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Batali, Paltrow & Bittman in Spain...

According to Sept. Food & Wine Magazine, a new 13-part series about culinary Spain brings together Mario Batali, actress Gwyneth Paltrow and food writer Mark Bittman as they explore the country...sounds delightful! With many others reporting from there, Spain is finally being accorded a rightful place among the world's best food and wine resources.
The series will air starting in September...

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    1. re: enbell

      Official link I posted on another thread yesterday:


    2. I can't imagine what Gwyneth Paltrow has to do with with this show, with the exception of being a celebrity. Has she actually ever eaten anything? This show sounds dreadful.

      7 Replies
      1. re: roxlet

        "Has she actually ever eaten anything?"


        1. re: roxlet

          I read somewhere that she speaks Spanish fluently, and as someone pointed out, lived in Spain as an exchange student. But I think she's really on the show for her celebrity value. I can't imagine that she would be a culinary wonderland. She was on a strict macrobiotic diet for years before she quit.

          1. re: gloriousfood

            I heard she named her child "Manzana"


            I will def. watch the show as Mario can do no wrong, plus I love Spanish food.

            1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

              right, her daughter is "apple". her son, "moses". i found out on the amazing internet! ;-)

          2. re: roxlet

            Yeah, as soon as I heard of this show the song "One of these things is not like the other" popped in to my head.

            1. re: LabRat

              Just because she's blond (I'm guessing), beautiful, and a celebrity doesn't mean she's ignorant about food. Let's give the show a couple of episodes. The trailer looks like fun.

              1. re: Richard 16

                I understand she's a long-time foodie. And that's supposedly how she and Mario first got together.

          3. Paltrow has, apparently, been a regular visitor to Spain since she spent a few months there as an exchange student in her mid-teens. I believe she also has a residence there. I would guess that gives her the appropriate street cred to give the "sometime visitor's" point of view, at the very least.

            11 Replies
            1. re: ferret

              I saw a tease on PBS. her Spanish is excellent. I was pretty surprised. This kind of reminds me of the Mario show with Rooney, going through Italy. Bittman isn't as clueless as Rooney and they really leave Mario alone, i.e. he doesn't have to be the straight man all the time and the humor seem less forced. Not sure what Paltrow adds to the series but she is very knowledgeable about Spain and its culture. The other woman, a Spanish film actress seem to take up the culinary slack. So three out of four isn't bad.

              1. re: Phaedrus

                She understands and has lived the culture--they are food tourists. She will be the one able to converse with the chefs and staff--asking the good questions and being the diplomat, while the other two provide "color" and personality. hah!

                1. re: toodie jane

                  The other woman along for the ride is actually Spanish, so she could do the necessary speaking. I saw a promo. She and Gwinnie go to a spa while Mario and Mark go eat. Then they talk about how fat they're going to get while dipping a churro into hot chocolate. Yeah, right...

                  1. re: roxlet

                    Well, that's the promo anyway. we all know how accurately trailers portray their respective movies. I hope for the best. She's an intelligent woman, and can perhaps find a way to rise above the script. She speaks the language, which makes her 10 steps ahead of the others.

                    I don't know her level of passion for food. My 60 year-old BIL has about 9% body fat and eats like a high school fullback, so body size isn't an indicator of caloric intake. Look at her mom. Genetics. Let's wait and see.

                    1. re: toodie jane

                      It's television. You need to maintain viewership and interest. The one think Bittman proves on TV is that he's better as a writer -- he wears thin on TV very quickly. Batali is knowledgeable about the Italy and Spain but his street cred is still focused on Italy. It's nice for them to have some balance and maybe broaden the audience -- they're likely to get more viewers with Paltrow along.

                  2. re: toodie jane

                    Mario has had a restaurant in Spain for a few years now actually.

                    1. re: HarryK

                      Really, what's the name of the restaurant and where is it?

                      1. re: KTinNYC

                        Never heard of any such restaurant. If you've read "Heat" it details how Batali supported one of his chefs in opening a tapas restaurant, Casa Mono (in New York). That's the only Spanish connection I'm aware of with Batali.

                        1. re: ferret

                          I know about the connection with Andy Nusser and Casa Mono and Bar Jamon. And I think Heat mentioned that Mario went to high school in Spain for a couple of years but I've never heard of any restaurant in Spain either.

