This episode we cruised back into foggy Orewa in the back seat of a beige VW Beetle for our second date with Beauty and the Beast. Tracey and Neill ensured us that they have been preparing since their last disastrous instant restaurant. Their rigorous preparation seemed to consist mostly of synchronised swinging at the park. They jumped off the swings in tandem and headed to the supermarket, but not before Tracey did a nutso u-turn that Neil thought should get her committed to the “psychi-rat-tric” ward. After a quick trip to the super, they went home to set up Fire and Ice II: This Time We Have Tiny Silk Cutlery Bags.
The instant restaurant was essentially the same (bar the small sexy bags), but the menu was definitely not. They had gone full psychi-rat-tric with it. The starter promised Caesar salad “with a twist”. Would the chicken be in a small silk bag? Would it be swinging on a tiny swing in tandem with the bacon? Ben Bayly was rightly anxious about the twist – we have learnt by now that he doesn’t like it when the classics are messed with. Polishing off the aesthetic of the instant restaurant with a problematic Polar bear toy named “Bipolar”, Tracey and Neill were ready to fire up the kitchen.
Attacking the dessert first, Tracey got to circumcising the tamarillo’s whereas Neil went meringue mental, uttering the longest series of swear words known to man. Neil then moved on to making the smelly shrimp paste for their Thai green curry main, timing the height of pungency perfectly with their guests’ arrival. Corporate Dad Aaron hit the ground running, stating that the imitation-snow window decorations looked like “Grandpa sneezed on the window”. He was right, though. I hate it when he’s right. Unsurprisingly, Wellington Foodie Steve was wearing a wooden bow tie. This elicited much comment, but the Corporate Dads still couldn’t get past Steve’s glasses: “he looks like Joe 90”. I’m beginning to think the Corporate Dads have literally never met anyone who wears glasses before.
The starter was to be served with one soft-boiled egg per person, but Neil was truly scrambled: “I’m not in the mood for deep-frying eggs”. They decided to cook half the amount of eggs, cut them up, and plop them on the side. Tracey was flummoxed by this beastly move (“oh my giddy aunt Neil”). Frankly, she was right to blaspheme her giddy aunt: the presentation was foul (bazinga). The much-anticipated ‘twist’ in the Caesar salad was switching up the croutons for pork belly. Dal hated it, finding it too salty. Everyone else loved it, but nobody had forgotten that they made pork belly last time. Was Neil a one-trick piggy? Certainly not, he’s back in the kitchen doing weird things with fish sauce.
The Thai curry main course was branded a “ballsy” move to serve up to MKR’s resident Laotians, (and therefore apparently gurus on all things exotic/foreign) Dal and Dai. Everyone was looking at them eagerly for a reaction. Man, it must weigh a lot on their shoulders to be constantly speaking for an entire continent. The MKR soundtrack enhanced their expertise by quietly playing a gong sound effect whenever they said anything. Unfortunately, Dal couldn’t eat hers again. Goooooong. Gareth found the curry comforting, but Ben wasn’t blown away by it.
Finally: dessert. The little hazelnut meringues were sent from the kitchen under the instruction that they must “travel like an angel” to stop them collapsing. But they were far from angelic. The judges’ meringues collapsed instantly in a very overly-dramatic slow zoom sequence. Good thing everyone enjoyed the circumcised tamarillo’s, and they scored extra points for their nice “presentationi” (that’s Neil’s Italian translation of the English term “presentation”). The much-loved pork belly saved their bacon to a certain extent – but wasn’t enough to lift their score from the previous Fire and Ice experience. Tracey and Neil came away with a pretty average score of 57. Oh my giddy aunt, is it time to say goodbye to our beloved Beauty and the Beast?