Well, having Robert Cooper swing by to do a guest Q&A was evidently as much a treat for you as it was for me – for you because it was a nice change of pace from my usual yammering, and for me because it gave me a much-needed break from my usual yammering. And so a big thanks to Rob for taking time out of his busy weekend to come hang out. Rob, should you ever feel in an answery mood, we’d love to have you back.
While you were all basking in Cooperly goodness last night, I was back at Fuel with Fondy for the last night of Whole Hog Dinner 2007. Tom showed us to our table and informed me that while Fondy would be doing the menu I’d enjoyed on my previous visit with Marty G. and Kurt, I would be doing something a little different. Since I had already enjoyed the original Whole Hog Dinner, Chef Belcham had created an alternate menu just for me!
Feeling all extra special and such, I settled back and waited to be pleasantly surprised. And I was. In a big way. We started things off with the excellent charcuterie plate (home made chorizo sausage, pork rillettes, pork terrine, and pickled ramps), and then followed with the first course: the stuffed pig ear in green sauce with pig tail consomme for her, and an astounding shaved pig ear, beat, and black truffle creation for me. I say astounding but, really, mere words cannot do justice to the sublimity of this dish that delivered on all levels – scent, texture, and taste. Fondy enjoyed her first course, the accompanying green sauce in particular, a wonderful composition of collard greens, parsley, tarragon, chives, and red wine vinegar. For our second courses, Fondy had the crispy brain with parsley root served on a bed of Dungeness crab mayonnaise, while I was served perhaps the greatest pork belly dish I’ve ever eaten – braised and smoked, the well-marbled piece of meet was firm to my fork but melted in mouth. Fondy grew up eating brain (her mother used to make it in soup), and while she liked the dish, like me she was not a fan of the dish’s metallic undertone (according to Fondy, a little lemon juice neutralizes the stronger flavor). Our third course was an addition to the menu: the carbonara ravioli that I so thoroughly enjoyed on my first visit – and enjoyed just as much on my second. The sweetness of caramelized bacon interior married to an intense black pepper heat makes this one a dish I really hope to see on the regular menu some day. Four our fourth courses, Fondy had the braised crown bacon, which turned out to her favorite dish of the night, while I was surprised with a perfectly-prepared piece of pork shoulder served atop a brain risotto. You heard right. Brain risotto. I was admittedly skeptical but, have to say, this is a dish I would order again without hesitation. No metallic undertone here. Just an understated creaminess accented by the chives. By the time course number five came our way, this one yet another addition, we were close to tapping out. Still, we did manage to sample most of our seared foie gras served on a bacon brioche with coronation grapes. A very rich dish that, at this point in the evening, was a little foreboding. Still, a good piece of foie and a surprisingly nice coronation grape accompaniment, although we both found the broiche too unctuous. For her sixth course, Fondy had the roasted saddle served on a bed of fennel but, unlike the dish I was served on my last visit, sans boudin. Not a big deal as she was so stuffed that she couldn’t have eaten it anyway. But she did try and like the saddle. I helped out by finishing it and my own delectable pork sous-vide with home made coppa ham. Unfortunately, we had to cut out before dessert was served but, rather than allow us to go without, Tom had our desserts packed so that we could enjoy them later that night. Fondy LOVED her Birch syrup pie with candied bacon, while (no surprise here) I LOVED my super dark chocolate terrine.
Another exceptional meal at Fuel and a big thank you to Tom, Chef Belcham, and the rest of the gang for making my dinner extra special. Brain risotto! Who’d have thunk?!
Today’s pics: Whole Hog Dinner 2007 – Round Two
Today’s video: None.
Today’s mailbag: the half-dozen or so questions that weren’t addressed to Robert Cooper…
Irulan writes: “You said something last month about no romance outside of McKay/Brown. Care to take that back?”
Elizabeth writes: “ 1) Have you ever eaten kishka? If you have, did you like it? 2) Who is your favorite Star Wars character?”
Answers: 1) I have. 2) I did. 3) Han Solo.
Teyilia writes: “I take it you don’t want me to write the story then?”
Answer: By all means, write away, but I can’t offer creative input.
