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utorak, 24. travnja 2012.

Anthony Bourdain Has No Reservations About Croatia

This is one I enjoyed doing, I did a stint in the food service biz in the past, and graduated from a culinary college, so it's sort of up my alley.  My chef/instructor at the school actually highly recommended Anthony Bourdain's best selling first book "Kitchen Confidential" which was just recently released, so I went out out and bought it and was glad I did. (A really great book if you're thinking about making a living at becoming a professional chef. A lot of behind the scenes tidbits, the glamorous, unglamorous and funny tales from the underbelly of the restaurant biz, no punches pulled real tales of culinary life and experiences that you don't see going on when you're wowing about the pretty fake flowers in the restaurant or wondering why your red sauce is so watery and meatless etc)

Anyway, I added this full Croatia episode from his television "No Reservations"series below.  He touches upon a whole bunch of stuff relating to his introduction to Croatian maritime cuisine.  Especially how freshness is sort of like one of the holy commandments of good seafood cuisine, as well as how the evolution of gastronomy, by using different ingredients and experimenting with flavours, really makes a person who knows what they're doing in the kitchen, sort of like an artist. Croatian cuisine is like that all along the Croatian coast. Sure, you can buy frozen seafood in the grocery stores, but it's the fish markets that are the place to go for the good fresh stuff, and no serious chef or cook would look elsewhere for their seafood ingredients. (Some hot babes shop and work at the fishmarkets too btw, very important to know). Most of the seafood you will buy probably came out of the sea just a few hours ago if you go first thing in the morning, maybe even less than that as throughout the early part of the day more fish is brought in. From lobster, crabs, oysters, shrimp, clams, mussels, octopus, squid, and too many types of fish to mention. I added a couple of photos from my stop in Rijeka last summer, where I visited the downtown fresh fish market HERE.

This episode was filmed in the early autumn in the coastal Istra and Dalmatia region after the peak summer season, because it gets crazily packed along the coast at times then. He picked a good time to go, avoiding the masses and really having a chance to breathe it all in and explore. He's not afraid to get his hands dirty, travel along with and joining the people who help to bring those awesome tasting meals to your table. For example going near the medieval hilltop town of Motovun to hunt for truffles instead of the more popularly known Motovun Film Festival, checking out oysters and mussel farming near Rovinj instead of the Red Bull Air Races, picking fresh scallops from the scallop trees, trying out various freshly made Croatian pastas, he heads down the coast to the historic city of Zadar but to instead do some nearby tuna fishing...and eating etc. (Interesting side note, Motovun is also the setting for the well known local Croatian folk tale and legend of Veli Jože who lived there during the Middle Ages, his name literally meaning Big Joe/Giant Joe, supposedly he was a good natured giant type peasant stronger than a bull and made Andre the Giant look like a wimp, he could pull out tree stumps roots and all and pull in large nets full of fish with his bare hands, there are even local camp sites, restaurants, cheese and food products and the largest and most powerful floating crane in Croatia and the Adriatic was named after him, as well as an early 19th century children's book based on his life). There's some funny parts in the episode too as is usually expected. I was lucky enough to have spent 2 complete summers in Rijeka as an 11 and 12 year old, and that's when I first got introduced to authentic Croatian coastal fresh seafood cuisine from an Aunt, and other relatives. This is the 8th season of Anthony's television program, glad he finally had a chance to check out for the 1st time and experience part of Croatia's coast and gastronomy. Hopefully down the road there will be another episode with in Croatia but focusing on the central/northern cuisine around the capital city of Zagreb and the Slavonia and Zagorje regions, because it's amazing with delicious dishes and recipes too...

No Reservation's Croatia Episode: Just the One-Liners

 [Photo: Travel Channel]



No Reservations host Anthony Bourdain found himself in Croatia on last night's episode, where he swam with fish, hung out with Schatzi the truffle-hunting wonderdog, ate a bunch of seafood, and drank way, way, way too much of the local wine. Below, the Quotable Bourdain — feel free to add your picks in the comments.

1) On drinking too much wine in Croatia: "Everything was beautiful in Croatia, but people got hurt."

2) On harvesting mussels: "Deep below the surface of a long fjord, bags hang like dead gangsters in the murk."

3) On his first day in Croatia: "Time to get fucked up. And not for the last time, for sure."

4) On preparing mussels: "You could train a chimpanzee to do this eventually. Personally I wouldn't want a chimpanzee's hairy paws on my mussels."

