Sunday, February 21, 2010

No Reservations in the Hudson Valley

For all you proud people of the Hudson Valley who love food and Anthony Bourdain but happened to miss his recent feature in this area, I’m posting the entire show courtesy of Youtube.

Join the infamous Tony as he travels up the Hudson and enjoys a hotdog delivered by boat and dines on freshly caught crabs in Verplanck overshadowed by Indian Point. Then it’s off to the Polish town of Pine Island in the Black Dirt region of New York where he eats traditional foods like kielbasa and perogies and drinks bathtub red vodka provided by someone in a parking lot. Next Tony heads to his alma mater, the Culinary Institute of America, to cook a meal in the kitchen with his friend and former judge on Iron Chef, Michael Ruhlman. After his visit to the CIA, Tony and Michael heads to the Rondout Bay Marina Bay Bar in Kingston for a few beers with the locals.

Then it’s off to Mohonk Mountainhouse, one of the premier spots in New Paltz, my own alma mater. He takes the approach of the oft-cited legend that Mohonk was the inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining, and gives a brief but interesting history of the hotel. Although his creepy Shining-esque experience of Mohonk differs greatly from my own experiences of hiking and swimming with friends, it was still highly entertaining to watch him take afternoon tea as though it symbolized his descent into evil. Classic Bourdain.

Next comes my favorite part of the show—a backyard asian bbq with an instructor from the CIA when an amazing ten-year-old girl completely schools Bourdain like nobody’s seen before.

The dialogue went as follows:

Sierra: “For Christmas my dad got me a college neurology textbook.”

Tony: “Why?”

Sierra: “Because I wanted one.”

Tony: “Why?”

Sierra: “Because I went through a phase when I wanted to be a neurologist. Microbiology and nanotechnology is very fun.”

Tony: “You’re like the smartest person I’ve ever talked to on this show. How old are you?”

Sierra: “Ten.”

Tony: “You ought to work for this show, I’m telling you, you work harder than me and you know more than me. But it’s hard also.” [Sierra looks skeptically at Tony] “You’re not buying that are you? No.”

Sierra: “Ah, yes, sit on a plane for 18 hours in first class eating chicken and prime rib, and then going to foreign countries and walking around and eating great food and buying souvenirs. Oh yeah, that’s got to be a really tough job.”

Wow. Simply amazing. By the end of the show they’re taking turn swinging on Sierra’s rope swing, but you’ve still got to be amazed by the straight-forward words coming out of this girl’s mouth on national television. The whole meal is perfect, especially when the CIA instructor (Sierra’s father) says “If you’re going to live on the east cost, you’ve got to live in New Paltz.”

After New Paltz, a town where I do believe Bourdain should spend an entire show, he heads to X20 in Yonkers, where he dines with none other than Bill Murray. What’s best about this scene is that Tony admits is a totally spontaneous event—he’d never even met Bill Murray before in his life. And you can just read the awe and respect for Murray in Tony’s eyes throughout the meal. The meal seemed simply amazing as well.

For me, watching Anthony Bourdain in the Hudson Valley was the first time I watched his show and really didn’t care about the food he ate. It was amazing to watch him in a location not where I longed to be or had already visited, but to see him in a place I knew so well—to watch him discover an area that I’d already invested years of my life into. Overall, it was deeply satisfying and exciting to watch him travel around one of the best places in New York—the Hudson Valley.

If you feel any connection to the Hudson Valley, this show is definitely something you don’t want to miss. And for all you New Paltzians, well, apparently Bourdain dined at Mexicali Blue and had some fish tacos. They didn’t make it onto the show, but some lucky student at SUNY New Paltz did happen to catch him outside and interviewed him for the Oracle as he enjoyed their delicious fresh food.

Enjoy the show!


  1. yo maya its scott birdsey!
    nice blog, BOOKMARKED;

    i think bourdain would like miss albany a lot, we'll have to email him a pdf of the menu and invite him .. thats probably about it for our city though huh? we'd have to get troy and schenectady in the mix.

  2. thanks scott--nice to hear from you!
    i think he would definitely appreciate new world bistro bar...and i think there are some other gems as well!