The second semi-final is upon us. Dai and Dal vs. Neena and Belinda. Isn’t it amazing? One team all the way from Laos – and one all the way from Cambridge. Aaron and Heather were gently pushed aside, already through to the finals. Aaron’s sweater said “dead” on it, which I found quite dark for the occasion. Everyone was excited, everyone was in good spirits, and everyone was wearing chiffon blouses.
Dai and Dal’s entrée was seared scallops with pea purée and crispy pancetta. Now, I don’t know anything about anything, but I do know that this dish has been done about 40 times already on MKRNZ. Lucky they were planning to jazz it up with some exotic Asian dressing. Neena and Belinda went for an extravagant sirloin and with prawns wrapped in prosciutto – what I have learnt from watching this show is known as a “Surf ‘n Turf.” I have learnt so much, and am yet to pick up a pan… Has this all been worth it? Whose time have I wasted more – yours or mine? The Hippies ruined my reflective bliss by putting both Surf and Turf on those terrible black slate plates. I hate those.
When it got to judging, it was clear that our celeb panel were being harsher than usual. Ben Bayly rolled his eyes, “we’ve all had scallops and pancetta before”, and I nodded gently, despite never having eaten either of those things. They were overseasoned, and the servings a little small, but the Asian dressing saved the day (“dat dressing tho”- Gareth, probably). The Hippies’ meat fiesta knocked it out of the park on those stupid black plates, with their entrée really delivering the “X Factor” (registered trademark of TV3).
The main course was the battle of the sous-vide which, to my understanding, is lamb chucked in a gladbag and vacuumed to high heavens then biffed in some water. It’s a fancy thing, it’s a trendy thing. Dai and Dal were Laos-ing it up with a special home recipe marinade, and Belinda and Neena were hippying it up with Pikipiko (native bush asparagus). Dai got to work making an elaborate pork crackling, which took up the majority of their time. Neena was freaked out – her lamb looked raw even after it had been vacuumed and dunked in a relaxation tank. But, it turns out, they both did pretty damn good. “The capers made that lamb sing” said Grace. Shit, maybe this actually has been X Factor the whole time? There is something they’re not telling us.
Dessert time. Dai and Dal were making chocolate torte with raspberry sorbet and tuile which, according to my acquired MKRNZ genius knowledge, means ‘long thin biscuity thing that isn’t worth it’. It was a safe dessert, unlike the Hippies’ batshit insane cheesecake without cheese. Ben Bayly couldn’t believe it, leaning into Gareth about 30 times and muttering breathlessly “it doesn’t…even…have cheese.” The judges were intrigued by it: Gareth was very freaked out by the texture, Sean Connolly was taken aback in general and Grace Ramirez was moved (“it’s poetry,” she whispered). The cheeseless cheesecake was the big cheese on the night – the Hippies came away the winners.
They will face off tonight against Aaron and Heather, and then someone will be crowned the MKRNZ winner (the crown is a pot). And then, what will we all do? I shudder to think.
The Spinoff Daily gets you all the days' best reading in one handy package, fresh to your inbox Monday-Friday at 5pm.