Previously on Survivor Jeffrey gagged the castaways with the fact that they would be split up into two groups ahead of the next tribal council. With both groups having someone win immunity and both groups voting someone out. After Jonathan won his group – with Maryanne, Tori, Lindsay and Drea – reward and the chance to be the second tribal council of the evening, the all male group headed off to scramble on a second beach. And while Rocksroy thought it was an easy Romeo vote ahead for them, Omar and Hai flipped things and blindsided Rocksroy from the game and straight over to the jury bench.
Travelling back in time a wee bit, the victorious group returned to camp, quickly frying up their kebabs and devouring their feast. Lindsay meanwhile shared how thrilled she was to be grouped with Jonathan and Maryanne, meaning the former Taku’s would be able to control the upcoming vote. And given Drea has an idol, Tori is clearly the easy vote. Jonathan meanwhile was desperate to blindside Drea with the idol in her pocket, with Maryanne thrilled to be a part of the plan, given she has been on the outs since the merge. Sadly for him however, Maryanne didn’t appreciate the way he spoke to her though was willing to suck it up if she gets further. But best believe she ran straight to Tori with the Drea plan, despite him forbidding her.
Meanwhile Jonathan caught up with Drea, telling her the fake plan to take out Maryanne to flush her idol. Which would be fine, except for the fact she also has an idol and that is something that would clearly come back to bite her. Jonathan then caught up with Lindsay, with her quickly point out that the plan to put a vote on Maryanne is stupid, given if Drea plays the idol, they are screwed. As such, she tried to convince him they need to loop in Tori so she and Drea put their votes on each other instead, so that if an idol is played, they have nothing to worry about. Though Jonathan just would not listen. At all.
At their tribal council, everyone was shocked to see Rocksroy was the one voted out by the first group. Drea wasn’t sure what exactly it meant, while Lindsay admitted that seeing him on the jury has made her question whether their current plan is the right one. Drea then pointed out that seeing two African American people voted out back-to-back made her nervous, while Tori was thrilled to be able to play in a little group as it gave them an opportunity to play with different people and try different things. Maryanne and Drea spoke about the previous tribal council playing on their minds, with Drea admitted that unconscious bias is likely leading to the African American contestants going out back-to-back-to-back and as such, she was playing her idol tonight.
This made Jonathan nervous and ask what her plan would be, with Drea throwing Tori’s name out there. While everyone got on board, Maryanne started whispering to Tori that she literally can’t vote out Drea and continue the cycle. And when the whispering was clearly heard by all, she gave an impassioned speech to the group about taking a stand for who she is outside the game. Jonathan then got defensive and said that he is not racist and then called Drea agressive and well, that is unconscious bias, but as a white heterosexual male, he struggled to see that. Both Drea and Maryanne spoke passionately about how they are not calling people racist, but are shining a light on the fact that they do have a harder path forward, particularly since they always have to be ‘on’ and have a lot of pressures that other people in the game do not.
The pressure of being a representative for their community got to Maryanne who admitted that she too would be playing her idol, not because she thinks she will receive votes but because she knows some idiot on the internet will say she only survived the episode because of race. Which is very true and so damn sad. Lindsay stepped in and praised the duo for being so brave, assuring Drea that she was not being aggressive and that she appreciates they have a harder experience that they don’t understand. Maryanne then summed things up by giving an impassioned, well-argued speech about how every minority has to play the game differently and ugh, I love her so much.
Given the raw emotion, the group opted not to officially vote and as such voted in the open. After Drea and Maryanne played their idols, Tori quickly deduced she would be the one going home and after getting them to give her a reason, she went to play her Shot in the Dark, which did not give her safety, sending her home while a teary Lindsay lived to see another day.
While Tori was overwhelmed by all the emotions of tribal council, she was happy with the fact there was little she could do to avoid being the boot given it came to only her and Lindsay in danger. And as such, she quickly moved on and was back to laughing it up and regaling me with tales to avoid giving me free therapy. When it became clear I wasn’t getting any freebies, I quickly plated up some Torikish Meelight and toasted a game well played.
