Bourdain’s in Pain

By Karen

Filming No Reservations in Brazil, Anthony Bourdain developed a nasty back ailment, but that didn’t stop him from tackling his next episode in Japan. I hope the back problem is nothing serious, because he’s got virtually no time this month to rest and recuperate.

February is loaded with personal appearances on both coasts. I’ve got him down for 12 between Feb. 10-23.

Trading Markets got an interview with Tony before his February 11 appearance in Easton, Penn., and Tony mentioned that he loves Copenhagen. Wha…? Denmark’s not hot and messy, and they use forks.

Travel Channel now says on the website that Season 7 of No Reservations begins on February 28, but they’ve been airing the date as March 14, so it’s a crapshoot.

UPDATE: I just read that NR‘s time slot has moved back to 9 p.m. A nod to Tony’s kinder, gentler persona, or a shot across the bow signaling that “his” time is no long sacrosanct? If Zimmern takes 10 p.m., I’ll puke.

(And tell me if I’m wrong, but didn’t TC used to list the show as Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations so it always appeared at the top of their lineup? Now Zimmern’s near the top with “Bizarre” and Tony is way down under N.)

The ‘Net typically goes quiet while Bourdain’s on the road for the show, but as this month of speaking gigs unfolds, we’ll undoubtedly get the usual cascade of interviews. I just hope local journalists lucky enough to snag one inquire beyond the grossest thing he ever ate, if he ever gets sick, and how he stays so thin.

Now, on to Top Chef All-Stars

They’re skating perilously close to my fantasy challenge sans cooking. Last week’s Quickfire was Padma’s ultimate fantasy challenge — cooking without eating. It was all about presentation.

(For the record, I thought Carla’s plate should have won – but Target’s couturier, Isaac Mizrahi, was mesmerized by Richard’s sophisticated black “ice cream,” which looked like a pile of  tub mold sprinkled with pond scum.)

Antonia won the Italian elimination challenge with mussels steamed in fennel and garlic. It was virtually IDENTICAL to the mussels we made in Kitchen Basics class — a recipe right from Bourdain’s FRENCH Les Halles Cookbook.

Tony defended the decision by explaining to Mike, Fabio and the rest of us rubes that the dish is wildly popular in southern Italy.

Since the judges no longer have Jamie to punt into next week for not cooking at all, maybe it’s become a matter of who cooks least.

Poor Tre went home because his risotto glumped exactly like the goop Trader Joe’s sells in a box. He and I both learned from the judges that good risotto is so silky smooth, it spreads on the plate like watery instant mashed potatoes.

Tony was a judge, but almost in spirit only. A couple of his one-liners survived, but he clearly ceded screen time to Lorraine Bracco. Obviously, in the cutting room, being Italian trumped being married to an Italian.

As always, Eater had a hilarious recap. (Thank you for the link, human Adele.)

During the Quickfire, as if it had any relevance, Padma plugged her line of jewelry. It was so reassuring to hear she can fall back on something she’s really an expert in if the cooking thing doesn’t work out.

Of course, I just had to see this jewelry, even though I suspected there would be softcore porn involved.

Sure enough. Padma’s modeling it naked on her home page. (Harry Winston, take note.)

Apparently, she’s been designing jewelry since 2009. Many of her necklaces are so understated, they’re almost invisible, to enhance your nudity. Her dangly ring designs are not what most women would typically wear unless they’re looking to lose some fingers.

Top Chef is down to the final 8, and I’m still rooting for my four favorites — Fabio, Carla, Tiffany, and Dale.

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