                          1. re: ferret

                            Maybe I'm mistaken. Problem is a Google search turned up lists of Mario's America restaurants only (yes, that could be because he only has them in the US) but so many pages list one or three restaurants it's tough to find something very complete. As there's no mention of any on his site either, yep, perhaps I was confusing Casa Mono. Though I would have sworn I heard (misheard?) he partnered with someone in Spain. If true (which now I'm starting to doubt) I can't prove it.

                        2. re: HarryK

                          Mario lived in Spain as a youngster, so his spanish isn't that bad either. The only real gringo seems to be Bittman.

                  3. i'm really looking forward to the series.

                    1. From the little I read about it, it sounds like a hoot. A little humor mixed with food.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: EclecticEater

                        As a shallow adult male who also happens to love food and watch food shows on PBS, I would much rather watch Gwyn-bebe slurp down a slippery tapas than the two (wise but) Shrek-like creatures accompanying her do so!

                        1. re: bulavinaka

                          yes, that's it! bittman reminds me of shrek! mario more like a (very) big yoda. i like and respect them both, so this is typed with affection.

                      2. The website for the show http://www.spainontheroadagain.com/ has some new updates including recipes, photos and some new video. Starts the week of September 20th.

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: Bellyacher

                          You beat me to it. :-) I was just coming here to post the same thing. I'm REALLY looking forward to seeing the show, and I just search the Boston WGBH website - I can't find it listed! Nor can I find it on the NH public television listing or on the Springfield, MA public TV site.


                          I've just EMailed WGBH asking if they plan to carry the show and I'm missing it somewhere on their website. I really hope I'm just overlooking it.

                          1. re: LindaWhit

                            Worst case is that you have to download episodes from iTunes, but you won't have to miss it!

                            1. re: Bellyacher

                              Yeah, but I don't want to have to pay for it when I already pay (a LOT!) for cable! I cannot understand why the flagship PBS station isn't carrying a show like this!

                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                I bit the bullet and went to iTunes to download the first episode....it's a free subscription!

                            2. re: LindaWhit

                              I can't find it in Los Angeles either!

                              1. re: whatsfordinner

                                Nuts. Why wouldn't they have this on air in major markets?

                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                  the series starts the week of sept. 20. give the stations a chance to update their schedules. i'm not worried.

                                  1. re: steve h.

                                    I'll give them another week. Then I'll start to worry.

                                    1. re: whatsfordinner

                                      new york stations cracked. still waiting for cptv.

                              2. re: LindaWhit

                                Isn't this it?


                                Wednesdays at 9pm and Sundays at 3pm on WGBH 44

                                1. re: KTinNYC

                                  How the HECK did you find that, KT? I looked in the A-Z TV show listings and did a search several times on the show's title and it never came up! THANK YOU!

                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                    I wish I could tell you I'm just a brilliant searcher but all i did was type "wgbh spain on the road again" (without " ") into google and it came back as the first result.

                                    You're lucky, my local affiliate is only showing it at 3 pm on Sunday.

                            3. Sept 2008 Food and Wine magazine has an article about this

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: paulj

                                thanks paulj, that show sounds like good fun and good eats!

                              2. Gwyneth and Mario are on Oprah today.

                                1. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/20/art...

                                  Here is an article in NYT on the show. I found it all very interesting about how each of the people got involved with the show.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Phaedrus

                                    Thanks! Great quote:

                                    "Food Network and public television both have “massive and incredible” audiences, Mr. Batali said, but “the Food Network isn’t so much about cooking anymore. It’s more about food as a glue in society.”

                                    1. re: Phaedrus

                                      And interesting what Mario says about the differences (for the chef) between TFN and PBS.

                                      “Public television is my next move,” he said. “It’s got a great audience, it’s got a different business model than the Food Network. I can own the show and sell it elsewhere.”

                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                        I was lucky enough to be involved in a discussion on a thread posed by a somewhat disenchanted OP who I tended to agree with for maybe slightly different but still-related reasons. Of course there are always differings of opinions but all brought up valid reasons for and against...


                                        After reading the quote that you posted, I'm starting to feel ever more hopeful for PBS to be THE major player where those who appreciate great food shows can find them on their local public station - particularly for our household - we don't have cable/sat...