The turkish delight chocolate bar may be the reviled snack-size left in the bag, but genuine turkish delight is straight up delightful. Floral and fruity, super sweet and melt in your mouth, it is the perfect way to turn around a day.
Torikish Meelight Serves: 8-12.
Ingredients 4 ½ cups caster sugar ¼ cup powdered gelatine 1 cup hot water 1 cup cornflour ¼ tsp red food colouring 1 tbsp rosewater 1 cup icing sugar
Method Oil a lamington or slice pan and line with baking paper, pressing it into the edges and leaving a couple of centimteres overhang.
Once that is prepped, pop the caster sugar in a large saucepan with 1 cup of room temp water and stir to combine over low heat. Cook, stirring infrequently, for about 20 minutes or until the sugar has disolved.
Grab a candy thermometer and pop it in the pan. Increase heat to medium and bring to the boil without stirring, simmering for about 20 minutes or until it reaches 116C or the ‘soft ball’ phase. Reduce heat back to low and continue to simmer for five minutes, maintaining the heat at 116. Remove from the heat.
Meanwhile whisk the gelatine in a jug with the hot water. Pop the cornflour in a bowl and whisk the gelatine mixture in to combine, avoiding any lumps forming before whisking in the red food colouring to give a pale pink colour.
Slowly whisk the cornfloured gelatine into the hot syrup until smooth. Return to the heat and simmer for an additional five minutes or so, or until it is translucent. Strain into a heatproof bowl, removing any foam or scum in the bowl before whisking in the rosewater. Pour into the prepared pan and leave overnight at room temperature to set.
Once set, lightly dust a chopping board with icing sugar and turn out the turkish delight. Using an oiled knife, cut into large cubes, dust with icing sugar to coat and then devour. Greedily.
Previously on Survivor after farewelling the last remaining other target in Swati, Tori was feeling very nervous on Ika and as such, beasted her way through the immunity challenge to guarantee her safety. Oh but not until after all of the idols were activated as Drea found Ika’s and Mike begrudgingly said his phrase. Knowing her vote was critical, Lydia didn’t bother to risk hers on her journey up the mountain with Rocksroy. Which was the right move, given she, Hai and Mike held all the power as Vati went back to tribal council and Daniel was booted from the game. Though not before Chanelle threw a random vote at Mike, making her all the more untrustworthy heading into the merge. Oh and Omar has no vote and Hai, Lindsay and Drea got an amulet advantage, in addition to the trio of idols activated last week.
Or non-merge, as the last season celebrated.
After tribal council, the Vati tribe were gagged to have pulled off the Daniel blindside, with Chanelle particularly thrilled to have bested Daniel in their feud. Though sadly for her, she threw out a vote against Mike to protect herself against any Shot in the Darks being played and thought he would be cool with it. Which he is NOT. Despite them hugging it out. Oh and while Hai would take a bullet for Lydia and Mike, Chanelle, not so much. So yeah Chanelle, you in danger girl. Meanwhile over at Ika Rocksroy was busy doing work around camp and picking fruits, while Tori tailed him like a hawk to try and find out what happened on the summit. Which annoyed the hell out of him as she wouldn’t accept his answers. Oh and as they fought, Drea and Romeo hid behind the bushes eavesdropping, agreeing that Tori is sketchy and not to be trusted. In the slightest.
We got to get a little whisper sesh from Jeff who explained that the merge twist would play out the same as last season, except for the fact they will know that the person going to exile will have a massive power and the victors are allowed to opt to go to exile instead of one of the sit outs. To further that sense of deja vu, the challenge was the same as last year too, where they will dig out a rock and then push it through obstacles to release a pair of keys and climb a wall before solving a puzzle. And the victors would get a massive Applebees feast, alongside a merge buff and immunity from the upcoming tribal council. Well, unless the exilee turns back time, that is. Lindsay and Rocksroy ultimately ended up pulling the grey rocks and landing on the sit out bench.
