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Bourdain in South Carolina

Watching to night's new episode of No Reservations: was it my imagination or did the segment on faux fox hunting end rather abruptly? One minute Tony was on the horse and the next minute he was talking about Jestine's Kitchen. Just curious...

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  1. I can't say that I processed the part of the episode you've posted about, but I'm responding anyway.

    I thought last night's episode was fantastic. Admittedly, I'm biased after having fallen in love with Charleston during a first trip there last spring. I doubly biased since I really like Bourdain's insightful and, often self-deprecating, commentary. I don't even mind Bourdain's occasional snarkiness. Last night's commentary seemed especially illuminating and respectful; I don't recall hearing a bit of snark.

    Two random observations: I can't believe Bourdain passed up ambrosial shrimp and grits at the Hominy Grill for a stack of carbohydrate stuff. (Yes, I know he ate s & g at Jestine's Kitchen, but everyone I met in Charleston claimed Hominy Grill's version was superior.) I got a kick out of seeing Bourdain do his chef thing as he shucked his own oysters.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Indy 67

      I bet RR ate shrimp and grits at the Hominy Grill...pretty funny slam on her tipping on $40/day...

      I really want to try that SC mustard BBQ! And roast oysters. But I am not interested in eating warm water oysters raw, no thanks.

      1. re: kenito799

        Roasting or grilling oyster is the best way to eat them in my opinion. Just seems to bring out more fresh ocean / briney flavors than eating them raw. If I could get a bushel of oysters for $20 around my area, I would be in grilled oyster heaven.

        1. re: LStaff

          Lstaff - you need to come down to Bluffton, SC where the local oysters are legendary. If you go down to the May River, where they're gathered, on the right day, the oysterman who are working the banks will sell you a whole big basket for $5 and tell you the best way to cook them as well!

        2. re: kenito799

          WOW! I had no idea! Can't wait to get home and hit the Tivo. Was Charleston the only place he went in SC?

          Au contraire, i eat oysters out of the gulf all the time, although SC oysters don't seem to make it to the upcountry as often. Warm is relative...the ocean's pretty cool in the fall and winter.

          1. re: danna

            I've had some mighty fine oysters in Charleston. The ones from the local mud flats do lend themselves well to roasting, but I prefer a good raw gulf oyster (or 40) over a cooked one any day.

          2. re: kenito799

            did you also catch the subtle dig he took at sandra lee of semi-homemade? when they took the oysters off of the roaster, they dumped them on an unadorned table that was a piece of raw plywood with a hole cut in the middle where they pitched the shucked oyster shells. after they dumped the roasted oysters on the table, tony walked up to it and quipped, "now that's a tablescape."

              1. re: SuperCorona

                I don't watch SL but I get the joke now. It is classic.


              2. re: xman887

                The other dig I loved was against frantic NYC food bloggers: At the last place where he got the shrimp and grits (Jestine's?) he said that after this show, people from NYC will be flocking in there, taking photos of every dish...his companions didn't seem too thrilled with that idea!

                1. re: kenito799

                  I think he called them "food geeks" and I completely agree. Rock on, AB.

          3. I also really really enjoy last nights episode. The trans planted New Yorker wondering what was wrong with all these polite people. The 'the have you seen this woman...How does she tip?' had me on the floor. The other part that had me going was when did his 'letter home' and dressed up in the military garb. Even he said the the civil war people should have given him more material that he would have known what to do with. But he seemed taken by them. Perhaps it was the food that he appreciated or maybe fatherhood has mellowed him.

            It was a terrific episode!!


            4 Replies
            1. re: Withnail42

              I happen to be in the middle of re-watching Ken Burns' CIVIL WAR over the last few days; from the moment the music started at the very beginning of the show I was chuckling. When he started reciting his letter home, I was in hysterics.

              1. re: Fydeaux

                LOL, I also couldn't help but chuckle at the Ken Burns spoof. Though I thought 'startrekkie' analogy was a bit rough - I happen to admire re-enactors - most of them are serious history buffs, they make or fix their own clothes and weapons, and most of them are proficient in at least one or two skill or crafts, and most importantly they get to enjoy outdoors! I've been to a couple of Revolutionary War re-enactments around New York, and their food did not look as nearly good as the confederates' food on last night episode.

                1. re: welle

                  To be fair to Bourdain he didn't say that re-enactors were like trekkies (or trekkers) but that most people considered them to be somewhere between stamp collectors and trekkies.

                  1. re: ccbweb

                    I think the whole point of that statement was that, that's what he and I guess a large portion of people think. Then he got in with them and learned what it was all about and gain a great deal of respect and appreciation for them.


            2. I also really enjoyed this episode, and it made me want to jump on a plane to Charleston (I've never been). I was just curious about that one part. I have it on my DVR so I can watch it again!

              1. Being a native Southron (and Basset Hound fancier), I loved this episode. It's nice to visit places like Chaleston and Savannah and meet nice folks. Not much of that around any longer.

                1. Good episode as usual. Tony's Tony. Love him or hate him you're pretty much watching the show because of him.

                  We've been to Charleston once, and frankly I really wish it was under better circumstances and better planning. Because we pretty much missed all the "must do's."

