Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Dave Lieberman is Dreamy

As you know, I'd never really gotten the whole Dave Lieberman-as-sex-symbol thing. Sure, he's sorta cute, but listening to his lazy permutations of the English language (for instance, "umgonna" instead of "I'm going to") and watching him bounce on his toes for 30 minutes kind of put me on edge. Everything about him screams jumpy and twitchy and nervous to me.

His food seems pretty good, although I think his estimated costs per person are on the low side. I do agree with his philosophy that you should learn how to cut corners on certain ingredients while splurging on others1. Jeez, that felt very Barefoot Contessa, didn't it: "Be sure to use GOOD QUALITY vanilla/salmon/soy sauce/etc."

Also, his web show is decent, even if it is just another variation on $40 a Day, Tasty Travels, etc.

As you probably know, Dave was inspired to become a cook by his stay-at-home dad (check out this webcast which features Dave talking about his show and his dad). He hosted a cooking show while at Yale (majoring in poli-sci) and when the New York Times featured him in a piece about campus cooking, he was contacted by the Food Network.

Also, Dave has designed the menu for Song Airlines, a low cost subsidiary of Delta. This reviewer finds the results to be mixed, and also riffs on his desire to hang out with Ina Garten2.

Last week I speculated about Michael Chiarello's sexuality and several people brought up Dave Lieberman in the comments. The last thing I want to do is to hijack this blog with endless speculation about people's sexuality, but I will say that after extensive research I've found absolutely nothing about Dave Lieberman's dating habits: gay, straight or otherwise.

Anyway, I've discovered that the secret to appreciating Dave is to make him hold still. As in, I can't watch his show but I'll damn sure ogle the boy in still photos. In fact, this is the photo that made me realize that Dave is, in fact, a sexy cat. He looks relaxed and a little bit nerdy (yes, this is a requirement for me), but he also looks like a totally normal guy.

More eye candy:

And my personal favorite:

For more Dave yumminess, visit his site. For a big assortment of Dave Lieberman icons, check out this page.

1It also could be that I'm just enormously jealous of anyone who is able to shop at a Whole Foods. Yes, I live in one of the only areas in the country that does not have Whole Foods, Trader Joe's or Wild Oats. The health food store in my neck of the woods has enormously inflated prices and is run by a surly 50 year old former stripper with permanent makeup.

2Who would you rather hang out with? Ina or Dave? Ina's house is just so freakin' nice that I'd like to say I've been there at least once, but I'd also be worried that it would be too stuffy. Dave has a lot of cute guy friends, but they all seem kind of bland. Who am I kidding? I'd end up standing in the kitchen drinking with Sandra Lee.

Random: Dave's Stuart Weitzman Bid for a Cure Shoe is truly bizarre:

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Food Network Tidbits: the Iron Chef Superbowl

A few days ago commenter vjchang wrote of a possible Sandra Lee sighting. Was it her? Could she have been in Park City for pre-Sundance festivities? We may never know, but heavy drinking skinny middle aged blondes are always entertaining!

Check out 2006 predictions from some well-known chefs, including Flay, Rachael Ray and Batali. I must say Rachael Ray's predictions sound like something an 8 year old would request of mother: more pasta, more bread, more burgers stoups and stews. And can I stay up till 10:00 this year?

Jake Gyllenhaal's next role? A busboy on Molto Mario. This is the second weirdest thing I've heard today.

And now, for the Iron Chef event of the season:

In the red corner:

In the blue corner:

My money is on Flay/de Laurentiiiiiiiis. If you look beyong Giada's teeth and cleavage, she's a pretty good cook. Flay's an ass but he has skillz. Mario's going to have to do all the heavy lifting while Rachael is bouncing off the walls and insulting his technique. Besides, it's against my religion to support anyone who wears Crocs:

Added January 19th, 2006:

As if we needed further proof that Rachael Ray is Entertainment Tonight's "it" girl, they posted this story on their website. Be sure to check out the video for Rachael Ray's raspy ruminations.
"It was so intense!" Rachael tells ET. "That hour felt 30 times faster than my 30-minute meals. It went by so fast!"

"I was really nervous; I'm not a chef," says Rachael. "I don't belong on 'Iron Chef.' To be asked was honor enough, but I really didn't want to do it. Then I thought about it and I said, 'You're so frightened of that show, why don't you give it a shot. Food's food; so, you can't do fancy; you can do tasty!'"

