Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Surreal TV

Years ago I was surfing late night TV and came across a Martha Stewart cooking show. It was something like 1 AM. I was pretty tired and getting ready to go to bed. Then I said to myself, "Who is that she is cooking with? The Rock?!?"

Indeed, she was cooking with Dwayne Johnson, a.k.a., "The Rock." This was during the height of his fame as a professional wrestler and before he really started getting into movies. They were baking cookies. Martha even goaded him into saying his signature catch phrase, "Can you smell what The Rock is cooking?" Martha baking cookies with this bruiser of a wrestler; it was one of the most surreal, bizarre on-screen pairings I have seen.

(P.S. - This did really happen, and I am not making it up. Here is proof.)

On Sunday I came across a show that was not quite as strange in terms of the combination of personalities, but it was close. I still paused and said, "Huh? How did that happen?"

I stumbled upon "Spain...On The Road Again" on PBS. The show is essentially a culinary road trip across Spain with four people. It stars celebrity chef and walking Italian food encyclopedia Mario Batali, noted food writer Mark Bittman, and...Oscar winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow? I'll be darned, it is really her! The fourth member of the cast is a Spanish actress I had never heard of, Claudia Bassols (hello!).

Now, I really like both Batali and Bittman. Over the years, I have throughly enjoyed Mario's "Molto Mario" shows, I've purchased several of his books, and have learned a great deal about Italian cooking. I also own a couple of Bittman's "Minimalist" series cookbooks, so I have appreciated his writings as well.

When I joined the episode, Bittman and Paltrow were just finishing up grilling some stunning looking fresh vegetables over an open fire at a winery. There was an extended scene were the two of them were in a car driving away through the Rioja wine region, observing the grapes being harvested. Paltrow was lamenting about how drunk she was. And judging by the abundant sunshine, there was an awful lot of daylight left, so she was plowed pretty early in the day! In a later scene, Bittman was with the kitchen of one of the most famous chefs in Spain, Juan Mari Arzak. The purpose of this mission was to give a cooking lesson to the drop-dead gorgeous Claudia Bassols.

How this show came about, and how they sold the idea to Gwyneth and Claudia I have no idea. Let's face it; neither Batali or Bittman are what you might call "lookers." Yet, here they are road tripping around Spain with two extraordinarily beautiful women, all the while eating, drinking, and carrying on, teaching stunning Spanish women how to cook, and getting Gwyneth trashed on Tempranillo in the early afternoon. Batali and Bittman must be evil geniuses.

This is just fantastic TV. The DVR is already set for next week's episode.

Can you tell I had a day off from running yesterday? :)

Unrelated to anything, here is yesterday's pizza for dinner (made with Mom's homemade pizza sauce)!


Until next time,

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