                  I dunno. I know the Lee Bros are popular amongst the "in" crowd with foodies, but I sorta of found their "west-village ala charleston" disposition unbearable. Like when they busted out the bubbly before the oyster roast - it's like dudes, take off your prada sandals and have a beer. You're at an oyster roast. Oh well, to each their own. But I think even Bourdain felt the earlier party stilted. He didn't come all the way down to Charleston only to sit around a west village party listen to guys in polo shirts complaining about mustard sauce on bbqs.

                  I would have like to see more "out of the way" places. Anyways, I always enjoy Tony and his snarkiness and homage to other cinematic chef-d'oeuvres. (lol pardon the pun)

                  1. I would have liked to have had some high end food featured also. Charleston is not all country cooking.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: byteme55

                      Then it's not going to be "No Reservations" show.

                      1. re: byteme55

                        At some point, though, high end food is high end food. I think it's more often the case that you really see regional and local foods and techniques shine at the kinds of places he went in this episode. Not a universal truth, but a more often than not one, I think.

                      2. As a native Southerner, I liked Tony's SC adventure. I believe that was his first journey down this way. He hit the basics with a fervor and reverance we usually don't see from "visitin'Yankees". I really appreciated him admitting that he knew more about Singapore than the American South. Hopefully, we will see more of Bourdain in Dixie. The anthropological value of our cuisine alone, past and present, is a subject i would like to see more folks exploring.

                        1. LC Jon - or you other natives - is this place Sweatman's in Holly Hill real? Or is it some fantasy made up by a crazed pig-lover and computer generated graphics?

                          All you can eat! Whole hog, cut up nice and clean - lots of crispy skin in a bin of its own! All wood - no gas...

                          The term hog heaven took on a whole new meaning after I saw this - I've got to take a trip down there. If this isn't destination food - nothing is!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: applehome

                            There are plenty of posts on Sweatman's in the southeast board.

                            1. re: applehome

                              It's real--I haven't made it out there yet, so I can't offer my personal opinion. Interestingly, there are a couple of other places in the general area (McCabe's and Scott's Variety) that some folks in the know rate even higher than Sweatman's. I'm planning a road trip or two in the following months to come to my own conclusions.

                              1. re: Low Country Jon

                                My only problem with this and pretty much every other food show on the south is that they hit the well known spots and don't ever really get off the beaten path. Sweatman's is stuck out in the country but it is still the go-to spot for lowcountry BBQ. On any given Sat. throughout the year there are more non-southern accents present than southern. Sweatman's is good but I wouldn't say that it is typical of most BBQ joints down here. Splitting up the top meat from the inside meat and not sauceing it down always bothered me about that place. Showing up at McCabe's or Scotts Variety would have been way cooler but I suppose it down not have the decour.

                            2. For all the praise about the show, I cannot help but feel that NR seems to suffer a bit when AB stays stateside. He seems to come across as less interested where he is (barring the Iceland and Sicily episodes). Maybe his love for traveling large distances comes through more clearly, but it seemed that he was just riffing on stuff in reaction to what people already knew about SC rather than going in with wide-eyed wonder and speaking proactively. The RR comments, the Sara Lee snarkiness, the NYC blogger comments, etc. kind of painted a picture of his boredom, I think. I could be way off base. I enjoy NR most without all the food-media baggage creeping into his dialogue. I thought it was a subpar episode.

                              1. The places he visited in Charleston were not my favorites. Jestines does have all of the Southern basics but in a very safe and polished way. When Bourdain was in town he did go to some of the best places but did not film it. They spent a whole night at Cru Cafe (one of my favorites) and then took the staff to Big Johns (best dive bar in Chas... maybe the world) to drink the rest of the night. Apparently the down-and-dirty "chefs chef" persona he shows on TV is pretty acurate.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: CharlestonChow

                                  See - now THAT I would have liked to see.

                                  1. re: CharlestonChow

                                    I hope you didn't mean to imply that Cru Cafe was a down-and-dirty sort place. It certainly isn't any dive-ier than Hominy Grill and that's hardly dive-y..

                                    I can understand why Bourdain might not have included Cru in the show; I don't think the cuisine at Cru is particularly evocative of place. Our meal at Cru was one of the best meals of our four-day visit to Charleston, easily beating Magnolia, SNOB, and High Cotton. (Those restaurants all suffered from too many ingredients in each dish.) Still, I didn't think Cru's food was explicitly Charlestonian. I'd call the food primarily New American cuisine with Southern flair.

                                    Incidentally, the hot cream of zucchini soup which began our meal was one of the best soups I've ever eaten. The chef managed to capture the essence of zucchini in contrast to too many cream of soups that could be made with any random vegetable for all the unrecognizable vegetable flavor. I asked for the recipe and the chef was going to give it to me, but he got distracted by some issue in the restaurant and we gave up waiting.

                                    1. re: Indy 67

                                      By "down-and-dirty" I do mean that he talks the talk and walks the walk. Many of the Celebrichefs (on TV and in cities like Charleston) are so far removed from the realities of the restaurant world, after too many years of dealing with the business aspects of restaurant building, can't hang with real cooks.

                                    2. re: CharlestonChow

                                      they missed a golden opportunity not taking the cameras into big johns. Between the cadets, the carriage drivers, and the drunks it isn't lacking in atmosphere.

                                    3. One of my favorite episodes. The hunting thing was strange though. The guy praying with Tony was even stranger.

                                      When did he get a divorce anyway? I saw him on a tv show and he was holding his baby..with his new wife!