Friday, January 30, 2009

Chocolate-bacon delights

If you didn’t know already, over here at Eating In Front of the TV bacon reigns supreme. I’ve made it a point for the to be known not only to my friends, but to coworkers as well. Last year a news editor bought me a magnet that says, “Bacon: It Makes Everything Better” and it hangs proudly above my desk at work. Numerous e-mails have been passed along to me with various endeavors involving bacon and most usually leave me with my mouth watering and a new pet project to undertake.

About a month ago one of my supervisors told me he went to a restaurant where they served chocolate-bacon cake. He hadn’t tried it while he was there, but immediately thought of me when he saw it on the menu. Bless his soul. As another coworker pointed out to me yesterday, “Don’t you think it’s weird that we associate you with pork products?” I told him there could be worse things to associate me with.

Back to the chocolate-bacon cake. The restaurant is Riviera Supper Club and Turquoise Room, a grill-your-own-steak establishment in La Mesa. After hearing about the wonderful-sounding bacon delight I thought it would be a perfect place to go for my birthday to get a slice of cake and a cocktail. My supervisor heard that my plans to go to RSCTR fell through and told me next time he was there he’s pick me up a slice.

Thursday I get to work and on my desk is a good sized black box inside a large Ziploc bag with a fork and note reading “Enjoy” on top. At first I was afraid. Was one of my coworkers trying to off me with some tainted peanut butter? But as soon as I opened the Ziploc and caught a whiff of chocolate I immediately knew I was in for a treat.

Almost a year ago I tracked down a chocolate shop that sold chocolate-bacon cupcakes. While excited about this product it was a let down. The incorporation of bacon was fine, but the chocolate cake part was dry and practically inedible. A restaurant review I read said the RSCTR cake was too dry, so I was a bit worried.

After taking a look at the chocolate-bacon cake on my desk, however, I cold tell that this experience was going to be good. My fork glided through the cake grabbing some of the bacon filling. As I lifted it to my mouth I was struck with a feeling of euphoria. When the bite hit my mouth and the flavors danced on my taste buds, I knew that this was the real deal. The cake was moist with a rich chocolate flavor and the bacon filling complimented the sweetness with a touch of salt and smokiness.

The cake was passed around the office and here were some of the other reactions:
“…pause…pause..ok, ok…This is working.”
“You’re right. It’s good, but I don’t have a need for a half-pound slab of it.”
There were a lot of emotionless stares and head nodding followed by, “Alright, it was better than I was expecting.”
“The bacon kind of overwhelms the chocolate, but it’s not bad.”

There were officially no bad reviews, except for those too afraid to try it. They stood to the side and judged the book by its cover. Apparently their mom’s didn’t instill in them that is not what you’re suppose to do.

When I got home from work I thought to myself, “Why stop at chocolate-bacon cake?” So I dug out the chocolate-bacon bar that I was given by a coworker that I just hadn’t gotten around to trying yet. The verdict on this culinary treat was also positive. Both my roommate and I had a small square of the bar. The bacon in this treat was crunchy and again added the perfect amount of smokiness and salt to the chocolate. The downside: these chocolate bars go for $7.50 online at Vosges.

What I took away: Along with the argument, “Bacon makes any sandwich better” I can now also say, “Bacon and chocolate make a great couple.”

LOST - Jughead

Be warned! I'm not claiming responsibilty for spoilers if you read further.

Blogging last week’s episodes of Lost was quite a doosie so this week’s format will be a quite a bit shorter and lets keep our fingers crossed that it’s sweeter, too.

Desmond wasted no time reuniting with Penny and knocking that girl up. The episode starts with Penny delivering a baby boy whom we later find is named Charlie. I must admit that when I heard the baby was named after Desmond’s fallen Island buddy I did let out an audible, “awww.”

I’m curious, why isn’t Desmond, or for that matter Frank, included with the Oceanic 6 as people that have to return to the Island to save everyone?