Jonathan, Tori, Maryanne, Hai and Lydia formed the orange team, while Chanelle, Drea, Mike, Omar and Romero were on blue. And almost immediately, Jonathan took the lead for the orange tribe, coaching them through building a ramp and getting a massive lead as they quickly released their first key. While the blue team tried to close the gap, there is no denying this was team orange’s to lose as the group literally climbed Jonathan to get up the wall before he effortlessly pulled himself up. As Rocksroy and Lindsay rightly marvelled at his prowess. Maryanne and Lydia looked very zen as they calmly sorted their puzzle pieces while Drea held up blue as she struggled to climb the ball and ugh, it was tough to watch. Thankfully Mike and Romeo literally put their bodies on the line and they worked together to get up the ball and yeah, it was heartwarming.
Obviously the headstart proved insurmountable for the blue team as the orange group took out victory and the win, which likely means one of the five will be going home tonight giving this immunity means nothing. The group then cursed Lindsay, selecting her to join them on reward while sending Rocksroy to exile for two days. With only the game changing twist which will make him immune, for comfort.
The victors were giddy as they arrived at their island Applebees, smashing their burgs and delighting in the fact they had officially made the merge. Which is a lie they are tragically unaware of, while Jonathan admitted that he had considered opting to go to Exile which would have kept everyone that won safe. But before we could think about what could have been, Tori talked a bunch of shit about Rocksroy and their OG tribe and then aired all their dirty laundry. Which may endear her to them, or piss everyone off.
Meanwhile the losers ventured to the eventual merge camp where they were thrilled to smash the pity rice they received from Jeff before Drea rightly clocked the merge twist, which is honestly, so damn iconic. Drea then caught up with Mike and suggested that maybe since they both have idols, they should work together and as such, combine their individual alliances to take control. Leaving Chanelle and Tori well and truly on the outs in the process.
We checked in with Rocksroy as he arrived at his desolate island where as predicted by Tori, he was absolutely thrilled to set up camp, whipping up a fire and shelter. And well, he was loving to have all this alone time to just live his best life and see all the vibrant colour the world has to offer (because he has a degenerative eye disease). Oh and he found the hourglass and hammer, but there were no instructions so he just moved them into his shelter.
The winners and losers reconnected at camp with Omar ready to befriend anyone and everyone to keep himself safe at the first tribal council. Lindsay meanwhile wanted to check in with Hai and Drea to discuss their amulet advantages and see whether they will stick together. And while they all said they would, Hai was nervous the women would eventually turn on him. Mike and Maryanne caught up, assuring each other they will work together before the iconic Maryanne started bonding with Romeo and assured him that the little people need to stick together. Oh and then she bonded with Tori too and while she looks well connected, I’m worried it will come back to bite her.
Mike and Jonathan meanwhile watched the sunset together on the beach, bonding over being gentle giants and agreeing to look after each other and ugh, I love them. And more importantly, how much they love each other.
The next day the tribe went hunting for food, collecting crabs and before Jonathan snatched an octopus, then almost grabbed a shark and well, it was iconic. While he is clearly a threat, Hai was still keen to work with him and use him as a meatshield. With everyone bonding around camp, Hai spoke about how he met his boyfriend which led to Romeo pulling him aside and opening up about being gay and wanting to be as open and honest as he is and ugh, I love them. Hai encouraged him to share his story and love himself as Romeo spoke about his fear of people not loving him or worse, needing to silence himself to be accepted. And ugh, once again, I’m crying.
Omar soon joined the boys and talk returned to the game, with Hai telling them both that Chanelle can not be trusted. Which confirmed to Omar that he doesn’t have a vote. And well, she doesn’t care enough for him to let him know he doesn’t have a vote and as such, he was ready for her to go too.
