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Well, if yesterday wasn’t enough to thrill you (thank you all for the record number of hits, by the way), let us continue with what you really want to see: the down-and-dirty details of yesterday’s visit. That’s right. I have it on video (courtesy of the Singapore Tourism Board). Enjoy.
Yesterday, friends, was a very special day for yours truly. You always remember milestones in your life. My first job (this one), my first press trip (Dusseldorf), and the first time you meet your hero. Yesterday I was lucky enough to meet Anthony Bourdain, and while I won’t pretend that we had a deep, meaningful moment together, I did shake the man’s hand and babble incoherently about being some kind of big fan. Happy Valentine’s Day to me, indeed!
So the good stuff. Why was I meeting Anthony Bourdain? The Singapore Tourism Board hosted a luncheon yesterday for select members of the media at New York’s Michelin-starred Laut restaurant for a private meet and greet with the man himself.
Bourdain tantalized us with tales about his travels throughout Singapore, along with some personal anecdotes about his daughter, and of course, a cutting comment or two about the Kardashians. (Would you expect anything less?)
The chefs at Laut served up a specially-created menu with favorite dishes hand-picked by the Singapore Tourism Board and Tony, including Singapore laksa and Hainanese chicken rice. Bourdain described the food of Singapore as only you could imagine he would – going off into some of the most evocative prose about boiled chicken and rice. Tears to my eyes! (No, but seriously, it was impressive.)
I did manage to learn some intimate details about Tony, including why he does not weight 350 pounds. “I eat and drink for a living,” he tells an audience that is stuffing its faces with beef rendang (a tender coconut-based beef stew) and kuih dada (a crepe flavored with pandan juice and stuffed with grated coconut). “Everything you see on camera I eat. I often go back for seconds. But when I’m off camera, I’m not really eating.”
When it came time to break and I had not yet told Tony that I had made reservations for the two of us at this quaint little Italian restaurant on Valentine’s Day, I realized that I needed to make a break for it.
“Mr. Bourdain?,” I heard myself say.
The man, all 6’4 of him, turned around and smiled at me and shook my hand. I tried to play it cool, remembering that on each of his episodes of No Reservations or The Layover he likes to tell his audience about the indigenous beverage of each destination.
So I asked him, “What is the indigenous beverage of Singapore?” (Ignore the fact that I was so nervous that I mucked up the word indigenous.)
“Beer,” he said, without elaboration.
Well, there you have it folks. Beer is the indigenous beverage of Singapore.
I can die happy now. Happy Valentine’s Day, all! May yours be as good as mine is today! (Oh and we decided to just stay friends.)
I’m not an authority on much. Friends episodes, definitely. Sushi, absolutely. Southern food…maybe? I mean what is an ‘authority,’ really? I can tell you if it tastes good and if the ambiance is up to snuff. So sure, let’s say I’m an authority on Southern. So now, allow me to present to you my top five picks for some great BBQ/Southern cooking in NYC. (Note: This is NOT where you will find your Brother Jimmy’s, Southern Hospitality, Sylvia’s recommendations. If you want those, you best click off now.)
1. Sugarfreak Astoria
NOLA-philes will flip over this hidden gem in Astoria. This is your one-stop-shop for all things Louisiana. Shrimp and grits, jambalaya, gumbo, pulled pork and even the enigmatic Yaka Mein can all be found at the kistch-meets-class join on 30th Avenue. PLUS: They are open for brunch and each main course gets a complimentary mimosa or bloody ary. Heck yes.
2. Pies ‘n’ Thighs
This shames me to say, but Williamsburg is home to some delectable dining establishments. I’ve tried long and hard to fight it, but I really don’t think I can anymore. If you want good eats, you really can’t go wrong with Williamsburg. Pies ‘n’ Thighs is a heavenly establishment serving up glorious hunks of fried chicken, pulled pork and a gluttonous amount of sides. The chicken is cooked perfectly with a spicy crunch surrounding a juicy, plump piece of bird. Oh..and the biscuits are pretty f’n heavenly, as well. Oh and the pie. Do NOT forget the pie! I enjoy the Banana Cream, but there is also a Bourbon Pecan, Key Lime, Chocolate Pudding and much more.
3. Dinosaur BBQ
Yeah…this is on the list. I’m sorry, I know this place is a chain, but I mean it when I say that these are the best chicken wings I have ever had in my life. Any Upstate New Yorker knows and loves the Dinosaur, as its two most notable establishments reside in Rochester and Syracuse. But there is, in fact, a Dinosaur BBQ open in New York’s Harlem neighborhood (and I’ve even heard rumblings that the owners are looking to open establishments in Brooklyn and Queens). The wait is ridiculously long, but you CAN make reservations, and the bar does serve up the entire menu. So it’s worth the trek.
4. Mama’s Food Shop
I first heard about this place on the Food Network, and believe me, it is worth a visit. In New York’s East Village (and..yes, also in Williamsburg), Mama is cooking up roasted pork shoulder, roast chicken and..yeah, a bacon-wrapped meatloaf.
5. Fette Sau BBQ
I hate myself. This final establishment also sits in Williamsburg and is lauded as the best BBQ in New York. Now, I’m really in no position to say what is the best, but it is pretty damn good. The greatest part? All meats are smoked in-house. That is local for you.
Happy Frugal Friday! Today let’s pay homage to the Oscars, which are just a few short weeks away. If you’re looking to rub elbows with LA’s high society, check out these sweet hotel deals at some of the city’s top hotels. Many nights are under $100!
Have a great weekend, friends. See you Monday.
I apologize for the week-long delay, but fear not – we are back with another edition of Name that Skyline!
The rules: Take a gander at the photo below and if you know the skyline, name it! You MUST answer by commenting on the blog post. Do not comment on Facebook. I will have to erase that answer and it will be awkward between us. The first person to correctly name the skyline will win a $25 AmEx gift card. Ready…set….name it!
Most importantly – if you live in the New York area and have not checked out BBQ Films, then…well…you should.
Saturday night I ushered in the Year of the Dragon while eating unlimited dumplings, drinking Heineken and watching Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon. It was a Dumpling Kung Fu Speakeasy. Seriously.
BBQ Films is a cinema ‘social club’ that showcases both mainstream and Indie films throughout the city, combined with food and alcohol. Amen to the underground, semi-hipster, non-douchey functions in New York.
The ticket was incredibly affordable at just $25 (not bad, considering most theaters charge $13 for a ticket and that does not include food and beer).
Be sure to check out their site here or follow them on Twitter (@BBQfilms) to find out what’s happening next.
Also – I realize last Wednesday was supposed to be Name that Skyline, but, I was on vacation. Skyline-freaks be forewarned that this Wednesday, February 8, will be the makeup date for the contest.