|The Oakland Outlaws. Photo: The Bay Area Derby Girls|
Sure, the utterly canned social-event premise is still there, and Brian's repertoire is still limited to fussy little canapés and fad martinis (in this case, the dreaded bacontini). But not only did the food this week actually make our mouth water, the host managed to work in a costume change from his former career: a plunging v-necked, rhinestone-covered figure skating unitard. Shame? Brian doesn't know the meaning of the word.
In an episode devoted to pig fat, our host hammed it up, of course, but with nowhere near as many cutaways to him dancing, cackling and performing in animated skits. (If this is the last time he uses a couple of parsley sprigs as false eyelashes, however, that'd be fine by us.)
Instead, the focus was on the main ingredient: fried, crumbled, candied and used as decorative garnish in a variety of nibble-worthy environments.
His sweet potato hash served in pancetta cups was a novel idea, one we wouldn't mind reverse-engineering for a savory brunch some weekend. And while his chicken tenders with bacon-blue cheese dipping sauce seemed almost like an afterthought, his puff pastry filled with a bourbon-apple compote and topped with cream and candied bacon looked all too easy to scarf down -- don't know about those roller derby girls, but we probably could've eaten a dozen in a sitting.
The girls themselves were a fun bunch to host, and their aptly named ringleader Chesty Gillespie inspired Brian to create his own team-jersey name pun: "Holden McGroin," which could only be interpreted as a cry for help from the jock itch-inflicted. Are you trying to tell us something, Brian?