That's a wrap: the series finale of No Reservations aired last night on the Travel Channel. Before you start getting all teary-eyed, do remember that this is the busiest man in food media: host Anthony Bourdain has another season of The Layover coming up, and his post-Travel Channel agenda includes becoming a chocolatier, a project with David Chang on PBS, writing for HBO's Treme, running his own publishing imprint with Ecco, a culinary competition show called The Taste with Nigella Lawson on ABC, an unnamed project with CNN, and most likely continuing his particular brand of rabblerousing and assorted fight-picking. So, chin up, Bourdainiacs: the end of No Reservations likely means way more Bourdain in your lives than ever before.
On to the Brooklyn episode. Bourdain picked Brooklyn for the last episode because "It seems only right as the end approaches to finish near where I started, New York. Or a place right next door, a place I've never really gotten to know: Brooklyn." Below, he heads to Coney Island, hangs out with various No Res regulars from over the years (Eddie Huang, Zamir Gotta, Eric Ripert), goes on a rather successful fishing trip, and a lot more. Bourdain noted via Twitter that a few of the restaurants featured in the episode (Sunny's, Randazzo's) were seriously damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
Now, and for the last time with No Reservations, on to the Quotable Bourdain — feel free to add your picks in the comments below.
1: On his point of reference: "I have nothing to compare the new Brooklyn to because, to be honest, I never really knew the old Brooklyn."
2: On actor Michael K. Williams: "Maybe you know him as Omar Little, the baddest ass character in the baddest ass television series in the history of the universe, The Wire."
3: On running into Williams' Wire co-star Jamie Hector at a Caribbean restaurant: "By the way, this is a totally un-set up, coincidental moment in television gold."
4: On what's happening in Brooklyn: "A lot of films that take place in Brooklyn, it's always about people looking over across the river at Manhattan, trying to figure out how the hell do I get out of here. But right now, this is God's country, everybody's moving here."
5: Again, on what's happening in Brooklyn: "Old school, new school. Neighborhood or hipster apocalypse, or both."
6: On going to Pok Pok NY with Eddie Huang: "So why am I in a Thai restaurant with a Chinese dude?"
7: On authenticity: "What is authentic? Does it exist? Should white guys get famous and successful for cooking the traditional cuisine of poor ethnic groups on the other side of the world?"
8: On the interior design at Pok Pok NY: "Is this a restaurant? It's like a shed."
9: On what Americans think of regional Thai food: "It's from that country, Asia."
10: On the food at Pok Pok NY: "Eat this and you understand why people line up for hours waiting to get in here."
11: On why Andy Ricker chose to cook Thai food: "Of all of the reasonable things you could do in this world, why would you embrace a cuisine that just about every Western guy who every tried to get it right completely fucked up?"
12: On Thai food in the West: "I've had a lot of Thai meals in the Western world. Nothing has approached this."
13: On kids who went to Catholic school: "We were afraid of the kids in Catholic school. They all knew how to fight. They'd get the shit kicked out of them all day at school and then they'd come kick the shit out of us."
14: On clams: "Why is it that oysters have a certain panache, status attached to them? Clams are fucking low rent."
15: On Bushwick: "Ground zero for ironic sunglasses, jaunty haberdashery, and Grizzly Adams-influenced facial hair, but also, I have to admit, a center for awesomeness."
16: On the unbelievability of the tasting menu at Roberta's: "Apparently they do a tasting menu here, and if it's good, I will sing the praises of Brooklyn even louder."
17: On what's happening in Brooklyn: "I am getting used to the fact that I will die ignorant about Brooklyn. Because so much is happening out here, and I'm not young enough or fast enough to understand."
18: On Blanca's kitchen: "This is a dream kitchen. ElBulli doesn't have this."
19: On No Reservations' infamous history of fishing segments: "As you may know, I am famous among fisher folks for my many achievements on the water. Oh no, that's not me. I'm famous for never catching shit."
