Former White Star Building To Become Titanic-Themed Hotel

Albion House,Liverpool
Photo:Wikipedia

Albion House in Liverpool, once the headquarters of White Star Line, is now going to become a Titanic themed hotel. According to the Liverpool Echo: “They hope to turn 350,000 sq ft of floorspace, which has been largely unused for three decades, into a 350- bedroom aparthotel with a gym, bar and restaurant named Signature Living Hotel – The Home of the Titanic, in honour of its history.

Albion House–constructed between 1896 and 1898 and known for its distinctive appearance due to Portland stone and red brick– is a Grade II historical building (which means it is a more than just a building of special interest). Hotel developers Now Signature Living recently acquired the building and have put the paperwork in. They hope to have part of the hotel open by next April.

Sources:
1. White Star Building To Become Titanic-Themed Hotel(26 Aug 2013,Liverpool Echo)
2. Albion House, Liverpool (Wikipedia)

MasterChef (28Aug2013):Kids Take Over Kitchen, Vietnamese Soup, and Paula Deen

Paula_Deen
Photo: Wikipedia

*Number of times Walmart mentioned during show: 0

*A full two hour episode.

*Visitors In The Kitchen! Possibly to prepare us for Junior MasterChef, the sons of the judges pay a visit.
They also get to pick 15 items for the cheftestants to cook. Then they visit the contestants to see how they are doing. Jack, Gordon’s son, asks Jessie if she has a boyfriend (she does). The items they had to cook were a hodgepodge of ingredients only kids would put together like pork, a hazelnut chocolate spread, assorted fruits, peanut butter, cheese slices and ketchup.

witch hat*James, Jessie and Luca are called up but Krissi and Natasha (the bakers) are left behind. Krissi fumes at not being called up for her made from scratch pastry. Natasha did something weird. Instead of making fruit crepes, she made pancakes. While the judges make the decision as to who wins, Krissi makes a snide comment that they used premade pastry in the dishes. Krissi proving once again why she gets the pointed witch hat.

*The Best Dish Ever Challenge: James wins and has to select three dishes each of the judges says it is tops for them. For Joe it is a uni & caviar dish he had in Singapore. For Graham, it is a softshell crab sandwich his grandfather made for him. And finally Gordon has an amazing Vietnamese pork noodle dish he had in Vietnam. Each of those on the bottom will cook the one James selects. He chooses the Vietnamese soup knowing how difficult it will be. He hopes to take out Natasha or Luca.

*Luca presents the best recreation of it. Gordon raves over it as do the others. While weeks ago I doubted Luca’s ability to stay, his ability to produce this complex soup shows he is a very serious contender. Jessie too puts up a very good soup. Both Natasha and Krissi presents soups that are good though with some small issues (like Natasha’s broth being more sweet and thus needing more salt). Both Luca and Jessie are winners leaving Krissi and Natasha on the bottom.

*Head Fake The judges at first seem to be sending Natasha home when Krissi is sent upstairs. She starts crying and Gordon goes on about how difficult it was to make the decision. Meanwhile the cameras role as Natasha continues to cry for at least 30 seconds more before Gordon says it was so close that no one is going home. They are all safe. A MasterChef first where those on the bottom were saved because both dishes were so good (perhaps not has good as Luca or Jessie’s) they could not send them home. Or is it something else? Perhaps to preserve the two mean girls for a little longer?

Part Deux

*It is a bright, beautiful day as they visit a lovely ranch where horses seem to be enjoying themselves. And then Paula Deen drives up with a tractor of hay! Fox never mentioned her appearance on the show in any of its promos. There is also reporting that Fox wanted to edit out her appearance. Cowards. But they could not do it since her appearance is important for the continuity. They could have gone sneaky by shooting scenes with another celebrity and inserting them where Paula was. In the end, they did nothing and you know what, it was just fine.

*After hitching a ride with some hay, our cheftestants end up in a nice area with dining tables set out. Their task will be to each cook for one table but there is a major hitch. Luca gets to decide what proteins each of his competitors will cook, Southern stye. He keeps pork chops. He gives alligator to Jessie, chicken to James, catfish to Natasha, and prawns to Krissi. And off they go to cook their meals.

*James makes a strategic mistake that costs him later. The chicken breasts are pretty large and decides not cut or flatten them for easier cooking. So big pieces of chicken are going into the oven taking longer to cook…and well you guessed it they were not quite done and had to be reheated. Unfortunately one got by when Gordon was checking his table. Major technical foul and puts him into the pressure test later.

