Chapter - Today’s Secret Ingredient Is? ... A Sweet Ending
Igloos, blinding snow, strong winds and the howling of wolves in the distance. A lone fur wearing individual is trudging through the snow as quickly as they can.Deep voice announcer says:
Here’s something for all you fans of life altering tales. This is a story about a young doctor who moves away from New York and comes to Alaska to pay his dues. Join us on HVTV, to listen to him complain about everything and then watch with glee as he freezes to death. Yes, welcome to our new drama series called ‘Northern Overexposure
: Kids walking through the halls of a High School. There are couples kissing and groping, as well as some in a wooded area of a city park. They paint sigils in the ground, light candles and chanting as the full moon rises, while honking cars pass by.Deep voice announcer says:
Come join us for a little teen romance and a little teen rebellion. The stories will make you laugh, cry and want to perform Satanic Rituals in the dark of the night. Join us for the riveting second season of ‘Beverly Hills 90666
: An old fashion ‘techni-colour
’ program, shows an ideal suburban house and the audience sees a woman with lively, curly red hair tied up in a bun wearing a black dress with white spots. Her lips are rouged and large, while a man with horns on his head removes and fedora hat to hang up by the door saying, “Honey, I’m home.
”Deep voice announcer says
: Let’s go back to a time of wholesome entertainment and stay tuned to HVTV, as we re-run a real comedy classic from the golden age of television. Join us, as we turn back time and enjoy, ‘I Love Lucifer
(End of commercial break
Spike snorts at his station before he rushes up to hand Xander the cut up bits of fruit that he had prepared. He then heads to the blast freezer to take out the pomegranate ice-cream that he made to go with tonight’s desert.
Both head Chefs were still plating up a few bits of herb here and seeds there. They made sure that all the plates looked the same, but knew that the cameras would focus the first three presentation plates as the clock was counting down.
“Three... Two... One...,” the female voice said just before the buzzer sounded. All chefs raised their hands as proof that they had stopped all food preparation.
Alton said, “That’s it; time’s up. Please step away.”
The cameras zoomed in on the finished products and the food looked like normal everyday fair. “Now comes the Chairman’s favourite part of the show,” Alton said with a grin to the man standing in the wings. “The tasting of the food, first up will be Iron Chef Forgione and then the challenger.”
A quick fade to black, the first dish was served quickly and precisely. The stage hands set it up, while Alton was regaling the viewers and audience with more facts about Minotaurs, as well as reading the various facts that popped up on his browser.
The cameras zoomed back to the seated Judges and the chairman, as soon as Alton noticed that they were ready and he was able to turn the show over to the Judges and his boss.
The Chairman turned to the Iron Chef and said, “Iron Chef Forgione, could you please tell us a bit about the patch you used to produce this delicious looking meal.”
“Yes, sir,” Chef Forgione said. “From the information that Chef Xander was gracious enough to supply us with, I was able to formulate several dishes that will hopefully tease your palette and bring you something new. The first dish is the appetiser, which consists of a simple salad of summer vegetables and a couple of tiny roulades made of the pressed hock meat, which we made into a large sausage, around a piece of feta, with a piece of plain toasted baguette.”
The Judges tasted the meat and noticed that there seemed to be a grilled taste to the meat. Jeff asked, “Did you grill any of the meat?”
“No I did not,” the Iron Chef replied. “I tested the cooked meat myself and have noticed the same thing, so I worked around that flavour.”
“It works,” Wesley said. “It’s a pleasant plate that reminds me of summer. The mix of vegetables with the roulade works.”
“Yes,” Jeff said. “But I think that would have like a little something on the toasted baguette.”
“I disagree,” Karine said. “The dish doesn’t need anything to supplement the flavours. I believe that anything more would ruin what you’re trying to do.”
Iron Chef Marc Forgione smiled. He bowed when the Chairman said, “Thank you Chef. You may bring out the next course.”
A few camera tricks later and the judges now had a main course sitting placed in front of them. The Chairman said, “Please describe what we are about to eat.”
“A-hem,” the Iron Chef cleared his throat. “This next course is the main course and following the theme of summertime I produced small bundles of pulled meat made from the meat of the hocks and flavoured with the juices from the Minotaur’s horns. The juices were boiled down and mixed with peppers to produce ketchup type chutney. This is accompanied by thick sticks of sweet potato fries and grilled greens to off-set the unique taste of the Minotaur hocks. Accompanying this is a pasta summer salad. Please enjoy.”
“I can taste the pepper chutney,” Aaron said. “But I think it could have used a bit more to bring out the zip of the flavour. It’s still very good though.”