The next day Omar charmed Mike by telling him that he is saving himself for marriage and well, he is ready to marry his partner ASAP. Lydia and Maryanne bonded over being the younguns with the old lady gang names, while Hai officially locked in his alliance with Jonathan. They then pulled in Lydia, Omar, Drea, Mike, Lindsay and Rocksroy, and just like that, they had a majority. Oh and Chanelle or Tori are their number one targets, with Maryanne identified as the next to go from Taku. Though only because Jonathan didn’t want his new allies to think he wasn’t willing to offer someone up.
Oh and then Chanelle walked up to try and find some allies, with them all pretending they have no plans to take her out. Which made Chanelle more and more nervous as they assured her they will not take her out. As Hai, Jonathan, Drea and Omar caught up to further solidify their bond, Omar admitted that he may not have a vote at the upcoming tribal council. Though after confirming they are tight, Drea shared that she has an extra vote and would be willing to give it to him, should they need it.
We ventured back to Exile Island where Jeff arrived to announce the twist to Rocksroy, who was honestly buzzing with joy to be left on his lonesome for a couple of days. Probst then explained the twist to him and while he was nervous about potentially pissing a bunch of people off, he obviously then smashed the hourglass and earnt himself immunity. And guaranteed his place in the merge. And most importantly, left Tori in jeopardy.
The castaways joined Jeff for the first individual immunity of the season where they were gagged to learn about Rocksroy’s power and the fact that the winner’s of the last challenge are now at risk and would be competing in the immunity challenge to guarantee their safety. Which obviously delighted Chanelle, Drea, Omar, Mike and Romeo. Tori on the other hand was irate and told Rocksroy that she was pissed he took away her safety after she gifted him an advantage. Which only made everyone even more weary of her.
But back to the challenge, where they would each have to balance a table using a rope and walk back and forth along a lane, spell out immunity using wooden blocks. With the first person to finish guaranteeing their place in the merge and a spot on the jury at the minimum. Fuelled by her simmering rage for Rocks, Tori got out to an early lead in the challenge alongside Jonathan, until Hai picked up the pace and took out the lead. Until he dropped and handed the lead back to the duo. Then Jonathan dropped, giving Tori plenty of time to calmly walk the course and jag immunity. Despite a late breaking pursuit from Lindsay. And then Maryanne.
Back at camp everyone congratulated Tori on taking out immunity and assured Rocksroy there are no hard feelings. Before everyone quickly split into factions to come up with a plan, with Jonathan assuring Rocksroy he already has an alliance and has nothing to worry about. After Romeo and Tori bitched about the meatheads in the game, Romeo led the charge to get rid of Jonathan. While Maryanne, Hai and Drea weren’t overly keen, Maryanne also just didn’t want to lose her place in the game. Lydia tried to pitch Jonathan to Lindsay and Chanelle, which made go into protection mode and suggested Maryanne would be a better option because she is super strategic.
Chanelle meanwhile saw through her plan to protect herself and Jonathan, which made her more focused on rallying the troops to keep the vote on Jonathan. While Omar desperately worked to protect Jonathan, which gave him a crack as Lydia admitted that she isn’t sure about this new majority alliance. And as such, he went person to person to turn the tribe against her instead. Which obviously pissed off Hai.
At tribal council Hai admitted that this vote is very defining to their season, particularly since the game has been so fluid thus far. Romeo meanwhile spoke about trusting his gut and reading the cues, with Drea countering that sometimes people are just too nervous to make a move even if they want to. While Hai wanted to take this moment to take control of the game. Lydia once again spoke about how playing Survivor has helped her accept all parts of herself. Jonathan wanted to be able to say that he did all that he could do in the game when it was over, while Omar tried to be chill despite knowing people would come for him eventually. While Rocksroy spoke about his nerves over missing two days of the game.
Maryanne said that she planned to make the decision that will help protect her long term, which Drea said is not the right way to approach the game. Maryanne then tried to get her to agree they are on the same page, which Drea, again, iconically refused to agree. Maryanne spoke about being nervous about how charming and chatty she is while Hai spoke about everyone having a different perception of the game. Oh and then a beetle landed on Rocksroy, which is important, if you ask me.