*Natasha bungles cooking the catfish. Her sides are fine but decides to grill the buttermilk batter coated fish which means they stick to the grill. Gordon advises she pan fry. However her fish ends up underdone in the end. This from a gal who has shown tremendous skill.

*Krissi’s makes shrimp and fried green tomatoes. Not much negatives about the dish but perhaps not quite elevated enough since…..

*Jessie gets rave reviews for the alligator, a tough meat to cook. And Luca gets raves as well for his delicious pork chops. So both Jessie and Luca get the win, the rest to the pressure test. Paula did not try Natasha’s fish since it was underdone.

*Hell’s Pressure Test. Of all the pressure tests, this was one of the most difficult. Both Luca and Jessie were shown dishes from each of judges restaurants. Each of them looked very difficult to replicate, especially Graham’s panna cota dessert. Jessie and Luca now have to decide who gets to cook what. They gave Natasha Gordon’s scallop appetizer, Krissi the Fillet Rossini from Del Posto, and Graham’s Greek yogurt panna cota with different honeys and flavors goes to James.

*Krissi and Natasha do reasonably well though have errors. Natasha ran out of time so not enough sauce but Gordon is pleased. Krissi though overcooks her fillet (she put it in the oven) and one of the pears still has skin on it. James gets the flavors right but fouled getting the panna cotta set (he put it in the refrigerator rather than a blast chiller. James is sent home leaving Krissi and Natasha to join the final four.

*Ratings/Rankings
1. Luca (tied with Jessie). Luca has shown considerable growth and talent. While weeks ago I thought he was fading, he has shown some remarkable cooking skills. I think he might very well be in the top two unless he totally screws himself up.

1. Jessie  (tied with Luca). She is not just a pretty face. We saw that in the audition when Gordon challenged her to fillet a whole fish. While she took some stumbles on the way, she has shown finesse in most of her dishes. And earned the respect of the judges as well.

2. Natasha. I am worried about Natasha. She has shown some tremendous skills and the ability to do well under pressure(although her first team challenge for the wedding had its problems). But lately she seems to have problems. Forgetting garlic, thinking pancakes with fruit is MasterChef material, or cooking catfish totally the wrong way. I just wonder if the pressure of the competition is rattling her and causing some lapses in judgment. However I still think she has  the ability to take down Jessie or Luca (or possibly Krissi if it came to it).

3. Krissi. She has serious cooking chops but, as Gordon pointed out, the limitation is her. He did not say it but a boy from Scotland from a middle class family became a master chef with Michelin stars because he reached far beyond his comfort zone. Krissi is most comfortable with foods she knows but, as she pointed out, does not go to fancy restaurants. We saw how uncomfortable she was with Asian foods. And she was very hesitant to replicate the soup. However she also is being rattled by the pressure to produce stunning upscale restaurant quality food. Add to that her belligerent and nasty attitude she has, and that can often spell doom for a cook in a competition. There is no room to hide now. If Natasha screws up, she may very well end up in the top three, but she might very well trip herself up in a spectacular way.

 

Joe has some interesting to say at his blog on People about this episode.

Titanic In Color

Photo courtesy George Behe
Photo courtesy George Behe

Many years ago a controversy over colorization of classic movies erupted. Movies such as Miracle on 34 Street and It’s A Wonderful Life were colorized. Did it ruin or improve the movie? Well depends on your perspective. Some movies were designed to take advantage of black and white and loose some of their character when colorized. It is not an easy thing to do to put color in and make it look natural. Some movies look odd as a result. Miracle on 34 Street is pretty good and the Santa suit (the one the toy manager compliments Kris on) really looks good. Anton Logvynenko decided to use modern technology to render Titanic photos in color.

And the result is nothing less than spectacular. Images most everyone has seen of Titanic now have crisp color to them. It is remarkable what he has done. You can view his work at Titanic In Color.