“Thank you,” Marc said.
“There’s some spice in the greens that is very pleasing,” Wesley said. “Although I think you use some kind of vinaigrette in there?”
“I did,” the Iron Chef explained. “However I had a few troubles to overcome with that particular recipe, but having tasted it, I don’t believe it faltered.”
“That’s what I thought,” Wesley said. “It’s true about that, but maybe a bit of ginger would have helped you to rectify that situation. Everything else is delicious.”
“Thank you,” Marc said. He looked to all of the Judges, but no one made another comment.
“Thank you Chef,” the Chairman said. “You may bring out the final course.”
The Iron Chef bowed and left to present his dessert portion of the three course meal. “Finally to round off my summertime theme you need some kind of ice treat,” the chef explained. “This is my interpretation of a snow cone for adults. This is made from the boiled juices of the horns with some lemon-lime zest and tequila, please enjoy.”
“Now this is
a treat,” Ethan said. “It’s not overpowering and yet that ingredient is clearly prominent in the flavours.”
The other judges were too busy sipping the treat, when Jeff looked up and said, “I can taste the ingredient... or what I sincerely hope is the ingredient, but you were quite correct in your choice of alcohol for this because it blended well.”
“Thank you Iron Chef,” the chairman said. The Iron Chef shook his hand and the hand of every judge there. The plates and dishes were cleared and now it was Xander’s turn.
“Chef Xander,” the chairman said with a sweep of his hand. “Please present your first course.”
“Certainly,” Xander said looking at the judges as he explained. “This first course is a fruit and vegetable salad. The fruit are base berries which were cored, halved and then placed inside the younger Minotaur horns in order to soak in the juices. Those have more zip and zing to them because of the age of the horn. Half the fruit was turned into a puree in order to mix the vinaigrette that you find on the vegetables and accompanied by mini-baguettes of gentle herbs. Please enjoy.”
The judges and the chairman were all leery of the challenger’s methods, but two were quite at ease and the regular humans at the table followed the examples of Judge Wesley and Judge Ethan. It’s a good thing too because it would have been harder for Xander’s food to be properly judged, if no one ate it. He just didn’t know the fancy names for most of the processes he used.
“Interesting,” Karine said. “The fruit still have their original flavour, but it has been supplemented, as you say with zing. Did you know about this before you thought about this dish?”
“Yes,” Xander said. “I’m familiar with a few demonic dishes and this one seems to be a mainstay favourite of Brachen Demons. They’re a sect of relatively harmless demons that cross over and some of their food preferences can be found in out of the way markets that specialize in dealing with various benign demons.”
“Do you know of any in L.A.?” Wesley asked and followed it up by saying, “This is very good.”
“I can send you a list,” Xander said nodding his head.
“I’d appreciate that,” Wesley said.
“The puree turned vinaigrette is an inspired idea,” Jeff said. “The flavours flow together and it’s not like you’re eating two different types of food here and yet it is of an Iron Chef quality which I completely enjoyed eating.”
“Thank you,” Chef Xander said.
“Thank you,” the chairman said. “Next course please.” Xander bowed and left to make sure that all dishes were similar prior to arriving at the judges table.
“With this next dish,” Xander began his explanation. “I wanted to spice it up a bit. Since I’m currently possessed by a palette extraordinaire and the ‘Hands of the Sun
’ kid, I figured that I would serve you with a modified curried-chilli bowl with thick sliced grilled potato chips and pan fried tomato slices, layered with a different kind of puree made from the Minotaur horn juice.”
“I like the bite of the chilli,” Aaron said.
“Of course you do,” Jeff said. “It’s your comfort food.”
“True,” the Mexican agreed. “However with these two sides and the puree, the flavour gets milder. I’ve never had food do that before.”
Xander just grinned.
“The bowl that you used for this,” Ethan began. “You obviously can eat it because it’s like a regular taco bowl, but there’s something different about this one. The taste is slightly spicy sweet.”
The judges all looked to him, curious and waiting for Xander’s explanation. “I made them from scratch, so I was able to add a few finely ground peppers and three different curry blends,” he said (...i...). “I needed those blends in order to off-set the Minotaur horn liquid that I thinned and used in putting the shell together. The spicy sweet comes from the horns of a very old Minotaur. There were four horns that were aged enough for this process.”
“I see,” Ethan said breaking off a section of the bowl and dipping it into the chilli. “This is surprisingly good.”
“It brings to my mind,” Karine said. “The family dinners we used to have when everyone brought something for a family pot-luck.”