With that the tribe voted, as Lindsay, Jonathan and Maryanne all received a few votes before the rest piled up on Lydia and sent her from the game. Just missing the jury, tragically. Despite the brutal way she went out – the twist, again, is not great – Lydia was still super calm and zen, happy to have been given the opportunity to play the game. I pulled her in for a massive hug and assured her that while it sucks to go out in such an unfair twist, it does put her in the epic company of Sydney and she can always use it to justify needing a second go at the game. With that, he laughed and cried before smashing some Lydia Mered-velveth Cupcakes
I know, I know – red velvet is just chocolate, but the elegant drama they bring to the looks department always make me excited to eat them. Delicate and fluffy, these babies are the ultimate way to sweeten the bitter after-taste of getting the boot. Or a rough day, TBH.
Lydia Mered-velveth Cupcakes Serves: 12.
Ingredients 150g flour 1 ½ tbsp cocoa powder 1 tsp bicarb soda ¼ tsp kosher salt ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened 150g raw caster sugar 1 large egg 1 tbsp vanilla extract 100ml buttermilk 50ml vegetable oil 1 tsp champagne vinegar 1 tbsp red gel food colouring 100g butter, softened 225g icing sugar 100g cream cheese, softened
Method Preheat the oven to 160C and line a cupcake tin with cases.
Combine the flour, cocoa, bicarb and salt in a bowl and pop the unsalted butter and raw caster sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat the unsalted butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce to low and beat in the egg, vanilla, buttermilk, oil and vinegar until just combined. Fold the wet ingredients through the dry until just combined, before mixing through the food colouring. Again, until just combined but also a consistent colour.
Divide the batter amongst the cupcake cases and pop in the oven to bake for about 15 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
While they are chillin’, beat the butter and icing sugar on medium, or until pale and fluffy. Add in the cream cheese and beat for another minute or so, or until just combined. But for realsies, because the longer you beat cream cheese, the softer it gets.
Once the cakes are cool, piping the icing on top (or dollop with a spoon and hope for the best) before devouring.
I don’t want to bore you with the details of my time in exile, but I can confirm that there was one big name star that was reaching out to me each week in concern. And that was Academy Award winning multi-hyphenate Quentin Tarantino. As such, I knew he would be the perfect person to kick off this year’s Oscar Gold celebration. Particularly since he directed three of my friends – Margot, Brad and Leo – to nominations this year.
Quents and I have known each other since the ‘80s when we both guested in the same episode of The Golden Girls. Sensing each other’s talents, we were drawn to each other through the sea of Elvis-impersonating extras and became the fastest of friends.
The question has probably struck you – how have two talented writers, such as ourselves, never worked together? It is a combination of unbridled sexual tension – dat chin, yo – and the fact I prefer to act as his muse, rather than tip the balance of our current relationship.
Fun fact: I inspired the characters of Mia Wallace, The Bride, Elle Driver and Daisy Domergue. What can I say? I am a strong, independent woman.
As soon as I say Quentin, I collapsed in a heap, the emotion of seeing him, the director of my beloved Luke Perry’s final film, hitting me like a wave. He ran and scooped me up in his arms, carried me into his home and lay me next to him on the couch to discuss this year’s Oscar odds.
I may have been high on the smelling salts, but we kicked off talking about Best Director and without even thinking about the fact he was nominated, said that Bong Joon-ho would be robbed if he lost for Parasite. And Mendes likely beating him with 1917 may be deserving, but I’d still be heartbroken.
“I assume you’re fucking tipping me for Best Original Screenplay then,” he joked, bringing me back to earth.
“Yes, obvi. But that is a conversation for later in the week. You’ve got some other categories I’d like you to run with me!”
With the formalities out of the way, I acted weak again to distract from my earlier faux pas. And so that I could enjoy being hand fed Quentin Maraschino Cherries by their namesake.
Some people say that maraschinos are a garnish. A sticky sweet morsel of magic to heighten a cocktail or dessert. But to Quents and I, they’re not a snack. They’re the whole damn meal in and of themselves. And once you make your own, you’ll never go back.