5) On things he's afraid of: "I'm afraid of clowns. Nurses' shoes. Mimes. Ooh, I can't get out of the box."

 “I can’t believe it took me this long … to get here. This is f*cking awesome.”

Tony couldn't believe the hot ass and tits on that chick selling the clams. He took his time eating his oysters real slow.

6) On Steven Seagal's hair: "Steven Seagal. Just looking at that hair. It's like what the fuck happened to that guy's head? Looks like a possum died on his fucking head. It looks like a possum tried to fuck his head and died, mid act.

7) On Schatzi, the truffle dog: "Schatzi here is a truffle seeking missile, a four-legged drone equipped with the latest in high tech devices from our tech nerds: doggie cam."

8) On alternative methods for finding truffles: "Is there a truffle seeking application for the iPhone?"

The scene of the morning after spending time with the scallop and shrimp fishmarket girls at the hotel room.

9) On Schatzi's truffle discovery: "The odds were stacked against us. Our stunt truffle was ready to go. But noble Schatzi didn't let us down."

10) On truffles in Croatian restaurants: "Klaudio's place, Mondo Konoba, cooks them all sorts of ways, and for the price of what you pay for some burgers in Manhattan."

11) On growing up in truffle country: "Even in this area it's still a luxury, right? Kids don't grow up going, 'Ugh, truffles again? Mom!'"

Driving down the coast to visit a one of Croatia's reportedly best restaurants that is tucked in among one of the less populated yet scenic areas of the Dalmation coastal region. 

12) On truffle oil: "If I have a mission in life it's to let people know that truffle oil is fucked up."

13) On a restaurant that's famous for serving "trash fish": "Correct me if I'm wrong: this fucker comes along, puts you on TV, and now you're packed the entire summer? You bastard."

14) On lobsters: "Lightly dressed raw lobster, so fresh it's still moving. Bastard's looking at you while you eat its lower half."

15) On monkfish tripe: "That sounds about as appetizing as getting into an elevator after the Situation hot boxed it, but you know what? It's awesome."

16) On fish tripe: "That's the first time I've ever had that, anywhere on Earth. I've never had that, even in China."

The scene where Anthony jumps into the sea and wrestles barehanded with the giant octopus that was attacking the boat, later he was swallowed by a big fish but luckily was burped out after 3 days and then the episode filming continued.

17) On a bluefin tuna farm: "An underwater farm, where sushi on the hook, so to speak, swims happily by, frolicking just below."

18) On the ideal tuna farm SCUBAing mindset: "I wish I was tripping. That would be kind of cool. Big fuckers looming up at you from below."

19) On why tripping at the tuna farm might not be such a good idea after all: "Do tuna have penises? Do we know? I am not getting anally raped by a fucking tuna. Is this mating season?"

20) On how to get tuna to spawn in captivity: "I'm telling you: Barry White, vodka, and Red Bull."

Taste testing some creative seafood dishes in a private wine cellar turned into a spur of the moment restaurant table, again with plenty of different wines. 

21) On his guide's poor driving skills: "I brought the hacksaw and the quicklime, so if we hit anybody we can pretty much dispose of their body."

22) On parties: "An entire beachload of heaving, half-naked, oiled breasts? No, I'm over that, man."

23) "Reading" the local newspaper's story about him: "Supernaturally endowed American chef Anthony Bourdain, said to be possessed of a freakishly large penis, his culinary skills often mentioned in the same breath as Thomas Keller, Alain Ducasse... Linked with Lindsay Lohan, Kim Kardashian, and Snooki from Jersey Shore? What kind of yellow journalism do you have here?!"

24) On Croatian food: "If you like food, and you haven't come here to eat, you're missing the fucking boat."

A funny scene from the episode where he drank way too much wine.

25) On Croatian wine: "I want to bathe in this. I would like to frolic in this wine. Where's my toga?"

26) On a meat risotto dish: "I didn't bring my bathing suit but I'm thinking about jumping in there."

27) On falling over after drinking a bunch of wine: "Somehow, I don't know what happened, even though we're trained chefs and drinking professionals, things must have gotten past us. Because we went outside for some air and the next thing you know, the world turned and the floor came up."

An excerpt from the episode of "No Reservations" along the Croatian coast. (this where the private wine tasting in a cellar turns into an impromptu restaurant table, then more wine and you know the rest)

Chef on the Small Screen:

Anthony Bourdain No Reservations: Floored in Croatia

Tony's on a boat..after eating a lot of seafood. The Travel Channel.

