Top Chef D.C. Episode 11: Amanda Strikes Out

It’s that time again. Aspiring cheftender Ed Hardy and I are chatting about this week’s episode, poking fun at Angelo (while also basking in his glowy good looks — at least I am; I won’t speak for Ed.).

Padma in Nationals Jersey Top Chef D.C. Episode 11: Amanda Strikes Out
"I'm not mad, Tom. I just thought we were ALL wearing jerseys today."

Okay, Ed, what up with Angelo saying he prays to chefs’ pics? C’mon!

Funny you should mention that. I actually have some chef photos up on my little private wall. All the best, of course. Giada, Nigella, Giada again. Doesn’t everybody?

This wall isn’t in your bathroom is it? Ack! Um, so is there anything wrong with Anthony Robbins? I like him, although he scares my husband — who refers to him as the lovechild of Andre the Giant and Lurch.

There is everything wrong with Tony Robbins. Have you seen the size of his mouth and teeth? I think he eats live suckling pigs whole.

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OpenTable Spotlight Deal Reveal: $50 for $25 at Vlora in Boston and Essex in NYC

Essex OpenTable Spotlight Deal Reveal: $50 for $25 at Vlora in Boston and Essex in NYC
The Potato Cake Napoleon at Essex is twice as nice at half the price!

We’re pleased to announce that this week’s OpenTable Spotlight offers are for Boston restaurant Vlora and New York restaurant Essex. Purchase $50 of food and beverage for just $25! The deals go live at midnight EDT tonight and end 24 hours later. Purchase yours before time runs out to enjoy half-price dining at high-end restaurants!

Tune in at midnight tonight (EDT) to get in on these amazing deals — before they’re gone!

Bloggers Take a Restaurant Week Boston Daycation, Courtesy of Southwest Airlines

Eggs Benny Eastern Standard Bloggers Take a Restaurant Week Boston Daycation, Courtesy of Southwest Airlines
Eggs Benedict at Eastern Standard. What better way to start the day?

We all wait patiently (and anxiously) for the arrival of our city’s Restaurant Week, during which we can dine out at terrific discounts. Maybe, though, it’s time to stop waiting and start thinking about taking advantage of Restaurant Weeks in other cities. You don’t have to take weeks — or even days — off to do it. Just ask Philadelphia food blogger Mary Bigham, of WCDish and her friend of Danielle Friel of Iron Hill Brewery. Southwest Airlines provided the flights to get these foodie friends from Philadelphia to Boston and back again in just a day’s time — with lots of stops for fine dining and more Restaurant Week Boston-inspired fun — in between.

You can follow their adventures on Twitter via our @OpenTable_BOS handle as we chat with them throughout the day and drool longingly over their food photography! They’ve already had eggs benny and French toast at Eastern Standard (I only have coffee, so thanks for rubbing that in, ladies. No, really.). Stops along the way will include Parker’s Restaurant at the Omni Parker House and dinner at Barbara Lynch’s trattoria Sportello, where they’ll meet up with area food bloggers for what I’m sure will be a pretty amazing meal.

Stay tuned on Twitter for more highlights from their Restaurant Week Boston daycation — and book your Restaurant Week Boston tables today!

Can You Guess This Week’s Secret Spotlight Offers in Boston and New York?

Secret Spotlight Offers Can You Guess This Weeks Secret Spotlight Offers in Boston and New York?Nobody seems to like Mondays, but here’s something to brighten this first day of the week. OpenTable Spotlight offers are going to turn on in Boston and New York tomorrow night! Can you guess where?

Boston’s restaurant features fresh herbs and olive oil enhance the Mediterranean minimalist fare at this spot that’s named after the owner/chef’s hometown.

The site of New York’s Spotlight restaurant was home to pushcart vendors 70 years ago. Today, it’s home to a bustling bar scene and inspiring culinary combinations.

Make your guesses here or over on our Boston Spotlight and New York Spotlight offer pages. And, tune in tomorrow night to get in on these amazing deals — before they’re gone!