20: On the surprises Brooklyn has to offer: "Who knew Brooklyn had so many fisher folk? Men of the sea."
21: On getting fish off the line: Fisherman: "Squeeze the eyes and open the mouth." Bourdain: "Yeah, that works in bar fights too."
22: On finally having a successful fishing segment: "Success. In my last No Reservations ever, finally I settle the score."
23: On the separate world that is Brooklyn: "I'm about 20 minutes from my apartment. If I were to get a lot drunker, I'd look around and wonder what country I was in."
24: On hanging out with Zamir: "I see you and I always start thinking: vodka."
25: On dogs: "I can't hurt dogs on this show. You can eat 'em but you can't be mean to 'em."
25: On catch phrases: Zamir: "I am hungry for more." Bourdain: "Thank you Zamir, I was getting worried that you weren't going to work in a catch phrase."
26: On the Kitchen at Brooklyn Fare: "Downtown Brooklyn: a neighborhood that could best be described as nondescript. A storefront that could best be described as what the fuck. It looks like a Smiler's Deli."
27: Again, on the Kitchen at Brooklyn Fare: "Tucked in the back of the most unpromising facade in New York is where you'll find the most unlikely three star Michelin in the Western world."
28: On how to get a table at Brooklyn Fare: "The reservations for one of the 18 seats available per night are notoriously hard to come by, so I figured Eric Ripert could get us some."
29: On chef César Ramirez: "All the real work here, other than the prep, was done in this guy's head."
30: Eric Ripert, after eating something he really liked: "To be creative in plates so simple like that, let me tell you: you don't sleep much."
31: On the people who go to Brooklyn Fare: "This is a much younger crowd than would be eating at a three star Michelin ten years ago. We're the oldest people in the room." Ripert: "You are."
32: Again, on who eats at Brooklyn Fare: "These are not oligarchs here. These people saved up for this."
33: On why he lives in New York: "This is why I couldn't live in California. They think they have delis."
34: On his goals: "Some wander this earth seeking wisdom. I'm looking for a good chopped liver."
35: On why he chose a Jewish deli for the last meal on No Reservations: "Over the last decade of traveling this world, this was the kind of thing I missed most. So this is just right for our last meal."
36: Bourdain's final goodbye: "It's been a wild ride. A lot of miles, a road sometimes smooth, sometimes hard and ugly. And I guess I could tell you that if you look hard enough, that just next door is just as interesting as the other side of the world, but that's not exactly true. If I do have any advice for anybody, any final thought, if I'm and advocate for anything, it's to move as far as you can, as much as you can, across the ocean or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in somebody else's shoes or at least eat their food, it's a plus for everybody. Open your mind, get up off the couch, move."
Bourdain at the No Res wrap in his nattiest CNN getup. [Photo: ottaviabourdain / Instagram]
Bourdain also tweeted a good many comments about the video below, which implies that possibly maybe he's been driving a Cadillac around on all these No Reservations shoots. Below, he vehemently denies Cadillac comments.
Video: No Reservations Promo, Featuring Cadillac
· "Fucking Cadillac . Greedy venal #travelchannel ad sales motherfuckers."
· "I do NOT drive a Cadillac. And now I never will. #travelchannel"
· "There's a clown caught up in the wheel well of my #Cadillac"
· "There's a dead prostitute in the trunk of my #Cadillac"
· "#Cadillac The blood and spooge wipe right off ! #travelchannel"
· "Wow! I can fit TWO bodies in full rigor in the trunk if a #Cadillac ! Awesome! #travelchannel"
· "If you blow your load on a #cadillac dashboard it wipes clean off!"
· "When a #travelchannel exec runs over a hobo in a #Cadillac, I'm told they can barely tell! #goodsuspension"
The Quotable Bourdain will be back for the next season of The Layover, and, most likely, whatever else Bourdain has in the works.