Spike and Manuel's summer roll arrives next, and by the looks of things, this dish will be a letdown -- first of all, based on Spike's cursory explanation, the connection of the dish and Good Morning, Vietnam is in name only. Plated atop a banana leaf, the summer roll includes black vermicelli, green apple, Chilean sea bass and Swiss chard, and is joined by a spoon of what looks like a chili sauce and a lump of chard leaves wrapped with ribbons of chard stem. The colors look flat, and the separate elements of the dish don't come together. Daniel immediately questions the inclusion of fish in the roll, and Ted thinks that "with the budget they had, they could have bought lobster, they could have bought crab," which would have made the roll feel more luxurious. Aisha Tyler finds the whole thing chewy, Colicchio hates the lump of chard on the plate, and Padma (taking a cue from an unidentified guest) labels the choice of film an uninspired afterthought.
The Il Postino pasta appears, with Nikki hoping it will "transport you to the hillsides of Italy." Jen describes their tortellini with cavolo nero (an Italian black cabbage), ricotta, pecorino, squash and peppercorn, which Colicchio (hesitating only slightly) calls "not great, it's good." Daniel thinks the women "didn't care much about the beautiful pretty shape of it," but Ted "prefers handmade pasta that didn't look like it was stamped out of a machine." Everyone's entitled to their opinion, but Richard sides with Ted and makes a good case for Nikki and Jen's execution, since Il Postino is all about the beauty of rustic simplicity. Roeper also thinks "it's better than all the experts have been saying so far," and Ted responds with his gayest look. They are, he admits, "being as nitpicky as possible," before concluding that the dish "is kind of one-note." The judges get paid to be nitpicky, but a plucky raven-haired guest admits that, for her, the dish had precisely the intended effect of summoning "the village and the sheep running around." Not a home run, perhaps, but Jen and Nikki should be safe.
Mark spoons simmering cranberries atop a spring roll as he expresses concern that the rolls may be dry, although he is confident that "all the flavors seem to gel well together." Yes, it's time for A Christmas Story -- Ryan, in his slightly A.D.D. way, explains the "duck at the Asian restaurant" inspiration behind their quail breast with carrot puree, cranberry chutney and quail spring rolls. In addition to a comely dish and an engaging explanation, Mark and Ryan have created something "really delicious," according to Padma, and Ted's "new favorite dish -- beautiful, sophisticated, complex." Roeper approves of the interpretation of the movie, Aisha loves the carrot puree, Padma continues to enthuse, and neither Daniel nor Colicchio utter a single word.