Endless Summer: Do Diners Tire of Tomatoes and Other Seasonal Ingredients?

Sick of Seasonal Ingredients Endless Summer: Do Diners Tire of Tomatoes and Other Seasonal Ingredients?I was dining with a good friend recently, and as we looked over the menu, I noted that there was an heirloom tomato salad on it that I must try. I usually attempt to order something different than my tablemates, so I asked if he were interested in it. “No,” he said, “You get it. If I see another heirloom tomato, I’m going to throw up. I’m sick of them.” Mon dieu! I’d never imagined anyone could tire of fresh summer tomatoes — let alone be sickened by the thought of them.

You see, I’m a tomato junkie. I always order them when dining out. I even grow them. During the high season, I eat tomatoes every single day! To me, they are the best of summer’s bounty. Their aroma is as intoxicating as the sweet-acidity that packs every bite! And not only do they taste good, they are stunningly gorgeous. Okay, so, you get where I’m coming from: I’ve NEVER seen a tomato dish on a summer menu that doesn’t draw me in like a chocoholic to Ghirardelli Square. Still, I will consider that it’s possible that some diners get tired of the ubiquitousness of ingredients during a season’s denouement. After all, I have had chefs tell me part of the fun of seasonal cooking is that the ingredients start to shift just as their interest in them wanes.

So, tell me, diners, do you tire of any ingredients during certain seasons? Do spring ramps make you want to spring forward to summer? Do you get sick of sweet summer corn? Do squash blossoms drive you bonkers at some point? Share your thoughts in our comments section.

Top Chef D.C. Episode 10: Not-So-Brilliant Disguise

TCDC10 WD Top Chef D.C. Episode 10: Not So Brilliant Disguise
"I'm not sure that wd-420 would have been a better name, Padma."

My DVR didn’t need to work this week as I was watching live. No Memorex for me, baby. Future (C’mon, Bravo!) cheftestant Ed Hardy and I were IMing throughout. And, just like last week, we’re sharing our convo about everyone’s fave cooking contest.

Hey, Ed…first thoughts at beginning of this episode…is Alex going down? And, would you just do your best to not help him in the kitchen?

I absolutely think Alex will be going down. Everyone thinks only the food matters the most in a kitchen, but, in reality, relationships are important. No matter what your culinary ability you can always use a little help. Alex has obviously done nothing on-screen or off-screen to endear himself with his fellow cheftestants. I would have given him that can opener he was looking for, but only after freezing it in a block of ice first.

Is Angelo sincere? He’s all “Kenny was the biggest threat,” but he hated him. Are these crocodile tears — or good editing?

More than anything else, Kenny going home might have damaged Angelo’s bravado. Remember the old Angelo from Episode 1 when he wanted to be the first cheftestant to win every challenge? Where has he gone? When Kenny left he might have taken some of Angelo’s confidence with him, and so, in a way, he might miss him. A bit.

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There’s No Place Like OM — or I Trulli: Don’t Miss Today’s Spotlight Offers!

Il Trulli Theres No Place Like OM    or I Trulli: Dont Miss Todays Spotlight Offers!OpenTable’s Spotlight deals in Boston and New York are ending tonight at 12AM EST. Don’t miss your chance to purchase $50 worth of food and drinks for just $25 — a 50% discount! OM, in Cambridge, is a terrific place to soothe your soul with aromatherapy cocktails and satisfy your appetite with summer-fresh dishes that will awaken your all your senses. I Trulli in Manhattan’s Murray Hill neighborhood is renowned for its housemade (or we should say ‘mom-made,’ as the owner’s mother is I Trulli‘s resident pastamaker) pastas and its use of seasonal ingredients to serve authentic Italian fare.

Grab your Spotlight deals before they go dark tonight. And, stay tuned for next week’s deals.

Who do you think should step into OpenTable Spotlight in Boston and New York? Suggest a restaurant in the comments section!