cringey. So much brah, so little time. If you're into wine, you will probably enjoy this documentary. We're definitely aspiring wine geeks so I don't regret watching either of the Somm documentaries. The film also inspired me to look into learning more about the "wine matrix".
A Year in Champagne
Meh. Though I definitely learned some things about the champagne-making process, the documentary felt like an ad. The buildup to the 40th birthday soirée (i.e. five people dancing in a living room) and dramatic Nutcracker-style music playing as the helicopter sprayed pesticides was confusing but also hilarious. If you love champagne (we don't, but that's neither here nor there), give this documentary a spin. You'll pick up a few useless facts for your next dinner party.
Noma was the #1 restaurant in the world as recently as 2014. This documentary is worth a watch if you're a hardcore foodie, but otherwise it's probably a pass. Rob and I are thinking about going to Coppenhagen next year so we found it interesting. Chef Redzepi is also featured on Chef's Table.
In honor of Cooked: Air, the above photo is of Moomin the Starter hopped up on carbon dioxide. My food pet was having a good day. If you want to build a sourdough starter of your own, that post is here.