So I recently discovered Anthony Bourdain’s show “No Reservations”. Hayley and I have watched the first 3 episodes so far and I am in love with the show. It allows me to continue my vicarious life, I would love to have the means to travel around the world and taste food from everywhere. Why did I just discover this show which is in its fourth season? Well because I don’t get the Travel Network, I find that $25 a month is more than enough to give me most of the TV I would like to watch in a given week. It does mean I miss out on some truly fabulous shows, but I can’t justify $50 for TV channels.
Ok, enough tangent. This show does also follow an interesting theory that anyone can practice, whatever you do, don’t follow the guide books. I’ll admit that in my travels I have eaten at some delicious restaurants that are rated in Zagats (Gramercy Tavern, my first love), but I have, as of late been eschewing these well rated places to discover the hidden gems. On my last trip to NYC (in 2003) I was looking for a quick bite to eat before the buses left, so I ducked into a sketchy looking cafe, which turned out to have delicious homemade soups, served with fresh baked bread. So never judge a restaurant by the looks (I do suggest looking for a health department pass/fail card though).
Since then I have tried to eat in one hole in the wall type restaurant on any trip I go on. I was quite intrigued on our honeymoon in Puerto Vallarta, they had these street vendors who sold quesadillas, tacos, etc. right off a stand (with a gas grill) on the street. The locals would pull up a stool and order, and within seconds have a delicious looking tortilla with all kinds of yumminess on it. They then keep ordering until they are done, at which point they pay. But the owner doesn’t keep track, it is an honour system, you just tell them how many you had.
The problem I had, is that I don’t speak more than 6 words of Spanish, so I was a little shy with sidling up to get something. But I have vowed to learn Spanish for our next trip, just so I can experience more of the food. This is the advantage Anthony has on his trips, he has researchers and guides and translators to help him out, to point him in the right direction. But even without those you can still find some great places, just look for the locals.
Sadly I don’t travel near as much as I would like to, but that will come with time I believe. I for now will continue to hunt around TO for as yet undiscovered by me places to eat.