Source: Inking of The Titanic: Photographer colours black and white pictures of world’s most famous ship with extraordinary results(25 Aug 2013, Daily Mail)

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Saturday Titanic Newswrap

Photo courtesy George Behe
Photo courtesy George Behe

1.Titanic II Update: Model testing for Titanic II will begin next month at Hamburg Ship Model Basin in Germany. According to Marinelink: “A 9.3m wooden model of Titanic II will be put through resistance and powering tests in a 300m long tank at HSVA’s Hamburg facilities in mid-September.”
Source:Titanic II Model Tank Testing To Be In Germany(23 Aug 2013,Marinelink.com)

2. Famed underwater explorer Robert Ballard is exploring the Cayman Trough, the deepest part of the Caribbean reports AP.  The trough is at least  25,000 feet deep and the scientists aboard Nautilus hope organisms collected will help understand how life evolves on other worlds According to the news report, they have “captured a dumbo octopus, named for its two ear-like fins; a sea cucumber with an unidentified appendage; and various invertebrates living around hydrothermal vents that can reach temperatures of more than 400 Celsius (752 Fahrenheit).” They are also studying underwater earthslides to determine frequency and magnitude that causes tsunamis.The Nautilus is scheduled to return to port in September to avoid hurricanes and then heads to Puerto Rico in October.
Source:Explorer Who Discovered Titanic Wreck Now Investigating Deepest Trough In Caribbean Sea(22 Aug 2013,AP)

3. Here is a sneak peek of Titanic’s Final Mystery to be shown on Smithsonian Channel.

MasterChef(21Aug2013):Cooking In Wolfgang Puck’s Restaurant, Learning How To Steam Dumplings, and Calamari

Wok Cooking
The most common cooking utensil in China.
Photo:Wikipedia(JVDC)

*Down to the final six. And strangely they are all standing up on a roof waiting for MasterChef 1 carrying the Culinary Trio to arrive. Visually stunning but rather pointless. Wait! There are only five standing there. Turns out Krissi has a fear of heights and could not stand there (she is on the stairs nearby). The teams are quickly sorted out between Natasha (blue) and Bri (Red). Natasha selects Jessie and Luca. Bri has James and Krissi.

*Once again it is time for the grueling restaurant takeover. This is where our aspiring winners must pass through a trial by fire by working a real restaurant cooking their signature dishes. And since this restaurant is Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant WP 24, the dishes are going to be Asian. Krissi is uncomfortable with Asian food.

*The appetizers soar out of Team Bri while Team Red seems stuck in funk. Now time for a lesson in cooking science. Some steamed appetizers came back undercooked. Turns out Luca put cold water in the steamer! When you add cold water into hot water, it lowers the temperature explaining the undercooked dumplings. There is a word Red used on That 70’s Show that says it all. You get the picture. It was pretty dumb.

*Gordon Ramsay is the expediter and Joe is doing front of the house. Graham seems to be hanging around watching the cooking. Team Natasha gets it together and is whipping out the entrees while Krissi on Team Bri is having major issues. She cannot recall how to do the prawn dish right, flubs up, and looses confidence in herself. Their delay is costly as people are waiting over an hour and half for their food. Some walk out. Graham steps in and starts getting Krissi focused. The entrees started going out. Reviews are good for Team Natasha, not so good for Team Bri. In the end both completed the service but had to wait till the next day to find out who won.

*Team Natasha is the winner and safe heading up to the balcony. They are now in the top five.

*Bri, Krissi, and James are left to make fried calamari with marinara sauce. Now I have never given much thought to its preparation since I get it at a restaurant. You have to clean and slice the squids, prepare a batter, fry them in oil but carefully so they do not overcook (or undercook), and prepare a good marinara sauce. Which means taking apart the canned tomatoes, straining them, making them into sauce using extra virgin olive oil, garlic and other spices. So it is a considerable amount of work to be done.

*Bri and James do well in breaking down the squids.

witch hat*Krissi has the most trouble in breaking down the squids. Graham says her anger is making it harder. And she gets comments from above triggering an angry response from her (using rude words and trying to fling sauce at them). Such behavior gets no rebuke from Gordon, Graham or Joe (if there was it was not shown).

*Bri has her oil too hot so it cooks the outside but not inside. Plus it does not look good. Inexplicably she adds lemon to the marinara. As Joe points out, it, the dish is already acidic with the tomatoes. While not said, it can result in off flavors. Krissi’s look like onion rings says Gordon. I like onion rings but not for fried calamari. Her sauce is decent. That takes us to James. For reasons even he cannot explain, he did nothing with the marinara other than tomatoes and a few spices. No extra virgin olive oil. It tastes off, says Gordon. But Gordon is disappointed with all three saying they all should go home. James though is spared leaving Bri and Krissi on the bottom.

