It doesn't get taffa than this. Seriously. How can Masterchef top last night's mouthwatering quarter final? I didn't even know who to root for – let alone who was going to win. In the almost words of Gregg Wallace. That programme was a triumph.
After a few weeks of rather predictable dishes, this bunch really delivered – even making scallops and lamb cutlets (last week placed upon the Masterchef boring banned substances list, you may remember) look inventive and delicious. Although the fact neither came on a bed of peas in any form obviously helped.
Science Teacher Anna served up her scallops on sweetcorn puree with crispy pancetta, followed by duck with rosemary and leek mash and a fine-looking port gravy, and a rhubarb bread and butter pudding that sent Gregg into such raptures I was worried he was going to superlative himself into outer space. "Oh baby, that rocks!" he boomed, with the spoon barely out of his mouth. "That is just gooey loveliness!"
(Both of which phrases will of course go straight into our Masterchef random nonsense generator – aka the Gregg Garbler – in preparation for a special treat on finals night. With prizes! Add your favourite quotes from last night below).
Then there was Dorset Engineer Matt, who seemed to have a smile on his face even when close to tears, which was several times last night – a new and rather tiresome element of early-round Masterchef. Really. Enough with the weeping. He jollied up his scallops by smoking them. Along with the potatoes for his main of lamb cutlets, beetroot and caramel carrots.
Let's be honest, I didn't hold much hope, presuming he was about to go very wrong indeed. As, I think, did Eggy and Johnboy. But then their raptures upon eating it! It's almost enough to me to go and get one of Matt's whizzy smoking pan things. (Also influencing me here: these fantastic WoM posts about mackerel.)
And the final member of our fab three? Ozzie Banker Belinda – who somehow became my favourite once she knocked the idea of cooking citrus rice, a bit of meat/fish, and then a mad fruit compote thing for every meal on the head. And a good job too. That stuff belonged in a preserving jar, not on a plate.
But here's why I loved Belinda: she cooked a three course brunch menu. Rose petal blinis with lemon crème to begin with; a fry-up with duck sausage, quails' eggs and tomato-ey beans for main; and juicy peach cakes with a raspberry glaze and jam filled berries to finish. You'd eat that all, wouldn't you? And ask for seconds. Maybe thirds. Although perhaps not of the lemon crème, given that Gregg – yes, GREGG! – said it was too sweet for him. I had no idea that was even possible.
After the very many "extraordinary!"s from John and "Oaty, sharp sweetness – I love your cakes" from Gregg, I was a bit surprised when she didn't win. But you know, smiling lovely Matt is a deserving semi-finalist. Maybe even a deserving Masterchef winner. What do you think?