                                    2. I saw the shw and really liked it that is the parts with out Paltrow. She adds NOTHING. She was talking abut driving in London and stood around like a bump on a log during the cooking segments. Just don't get what she is doing there.

                                      1. So much time spent riding in cars bugged me. Not only the dumb talk but I got motion sick watching it! Kept having to look away.

                                        I'll give it another try, though.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: fern

                                          Until now, Iiked the trio well enough seperately doing the duties of their chosen professions. Together they came off as boring, bloviating, self- important jerks. Who cares what your driving preferences and habits are? I love Spain, but I doubt I can watch this again. The premise is so good, the product a disaster.

                                          1. re: lyn

                                            I could not agree with you more! I am a huge Batali fan and was really looking forward to this and I thought it was awful. The only person bearable to me was the Spanish actress tooling around with Bittman. I will try one more episode.

                                            FWIW, I only saw one episode of Jose Andres' series on Spain and it was immeasurabley better than this.

                                        2. Caught it for the first time last night (it's also on NH public television LindaWhit) and I loved it. To my surprise, Gwenyth was delightful, speaking excellent effortless Spanish, teasing Mario about his Italian obsession, and eating everything she could (except the raw partridge).

                                          Likewise Bittman and that gorgeous Spanish actress had a great chemistry that made them fun to watch.

                                          So happy to see a lot more Spain ... this show and Jose Andree's Made in Spain make me want to go eat there very very much.

                                          18 Replies
                                          1. re: yumyum

                                            Thanks yumyum! I'm a Project Runway freak, so I've made a note to watch it on Sunday afternoon...I'm looking forward to it!

                                            1. re: yumyum

                                              I didn't catch the whole show, but I was disappointed in the lack of on-screen cooking. However, Claudia Bassols definitely stimulates My chemistry.

                                              If you want to see some video clips and recipes, check out the show web site:

                                              1. re: DiveFan

                                                I still don't see the point of Paltrow.

                                                1. re: Withnail42

                                                  To capture that cluelss, cute, anglo, blonde, women and testosterone filled male demographics.

                                                  1. re: Phaedrus

                                                    The irony is that she doesn't even have to act to cature the role.

                                                    1. re: Phaedrus

                                                      But to be fair - her Spanish is impeccable. She translated for Mario with that chef (that gave him the raw bird). She is obviously a strong woman with firm positions on many things - she is not an unreasoning vegan - she will eat meat, but only if it was not factory farmed. I'd go along with that if I were rich enough. There was a good bit of humor with that whole "this isn't risotto" thing.

                                                      Her presence doesn't bother me as much as the overall waste of time - a lot of car time, chit-chatting - talking about nothing particularly informative. Comparing this to Andres (who recently did a La Mancha trip complete with Manchego cheese factory visit (not the same one), I'd say that they did about the same job in presenting the food of the area. Jose just did it in half the time. Of course, he didn't eat raw bird and get sick...

                                                      1. re: applehome

                                                        Yes - my husband said the same thing about her Spanish. I enjoyed watching the show. Could there have been more cooking and less chit chat, sure. But I can think of a lot of worse ways to spend an hour in front of the TV (not that that is saying much, I guess).

                                                        And, from what I've read, it's not as if the show sought her out capture some demographic ("cluelss, cute, anglo, blonde, women and testosterone filled male demographics" - not the PBS demographic as far as I know), but rather she asked Batali if she could join in, and after much deliberation, the producers decided to have her join in.

                                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                                          Doggonit - I missed the show... The gal who wears the pants in our house insisted on watching ER! I'm thinking that maybe the producers launched the first episode in this manner as a way of getting to know those in the show at a more grounded level? After all, the title of the show is, "Spain... On the Road Again." Maybe you're supposed to get a sense that you the viewer are going along for the ride?

                                                          1. re: bulavinaka

                                                            bulavinaka, it's on again tomorrow afternoon (3pm in the Boston area) so maybe you can see it then. I've made a note to watch both this show and Made in Spain, as I haven't seen that one yet either.

                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                              LindaWhit -- I'll be interested to hear what you have to say about them. I love Made in Spain, and enjoyed Spain on the Road Again. I don't know which I like more, but luckily we don't have to choose.