*At this point the decision ought to be not who was the worst but who is worth saving. Neither dish passed muster and it is entirely possible both could go home.

*Krissi gets another pass while Bri heads home. Now on one hand it is perfectly justified *if* you are judging on whose dish was the worst. Her calamari were undercooked. Krissi was not undercooked but not executed right either. At this point I would think is who of those two do you want potentially as a top four, top two, or even winning. In that scenario, Bri ought to have been saved and Krissi sent home. Krissi also did poorly in the restaurant challenge. I understand why they sent Bri home but they ought to have thought who best of the two to save. Joe defends the decision on his blog at People but I will not be surprised if we learn later Bri went so Krissi could hang around longer. Krissi vs Natasha, the two mean girls of the show, is perhaps at play. Krissi said in a previous episode she sees Natasha as another her.  Natasha is not so different. She is just as nasty about other people as Krissi is but does not not cackle or gloat like Krissi. She is also the better chef of the two.

Update (25 Aug 2013:
Below is the extended version of the debate over the three calamari dishes presented. It is pretty clear they were not pleased with any of them. Also I was right about the lemon-it did give an awful flavor to Bri’s sauce.

Edith Russell’s Famous Pig Operable….But No One Knows The Tune

Edith Russell’s musical pig is part of Titanic lore. While aboard the lifeboat, she played it to calm people aboard Titanic lifeboat 11. It also helped distract from the sounds of the dying in the water. It appeared in the 1958 movie A Night To Remember (based on the Walter Lord book of the same name). Walter Lord had possession of it and when he passed away in 2003, it was given to the National Maritime Museum.

However it was broken, when it was no one can say. So they decided to see if they could fix it up. Thanks to modern science, they used a three dimensional X-ray scan to see what was inside. They found the curly tail, which was used to turn the device ,had detached and stuck inside. Using a small brass rod, they turned it to hear the music. While a few notes were missing, it apparently was in good condition.

Unfortunately no one knows the tune it is playing. The National Maritime Museum has released a recording of the music it plays in the hopes someone will identify it. The tune is actually quite nice.

Sources:
1.Listen To Eerie Music From Titanic Sinking, 101 Years On(21 Aug 2013,The Telegraph)

2. National Maritime Museum(Greenwich,England)

3. Edith Russell, her lucky toy pig and her Titanic dress(Encyclopedia Titanica)

Tickets Go On Sale For Lexington Center Museum Titanic Exhibit In October

 Grand Staircase RMS OlympicTickets are now on sale for the upcoming Titanic:The Artifact Exhibition that will be held at Lexington Center Museum (Lexington, Kentucky) from 5 Oct 2013-26 Jan 2014. Adults (14 and up) $12, Children $9, Seniors $10.00. Advanced tickets are strongly recommended. For information, hours, and to purchase tickets, go to lexmuseum.com.

Sources:
1. Tickets NOW On-Sale For Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition(20 Aug 2013,Lex18.com)
2. Lexington Center Museum & Gallery

Sunday Titanic News

Happy Sunday
Happy Sunday

1.Update on recovered Titanic plaque
A long lost memorial plaque to Titanic musicians that was found in a scrapyard in Naples, Florida has been rededicated at Titanic The Experience this past Thursday and is on display. Doug Turner, who bought the plaque for $138, discovered it had been commissioned in 1912 by Musical Mutual Protective Union and had been in the Roseland Ballroom in New York City. It then disappeared and all attempts to locate it were unsuccessful. Apparently it ended in at the scrapyard through a construction worker who sold it to them while heading down to Miami.

The plaque has a sculpting of a muse, lyre, a small iceberg, and the first four musical bars of Nearer My God To Thee. All eight musicians who perished are listed. It will be on display at Titanic Experience for six months.

Source: Titanic Experience Rededicates Musicians Plaque Honoring Those On Doomed Ship(15 Aug 2013,Orlando Sentinel)

2. Lucky 16-Year Old Joins Ballard On Week Long Expedition
C.B.Wren, a 16-year old sophomore at Augusta Preparatory Day School, was chosen by National Eagle Scout Association to represent the Boy Scouts aboard Ballard’s exploration vessel Nautilus. Wren joins other students and educators for the week long exploration of Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.

