Philadining Home

Monday, December 03, 2007

Anthony Bourdain in Philly

I don't think I was quite ready for the size of the turn-out to see Anthony Bourdain speak at the Free Library on Saturday, December 1. But apparently the Library was, so they had additional seating set-up upstairs with a video feed from the auditorium downstairs. We were lucky enough to get into the main auditorium, but near the back, despite getting there almost an hour early.

Bourdain was quite entertaining, and had some interesting things to say. The shots at how crass and vapid the Food Network has become were to be expected, as was the inevitable bashing of Rachel Ray and Paula Deen, and despite them being pretty easy targets, the insults were fairly amusing...

Before his arrival, the City Paper featured an interview that included his admission that he just doesn't know much about the Philly food scene, thinking it was all Steven Starr and Georges Perrier, and wasn't sure there was much of interest.

The City Paper followed up with their list of must-visit spots which isn't bad, but some friends and I had already been thinking the same thing, and came up with a list of our own:

  • Osteria for a pizza and some pasta.
  • Hardena for a plate of whatever Ena recommends.
  • John's Roast Pork (and/or DiNic's) for the real Philly sandwich.
  • Taquitos de Puebla for the spit-roasted al Pastor tacos
  • Sarcone's for the quintissential hoagie.
  • StudioKitchen - we're thinking we might be able to talk Shola into re-activating SK for a Bourdain dinner!
  • Carman's Country Kitchen, just because we want to see what happens when you put Anthony and Carmen together.

There are certainly more places that offer good food that he might like, but we were thinking that these places have a good chance of giving him something that's not quite like he can get all the time. Sure, he's had Indonesian food in Indonesia, and tacos in Mexico, and Pizza in Naples, etc, but these are some distinctive places that offer foods that are not too easy to find in most American cities, and most importantly, are really good, in a solid straightforward way.

What did we miss?


  1. Count Dave and I in for the dinner with AB at SK if it materializes...Lori

  2. Hi Lori,

    OK - AB@SK - TBA!

    Ahh, probably not going to happen...but seriously, I think that would be a pretty cool dinner! Maybe we won't wait for AB.

    And incidentally, Bourdain was not nearly as hostile toward vegetarians as he usually is, partly because of a question from the audience. A vegetarian explained that she was starting to go "into training," eating a little meat, in preparation for an overseas trip, just so she'd be ready in case she was confronted with a situation where it would be rude to refuse someone's hospitality.

    Bourdain seemed perplexed, and amazed, and finally declared that he thought that was really cool, that someone would go to that length to be an accommodating guest. And he did concede that of course there were situations in which he understood vegetarianism... Then recommended bacon as the gateway drug.

    Brings up all sorts of interesting tangents:

    I'll bet a veggie SK dinner would be pretty banging! I was occasionally drooling over a veggie tasting menu that a friend was having at Susur in Toronto, it occasionally seemed more appealing as my omnivore version! Some friends just did a vegan tasting menu at Horizons and said it was really great. I wonder where the other great veggie meals are to be had... I know Per Se does a vegetable tasting.

    Then again, Bourdain had a point, most everything is better with Benton's bacon on it...

  3. I was also suprised by the turnout! And felt terrible for those Philadelphians who were merely trying to return books.

    Totally worth feeling like a head of cattle to see him speak though.

  4. It's funny: I was looking at the huge crowd there and thought "who are these people?"

    Little did I know that I actually "knew" a significant percentage of them from reading their blogs, or PR missives, or posts on eGullet, or something!