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Bourdain originally did Saigon way back on his Food Network show A Cook's Tour, and he waxed poetic about memories of pho during this season's food porn episode. But the Vietnam Bouridan sees this year is a contrast—you can still slurp snails streetside or stumble down a back alley and find live shrimp on a grill—but the Capital is also overrun with new motorbikes, Gucci stores, and thousands of tourists. Even the "soup lady" street vendor serving steaming bowls of pork blood has now been over-documented by American food bloggers.
Yet Tony still isn't turned off—in fact he spends much of the episode whining about how badly he wants to live in Vietnam, displaying a sentimental attachment to the country that we haven't seen from him before, anywhere. He even checks out some houses and laments that he isn't wealthy enough to ditch everything and move here. Although we're gonna have to call BS on Mr. Restaurateur/TV star/bestselling author not being able to afford a house in Vietnam. Maybe we should start a donation fund?
[Photo: Travel Channel]
The best part about No Reservations is how much Anthony Bourdain mixes it up; how he visits somewhere utterly predictable one week (such as Manhattan), then ends up in the most random place you can think of (say, the Azores).
This week fell definitely on the random side, as Anthony headed to Colombo, Sri Lanka, a place we imagine being dusty, war-torn and unbearably hot. Bourdain spends the first half of the episode complaining about how dusty, war-torn and unbearably hot it is, but then of course he discovers the food. We don't even know how to go about classifying the Sri Lankan food Tony sampled, except that every dish seemed to have about 25 spices, four kinds of fish, eggs, rice, bread, vegetables…well, you get the point, seems like these people will not hesitate to put anything on top of everything. Of course, it all looks delicious, whatever it is.
Bourdain mostly got personal guided tours around the country, and ended the episode by lamenting that Sri Lanka just isn't safe and accessible enough yet for everyone to visit. We've got precious little coverage of Sri Lanka travel in the Jaunted archives, so it made us wonder—Is it possible to travel in Sri Lanka today? Anybody been? Let us know in the comments.
· Sri Lanka Travel Guide [No Reservations]
· Tourism Board Travel: Sri Lanka Is Safe, Minus The Terrorism [Jaunted]
· Anthony Bourdain travel coverage [Jaunted]
Photo: [Travel Channel]
Anthony Bourdain left behind the Momofukus and the Le Bernardins for a week, dedicating the most recent episode of No Reservations to "disappearing Manhattan." Tony visited all those classic New York places that everyone always espouses their love for -- Katz's Deli, Manganaro's Foods, Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop -- and everyone espouses equally as much about why most of them keep closing. (Hint: Could it be because certain media personalities keep devoting most of their airtime to places like Momofuku and Le Bernardin instead?? Just a thought.)
But we do appreciate Bourdain's love for these old school New York dives, even if for only one episode. Although we have a bone to pick with Tony—in his mostly excellent tour of disappearing Hell's Kitchen, he walks by his fave old dive, Holland Bar (532 9th Avenue, no website of course), and lumps it in with the masses of shuttered gems, lamenting its closure again later in the episode.
Holland Bar is the real deal—a place where no one knows your name, service is not accompanied by a smile, but the bar is dark and the vodka is cheaper than anywhere in Manhattan. And most importantly, Holland Bar is not closed. It just took a temporary break for a mild renovation—don't worry, Tony, it's still dirty as hell, with the same unfriendly, drink-your-afternoon away vibe. Sure, there are the occasional inevitable "hair-gelled douchebags" as Bourdain would say, but we have to wonder if Tony wasn't trying to trying to trick us away from this dive bar gem. Don't disappear it yet, Tony! Manhattan isn't totally lost to the wine bars and douchebags.
Photo: [Travel Channel]
After a couple of low-key stateside weeks, visiting Chicago and reliving his favorite food moments, Anthony Bourdain is back to what he does best this week, discovering little-known hole-in-the-walls serving weird-as-hell grub in far-flung locales.
