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  1. shandy

    S07.E08: Tudor Week

    Like many, I will miss Benjamina's sunny personality and her laughing with Selasi. Andrew and Jane are a little self contained, so it has been hard to warm to them, although they have focus. The edits have made Andrew wallow in self pity and Jane come over as smug and competitive, but I think they are both deserving of their places. Her not very 3d marchpane design was painstakingly authentic so I can see why it would have been difficult for Mary and Paul to criticize, as they were shackled to their tudor theme and my favorite food historian, Ruth Goodman, has leapt to her defense as well. Andrew's gearwork was great, but even better was making it clear Sue would not be touching his mechanism. Not today Satan! I get the feeling friends and colleagues recognize and value his perfectionism, but also have to indulge a hissy fit or two. Which I love....if you're going to be difficult, be a diva. Selasi and Candice are more roller coaster contestants, so the producers should be happy. I think Selasi is so interesting as for obvious reasons he has admitted to having little or no cultural memory for some of the recipes that they have to do, so has to research from a base of zero, and yet his instincts mean he delivers (mostly) and his artistic flair is obvious. Of course Candice was going to do well in a 3d challenge - it's her thing.
  2. shandy

    S07.E07: Dessert Week

    At the sharp end of the competition with the weaker bakers out anyone could have a bad weekend and be asked to leave - I find that much more compelling as I'm now invested in these people. I realize there has been a swell of social media sentiment portraying Jane as some sinister presence, but I thought her showstopper showed so much skill I admire those how can calmly dig their way out of trouble and focus on day 2 - Nancy and Nadiya spring to mind. I did think uh-oh when she said she had made lots of roulades - memories of Val's bakewell tart hubris! This made me think the editors had decided pride goes before leaving the tent. Of course the editing is post decision, so they manipulate the viewer into watching bakers sink and shine. While I'm not unhappy Andrew won star baker, how different it could have been if Paul had found the crack in his nut meringue technical, or how much more angry would viewers have been if the more misshapen mousses weren't conveniently put out of shot for the judging. I haven't warmed to him as much as I thought I would. Some of the bakers just seem ...a little more self contained (if that's the right phrase) than others - I think that's why I like bakers like Benjamina, Selasi and Rav, Nadiya and Tamal, and thinking back to Luis for their expansive and generous energy in the tent. I realize this is a kind of narrative as well, but the tension between Tom's ideas and execution, particularly at the sweet tasting end of his creations, finally meant he had to pack up his bowling ball. He said earlier in the competition he didn't bake a lot of sugared things and this lack of instinct about more 'conventional' desserts may not have helped him. Well that and a little stubbornness.
  3. shandy

    All Extra Slice Talk

    Danny Baker is the kind of easy going comic that suits the after show - he doesn't try too hard and is witty. The woman in the middle had clearly come to eat cake, which is a plus in my book, and the ginger chef showed you can be red and sexy, cough Andrew. My favorite was ribbing rock climbin' Tom for fougasse being his go to 'cinema snack'. I find it hilarious that he is essentially a UK version of an ivy league hipster.
  4. shandy

    S07.E06: Botanical Week

    I'm not sure about Tom being given a pass (although he is stubborn about his strange flavor combos to the point of ridicule), to my mind Andrew has been protected- at least Rav tried sugarcraft beyond fondant balls. I can't get angry about star bakers in the later weeks because botanics was a perfect example of who the ..... are we going to choose when no-one had a good week in ALL three areas. I know. I thought, lady, what are you doing? The piping looked good to me and then went from that to looking hideous. I felt so sorry for Jane who I suspect has done beautiful chocolate collars when she has had all day to paint them, but then again she knew she was tight on timing when she started. I did kind of like the psychedelic look from a distance. Selasi and Benjamina's relationship is fantastic - I love how they don't have any of the faux british politeness 'oh but I didn't really deserve to come first' and just laugh in each others' faces when they win BUT also are the first to be thrilled when the other does well. I was pleased that Mary and Paul had no problems with deep dish pies compared to the shallower French style fluted type.
  5. shandy

    GBBO In The Media

    No surprise that Hollywood took the money, but then again the man has been bankrupt. I can't understand why he is being attacked. Love Productions owned the format and sold it - any cooking show that the fantastic four got together on would need to be so different to avoid a lawsuit that the premise of a rebel bake off would have been ridiculous. As Athena says, GBBO has been his golden ticket. No more loading a bread truck at 4 in the morning, no more fleeing his debts on a mediterranean island. He gets the money whether it's a success or not. The Beeb will happily let Mary do any little cooking show she wants - even her repeats pull in the audience. Mel and Sue are fixtures across the BBC, as any radio four lovers will know. Hollywood only has the bake off, his American adventure was a personal and professional disaster, his show on Bread was critically well received but got low ratings and no season 2 ( Mary has had 2 solo shows in the same period) and the wife who forgave his latina affair is now forging her own career.
  6. shandy