The people with the flaming arrows are a group that we have not seen yet, but turns out they are Others. A woman holding a gun says to Faraday, “You just couldn’t stay away, could you?” Is that question directed just to Faraday (who maybe she recognizes) or the whole group?

Richard Alpert is at the helm of the flaming-arrow brigade. That man never ages. What’s the deal? He tells Faraday he assumes the group is back to retrieve their bomb. Bomb, what the?!

Penny and Desmond have traveled to England so that Desmond can find Faraday’s mom. Penny is worried that her father will find them and all will go to hell. At Oxford there is no record of a Daniel Faraday having worked there. I smell Whitmore here. Desmond does some investigating of his own and finds Faraday’s old lab. After a tell-all janitor blabs away, Desmond finds out that Whitmore was Faraday’s benefactor. Hmmmm.

Quote of the week: “He’s one of my people.” John Locke’s excuse for not shooting one of the Others as he’s escaping.

Back on the Island Juliet tells John and crew that Richard has always been here. When John asks, “How old is he?” Juliet replies, “Old.” Well gee, thanks Juliet, we already knew that was true. John should have asked, “How does he keep his skin looking so good?” Because the answer to that question could be a real moneymaker!

The hydrogen bomb that Faraday claims to be able to dismantle is named “Jughead.” Are we talking Archie’s buddy Jughead from the comics?

In London, Desmond goes to Whitmore’s office. I didn’t pay too close attention to their conversation because I was distracted by the painting of the polar bear with Namaste written across the top.

Shocker moment of the show: The Other that escaped from Locke was wearing a uniform that had the name Jones on it, but we find out that he’s really a young, strapping Charles Whitmore circa 1954. Yes, my mouth dropped at this little tidbit of information.

Also of note: The U.S. military was on the Island at some point during or before the 50s and they were the ones responsible for the Hydrogen bomb on the Island. What are we to make of this fact?

Awesome episode considering half of the Losties weren’t involved. I was thankful that there wasn’t as much jumping back and forth between past, present, future and crazy Island time.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

LOST is back, baby

Be warned. Don't read if you haven't watched the first two hours of the new season.

LOST is back and I couldn’t be more excited.

Flash-back: We start off with an alarm clock at 8:15am and an Asian woman and man in bed with a baby crying in the background. The man gets up and puts on a record (Willie Nelson’s Shotgun Willie) then goes to feed the baby. We see that we’re on the Island and the man is Marvin Candle (a.k.a.: Dr. Edgar Halliwax or Dr. Pierre Chang) filming a Dharma orientation film. A worker interrupts the doctor saying there’s a problem at the Orchid station. Sonar imaging of a wall in Orchid shows the wheel Ben turned at the end of last season. The doctor tells the workers to stop drilling and tells them eventually they could harness energy from that place that would allow for time travel. Panning away we see that one of the Orchid workers is Faraday. Interesting.

Flash-forward and we’re at the funeral parlor with Jack, Locke (a.k.a.: Jeremy Bentham) and Ben. Jack is wondering how all this happened and Ben reminds him it’s because they left the Island. Ben and Jack take Locke’s body after Ben convinces Jack that they ALL need to return to the Island.

3 years earlier, or present time on the Island: Ben is back in the Orchid chamber turning the wheel. There’s a flash and Locke is in the forest by himself in the rain. The group on the motorboat also saw the flash, but is still in the same place, same with Sawyer and Juliet who were on the beach, but the freighter has disappeared. Bernard and Rose come out of the forest and when the group heads back to the camp, they find that it has disappeared, too. Faraday comes with the boat group and says, “Your camp isn’t gone. It hasn’t been built yet.”

Flash-forward: Kate is off the Island and at home with Aaron. Lawyers come to her door asking for a blood sample from the two. Kate freaks and runs. What a surprise, Kate on the run.

