Thursday, November 5, 2009

Beets the Heck Outta Moi

Alrighty then! After giving oodles of serious think, thank, thunk to this latest culinary throw down, I have finally arrived at a winner of the Great Eat to the Beet Challenge of 2009.

It wasn't easy. A full eight participants rolled up their sleeves, preheated their ovens, and dug into the challenge with all their might. And, in some cases, humor.

So without further beeting around the bush, here's the rundown:

Karl, winner of last month’s Throw Down, flexed his culinary muscles once again with a juicy looking beet burger that any one of Moi’s vegetamarian friends would be delighted to eat while I wantonly fling buffalo burgers on the grill for myself.

Chef Troll came out swinging with not one, not two, but three dishes, plus a beautifully colored beet-tini aperitif (I’m choosing to call it an aperitif, since the Scandinavians and Russians often serve a shot of ice cold vodka before dinner).

Kym likewise made a lovely beet salad and endeared herself to the judge with the inclusion of a grilled elk steak the size of Texas. Game meat is always my first protein of choice (the animals are truly free ranging and as free of hormones and other yew-ey injectables as you’re gonna get, so make friends with a hunter in your neighborhood or better yet, throw the finger to the Fascist Piggies disguised as “pacifists” in Washington and go buy yourself a hunting rifle) and if ever two flavors most likely complimented each other, it’s elk and beets.

First time player Miss Allison admitted she was like an 8-year-old when it came to beets but game gal that she is, jumped right in by preparing a roasted beet with arugula salad completely from scratch. Muy brave, given the tenacity of beet juice to stain everything within a tri-county radius. And arugula, mmmmm. Fun to pronounce, too.

Senor Buzz made his dish a couple weeks ago as part of Shamu’s Dim Sum Sunday and while he admits the flavor lacked a certain something-something, I do so loves me pureed soups. Not only did he give us a recipe with which we can fiddle, his presentation both pre and post endeavor was simply gawjus.

That fab foodie La Diva Cucina was once again too busy making the world a safer place for cooking in stilettos to properly participate, but she posted a link to a past post she’d done featuring a white beet salad and pasta with beet greens. I will be making this soon, you can bet on that.

Fishy, oh, now she was clever! She went right for Moi’s sweet tooth with a luscious chocolate beet cake that is also on my list to make this month. Only, I won’t be leaving mine nekkid like that with only a dusting of powdered sugar to protect all that moist goodness from the cold cruel world.

Finally, Most Honorable Mentions simply must go to the two gals who, while not crafting beet dishes per se, most definitely presented the theme in an equally “gut busting” manner.

Boxer started off our day with a video cooking show send-up that mixes one part Mr. Bill, one part Mr. Potato Head, and, I’m certain, one part entire bottle of vodka, all filtered through her own delightfully skewed world view into a distillation of pure, unadulterated, laugh-until-you-pee-your-pants hilarity.

You’d think that K9, whose alter ego has “boutique farmer” written all over her future, would have jumped into the challenge with apron waving, but, no. Instead, she strode into the kitchen to affirm with distinctive Mad Maxian élan that “beets suck,” and chose instead to make out of them a lovely centerpiece that would have looked tres chic at any one of our tables.

So as you can see, my decision was not an easy one. But I have made it and I am sticking to it.

The winner of the Great Eat to the Beet Challenge 2009 is . . .

CHEF TROLL. Here’s why: Three dishes. One using beets themselves, the other, their greens. And a beautifully colored aperitif. Alkeehol always gets my attention, as does bacon and the use of greens. Which, I feel I should add, was also done brilliantly by La Diva, who almost won but didn’t out of fairness to the folks who crafted a dish specifically for this challenge. Finally, Troll got Major Moi Points for not only posting all his recipes but also for taking all his own photos, which regardless of quality (quality goes to K9 hands down), were nonetheless not only sufficiently illustrative but also original.

So, Chef Troll, that puts you in charge of hosting and picking the topic for the next Culinary Throw Down, and also perhaps judging it, if we can’t find a non-participating judge to handle that part. Which I think would be fun, because it would allow your dish to be in the running.

P.S. Actually, I don't mind doing it again. I am fine with keeping myself out of the running. You decide.

Smooches to all!


Allison said...

Congrats, Troll!

This was so much fun I am so glad to have found you guys. I'm looking forward to the next one.