Tony visited the Philippines this episode and trekked literally all over the country, finding genuine lumpia spring rolls down a dark alley in Manila; slurping down beef buffalo soup in Cebu City; and tentatively trying boiled pork face in Angeles City.
Tony's got the info for all those restaurants on his website, but what we really want is an invite to one of those gigantic pork roast parties he got to hang out at. Now that would be a one-of-a-kind Filipino meal. How come we don't get any info on that? What gives, Bourdain?
Photo: [Travel Channel]
No Reservations / Television Travel / Food Travel / Tony Bourdain / Restaurants / Momofuku / David Chang / Eric Ripert / Jose Andres / → All Tags
No Reservations was a clip show—er—special this week, as Anthony Bourdain put together a montage of his most orgasmic eating experiences. He approached it as kind of a greatest hits mix, visiting the most celebrated, and honestly, rather predictable eateries around.
Bourdain feasts his eyes on some taco porn at Jose Andres' Oyamel, has Eric Ripert whip him up an off-the-menu sea urchin-caviar concoction at Le Bernardin, gets gooey about the cheese board at Picholine and drools over David Chang's legendary pork buns at Momofuku.
But we were surprised at one far-flung stop. Tony revisited his favorite Vietnamese pho noodle shop, a Ho Chi Minh City hole-in-the-wall aptly named just Pho Noodle Shop. And suddenly Bourdain is a whiny, whimpering mess as he waits with ants in his pants, like a five-year-old, for his bowl of liquid fat to come. No snark, no measured approval, no witty one-liners, but pure unadulterated—genuine!—excitement. We've never seen him like this, and we're thinking we need to get to Ho Chi Minh sometime soon.
Fortunately, Tony is going back to Vietnam for another episode later this season. Definitely setting the Tivo for that one.
Photo: [Travel Channel]
Anthony Bourdain finally made it to Chicago this week, and while he gave the Second City plenty of props for being a genuine high-end culinary town, he still was able to do what he does best—find the city's most outrageous, over-the-top, questionably-edible offerings.
In Chicago, that of course means an awful lot of plates that scream the phrase "heart attack." Bourdain hit all the usual suspect—the foie gras hot dog at Hot Doug's, the mile-high pork-and-egg sandwich at Silver Lake Restaurant, and the five-pies-squeezed-into-one at Burt's Pizza. But he impressed us most by discovering one Chi-town delicacy we've never heard of: The Mother-in-Law sandwich. It's a simple but terrifying concept.
Just take the idea of a Chicago hot dog—loaded with peppers, onions, chili and all the toppings, but take the dog out of the bun and replace it with a hot tamale. It's an unholy combination that seems like a recipe for an instant and long-lasting upset stomach, and we have to say even Bourdain looked a little grossed out wolfing one down. Of course, he smiled afterwards and declared it pure genius, but we wonder if this monstrosity was too much for even him to handle.
Has anyone tried the fearsome Mother-in-Law? What's the verdict? Insanity on a bun or genius brewing on Western Ave? Let us know.
Photo: [Southern Foodway Alliance]
After Anthony Bourdian's rather bland exploration of Washington, DC, we were glad to hear his next No Reservations stop was a little crazier: The Azores, an archipelago of Portuguese islands set 900 miles off the European coast in the remote Atlantic Ocean. Now that's more like it. It's pretty crazy that this place even exists, let alone that people can easily get to it.
Bourdain got interested in the Azores during his early days working in kitchens across Cape Cod, where apparently, tons of Azorean people live. Who knew? Guess that explains why they've got those direct Boston-Azores flights. It all makes sense now.
But while we were expecting a remote volcanic wonderland, Bourdian makes the Azores look, well, just not as out there as we were hoping. Sure, some of the scenery is amazing, but they drink gin and tonics, eat sausage, and remark how much it's just like America! Not to be selfish, but when we travel that far we're looking for a place that's a little less American. To be fair, the boiling geyser on San Miguel Island sounded pretty far out, but then Bourdain described its smell as reminiscent of "nibbling egg salad out of one of Hulk Hogan's used Speedos."