Present: Faraday and group trek through jungle and he tells the group the Island is like a record, skipping and whatever and whatever Ben did, he dislodged the Island through time. Locke, separate from the other group, climbs up a mountain where a plane flies in and crashes. Out of the plane came a Virgin Mary statue from Echo’s brother’s plane that had crashed way before Oceanic 815. As he climbs the canopy to the crashed plane shots are fired and he’s hit in the leg. Out of the jungle comes our old pal Ethan with a gun asking, “Who are you?” Another flash and John is along at night, Ethan has disappeared, but the gunshot wound remains.

Flash-forward: Sun is at airport and is brought to a room where Charles Whitmore threatens, “I will be respected Sun.” The common interest mentioned by Sun during the end of last season: “To kill Benjamin Linus.” Newsflash says Hurley killed a man outside his mental hospital. After stopping for food with Sayid, Hurley says to him, “Maybe if you ate more comfort food, you wouldn’t have to go around shooting people.” I’ve missed Hurley. Sayid tells Hurley that he was working for Ben for two years and if he ever sees Ben, Hurley should do the opposite of what he says. At Sayid’s safe house men are waiting for him with tranq-darts, but Sayid being the badass he is kills both men before passing out from the tranquilizer. A group of people sees Hurley with a gun and being tech savvy, snap a cell phone photo.

Present: Faraday is warning everyone that the stream of the past can’t be changed. Whatever happened, happened. John is still wounded and Richard finds him and when John asks him where he went when the sky lit up Richard says, “I didn’t go anywhere, John, you went.” Then he tells John that the next time they see each other he’s to give him a compass and his duty is to convince the group to come back to the Island because that is the only way to save the Island. John asks, “How am I supposed to do that?” With a straight face Richard tells him, “You’re going to have to die John.” And then another flash. The Faraday group is at the hatch pre-blowup time and Sawyer goes crazy insisting he can get supplies from the hatch. Faraday repeats that he cannot disrupt the past. Charlotte has a nose bleed, just like the guys from the freighter had. Faraday is obviously worried by this and after browsing through his notebook he is even more worried. He returns to the hatch and bangs on the door until Desmond comes out. Faraday tells Desmond to go back to Oxford and find his mother.

Flash-forward: Desmond wakes up with Penny and the memory is in his dream. He gets up and tells her they are going to Oxford.

End of the first half. Phew! There is a lot being revealed, but DANG there is a lot of bouncing back and forth. If someone were watching the show for the first time there would be plenty of room for confusion.

Present: On Penny’s boat the Oceanic 6, Desmond, Penny and Frank are deciding on a story. Hurley doesn’t want to lie and tells Penny to just call off her dad. She says there’s no calling him off.

Flash-forward: Hurley is driving Sayid around and Ana Lucia pulls him over and reprimands him for being stupid. She tells Hurley to get somewhere safe and as she walks away says, “Oh yeah, Libby says hi.” Then we see it’s a figment of Hurley’s imagination.

Present: New guy on the island is Neal. Wonder how long he’s going to last.

Flash-forward: Hurley stops at gas station and buys I ♥ Shih-Tzus. Hilarious. As they leave the gas station Kate and Aaron pull in. Kate gets a phone call from an unknown number and says she’ll meet up with the person. Could it be Sun? Ben has something hidden in hotel wall, but we don’t see what it is. He tells Jack, “If there’s something in this life pack it up, because you’re never coming back.” Jack asks Ben if Locke is really dead and gets no answer. Hugo’s safe place is his old house. Kate does go to see Sun. Ben goes to a butcher shop and knows the butcher, Jill, who is apparently working for Ben. Ben tells her, “Keep him safe Jill, because if you don’t everything we’re about to do won’t matter at all.”

Present: Rose, being the awesome person she is, gives the new guy a timeout. Neal is complaining about no food and no fire when a flaming arrow hits him. New guy is down for the count. That didn't take long. Multiple arrows follow. All of a sudden it’s like medieval times on the Island. When is the catapult coming out?

