Thursday, March 13, 2008

Desert Island Ingredients

Last night was the premiere of the new season of Top Chef. Yay!

I read the blogs on the Bravo website and one thing that irritates me about Tom Colicchio is how he always says, "I don't care about the personalities. I only care about the food." Well...okay. Easy for HIM to say...he gets to taste the food! For the OTHER millions of us who can't taste the food, we only have the personalities and the descriptions of the food to go on.

I imagine it's getting harder and harder to cast this show, as the restaurant world is actually fairly small. I guess they're getting around this by allowing contestants to know each other beforehand, hence Jennifer and Zoi, who are a couple.

I could hardly believe it when I saw MORE MOHAWKS (or, ahem, "faux-hawks") last night! Please! Stop the madness! And I think I can happily live the rest of my life without ever encountering the phrase "molecular gastronomy" ever again. Just cook the f'in food, already, okay? Don't bring out your nitrogen and teeny-tiny handheld smoker. I don't want James Bond cooking my food.

And what was up with that guy Andrew? He seemed flummoxed when the pantry had no mayonnaise. Um, even I know how to make my own mayonnaise. No big deal. Plus he seems overly hyped up and confrontational. We'll see how far that takes him.

Another different rule this season is that they're allowed to bring $200 worth of their own ingredients and seasonings. I think that's more than fair. It helps to have a bag of tricks to dig in to when you're faced with a particularly difficult challenge. It got me thinking what I would bring if I had to have my own culinary stash of secret weapons. I'm not classically trained or consider myself a "chef" by any means....but I know I couldn't cook a decent meal without at least the following few ingredients that might not be featured in an average pantry:
  • toasted sesame oil
  • vanilla beans
  • wildflower honey
  • stone ground corn (either for grits or polenta)
  • candied ginger
  • Sriracha sauce
  • Whole spices - whole nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, star anise, peppercorns, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, dried chiles
  • Can I bring my own fresh herb garden too? There's nothing like picking your own basil leaves, rosemary stems, thyme, oregano, etc.
  • Good, artisinal vinegars (rice, sherry, champagne, balsamic)
  • miso - light & dark
I'm sure there are more. What would you bring?

13 comments:

Step Right Up said...

How in the world do you find the time to watch all these shows with your busy schedule? Is it the DVR thingy?

Alannah said...

You nailed it, Stacey. With DVR I can watch it anytime and an hour-long show can be condensed to 40 min. with no commercials!

Megan Chapman said...

Olive Oil
Red Chili Flakes
Lite Soy Sauce
Nutritional Yeast
Onions
Tofu
Soy milk
Peanut Butter

Hey- remember I am an artist!!!

afro moon said...

I only have one secret ingredient for everything I do in life.. whiskey.
God that one dude was soooo annoying.
I'm also with ya on the James Bond food. Gimme a break.

The [Cherry] Ride said...

Peanut Butter!
I(t is the miracle food of our lifetime!

(Unless of course you are allergic to peanuts.)

This would probably be a good time for me to mention that I don't cook.

Alannah said...

you guys are totally right about the peanut butter...but I'd stretch it to all sorts of nut butters.

Megan - I will never forget that you're an artist. NEVER!

Stephanie said...

Love cooking shows and I love to cook and experiment. I also love baking. I haven't seen much baking on the food shows though. I remember this monk dude (!) on a PBS show years ago, he baked all kinds of breads and rolls.

My stash:

cardamom
almonds
lots of fresh herbs (getting close to planting season, yay!)
Old Bay seasoning
olive oil, of course
cinnamon

I want to grow my own garlic this summer. Anyone have tips?

Alannah said...

I remember that baking show, Stephanie! Monks have some crazy talent....baking, beer-brewing, chanting...have you seen the monk dog-training show?

I don't know how to grow garlic...but I bet it somehow involves decent soil, water and sunshine ;)

Step Right Up said...

Cumin
Cayenne
Olive Oil
Garlic
Red Wine Vinegar
Coconut Milk
Ginger
Fresh Limes
Curry
Fish Paste
Tomatillos
Cilantro

Alisson said...

Butter
Chocolate (dark, milk, dutch process cocoa)
Brown sugar
Vanilla
Rolled oats
Pecans (walnuts, almonds)
Flour
Eggs
yeast
baking soda, baking powder, salt
Buttermilk

5 of 9er said...

I still need to watch the first episode... and it's in Chicago this season!

George said...

lol at molecular gastronomy...after the last episode featuring wiley dufresne as a guest judge, kelli and booked reservations at wd~50 for our mini trip to NYC this weekend.

we have had enough and couldn't live a minute longer without knowing what ginger infused, beet vapor tastes like...my guess is that it's similar to the little flavor memories that happen when you belch up a fine meal...

but most of all...i can't wait to say "it look's like chicken shit" in my best arkie accent when the food's presented...

Alannah said...

GEORGE! I must get a full report on WD-50! Are you really going or are you poking fun?

I really can't wait to ask a serious foodie, "Why waste time on ginger-infused beet vapors when you can just wait an hour and burp it up?"