                                                              1. re: yumyum

                                                                Well, I just got done watching both. I broke out laughing at Mario's voiceover early on in the show saying the ladies had the appetites of long-haul truck drivers. There was part of this show that I liked (seeing the rice being made - that looked good - I wish that recipe was online. And ooh! Churros for breakfast! I could definitely do that! LOL) . Other scenes I could have done without (Bittman and Bassols singing Man of la Mancha). I was interested in seeing part of the cheesemaking process (I adore manchego!), and thought it funny that GP knew when she was getting tipsy at the dinner towards the end.

                                                                So I don't see this as a cooking show - it's a travel/culture/food show, similar to Bourdain on the Travel Channel. There was definitely more driving then I would have liked; hopefully that'll be corrected in following episodes.

                                                                As for José Andrés, I've either seen this episode before (Rioja) or I've watched the episode online - I remember the apple ball tapa (I HAVE to make these!); Andres stomping grapes, and his hitting up all of the tapas bars. I love his easygoing style and will definitely make 3-4:30 on Sunday afternoons must-see TV. :-)

                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                  Thanks for reporting back. I agree this isn't much of a cooking show, but it's enjoyable nonetheless. I like my Spanish culture fix on Sunday afternoons too.

                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                    Exactly - I saw the most recent episode yesterday, and decided it's a 'travelogue', not a cooking show, but one I enjoy nonetheless. And I've warmed up to Jose Andres.

                                                                2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                  Thanks so much for the heads-up! I will scan tomorrow's tv listings - that was so nice of you! I think you'll enjoy Made in Spain. Sometimes the host, Jose Andres, can be a bit hard to understand - he has a thick accent - but is wonderful to observe, just the same. I truly feel I've missed something when I miss one of the episodes, even if it's a repeat! I hope you enjoy both!

                                                              2. re: MMRuth

                                                                The point I think, is why. Like I had said before, her spanish is fantastic and I was awed by it, but why her, what does she bring? So far as I have seen, not much.

                                                                Mario brings a cooking professional's view point. Bittman is the Minimalist, so he definitely has a point of view with regard to any cuisine, looking at it from what he does as a writer. Bassols is a spaniars, so there are cultural bits that only she can fill in. What does Paltrow bring? In my rather cynical thinking, I could only gather that maybe they are trying to capture a bit of the usual demographics.

                                                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                  Mario and Bittman are well-known within food circles - beyond that, not so. Bassols obviously brings in the Spanish credo and is very nice to look at. I think Spain isn't on the cultural or culinary map for many, and Spain has been promoting itself as a vacation destination (particularly with other sectors of their economy tanking). Maybe the producers felt that with someone like Gwyneth on board, she would bring name recognition that would pull others to this show that otherwise might give it a pass. I am sure some of the demographic LCDs are involved, but at the same time, if she can pull it off with her Espanol skills and her other contacts with Spain's culture, why not? The women in this show (to me) are the counterbalances to the male hosts in so many ways. Who says food shows can only be hosted by Shrek-like characters with the appetites of titans? ;-)

                                                                  1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                    >>Who says food shows can only be hosted by Shrek-like characters with the appetites of titans? ;-)<<

                                                                    I do! But then again, I resemble that remark.

                                                                    1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                      "Oh - wiseguy eh?!?! Woobwoobwoobwoobwoob!!!"

                                                                      - Curly from the Three Stooges

                                                                      Hey - me as well - if I want to see guys like them, I stop shaving for a while and stand in front of the mirror with my wife's red clogs on - close enough! ;-)

                                                    2. I really want to like his show. But there seems never to be any point to any of the episodes the whole thing just seems very random.

                                                      Today it was a buch of people sitting around the breakfast table.

                                                      They drive around.

                                                      They walk and talk about how far they have walked.

                                                      Bittman and Biali trade shots at each other. The the women talk about how nice the weather is.

                                                      Platrow starts to cook before the dish is finished and the show is over.

                                                      The whole thing seems like a Sinefeld episode lots about of talk about nothing.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Withnail42

                                                        The show started here yesterday. Pluses:
                                                        1) Spain is beautiful
                                                        2) Gwyneth speaks good Spanish for an American
                                                        3) Mario and Mark are fun to watch in the markets
                                                        4) I wish I had a convertible

                                                        1) I can't see the subtitles!
                                                        2) the non-subtitled Spanish is distracting: WHAT are they saying to each other?
                                                        3) the travel part of the show isn't informed enough. Bourdain does this much better
                                                        4) I sure hope they're wearing sunscreen

                                                        1. re: brendastarlet

                                                          5) That incessant music is both too loud and annoying because it's the main reason you can't clearly hear what is being said much of the time.