Flash-forward: Kate’s meeting with Sun and Sun says Kate makes hard decisions all the time, like when she left Jin behind. Sun says she doesn’t blame Kate (though I’m not convinced) then asks how Jack is. Hurley’s dad takes passed out Sayid to Jack who, in turn, calls Ben to tell him Sayid just landed at his front door. Back at his house, Hurley’s mom asks him who Sayid is. Hurley says, “He is my friend. But he’s also got this double life where he does crazy ninja moves and spy stuff.” Hurley wins the award for best quotes this week. Then Hurley proceeds to tell his mom that they lied about the crash. She believes his story. She doesn’t understand, but she believes.

Present: Sawyer and Juliet are captured, but by who?

Flash-forward: Jack takes Sayid to the hospital. Ben shows up at Hurley’s and Hurley throws a Hot Pocket at him. Again, hilarious Hurley. Ben tries to convince Jurley to go with him saying he won’t have to lie any more. Hurley takes Sayid’s earlier advice and runs out to turn himself in to the cops.

Present: Locke shows up at the key moment and kills the guys who have Sawyer and Juliet.

Flash-forward: Some lady in a cape is doing some crazy math in a dark chamber. She’s in a church and says something to the effect of “God help us all if Ben can’t get everyone back in 70 hours.”

OMG. Two hours of LOST is wonderful, but such a challenge to wrap my head around. I don’t even know where to begin. It was awesome, I think. Slowly, but surely, things are being answered, but those writers are still introducing more open-ended story lines. It’s good to know that it will be wrapped up by the end of next season. I am interested in the Faraday plotline. How was he at the Orchid station when it was being built?

So what did you think, Losties?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

'24' season premieres

This season's rag-tag, kick-some-ass crew of '24.'

Previously on ‘24’
There was a terrorist making threats against the President or the American people or your neighbor’s dog. The horns sounded, the Jack-o-lantern shown across the sky and Jack came to the rescue. Along the way there was some torture, some extremely quick real-time driving through Los Angeles. CTU had a leak, someone Jack loved was killed, there was some huffing and puffing and blowing down of some houses. At the end of 24 hours, America was safe and Jack was ready to start all over again.

I must admit, that while I DO love ’24,’ the plot line after 6 seasons was getting a little stale. I swore that I wasn’t going to watch this season until my friend over at It's not you. It's not me. It's TV! sent me a little sneak preview clip and I was totally stoked. Then there was a writer’s strike and the season was postponed a year, so when I saw the premier was finally taking place I was pumped for some kick-ass Jack Bauer. Here’s how it played out over two nights.

The following took place between 8a.m. and 10a.m.
Someone from CTU (*cough* Tony) was a traitor. CTU has been disbanded and while facing federal charges for torture, Jack has been asked for his help by the FBI. Apparently, the FBI security isn’t much better than CTU and there is a possible leak there, too.

Chloe has been replaced by a just-as-awkward Janeane Garofalo. There’s a smart ass character, played by Entourage character Billy Walsh. The President, who is a woman this season, has an unstable husband. Jack tortured someone. America is entering into civil war. Innocent lives are threatened. And apparently Tony Almeida isn’t dead after all.

The real kicker: The government was smart enough to have one firewall in place for all communication across the country that could be taken down by one device. Smart. Real smart.

The following took place between 10a.m. and noon
Jack puts someone in a chokehold and demands to know where something is. Even though CTU was disbanded, a group of them is working covertly. Ah-ha. Garofalo didn’t replace Chloe, but rather they are BOTH awkward computer techs, as Chloe is part of the renegade CTU team.

There is a brilliant escape from FBI custody. At the drop of a hat Jack is able to infiltrate into a position with the bad guys.