    S07.E05: Pastry Week

    I had to laugh at Benjamina and Selasi throwing shade on Bakewell Tarts, which Benjamina clearly thought were best left on some retirement home menu. I've come to the conclusion that Val did worse when she thought she knew how to do something. I'll miss her gleaming eyes and little sayings, but she was a nice woman who was used to doing things her way, like a lot of retired elementary school principals I suspect, and that inflexibility cost her dear. This show has seen older contestants do amazing things so I think it was more to do with personality than age. Speaking of the stubborn, Tom once again 'pushing it hard' with his flavor combos - which then don't work. Climbers might live on the edge, not sure if bakers thrive on that. I can't understand why Candice is getting a lot of abuse on social media, it seems she is a bit of a hate figure. I like that she has a lil bit of attitude. I thought she did well, and phylo and a pasta maker - great thinking. Paul can be such a know it all; the first amuse-bouche I ever had was something fishy with cream cheese 'en cornet' (similar in shape to Jane's cones). Jane takes critiques so well - she is like Nancy, she just gets on with it, which I admire. Unlike Andrew ... I thought I would be totally Team Irish Ginger, but he needs to start delivering. Cinematography this episode - everything outside is just so green.
  7. Claudia is a-mazing, cokehead or not. She's so not predictable, and reminds me so much of all the quirky clever Jewish girls in college I loved to listen to in full argument - they were so cultured and anarchic and I was so suburban - Claudia even dresses the same - black black and more black. I also like how she cultivates a broad audience - she almost makes that dancing show watchable, almost. She can switch between New Yorker style literary jokes to belly laughs in seconds. Maybe that's more common in the UK, but it's unusual and enjoyable, at least to me.
  8. shandy

    Great British Menu

    I'm not a great fan of Josh, mainly because I disliked his frat house trash talking last year. I generally try not to indulge cultural stereotyping as it's usually untrue so forgive me, but I can't help thinking there's a gulf between Jude's NZ Pacific background and the sort of updated british classics the judges seem to fall over themselves for. When he tries to update British flavors they don't like the imposition of tropical fruits or Eastern spices. I'm pleased (from google) he seems to be adored in his adopted County Cornwall but I'm convinced his style of cooking would find much greater favor outside the UK, or at least the narrow confines of the GBM panel. The Guest Judge looked like and seemed to think she was some kind of bargain basement Michelle Visage. I thought she had done a line of something in the dressing room- she seemed slightly 'cooked' herself. I love Lisa Allen - I wish she was cooking rather than judging - Lisa and her old boss, mentor and friend, Nigel (forgotten his surname) were a real class act - never mean about anyone, passionate about regional cooking, and created fantastic food.
  9. shandy

    S07.E04: Batter Week

    Heavens to Betsy, you guys are a tough crowd. Paul has lousy pronunciation of everything -even in English. I sort of enjoy it. He reminds me of Ringo from the Beatles, those Irish flat Dublin/Liverpool vowels. Would you suggest a suitably spanish punishment, like a cheesewire garrote? I was really happy that Benjamina was star baker and we saw her little dance - and Andrew being a sore loser/frenemy was funny - like he had stepped out of Mean Girls. Selasi reaching across for her knee was adorable. The Yorkies/Popovers were great to watch as my Irish side of the family make them sometimes - I kept thinking smoking hot oven - I felt it was a little unfair to have to make so many in small ovens as only so many could go in the hottest part. I could get behind most of the fillings - although I felt Candice deserved praise for cooking beef so well - Brie and Bacon is a great combo but so much easier to do. I was gearing up for Val's chili to be condemned so was pleased that it wasn't. My biggest problem with her is that she cooks what her family enjoys and fits the brief around that, which leads to disasters. To be honest and I might be too mean but I've seen better churros at fairgrounds. I think Rav needs to get better at technique before he goes for all those hipster flavors. None of them appealed to me. It was a pity for Kate, but she was so far out of the farmhouse kitchen comfort zone it demonstrated her lack of versatility. I do prefer thinner Western European pancakes to the lumpen Mitteleuropa type so I'm a great fan of Breton crepes, butter, lemon and superfine sugar yes please. Although having survived numerous Church Pancake Day/Mardi Gras in my youth, little Irish Nuns liked those plastic ReaLemon containers, raisins and coarse sugar, which made me glad for the syrup alternatives. I liked that the lacework tested creativity although what a tedious technical in some ways.
  10. shandy