Kurt writes: “ Is it true that “Flightless Dove”, “Bridge to Forever” and “Mr. Poopy Pants” are episode titles for the upcoming season?”
Answer: No, but I’ve followed up on the suggestion of a recent dinner companion and will be changing the title of our season finale, The Last Man, to A Very Wraithy Summer.
Ademaro writes: “How lovely, I’m glad you have brought some of the Hungarian culture into your life.”
Answer: I had no choice. Both Martin Gero and Ivon Bartok have Hungarian blood in ’em. In Ivon’s case, it is partially diluted with Jack Daniels.
Anonymous #1 writes: “would you mind answering some questions about Reunion that have been brought up by fans and a t.v. reviewer in North Carolina.
1.Why don’t the Atlantis writers move the series along in each episode?
2.Instead of starting at the beginning of the village scene, why don’t you start in the middle. You know, cut to the chase?
3. How is the audience supposed to know that several weeks have passed since Lifeline?
4. Even though Ronon made the decision to go with the Satedans, the decisioned was nulled by them being traitors. Your response to this?
5. Why bother with a second jumper when the first jumper is cloaked?
6. Doesn’t Carter going off-world make Sheppard redundant?
7. Why is Sheppard so stupid that he releases the replicator?
8. What do you say to people who say this was a mined-out premise?”
Answers: 1. We always try to offer a mix of arc-driven and stand-alone episodes although, in the case of season four, we definitely will be seeing more of the former. As for the complaint that there is nothing in Reunion that “moves the series along” – Carter’s assuming command of the Atlantis expedition, the episode’s B story, is a huge development that has ramifications for the series as a whole. 2. You mean why not cut into the middle of a scene and start from there? More often than not, that’s exactly what I do, but I also like to offer up these smaller moments as it’s the small moments that go a long way toward developing our characters and their relationships with one another. 3. It’s never spelled out but is strongly suggested in Sheppard-Carter scene when Sheppard refers to the I.O.A. stonewalling his attempts to mount a rescue op for Elizabeth. 4. At the end of the day, the audience knows he will not be leaving Atlantis. No surprise there. What’s surprising is that he does make a choice – and it’s not the one we expected. 5. The wraith are expecting a rescue mission so, even if Carter and co. are cloaked going in, their entry to the facility will be no less easy. However, by having the second jumper do the fly by, it not only leads the perimeter defenses away form the facilities, but lulls the interior defenses, allowing our team to take them by surprise. 6. No. Carter’s military and science background will allow her to contribute in many areas, but off-world ops and science & technology still remain Sheppard and McKay’s areas of expertise. 7. He doesn’t. When Carter leads the team in, Zelenka zeroes in on a power conduit that is immediately targeted. Once this is done, the power to the whole facility ebbs (thus the dimming lights and the flickering force shield surrounding the replicator), weakening the force shield and, ultimately, allowing the replicator to escape. 8. One could argue that scifi in general is mined-out. Yet another time travel story. Or another AU story. Or another alien invasion story. The key is finding what makes this particular story special for your characters. Take Window of Opportunity for example. One could argue that it was a mined-out story and yet, it turned out to be a fan favorite. 9. A t.v. reviewer in North Carolina?
Anonymous #2 writes: “The reason the whole Ronon/Keller romance is turning stomachs is because right out of the gate they seem to be shoved together…”
Answer: True. Adrift, Lifeline, Reunion, and Doppelganger have been veritable Ronon/Keller lovefests.
Twolly writes: “ Will the outtake you described (Joe F. taken by surprise), be on the S4 DVD’s?”
Anonymous #3 writes: “What’s with the weak writing and shoving Keller into every single situation?”
Answer: Yeah, what’s with shoving the Chief Medical Officer into every situation that deals with a medical emergency? Can’t Zelenka do that?
Crazymom writes: “Who played the clown?”
Answer: The individual playing the clown was none other than………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..an actor we hired! Surprised?
Aurora writes: “My name is Aurora and I have been reading this blog for a number of months and have loved every minute but I had a sad occurrence today I wanted to share.”
Answer: Hi, Aurora. I’m sure I speak for everyone here in passing along condolences and hoping the best for you and your loved ones during this difficult time.