Sunday, May 04, 2008

What I'm reading right now...

OK, it's official. My love affair with Anthony Bourdain continues. Following Kitchen Confidential, I headed head first into HEAT by Bill Buford. The swaggering story about Mario Batali (star of Food Network's Molto Mario and owner of Babbo and a number of other fabulous eateries in NY) is charming. But despite the somewhat interesting banter of a journalist who takes to the kitchen, I seriously missed Bourdain's "voice."

So heading to my neighborhood library (one of the handful of exceptional things about non-NY living is the amazing libraries there are out here) on Rea Road, I loaded up on all things Bourdain. Not the fiction. I have to pace myself. But I walked away with Bourdain's Les Halles cookbook, No Reservations and The Nasty Bits.

The Les Halles cookbook may be one of my all-time favorite cookbooks ever. Not because I'm going to make pot au feu anytime soon. But more because it's what I would think it would be like having the man himself standing over my shoulder guiding my every step. Be warned. This cookbook is not for the meek of heart. His commentary is on target and hilarious. When discussing the preparation and right temperature for grilling steak, he writes, "F*** the health department. The meat needs to be room temperature." Though it may seem hard-core and uncaring the truth is he does care. Passionately. About the food. And that shines throughout each page.

No Reservations was OK but not a must-read. It's mostly tidbits of the behind-the-scenes action of his show on the Travel Channel. Your time might be better off reading his blog. But the pictures are phenomenal and colorful. And if you're a fan of the show (like me!) you get to see some of the most memorable photos and bits of the stories that didn't make the show. My all-time favorite episode is the one he did on Hong Kong (where I was born) and the incredible food culture that exists there. It's like no where else on the planet.

But The Nasty Bits is a delight. Treading the material similar to Kitchen Confidential, it's more from the life and times of bad-boy chef Bourdain. I'm reading it very slowly, savoritng it like a nine-course meal. It's the first time I can truthfully, Nasty is lovely. It's well worth the read and should be savored.

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