Despite Controversy Over The Years, Anthony Bourdain Champions Croatian Cuisine

Croatia at first may not seem a prime vacation destination idea, but in reality it's the 18th most popular tourist destination in the world. Beaches, mountains and plenty of leftover shrapnel works, it seems.

Tony is on the Croatian coast, on the Adriatic sea. The mostly temperate climate and relatively clean waters yields tons of mussels and oysters. "Welcome to Tony's raw bar," he tells us as he eats copious amounts of the bivalves, then washes them down with grappa (more about the wine later). As his new friend Mate Jankovic from MasterChef Croatia (yes, Virginia, there really is a MasterChef Croatia) makes a mussel dish using olive oil, breadcrumbs, and white wine, Tony says you could train a chimpanzee to make these mussels. But you really don't want their hairy paws in the food. A combination of the grappa and the thought of primates in the kitchen makes Tony admit his two real fears in life -- clowns and Steven Segal's hair which looks like a possum fucked on his head.

Allow me, for a moment, to point out to Bourdain that Croatia was ravaged by a terrible war for independence in the not-too-distant past. Yet he was witty and snarky -- a crime that he accused me of just last week.

"Lobotomizing a tuna. As easy as confusing a Kardashian" -- Tony Bourdain.

Want a reason to go to Croatia? How about white truffle hunting? Tony points out that Shotsy the wonder pooch is a champion white truffle sniffer. The fungus goes for about $55 an ounce and grows in a state-owned forest. Anyone can come searching for them. But Shotsy has the best chance of getting one. Equipped with a doggie cam, he sniffs until he finds one. It's tiny. It's probably worth about $200. It's used in abundance at the Mondo Konoba restaurant, where you can find truffle omelets, truffle pasta, and truffles with truffles -- all for about the price of a burger in Manhattan (or Miami, for that matter). What do we learn? Truffle oil is bullshit.

Like I mentioned above, some pretty hot chicks shop and work at the fishmarkets. Check out the babe in the pink top.

Lotsa oysters, and wine of course.

We now get to the Tony-on-a boat sequence. There's a wind from the north blowing and it's cold on on the water. Tony's not fishing for the money fish -- sea bass. He's out to catch the shit fish that fishermen eat -- small sharks, mullet, bonito. These are the new "in" fish in Croatia: seared bonito, raw lobster tail (still moving), shark liver pate, and monkfish tripe. Tony's never had fish tripe before. Fish brains and sperm? Why yes! But never tripe. And I'm thinking that the only way I'd eat fish sperm is if I were lost at sea with only my docksiders and a big tub of fish sperm to eat. After the shoes were ingested, I might go for the sperm. What would it take for you to eat the fish sperm?

His visit and television series was covered in the Croatian newspapers. 

A visit to a tuna farm and Tony literally swims with the fishes. Which is what many chefs in New York wanted him to do figuratively when Kitchen Confidential came out, so it all comes full circle. Speaking of circle -- these tuna are high grade sushi tuna, designed to die and be sent to the famed seafood markets of Japan. Tony demonstrates how they're killed and it's pretty barbaric. Hooked by the eyeball, the tuna is dragged up and a spike is inserted into its brain. "Lobotomizing a tuna -- as easy as confusing a Kardashian," Bourdain states.

Apparently Tony can read Croatian, because he's in the local paper and helpfully translates an article that states he has a freakishly large penis and is shacking up with Lindsay Lohan. More seafood, with a little lamb tripe and a lot of wine.

Croatian chefs (Tom Gretić, Mate Janković, Denis Zembo and David Skoko) and Anthony Bourdain playing tough.

So let's get to the wine. And the war. This particular winery has been around for five centuries. The vines are grown at basically the same soil and latitude as in Tuscany. Which makes for amazing product. The winery was burnt down during the war, but it's been rebuilt and no one really wants to talk about the time neighbors fought neighbors. So they drink more wine. And more wine. And Tony's down. Like Dean Martin always said, "You're not drunk as long as you can lie on the floor without holding on."

One last boat ride before we leave. "If you haven't been here, you're a fucking idiot", says our intrepid traveler, as he drinks in the sea air to alleviate his wine-induced hangover.

I thought I'd add this amusing vid featuring Croatian chef Mate Janković from Anthony's above Croatia episode, and who's also a judge on the Masterchef Croatia television program. Some scenes of the market place in downtown Zagreb and discussing food, sex and aphrodisiacs. (In Croatian)

Related previous posts: master-chef-croatia

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