Quentin Maraschino Cherries Serves: 2 talented friends with palpable sexual chemistry.
Ingredients 1kg sweet cherries, pitted
11 cups water
1 tbsp pickling salt
4 1/2 cups raw caster sugar
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/4 tsp red food colouring
30ml almond extract
Method Bring 8 cups of water and pickling salt to a boil in a large pot, and cook until the salt is dissolved. Remove from heat to cool for about fifteen minutes. Stir in the sweet cherries, cover and leave to brine overnight.
The next morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed, drain the cherries and rinse under cold water for a couple of minutes. Set aside.
Meanwhile combine the remaining water, with the sugar, juice and zest of the lemon and food colouring in a large pot and cook, stirring, for five minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in cherries and almond extract, cover and leave another 24 hours.
The next day when Quentin questions whether the recipe really takes this long or whether you’re just using it as a ploy for sleepovers, pour cherries and juice into hot, sterilized jars and leave in a cool, dark place.
You can’t celebrate the 12 Days of Chrismukkah without my dear friend, the pocket-rocket portrayer of the gloriously rage-filled Summer Roberts … Rachel Bilson.
Deep breath – what a freaking (long/terrible) sentence, amirite?
I first met Rach – and spotted her talent – in early 2003 on the set of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I was part of SMG’s entourage at the time but was taken in by Rachel’s spunk. As soon as I saw her perform, I knew that she was the only person that could play the role of Summer and do just to her season 1 catch-phrase “ew.”
While we had a brief falling out after I tried to set her trailer on fire after she began dating Adam Brody (I had fantasised about us becoming a twincesty couple), she understood my complete lack of logic/basis in reality and forgave me within a week.
The girl, it needs to be said, is a damn saint.
(Her sweet, forgiving nature is the only way I could forgive her for marrying Hayden Christensen, who broke my heart on the set of Life as a House when he wouldn’t play sweet dixie with my behind… but that is another story for another time. Plus I worked that line into Hart of Dixie, so how could I stay mad?).
I haven’t been able to see much of Rachel since Hart of Dixie was egregiously axed – which is actually about my life as a small town Alabama doctor falling for a myriad of similar looking men – given how busy she is with my dear god-daughter Briar Rose Christensen, so it was such a treat to be able to reconnect over some festively appropriate Rachel Bilsonta Hats!
Sweet, delicious, kind-healthy (yay whole strawberry!) and completely kitsch, these little babies are the perfect festive bake for those dreaded office Christmas morning teas.
Or as a gift for people you actually like. Like the Bilson-Christensens – enjoy!
Rachel Bilsonta Hats Serves: 8.
Ingredients 2 cups plain flour ¼ cup valrhona cocoa 1 tsp bicarb soda 1 ½ cups raw caster sugar ¾ tsp cinnamon ½ tsp ground ginger ¼ tsp nutmeg ¼ tsp cloves ¼ tsp allspice 1 cup buttermilk 200g unsalted butter, melted 2 eggs 1 tbsp white vinegar 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 tbsp red food colouring Icing 500g cream cheese, at room temperature 2 cups icing sugar 120g butter, at room temperature 1 tsp vanilla bean paste strawberries, tops sliced off
Method Preheat oven to 170°C and line muffin muffin pans with paper cases – quantity will depend on the size you want, but I can make 8 Texans.
Sift all the dry ingredients into a bowl and whisk the wet ingredients in a large jug until combined.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and stir through the wet ingredients until just combined. Then stir through the food colouring. You can use a stand mixer – like I do, because I’m lazy – but just remember that the best muffins are the ones that are barely mixed, so just do it on the lowest setting and only for as long as it needs.
Divide the mixture among your pans and bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centres comes out clean. Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
While they are getting chill, combine the icing ingredients – sans strawbs – in a stand mixer and beat until smooth and fluffy.
To assemble, smear each cupcake generously with icing, top with an upturned strawberry and top said strawberry with a dollop of icing. Ta dah – bilsonta hats!