Ok, so I wasn’t “wow’d” by the 4-hour season premiere like I thought I would be. After the short trailer that I saw last year I thought this season was going to be brilliant, but to me it fell short of my expectations (which is often the case). However, I wasn’t totally disappointed. I thought the first 2 hours were a little slow, but I became more interested by the second 2 hours. Hopefully the next episode, which is only one hour, will be better.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Crispy bacon = long life

Monday night meals

Usually I'm not awake early enough to catch much of the Today Show. For some reason, however, last year I was up and it seemed like the best thing to be watching at the time. Good thing, because it provided me with a delicious recipe. At the time, I didn't know she was a regular on the show, but the episode I watched featured Giada De Laurentiis from Food Network. The meal she was whipping up on air was Turkey and Artichoke Stuffed Pasta Shells. I'm not a HUGE fan of pasta, but any time you can make it with anything other than just plain marinara sauce, I'm game for giving it a try.

I made this recipe last year not too long after watching the show and it was a hit. I wanted to make the meal again right around Thanksgiving, but decided to veer away from turkey for a little while. So now, with the new year, I dusted off the recipe and had at it. Now the recipe states that you can make 24 stuffed shells which equal 6 to 8 servings. I, however, find that I have extra stuffing and make one large dish of 24 shells to cook right away then load up a smaller dish with 10 more shells to freeze for a later date.

Recipe notes: I don't make the arrabbiata sauce listed on the recipe, I'm sure if I had the time it would be a great addition. Until time starts growing on trees, Vons (Safeway) sells an arrabbiata with a great kick. Shopping at Ralph's last night (which is the only place I've found the large pasta shells), the only arrabbiata they had was almost $8 for one jar. I'm not cheapskate, but refuse to pay that much for pasta sauce. Rather than drive to another store I instead got a spicy marinara and mixed it with spicy roasted red pepper sauce. This time I also added about 1/2 cup of sliced baby bella mushrooms to the turkey mix and cooked them for a minute before adding the artichoke hearts.
One of the best things about this recipe: it is great as a leftover!

New year = new Biggest Loser

Tuesday night marked the start of yet another season of the Biggest Loser. I have become addicted to watching this show (my last post was the finale of Biggest Loser). I told myself that I didn’t want to devote 2 hours of my time to the show every week this time and wasn’t planning on watching it at all, but alas, I watched the premiere.

There isn’t a team on the show that I don’t want to win as of now. There are a lot of big personalities on the show this season along with a lot of firsts on the show.

Best friends and the Orange team, David and Dan, are both under 25 and Dan, who is only 19, happens to be the heaviest man the show has ever seen. The boys have a great sense of humor and I really want to pull for Dan because he is in such an unhealthy situation. I laughed when everyone was picking team and Dan made some comment on how it’s embarrassing enough being the fat kid picked last in gym class, but to be the last one picked by a bunch of other fat kids was a whole other complex.

Married couple and White team, Jerry and Estella, are the sweetest old couple. Poor Jerry passed out after the first workout (and this wasn’t even with the trainers yet) and it was very sad. Jerry is the oldest contestant the show has ever seen. I totally want to see this pair succeed and show everyone that age doesn’t slow you down.

The team that I immediately fell for was the Red team. Damien and Nicole are so in love with each other it is totally adorable. Also Nicole has such an endearing personality that has shown through after only one episode. Don’t let me down girl.

The big twist in episode one was that 9 people would be going home after the first weigh in. Each team that fell below the yellow line had to chose one person on their team to return home. The catch: if, after 30 days, a team member is still on the show, those who were sent home during the first elimination would be able to return. This twist stinks. You just find your favorite people and already the team is split up.

One other thing that I had to mention was the profuse sweating going on during the premiere. I noticed Ron from the Brown team sweating through his shirt and just thought that it was a result of his weight. Then I noticed how shinny host Alison Sweeney kept getting. Did the AC at the Biggest Loser ranch go out or something? Poor people are being tortured in the gym, the least thing you can do is give them a means to cool off.