Source: Augusta Prep Student On Expedition With Titanic Discoverer(15 Aug 2013,Augusta Chronicle)

3. Okay you have heard the joke “the fish was this big….” but this one is likely for real according to the Huffington Post. Marco Liebenow was fishing off the coast of Norway where he caught a 515 pound halibut in July. 515 pounds is a lot of fish and you just cannot reel it in like a normal fish. It had to be dragged back to harbor alongside the schooner. The current world record is 459 pounds for a Pacific halibut caught in 1996 in Alaska. The International Game Fishing Association will have to officially determine it’s a record holder. So what do you do with a 515 halibut? That is a lot of fish and chips!
Source:515-Pound Halibut Caught By Marco Leibenow Near Norway May Be World Record(17 Aug 2013, Huffington Post)

MasterChef(14 Aug 2013):T-Bone Steaks, A Bird Show, and A Wicked Witch

Brown Quail
Brown Quail(Coturnix ypsilophora)
Photo:Wikipedia

*We are down to the Top 7 (again) and that means….more cooking.

*Walmart got several plugs upfront in the episode, including one by James.

*What was the Walmart truck all about? Did people not believe that Walmart actually delivered produce to MasterChef?Again shades of Hells Kitchen (which often makes losing teams fetch deliveries off trucks). And the truck was not like any produce truck I have every seen. The production crews must have been busy getting that to look right for the camera.

*There is nothing like a good steak but of course you cannot just bring up meat and potatoes for these judges. The top three selected all had elevated presentations for the judges. I must now retract what I earlier thought of Luca. I thought he was not going to make it this far but he has shown more depth than before. Now he might be in the top four if he plays his cards right.

*Jordan, Luca, and Krissi were the top three and Krissi gets the win. The others are stunned. She heads back which takes us to….

*MasterChef’s Birds on Parade! We have a delightful quail, a pigeon, pheasant, chicken, duck, and turkey. Krissi must not go to a zoo much since she thinks from the chirping noise it is either a frog or cricket. Krissi gets to select which ones our home chefs will prepare. She retires with glee as they are told to collect their proteins. Unfortunately the cages have been left open and they are all wandering around the pantry (a possible health code violation?) with picture tags around their necks indicating who gets what. Luca seems most disturbed at having to pick up his turkey. It is not a small one either. Bri tells the pigeon that it ought to be comforted she is vegetarian (pigeons are grain eaters). All the animals seem rather docile so likely these are domesticated from a local kids zoo or something similar. Fortunately they are just for show as MasterChef has provided the fully skinned versions at their workstations.

witch hat

*Now time to get serious. Krissi has thrown some real serious rockets at her competitors. Jessie gets the easiest, the chicken. Her chief targets are Jordan(quail), Natasha (pheasant), and Bri (pigeon). She tosses the duck to James and the turkey to Luca who she knows probably never cooked one before. Krissi gloats and cackles up on the balcony. At some point (possibly when they are all in the pantry), she gives the middle finger salute. All that is missing is a pointed cap and a broom to complete the image.

*Krissi Fires Rockets But Misfires Except For One
Historical fact: the earliest rockets used by the British in the Napoleonic Wars were grand going away but you did not want to be there when they came down. The noise was horrible and scared the heck out of people. Their accuracy though was pretty bad. Krissi fired off a lot of rockets but few hit their mark. Natasha, who probably had one of the most difficult birds, did very well. Bri was a surprise too. She presented a nicely cooked stuffed pigeon that both Gordon and Joe raved about (Krissi dissed it as Bri brought it up). Luca also did well with his turkey and James stepped it up with an Asian inspired duck.

Jessie though took a real tumble. We have seen this gal tackle some pretty tough proteins and come out on top. And yet she completely misses the mark here. She presents a throughly underwhelming chicken meal that aptly was called a television dinner. It was not only something too homey it simply offered nothing for the upscale MasterChef kitchen. It put her on the bottom with Jordan, who totally misfired with the quail. It was raw, had a bad sauce, and nothing on the plate indicated MasterChef quality. The quail sent him home. It was hard to watch. The winners were Bri and Natasha.

*Final Call for Jordan
Jordan was offered the opportunity to visit Chicago and work with Graham. Jordan has serious talent and with Graham to  put him on the right course, he will dump driving trucks and they will deliver to him in the future. But when asked who would win, he declared Natasha. He called her a bitch but said she backed it up with her cooking. Now we are left with just six. And next week they are going to run service in a major restaurant. The previews show Gordon screaming a lot (shades of Hells Kitchen again) so it ought to be interesting.

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