You had your work cut out for you, Moi, and I have to say that it's a shame your dish wasn't included because it looked yummy.

sparringK9 said...

congratulations to the troll! well done. i agree -the effort to make and shoot the entries is critical to winning the prize. thank you for the honorable mention as i drove out to the store to purchase beets just to do the shoot. 11 miles! grrrrrhahahahaha

and thanks for seeing such a good future for me. boutique farmer? from your keyboard to God's ears!

finally, i kind of hope you do continue to judge because your write ups on each contestant is wonderful -thoughtful, observant and spot on. your tart was lovely. it really was. i say do that with berries.

moi, youre the best!!

fishy said...

Bravo Judge Moi!!!!!
Job well done. Loved your paragraph on each contestant and, I do think the winning chefs hat and little gold statue should go to Troll for all the reasons you listed.

DEFINITELY agree special awards should be bestowed upon Boxer and K9 for their oh so entertaining entries.

As for cake .... I predict it will be your favorite beet.

Karl said...

Good afternoon Moi,

Congratulations to the Troll, he really put in a fine effort.

Speaking of effort, you really do excel at judging. All you put into these throw downs is greatly appreciated.

h said...

I hereby declare MOI a recipient of the Culinary Blogger Award avatar thingie too! Shouldn't matter that her DISH wasn't eligible. There are James Beard Award categories for WRITING, so she wins as a WRITER.


Heff designed that Golden Buddha thing, btw. Perhaps a certain artist of the canine persuasion can make a new one?

Anyhay, this was the most fun Throwdown yet and I'm honored to have prevailed over such stellar participants.

And I want to salute the great HONESTY of those participants because HONESTY should be saluted and, absent it, I wouldn't have won.

Note that both Fishy and Karl quickly quashed the notion that they'd taken their own photographs. And both Moi and Allison volunteered the information that the flavor of their dishes wasn't what they'd hoped.

Honestly, had I been judging I'd have selected Fishy's as "best presentation" and Moi's as "best dish" had they not spoken up.

Will wait and see what happens with potential Judges other than MOI volunteering. Sure would be nice.

But I already know the theme for the next one. "SMOKE AND/OR FIRE".
And the date for POSTING which is Wednesday October 18th.

Will do a post at The Troll Report with more details after lunch (not beets) today.

moi said...

Allison: That's very nice of you. I'm cool with not being in the running, though.

K9: The beauty of this tart is that you can make it with just about anything, at least within the savory spectrum. I'm going to do spinach and ham next, so that S.B. will have something to eat :o). On the sweet side, I'm thinking blueberries, ricotta, and creme fraiche.

Fishy: Now that I'm less stressed out with other obligations, my goal is to get into the kitchen and cook and bake more and more mindfully. I also want to get in on Shamu's Dim Sum Sundays, too.

Karl: I was always an observer, never a participator. This was only my first time cooking, second time judging. And it was fun!

Troll: Congrats on a job well done, once again. Fun theme! But, do you mean November 18th?

sparringK9 said...

what happened with heff?

Pam said...

Congrats Troll! That beet infused vodka was a clincher, I'm sure. Very well thought out and prepared. Pour me a glass, please!

LaDivaCucina said...

CONGRATS TO CHEF TROLL!!! I am curious about that vodka (of course!) Still have not had time to look around, haven't even had time to respond to me own blog comments! I'll take a look eventually, they all sound so interesting.

Testing out new recipes now, audition at five pm and then having a DAY OFF with my hubby at a fancy hotel downtown (we got for free yay!) to celebrate our anniversary from last week that we were too busy for. Sheesh.

You guys rock...(sorry, no more "we got the beet" jokes for now!)

Making Space said...

Congrats Troll! Beeeeeeeets!!!! Woot!

Jenny said...

I say you and your round up is worthy of continuing to be the judge of any future throwdowns.

Next time I'll add chickens, vodka (I won't drink it) and will try to actually cook. OK, I'm lying. I won't cook.

K9 is right, you are the best.

Kymical Reactions said...

Moi!!! I think you did a divine job as judge, and I think Troll is more than worthy of the Beet-down honor.

And I totally agree with K9 that you do a wonderful job with commentary. I vote you to be the throwdown host.

(and K9... Heff is on a hiatus for a while and has gone private. Bastard.) ;)

Pam said...

Come PR snarking if you can tear yourself away from the beetroots!

Buzz Kill said...

So all I have to do to win is get cancer and mix the theme ingrediant with alcohol to win? Don't I sound like a whinny Top Chef?
Way to go Troll, although Tom Colicchio would tell you to do 1 good dish instead of a trio, I like the effort you put in.
And thank you Moi for judging and your excellent review. I know I wouldn't have done as well or gotten it right. You weighed htings I would have never considered. Nice job.