Well our appetite's gone, but we're still wondering exactly what the Azores are all about. Remote middle-of-nowhere paradise or little piece of America in the Atlantic? Anyone been? Worth the $800 ticket from Boston? Let us know in comments below.
· Anthony Bourdain Can't Find Non-Touristy DC Eats [Jaunted]
· Azores Express Has a Thing for Boston: More Routes [Jaunted]
[Photo: Travel Channel]
Despite all the mystique about the smoke-filled rooms and hush-hush meetings, DC has a somewhat-deserved reputation for being a town with no secret places. When exploring Washington, it often seems impossible to find a restaurant, shop, or street corner that hasn't already been reviewed by The Washington Post.
So we were excited to hear Anthony Bourdain's next trip was to the nation's capital, especially after he recently discovered non-touristy spots in Venice. But we were a little disappointed in his trip, because even Tony couldn't find much in DC we didn't already know about.
Five seasons into "No Reservations" and Anthony Bourdain is running a little low on far-flung locales to eat his way though, so it's no surprise that this season starts in not-all-that-exotic Mexico City.
But Bourdain promises to show us that Mexico is about more than just tacos, tortas and quesadillas, and then proceeds to, well, eat a hell of a lot of tacos, tortas and quesadillas. Of course his are filled with tongue, tripe, brains and eyeballs, so what the ep lacks in imagination it more than makes up for in offal.
Tony Bourdain / Dive Bars / Bars / → All Tags
Global economic collapse only means one important thing to alcohol fiends: Lose the martini lounges; bring back the dive bars.
That's why the New York media world is still mourning the lose of Siberia Bar, the absolutely-no-frills Midtown watering hole where in the old New York, you could sit down for shots with New York Times editors, transvestites and 90-year-old barflies on any given weeknight.
Celeb-chef Anthony Bourdain waxed poetic about Siberia Bar in his poor-chef-in-seedy-Manhattan memoir Kitchen Confidential. Now that the Travel Channel star is back in NYC for the upcoming New York City Wine & Food Festival, the New York Post asked him where he's drinking away his riches these days.
Celebrity blogging experiments usually just end up confirming how dull said celebrities are when the camera is gone and we're exposed to their own original thoughts. Cranky celeb-chef Anthony Bourdain, however, has just the right combo of snarkiness, controversy-baiting and hatred of the MSM to crossover into the online world.
Bourdian's blog to accompany his Travel Channel show "No Reservations" has been going since December 2007, although the posts have come in fits and starts. With his new season underway, Tony has amped up the blogging, churning out a new post just about every week.
The blog is basically a promo for the show--offering in-depth background on each of the episodes. Fortunately, the promotional aspect doesn't ruin Bourdain, who is as raw and uncensored as ever, waxing poetic about "Hollywood ****tards," "well-paid dochebags" and, of course, food from around the world. And for even more behind-the-scenes action, there's also the show's Crew Blog, featuring background on the filming locations from the cast and crew. This week, Bourdain's brother Chris has a post on the Uruguay episode that has us ready to pack our bags.
[Photo: Travel Channel]
If there's one thing Chef Anthony Bourdain knows, it's food. But it'd take some serious persuading to shovel a lot of what he devours on the Travel Channel's No Reservations down our hatch. Sewer rats, beef tongues and meal worms anyone?
Luckily, the man knows how to travel, and he's made it easy to follow his lead. The No Reservations website includes online itineraries for adventurous palates. He's delivered salvation to travelers in search of soup dumplings in the streets of Shanghai, along with wealth of hotel options. And he offers up local flavor and advice from Ghana's Ministry of Tourism for those willing to get off the beaten path.
Chances are good that if there's a place you've longed to go, Bourdain has already been there. And he can tell you what to eat--and what to avoid--on your visit.
· Television Travel coverage [Jaunted]