In seven seasons of â€œAnthony Bourdain No Reservations,â€ the host has travelled 780,414 miles and spent 300 hours eating food, at least that's what TV viewers have seen. On September 6th, the much hyped 100th episode aired on the Travel Channel, and Anthony Bourdain decided to go back to where the show started: Paris.
In many of the past 99 episodes, Bourdain made fun of celebrities, went on bizarre but fun (sometimes) adventures, and paid homage to plenty of films. Most episodes, too, have involved plenty of alcohol, tobacco, and firearms. But the 100th episode was all about food and the way itâ€™s been changing in Paris.
Gone - mostly - are the fancy Michelin-rated temples of gastronomy. In their place are relaxed, smaller, reactionary Paris restaurants led by angry young Robespierres, according to Bourdain. While Bourdain is excited for the future of food in France, heâ€™s a bit worried about his friend travelling with him, Chef Eric Ripert of Le Bernadin restaurant fame.
Throughout the Paris 100th episode, Bourdain mixed the old with the new. They travelled to Les Cocottes, where they talked about how bistros are taking over fine-dining establishments, as well as the cork versus screw debate. Corks, Bourdain argues, are more of an emotional attachment than anything, perhaps.
At Frenchie, they saw the future: a prix fixe menu and a restaurant with only enough seating for 12. As with many restaurants in Paris now, Frenchieâ€™s menu changes with the market and serves the best ingredients for a reasonable price. Le Comptoir, too, once was fine dining but changed to a more casual place when the owner and chef realized thatâ€™s where he would want to be eating.
Yet, Bourdain - perhaps catering to Ripert - also went to traditional places, too, like Hugo Desnoyer, a butcher shop that Bourdain likened to Disneyland with all their options in meats. They also met up with Ripertâ€™s mentor, Joel Robuchon, and travelled through the Rue Mouffetard market, one of the first in all of Paris.
But even Robuchon has changed his restaurant to a more casual style of dining. In fact, as Bourdain points out, Robuchon was the one to pioneer the new trend toward local ingredients and less formal atmospheres - or fine dining without the pain or attitude.
Naturally, the show ended at Robuchonâ€™s place, Lâ€™Atelier, where Ripert and Bourdain practically drooled at the plates put in front of them, especially the famous mashed potatoes.
French dining, as Bourdain taught, has changed dramatically in recent years. Yet, itâ€™s still fine dining but just in a more comfortable way. But is Bourdain really about comfort? With 100 episodes under his belt, heâ€™s travelled across the globe, diving into sweet breads and offal. As season seven of â€œAnthony Bourdain No Reservationsâ€ continues on, Bourdain still promises delibrately hard and challenging locations with good storylines. After all, as Bourdain says, "100 is not enough."
Â© Copyright: 2010 Elizabeth SanFilippo at Gather.com