Monday, January 16, 2006

Michael Chiarello: Is he or Isn't he?

Look, I know it is tacky to speculate on someone's sexual preference. To say that someone "seems gay" is to say that you buy into a whole bunch of cultural stereotypes (whether the stereotypes have any validity is a whole other bag of worms). It's 2006: Brokeback Mountain1 is opening to record numbers, gays can get married in Massachusetts, and Queer Eye has been around so long it's jumped the shark. Can't we get past the labelling and just see people for the content of their character?

But the fact remains: until a few months ago, I would have bet all my worldly possessions that Michael Chiarello was gay. And based on the number of people who reach this blog by searching for "michael chiarello gay", I'm not the only one.

I guess I can compare it to other split-second judgments that you make about other people: that guy looks like a jerk, she seems depressed, they look like a happy couple. I just immediately thought that Michael Chiarello was gay and that was that. I also thought that he had somewhat of an ego but was slightly nerdy (in the best possible way), was a great cook, and was exceptionally sexy. I still stand by my last three impressions.

I saw the wedding band, but I know gay folks who wear wedding bands, so that doesn't prove anything.

Plus, we never saw his spouse and he never mentioned her. Bizarrely, he even cooked a Mother's Day breakfast in bed for a friend's wife. At this point I was convinced that he was gay, but a Google search reveals this article in the San Francisco Chronicle, which established his marriage to a woman:

These grapes make the wine for yet one more undertaking -- Chiarello Family Vineyards. Losing the grapes would have been an intensely personal loss since each of the four vineyards is named after the women in his life: wife, Eileen, and daughters Felicia, Margoux and Giana. It is a second marriage for Chiarello.
Just last week on Easy Entertaining they recreated Michael's wedding menu and we glimpsed his wife (for the first time, as far as I know). Pretty, blonde and definitely younger, she didn't say a word2.

The presence of a wife and daughters hasn't convinced some people, but those are the kind of people who still aren't convinced that a man landed on the moon. Come on: the guy married not one, but two different women! And he's not a steelworker (or ranch hand), he's a chef in Northern California! The point is, if he wanted to come out, he's had ample opportunity.

To conclude this Armchair Cook investigation to the question, "Is Michael Chiarello gay?" we can only say that all signs point to no.

1I was fortunate to see this several months ago at the Honolulu Film Festival and it was fantastic.

2For several weeks I've been dealing with Tivo problems, cable problems and computer problems (sometimes all 3 at once), but I swear as soon as I get everything operational again I will post screencaps of the elusive wife.

Friday, January 06, 2006

If You Can't Stand the Heat...: Sandra Lee Reviewed

A few weeks ago, when I had a hankering for mac and cheese, I scoped out all the five star mac and cheese recipes at Based on the user reviews and ratings, I decided to make Giada's delicious Macaroni and Cheese. The user reviews were a godsend, as they alerted me to a mistake in the recipe. "Wow," I thought. "These users are a helpful bunch." My thoughts then turned to the dark side: "I wonder if things ever turn ugly around these parts?" Naturally, I searched the recipes for "Sandra Lee" and that, my friends, is how I spent 3 hours reading the user reviews of Sandra Lee's dishes.

Like any other Internet forum, you have your share of incoherent idiots and trolls*, which stand out more on the recipes that actually sound decent. Many of the comments are boring, uninspired and downright lazy. Still, every now and then there's a zinger that makes it all worthwhile - much like Sandra Lee herself.

Now let's get started.

Chive Roasted Potatoes with Horseradish-Sour Cream and Caviar

Sandra, I love you so much, but you should recall this recipe. It really stinks.


Everyone knows you should never serve caviar with bold flavors. The bold flavor is all you can taste when you combine them with caviar. You don't want to pay that much money and then not taste the caviar. Looks like Shamdra's BEER ATTITUDE is showing through her SHAMPAYNE FACADE.
Hey, Sandra doesn't have a "shampayne facade"! Oh, wait...

Apple Pie Napoleon

This really wasn't very good, and some of the steps made no sense. Why waste a perfectly good apple pie when all you need is the filling? Just use a can of apple pie filling, or cook some apples.