Nothing else was said so the Chairman prompted Xander to bring out his final dish. The plate was beautiful in its simplicity and yet there was a gourmet feeling to it. The plate was long with a small square bowl that held the sticky soft pudding and there were two spoons of one of pink and one of yellow ice-cream.
“This is inspired by Spike’s penchant for sweet and sour things,” Chef Xander explained. “The pudding is almost your typically English dessert, which can be eaten with or without the ice cream. The pink ice cream is a strawberry-pomegranate ice cream made from the remains of the oldest Minotaur horns. The yellow ice cream is actually a creamy lemon sherbet. Enjoy.”
Eyes popped open at the first bite and the camera men caught many of the same looks. The three Englishmen tasted the cakes first. A couple of the other judges topped the pudding with one or both of the ice creams after having tasted the cake that was flavoured very mildly of cinnamon.
“The lemon sherbet is pucker perfect,” Jeff said with a face that clearly showed it. “I love the sour bite you achieved with this.”
“I agree,” Karine said. “However I think that my favourite is the strawberry-pomegranate. There’s something about it that just works for me.”
“I will say that you have nailed the pudding,” Ethan said taking another mouthful. “I think I would have liked a bigger serving of the cake in order to enjoy both ice creams, but the cake is very well done.”
“I would like to sample you’re cooking again,” Wesley said. “Do you think you can do this again without being possessed by the characters within you?”
“I don’t think so,” Xander said honestly. “I usually burn my food and consider it done. I do a mean BBQ though and that’s only because my pride would never let me fail at that most basic of manly American tasks.”
This had the judges smiling and the Chairman said, “Thank you. Please step aside while the judges make their decision.”
It’s the standard queue for Alton Brown to address the audience, “So there you have it folks. The meal is complete and now the judges will make their deliberation. From their comments it seems like their decision will be a difficult one and the results may be close. The winner of this exciting Battle Minotaur Horns and Hocks will be revealed when we return from this commercial break.”
: A series of microscopic images showing DNA sequences, bullets leaving firearms, blood being spattered from the force of various instruments, all the while the action looks like it is occurring in a first person view of a crime in progress.Deep Voice announcer:
Yes ladies and gentlemen, it’s finally here and on the air. ‘Crime Scene Instigators
,’ follow the criminals as the make work for the police investigators and learn during the programs if they were successful or failures. Just how much DNA did they really leave behind? (...ii...)
: A brightly dressed youth bounces up to a house, rapping all the way and hip-hopping up the long drive to a dark fancy house. He’s wearing a baseball cap shifted to the side of his head with a pair of horns piercing the cap.Deep Voice announcer:
All right now for the younger audience members, he’s hip and he’s fly, it’s the ‘Fresh Prince of Darkness
’. A young demon sent to live with his wealthy relatives. Watch as he learns to use a whip on his minions and how he sabotage’s his cousin’s every effort of ever getting the ghoul of his dreams, although that’s not too difficult because his cousin just can’t dance.Scene:
Camera zeroes in on another demonic youth doing a very bad side-to-side human shuffle.Deep Voice announcer:
That’s just scary!
: A dark van burst through a security gate to the sound of guitars thrumming and other sounds that make a body want to move. An older demon, still as tough as nails, is grinning off to the side of the camera as though looking somewhere and smoking a large cigar. Another demon this one obviously good looking with a toothy grin smiles at a pretty demon girl walking by. A dark demon with heavy gold chains around his neck, on his fingers and piercing his horns is scowling at the camera. The final one is a goofy looking demon that seems to be the fall guy in many pranks and he doesn’t look quite all there mentally.Deep Voice announcer:
This one’s for all you fans of shoot’em up or blow’em TV shows. Follow a group of men on the run from the government and causing trouble all the way for those chasing them, hoping to put them behind bars. They are now soldiers for hire and not always the by good guys, follow the ‘H-Team
’ in their numerous misadventures around the world. (...iii...)
(End of commercial break
“Welcome back everyone,” Alton Brown says to the camera facing him. “I know that this is the moment that you’ve all anticipated. Let’s go to the Chairman to find out who won tonight on Amateur: Iron Chef in Battle Minotaur Horns and Hocks.”
The Chairman is standing on the stage and the two chefs are standing at a lower level. He looks at both with a comic whip sound. He bows to the challenger, “Chef Xander” and then he bows to the other chef saying, “Iron Chef Forgione.” The two bowed back and he continues, “Tonight’s Battle was unique and the secret ingredient proved an interesting challenge to everyone here at Kitchen Stadium. The judges had a difficult time, but there is one clear winner.”