    GBBO In The Media

    Rats. I wanted GBBO to remain commercial free. Love Productions was majority bought by the Murdoch dynasty in 2014 so of course they were going to maximize profits.
  11. shandy

    S07.E03: Bread Week

    I generally like bread week, Paul is more irritatingly superior than ever but the girls roast him to the point of parody. I couldn't believe all the issues with signature timings - I think after 6 seasons the bakers would know that 'fat' stuffed braids, plaits, babkas, couronnes almost never finish in the time permitted. It was interesting that the 'mom' bakers were felled like corn - decades of 'it's done when it's done' clearly isn't helpful - although what I like about the bake off is that bang, next challenge Val's experiences of dumpling after dumpling made her keep the lid on! Jane is another Nancy - no pity party (hello Candice), took on board feedback, adjusted her recipe in the showstopper, and zoomed out of the death zone. The edit does her no favors, but there's not good tv in quiet competency. Candice and Val are the mother lode - pouts, scowls, whines, lipstick on the one hand - planet bonkers on the other - in any reality competition the production assistants would be high-fiving. I thought Candice was going to flip Paul the bird at one stage. Kate is a PBS poster girl. I keep thinking of A Chef's LIfe as every...experience...she...ever...has is an inspiration for baking. Selasi is getting a little too cool for school. Andrew seemed genuinely thrilled by with for Tom. It's a strange season when Tom is the closest thing to an alpha male - Selasi's too laid back for the job. And Michael - I never met a Greek guy who wasn't a momma's boy and he was no exception. I never saw enough of him to get an angle on his personality but his devastation was so genuine it reminded me of how young he is.
  12. I think worries over hosts, judges and airline schedules are distractions over the real elephant in the room. TV production values. It goes right back to what ABay said about drama in the first post. Even low key PBS has over the top trailers for PBSBakingShow that are a complete 180 from BBC trails. GBBO emphasizes community over drama, and while the real UK may have problems every bit as profound or worse than the real USA, GBBO is comfort TV that can reach for feels without story arcs or gimmicks because it showcases generosity in people. I think viewers are gasping for it. You only have to look at twitter - this show confounds the usual viewer demographic salami slicing US networks work hard to achieve - millennials, grandparents, people watching pbsbakingshow with their kids, even a preppy boys school had a pbsbakingshow inspired bake night.
  13. shandy

    Great British Menu

    Adam reminded me a little of the tennis player Andy Murray in looks and temperament - he's clearly talented and ultra competitive but I was interested in the Highland Wagyu beef. I too was glad Michael won and that all the judges loved his fish dish. Pru continues to 'save' the judges for me - she actually has a sense of humor - 'it's a blackberry' (big deal). The Irish guy is so permanently appalled by everything I get frustrated. I am confused about the regional element, as it seems that many Scots were irritated that 2 England-based chefs are representing them this year. Perhaps demonstrates the London domination of the UK scene, or more likely, laziness of the advance production team who didn't want to leave the metro area. But I'm sure there were lots of Scottish-based chefs who would gladly have welcomed TV exposure. I had not heard of stovies before.
  14. shandy

    S07.E02: Biscuit Week

    Louise had that lovely celtic/welsh warmth that Beca had, so I was sad, but I did think it was fair, as Val's 'Planet of the Apes' New York as some witty tweets called it, had a lot more design than badly iced panels. Paul's priest of gingerbread act was getting old super fast - German gingerbread can be soft or hard and they invented Witch-house gingerbread masonry - Paul wanted hard british style ginger biscuit base, with that touch of heat, and that's not really most types of Lebkuchen. I know Sue has her legion of fans, but I didn't miss her at all. Mel's quite the innuendo glitter cannon ... I loved Hollywood's bemused face when Mary was reciting the Brownie Girl Scout promise, and the fact she almost said King due to her long life. Are the Viennese whirls similar to Royal Danish butter cookies (in the blue tin grandparents always had/have during the holidays) without cream and jam? They look alike. They also look fun to make. Candice was raised in a pub - she's leap frogged over Andrew and his love of musical theater and the comedy stylings of disaster prone Val in the 'person I want to win' list.
  15. shandy

    S07.E01: Cake Week

    LMAO at that major shade. To be fair, GBBO started as a cheap little traveling show on the second bbc channel, made by a company that specialized in cosy daytime reality shows. Neither Mary or Paul were superstars when hired. The first season was more about home baking than ritzy patisserie - so a family business baker with a little exotic hotel experience, and a former home ec teacher famous for selling books with idiot-proof instructions must have seemed like a good mix. I do agree that Hollywood re-modelling himself as a patissier probably has colleagues at the various hotels he worked at grumbling into the ganache that he is the Brian Williams of pastrycraft. But most popular show on British TV, if he wanted to swap the tent for an ice rink they would go with it.