Saturday, March 5, 2011

Friday Night with Eric Ripert and Anthony Bourdain

Tony heard about Anthony Bourdain going to different cities to give these "talks" on a big stage and was hoping he would come around here sometime. Well shortly after that thought, there was an announcement that he was coming to Boston, but this time with his friend and fellow chef Eric Ripert. Tony bought a set of tickets for the two of us and he splurged for the front section at the Symphony Hall, we were in the 3rd row and back stage access after the show (Tony's 40th birthday is the same weekend, so this was part of his birthday celebration).

Tony made reservations at a restaurant that he's been wanting to try called Eastern Standard, located somewhat near the Symphony Hall, so we could walk everywhere. We had some good food there, definitely have to go back. We shared a Camembert cheese, fresh oregano and roasted tomato Flat bread. We almost didn't get a flat bread dish because we were thinking we should get something different, but I am glad we got it. We loved the fresh oregano on this and the tomatoes; I think they were, slowly roasted and maybe with a little sugar or just a touch of something sweet. The crust was so good, they weren't shy with the use of olive oil, which made the crust crunchy and delicious.

I got the vegetable risotto (we just grilled a big steak the night before, so I was staying away from meat). Wow, this was sooo good! It was a roasted Brussels sprout leaves, parsnips and pine nut risotto with a hollandaise sauce. I have never had risotto with something so creamy as an accompaniment. Hollandaise is that sauce you get on an Egg's Benedict, it's yolky, lemony and silky. I will recreate that for sure!

I was curious about one of the side dishes on the menu which was cauliflower, pine nut and crispy sage leaves. I love my vegetables and had to have it, it was also very delicious!

Tony got the lobster special which was a ricotta gnocchi dish with beautiful lobster meat, brised leeks and lemon brown butter. The gnocchi was so light, I had to have a bite and now I have to recreate that too!

We couldn't decide on dessert. There was a Creme Brulee which is always a good choice and a butterscotch bread pudding with a hazelnut praline crunch and ice we got them both and shared. The creme brulee was delicious but there was nothing different (which is how it should be) and the bread pudding was fantastic! It was very dense, but in a good way and with the butterscotch sauce just perfect, and the crunchy praline "cookie" and a scoop of delicious ice cream, I don't remember what flavor but it tasted like vanilla and maybe with praline too. To keep us awake and to go with dessert we got two cappuccino's.

We finished dinner and still had an hour and a half to kill before the show so we got out of the cold and had a seat at the bar of a place called "Symphony 8", it was a bar that was hoppin' right near symphony hall. I had a glass of Pino Noir and Tony had a Sam Adams Noble Pills. We headed into the hall about 30 mins early and found our seat right in the third row, but on the outer edge, but still good seats.

About 10 past 8 Anthony Bourdain was announced and he walked out. He was happy to see the large crowd that came to see him and he then announced Eric Repert. They are really good friends and they started by interrogating each other, in a funny way. Anthony told Eric to sit in this lonely chair in the front and center of the stage and Anthony asked him questions as if he was a lawyer and Eric was the suspect. Asking him if he's French and about places he's worked to be where he is today. He asked him about Gordon Ramsey, I guess Eric doesn't agree with the way Gordon Ramsey treats people on his shows and so he talked about that. Asking him about sustainable fish; which ones he won't eat because he is worried that there will be no more of certain species if we continue eating them today. Then Anthony was done with him and Eric asked Anthony to sit in the chair. He asked similar questions to Anthony. He asked him..."Is it true your wife can kick your ass?", (Eric introduced Anthony to-who is now-Anthony's wife). So after a few more silly questions, Eric said that he is done with his questions for Anthony.

They then sat together in two chairs that looked much more comfortable then that one lonely interrogation chair and they talked about how Americans eat more about quantity then about quality and in France they may have proteins like meats and chicken only a couple times a week and the rest of the meals are based more around vegetables. They talked about eating at places like McDonald's and how it's not good for you but Anthony can see why people do it, because it's cheap to buy and convenient and 3 year old kids want it so you have to give in sometimes. The kids don't want to hear about Micheal Pollens points to healthy eating. They talked about Eric's Michelin stars for his restaurant in NYC called Le Bernardin. They then took some questions from the audience. Someone asked Anthony about why he doesn't agree with vegetarians and he went off on that. His answer was that he travels all over the world and he is offered these dishes that he is honored to receive from these people that don't have much money or anything and they feed him what they like and what they think is good food (and I assume they aren't vegetarian foods, is what he meant from that). Someone asked "Where are you going to eat in Boston while you are here?" and they said where they wanted to eat (Craigie on Main) but they wouldn't have the time. The next morning Anthony was going to be on a flight to Cuba for an up coming show so he wouldn't be able to check out any places after the show.

The show ended at 10:00 and they said thanks for coming and they left the stage. We made our way along with 198 other people to a room where they served passed hors dovers and there was a bar to get a cocktail, beer or wine. We were too slow and before we knew it the line formed all the way around the room. By the time we got to the signing table to meet the two chef's it was just before midnight. I was so tired after eating and drinking and sitting comfortable in the seats for two hours and then standing in line for another hour and a half, but it was worth it. They sold books to have them sign and I planned on buying a book there instead of carrying around my "Evec Eric" book all night. Tony bought another copy of "Kitchen Confidential" which he has and already read, but wanted another copy to have him sign. I got another book by Eric called "A Return to Cooking", which I hadn't even heard of but it looks like a good one to me...

Here's the Boston Globe article about the show.

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