He paused dramatically, causing the two chefs to shift from foot to foot. The lights shifted and the Chairman bowed to Xander. “Chef Xander you are tonight’s winner!”
Xander grinned, bowed and then shook the Chairman’s hand. He turned and shook the hands of everyone in a sportsman-like manner. His two sous-chefs did the same. The audience was clapping and Alton Brown said his closing remarks with a few bits of wisdom to the wise and then the credits began to roll.
The stage turned dark again, like it had in the beginning of the program. Only this time it was the release of the spell. The audience were frozen in mid-clap and the rest of the stadium was still. People were returned to where they belonged and the program resumed, as the credits continued to roll as though their night had never been disturbed by the magical high-jacking of the program.
Spike looked up from the T.V. screen to the time and noticed that the night had just fallen. He ran into the ex-watcher’s office and snatched the newspaper from the man’s desk looking up the Manga and Anime convention that he knew Xander is currently at.
Wesley noticed the rushed look and asked, “Do you need a ride?”
“No thanks,” Spike said, leaving the room in a whirlwind. He left the building of Wolfram & Hart, stealing one of Angel’s sturdier vehicles, a Denali, with the hopes that Xander would let him stick around like he had in the past.
‘His actions were clear before the competition,
’ he thought, burning rubber to get to the centre where the convention is taking place. ‘The whelp wants me, just like I want him. He needs me...wonder if he’ll keep me this time?
Wesley just smirked at the vampire’s back and continued his pet project of looking up the Minotaurs of the Hrik’Stor dimension. It would help to know that he wasn’t about to experience a bad case of indigestion from the events. He’s startled when his phone rang showing an unrecognizable number.
“Hello,” he said into the receiver.
“Hey,” the voice said. “You like music?”
“I do,” Wesley replied a small private smile. “What address?” He made a quick note in his agenda and said, “I’ll be there within the hour.” He paused and said, “It is good to hear from you, Oz.”
“It was good to see you,” the red-headed were-wolf said. “I’ll be waiting.” He hung up and hoped that now was a good time to reunite with the one man that he had taken to his bed just after the high-school fiasco and his failed romance with Willow.
Xander, looked up, blinked and noticed that he was sitting in a booth surrounded by his girls on all sides. “Hey guys,” he said with a smile. “What’s up?”
“You’re back,” one of the young slayers said. “We were about to call Willow, but had the feeling that you were somewhere else only temporarily.”
“It was interesting that the actual personalities appeared while you weren’t in charge,” another Slayer said. “They didn’t cause too much trouble.”
Andrew held up a camera and said, “We got it all film. So can you tell us what happened?”
Xander shrugged and said, “I was pulled into an Iron Chef competition, where Oz and Spike were my sous-chefs.” He said this looking at Andrew. The other man blanched slightly and looked away. “Why Andrew... why didn’t you tell me that Spike was alive and in this city?”
“The others didn’t want you to become fixated on him again,” Andrew confessed with a sigh. He knew it was wrong to keep that secret, but he couldn’t help it.
Xander snorted and said, “It wasn’t their business.”
“I know,” Andrew said. “I had to promise the Council that it wouldn’t be mentioned. It was a break for Buffy and Dawn. You know... to let them lead their own lives and stuff.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Xander sighed. He looked to his slayers nearby and said, “Spike’s off limits girls, you hear me. You don’t threaten or attack or annoy him, unless he does it first and then it’s fair game. Understood?”
“Why pet,” a Spike drawl was heard. “I didn’t know you cared.” He said this with an aloof manner and yet it was also with a nervousness of uncertainty. He needed the whelp and he hoped that the young man needed him too.
“I’ve always cared,” Xander said standing and facing the blond vampire. He took hold of that face and with a practiced tilt of the head, planted a very thorough, possessive kiss onto the accepting mouth under his.
The girls whistled and hooted. They had long since accepted Xander as their Watcher and were pleased that he finally got his mate. They knew about his metabolism differences and that the human had already stopped aging because of it. It was not something that the council was aware of...yet.
A vampire mate will be good for him, especially someone that knows him and of his past.
(...i...) Yakitaté ! Japan - Azuma Kazuma, made something similar, see volume ....
(...ii...) Crime Scene Instigators - made up by yours truly and in no way does this reflect reality, etc... etc..., see chapter one for general disclaimer (spoofing CSI)
(...iii...) H-Team - made up by yours truly and in no way does this reflect reality, etc... etc..., see chapter one for general disclaimer (spoofing the A-Team)