In the middle of making ths my little son asked me what I was doing to the pie and we both just dissolved in laughter.
Not only does Sandra waste food, she scares the little children!

Pear Butter

The worst thing since world war two!
I tried this recipe and it is horrible. My children wouldn't eat it, and my husband didn't like it either! And the truth of it is.. I hated it to!! It was a waste of my money and time. My advise, don't even bother with this recipe, you put in the effort, and it doesn't give anything back.
I will stay away from any recipe that inspires that kind of hyperbole.

Sweet and Spicy Glazed Cornish Game Hens:

First of all, it needs alot more seasoning. The amount of jerk paste called for barely can be tasted. Also needs salt. It's surprisingly tasteless as made per the recipe. But LOOK OUT, if you make it per the recipe the birds will be disgustingly underdone. Plan on adding at least 15 minutes to the cooking time but you really need to keep checking on them which makes cooking them a pain. But nothing is worse than bloody poultry.



? I've only heard this word used to describe seedy nightclubs and the middle aged men who frequent said clubs. If this dish compares to either, I'm definitely staying away.

Don't believe me? This is one of the first photos that shows up when you search Google Images for "skeevy":

Beer Ball Buffet

Even better than syrup of ipecac!
There's a ringing endorsement.


This is the worst lasagna I ever had.. don't know what to do with the rest...


I found the tomato soup to be a very poor idea in lasagna. This tasted terrible.


I had such hope for this recipe, because I almost always have cottage cheese and tomato soup in my pantry. But it just didn't work. I'm ashamed to say I've never been able to make good lasagna and for once even Sandra Lee's recipe let me down. Ah, well, it's back to the frozen foods department for me!


Sorry Sandra Lee, but this was the most disgusting lasagna I have ever had the displeasure of preparing or eating. There was nothing to redeem this recipe..the sauce was not good, the cottage cheese made the texture funky and nothing seemed to jive. And the more I thought about tomato soup in my lasagna, the worse it seemed. Definitely skip this one.


The vinegar in this recipe came through to the point where it overwhelmed the rest of the flavors. I had to toss the entire thing and order a pizza instead, what a waste of time and money. How did such an obviously inept "cook" make it onto the Food Network?


You have to be kidding with this recipe! Tomato soup?? Vinegar??? Cottage cheese?????? If you must stay true to the "semi-homemade" concept, why not just send your viewers out to get a jar of tomato sauce, some ground beef, some no-cook lasagne noodles, and some mozzarella? At least then it will taste remotely like lasagne.

I admire the courage of anyone willing to bake a lasagna that contains tomato soup, apple cider vinegar and cottage cheese.

Hmm, I wonder what kind of ratings Rachael Ray's recipes are getting....

*I want to give a shout out to the person from Portland, Maine who has left a negative review on nearly every one Sandra Lee's 417 recipes - that is dedication.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Food Network Tidbits: Welcome to 2006

First off, I hope everyone had a great holiday season! Mine was hectic but a lot of fun - good food and good friends.

Next, I'd like to welcome everyone from the following sites: Something So Clever, Kitchen Mage, Cooking with Amy, Zen Foodism and

Here are a few Food Network-related items that will get us through the post-holiday funk:

  • A funny Sandra Lee - Bell Biv Devoe mashup (MP3 format).
  • Rachael Ray is Not God: wherein our hero meets Rachael Ray in person and then gets fired for blogging about it.
  • Food Network's Top Ten Recipes of 2005: I'm not sure what they based this list on, but the score looks like this: Giada 1, Alton 1, Paula 8. As much as I hate to say it, I think Paula Deen is going to be the Rachael Ray of 2006, at least as far as overexposure goes. Let's hope our gal handles it with grace and decorum.
Finally, I made Giada's Macaroni and Cheese over the holiday and it was one of the best dishes I've ever made1. I served it with french bread and a side salad and it was divine.

I recently discovered a fun pastime that I'll share with you later in the week. All I can say is: Sandra Lee is the gift that keeps on giving!

1Please note that the recipe on the website is incorrect: use 2 TBSP of flour instead of the 1 TBSP listed or else your mac and cheese will be runny. No one likes runny mac and cheese. Also, what is up with Giada's picture on's recipes? Looks like her hairline starts about 6 inches above her eyebrows.