TND – You Say Cheese, I Say Fromage

May 22, 2014


It’s time to talk cheese people – both metaphorical, and literal.

Yet another year of Eurovision has come and gone, and I remain disappointed that no network in the US airs it live.  I have, however, noticed more and more references to it, so I am cautiously optimistic that someone somewhere will understand the genius of Eurovision and air it so that I can have a viewing party some year.

Now, you have to understand, my criteria for who/what I think should win Eurovision essentially boils down to who gives the most balls-to-the-wall crazy-cakes performance.  None of the songs are even in the vicinity of good, so that is never a deciding factor.  And, if I wanted tasteful, well I probably wouldn’t be watching Eurovision.  So what I look for is a group who really commits to the insanity.  I want vampires who turn into boats, and dancing gumbies, and twins in futuristic pompadours (all of which have featured in performances in the last three years alone).

Austria won this year, represented by the transvestite stylings of Conchita Wurst.  Everyone seems very surprised that Austria voted for a transvestite drag performer to represent them at Eurovision.  I am not.  Possibly this is because I spent many years in high school watching German language cable channels in the afternoon after school and know that (at least in the early 90s) people of the Germanic persuasion had an explicable fondness for early ‘80s detective shows (Hart-to-Hart, Remington Steele, Charlie’s Angels), and for daytime talk shows hosted by transvestites who always seemed to be either interviewing people who made sex toys, or the porn stars who used them on camera.  What I find inexplicable is how boring they managed to make sex toys and transvestites.  I always opted for Remington Steele (with Hart-to-Hart as a runner-up).


Other than the nominal shock value of a bearded lady, the winning performance is solidly mainstream and tastefully boring.  Rise Like a Phoenix – Conchita Wurst

If you’d like to see all of the live final performances there’s a complete playlist here (although oddly it’s out of order).   Or you can watch a streaming video via the Eurovision Song Contest Website.  If you’d just like the highlights, read below.

I think Poland should have won.  They brought the energetic insanity that you need to get through however many hours of telecast Eurovision is (I watch the streaming video on fast-forward after it has aired).  There were sexy washerwomen at the invisible ford, and the heaving cleavages that I always associate with churning butter (there’s a milk and cow joke in there somewhere, but I think I’ll take the high road and not make it).  They also win brownie points in my book for actually singing in Polish (mostly).  Donatan & Cleo – My Slowiani (We Are Slavic)

Or possibly the award should have gone to Belarus who managed to sing the lines “I’m no Patrick Swayze, and you’re no Jennifer Grey . . . . I’m so sorry, but I lost my train of thought when you called me your sweet cheesecake” more or less with a straight face.  Teo – Cheesecake

I would make a comment about how the French were putting in a solid effort for consideration, but honestly this is kind of just what French pop is like (at least it was in the early 90s, and frankly that’s about as far into cultural evolution as Eurovision has progressed so it remains a valid point).  Twin Twin – Moustache

I’d say the same thing about Italy brining the crazy – but again, I’ve watched a lot of Italian variety shows (which are ubiquitous and endless), and this performance not actually out of the norm.  Emma – Ma Mia Citta

Greece was not insane, but did at least have some energy to their performance – it was very early ‘90s French Hip-Hop.  Freaky Fortune featuring RiskyKidd – Rise Up

I actually kind of enjoyed Iceland’s ice cream sherbet be-suited performance.  Pollaponk – No Prejudice

Malta, bafflingly, seemed to channeling Mumford and Sons.  Which, I guess, points for being aware of the cultural zeitgeist; except by and large Malta’s cultural heritage is Mediterranean and Arabic, so the decision to go Irish is a little odd.  Firelight – Coming Home

The Russian entry starts strong – their hair is braided (?) wound (?) together – but then it gets boring.  Tolmachevy Sisters – Shine

Switzerland offered up competitive whistling (no, really), banjos, and a lot of hair gel.  Sebalter – Hunter of Stars

Pork Chops
Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
Green Beans
Apple Sauce

Pork Chops

Recipe (such as it is) previously given:  In which I fail at birthdays, but am graciously forgiven

pork chops

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
(serves 6-8)

This is the less metaphorical cheese portion of Dinner.  Dare I say it, I think there was actually too much cheese in this dish.  Don’t get me wrong, it was super tasty; but, it was also a little too saucy and I felt like it needed some more structure.  Next time I would either decrease the amount of cheese sauce (maybe 2 cups of milk worth?) or increase the amount of potatoes (probably up to 3lb) and cook it in a larger pan (9×13).

served potatoes

2 lb potatoes, thinly (1/8”) sliced (see note above)
4 Tbsp butter
1 onion, minced
1/3 cup flour
3 cups milk
2 tsp Dijon mustard
5 oz grated cheddar, divided
3 oz grated mozzarella, divided

Preheat oven to 375.

Saute the minced onion in the butter until softened (about 5 minutes).  Stir in the flour and cook until lightly browned.  Whisk in the milk and mustard, and cook over a low-medium heat – stirring constantly – until thickened (10-15 minutes).  Remove from heat and stir in 4 oz of cheddar and 2 oz of mozzarella.  Season to taste with salt & pepper.  Can be made in advance & refrigerated overnight – return to a low simmer before assembling casserole.

Generously butter a 9×9 casserole dish.  Toss the remaining 1 oz each of cheddar and mozzarella together in a small bowl.

Thinly slice the potatoes on a mandolin.  Layer a quarter of the potatoes in the pan – top with a quarter of the cheese sauce, and a quarter of the grated cheese.  Repeat until all potatoes and all sauce has been used (4 layers total) – ending with a layer of sauce & grated cheese.

Tightly cover the casserole with foil and place on a lined baking sheet (so if anything drips it doesn’t drip onto your oven floor and smoke out your house).  Bake for 45-50 minutes, remove the foil and continue to bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and the top is lightly browned.  Allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before attempting to serve.

Apple Sauce

Recipe (such as it is) previously given:  Bangers-n-Mash

apples & peels


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