Tony at Papaya King (where else?).
Photo: Melissa Hom
We’ve long been obsessed with Anthony Bourdain’s diet, but he travels so frequently that it’s been impossible to quiz him on it at length. This week, however, he spent some time in his hometown after filming in France. He leaves today to tour for his new book Medium Raw (maybe you’ve heard of it?) and then will shoot the final episode of season six of No Reservations in Madrid in July (he’s also planning to return to El Bulli later this year). But before all that, we were finally able to grill him about his favorite Upper East Side takeout spots. Bourdain is noticeably less of a meathead these days — “I’m a carnivore and I love eating meat, but I don’t know about meat for meat’s sake; I love a bacon T-shirt as much as the next guy, but let’s get real” — but that doesn’t mean he didn’t get his share of pig’s head and roasted marrow in this week’s New York Diet.
Saturday, June 5
I had dinner with Eric Ripert and Joël Robuchon at L’Atelier in Paris, where I was shooting an episode. I had dover sole, baby lamb chops, and the famous Robuchon mashed potatoes. I’ve eaten there before, but never in such company. Eric is a Robuchon protégé. He was standing on the other side of the counter talking to us and pouring us wine. The man was in a very good mood — apparently it could go either way with him. But he’s the chef of the century, so I was in total fanboy mode.
Sunday, June 6
I slept through the meal service on the plane and arrived in New York too tired to eat. So, zero, actually.
If I eat a lot in one day I don’t even feel like eating till very late the next day. I actually eat a lot more food than you see me eating on-camera (I eat a lot, and seconds), but in between meals I’m not snacking — I’m not grabbing a bag of chips or going out for ice cream.
Monday, June 7
I was reading the audiobook version of my book in a recording studio; they sent out for a delivery bacon cheeseburger, provenance unknown. Actually, I think it was 5 Napkin. I had a whole lot of interviews and stuff, arrived home and called out to Serafina for pizza. It’s the default pizza around here — it arrives in good shape and my wife, being Italian, finds it acceptable. For takeout, we’ll usually call down the street to Alsace for burgers or steak, or there’s the usual Chinese. If we’re splurging and want to be irresponsible with the budget, Sushi of Gari delivers. That’s nose-bleed expensive. It arrives in really good shape, which is rarely the case with delivery sushi.
Tuesday, June 8
I had a signing down on Wall Street — I managed to scarf a Sabrett hot dog in the street before I went in. After, I had a nighttime reading at Barnes & Noble on 17th Street, after which my publisher and former publisher’s friends took me down to Prune, where Gabrielle [Hamilton] did bruschetta with fried duck skin, lemon zest, and parsley. Knowing me very well, she did my favorite: the roasted marrow bones, testa with pickled okra, farmhouse chicken and vinegar sauce, mussels in lobster broth, and some really interesting legumes and vegetables.
I’ve been begging to see her book; I gotta tell you, I read through it in about a day and a half and it’s the greatest chef memoir ever written in the history of the fucking world. It’s so, so, so great — it’s so much better a book and better written, and she’s so much stronger and more interesting a character than Kitchen Confidential; it puts me and all of my works to shame. I was devastated by how great it is.
Wednesday, June 9
Badly hung-over from the night before. Regretting the negroni before the wine, so there was no question of breakfast. Nothing helps hangovers anymore; it used to be a nice cold Coke, a joint, and as soon as my appetite would come back, maybe some leftover kung-pow chicken — spicy Chinese food helps. But as a father of a 3-year-old, I’m not smoking a lot of weed anymore.
I had a whole bunch of radio interviews, and in the middle of one there was a surprise gag gift — a cold pastrami sandwich from Katz’s. I was grateful for it; I wolfed down a third of it quickly.
Later I still wasn’t feeling great. I had supermarket ham on whole-wheat bread and slathered a shitload of mustard on it to provide a lube to get it down my throat. These days I’m a one-pot guy — if I’m dirtying more than one, maybe two pots then I’m not making it. I like a slow-cooked braised rabbit — braised beef is about as complicated as it’s going to get for me. I’ll do the occasional pasta, pan-roasted steak, slow-cooked stew — and a mushroom risotto is an Italian dish my wife actually finds acceptable in my repertoire.
When I’m home, it’s about 60 percent or even 70 percent cooking at home or ordering takeout, and then the remainder is visiting friends or some place I’m curious about. I’m not one to go to the hot new place, but I’m looking forward to Totto’s new noodle joint. Nothing has thrilled me lately as much as Marea — that was the last wow new restaurant.
Thursday, June 10
Made myself an egg-over-easy sandwich on French bread with a slice of cheese and a shitload of butter, and tomorrow it’s a book tour, so basically I’m fucked for a month. I’m not going to be anyplace long enough to have a real meal, so it’s going to be Pringles and the $29 jar of peanuts in the mini-bar, and early morning airport chow.