                                                      2. holy sh*t, this is most BORING cooking show EVER! Most of the conversations are so inane. And, if you're going to show us how to cook something, you've got to cut to a close up a little more than 2 or 3 times in the preparation. I work in TV, I know how this goes.

                                                        8 Replies
                                                        1. re: aglionyc

                                                          ZZZZZZ.....The music is annoyingly repetitive - was this show scored by the guy who blasted music to torture Noriega into surrender? Conversations are inane schmoozing, so it hardly seems to matter that the subtitles are illegible. Were these people schnockered the whole time? Maybe they should have called it "Slosh and nosh". The only positive comment I can muster is that Bassols has nice teeth.

                                                          1. re: aglionyc

                                                            Quite clearly, it's NOT a cooking show. As I said above in response to yumyum after watching this first episode, it's more like a travel/culture & food show rolled into one.

                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                              The problem is that it's not really a culture show either. Yeah, I guess its travel since I see the scenery as they drive by. The real fault of the show is that someone though the viewers would be entranced by the "witty" chit chat amongst the foursome since that occupies about 2/3 of the show.

                                                              1. re: rjka

                                                                Fair enough. Again, it's the first episode. Hopefully editors realized that less chat but more concentration on Spain and its people, food and culture is better for viewers.

                                                                My response to aglionyc was mostly because of such a negative and condescending first post by him/her.

                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                  Unfortunately, episode two is not much of an improvement

                                                              2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                I'm glad I'm not the only one that found the music off-putting. Willie Nelson's metallic twang played too loudly and too often was just too much of a muchness. Otherwise I like the show enough to watch it regularly.

                                                              3. re: aglionyc

                                                                Exactly my sentiments when I caught the episode on Castilla la Mancha, Castilla y Leon, and Galicia. What a lame-ass show. I'd rather see more of Spain than hear their inane blabbering. Instead of having Mario cook, why not have Mario learn how to cook from various locals? We hardly see anyone who's making the food they're eating, fer chrissakes. I never cared much for Jamie Oliver, but the show he did when he apprenticed in the Mediterranean (was it Greece or Italy? I can't remember), was a very good show where some actual learning/teaching/cultural exchange... whatever you want to call it... took place. I can't say the same about this silly little program. Wake me up when there's something interesting happens. Please.

                                                                1. re: E Eto

                                                                  >>why not have Mario learn how to cook from various locals? We hardly see anyone who's making the food they're eating,<<

                                                                  Well - there were two cooking sessions - one with Chef Adolfo Munez and the other with his son Javier. Chef Adolfo showed Mario and Paltrow how to make Pisto Manchego, Perdis (partridge) 2 ways, and the arroz con verduras y uzaffron (which Mario kept saying was risotto). There was some detail there - the rice type (bomba) - made with no oil, the way the soffrito and the saffron was used. The section with the burner on the path with his son, Javier, and Bittman and Basols was something very simple - migas (bread crumbles) Manchego style - with chorizo and pancetta, with whole (unpeeled) garilc, served with a roasted red pepper and a grape.

                                                                  Not saying this was earth-shattering stuff, but to be fair, there was some food in the show.

                                                                  Having the camera on Paltrow where she says something about a beautiful waterfall - but we never see it (couldn't they stop the car and take a shot?) was stupid. And did they really need Don Quixote and Pancho walking up to them on the path? Stuff like that in general, where the focus is on these inane conversations rather than what's around them, drove me nuts. But fair is fair - they did show some cooking.

                                                              4. It feels like your wacthing someones, who think they are more interesting than they really are,(lame) vacation video. And you can't eat as they will only serve dinner and you know they are a good cook; so you suffer through the whole thing in hope of a big pay of. Wishing al the while that there were at least some snacks to nibble on.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: Withnail42

                                                                  Paltrow has a a charming manner, and a pleasant sibling-ish bon-amie with Batali. Since she's a beautiful famous actress with good Spanish, she can make little jokes at the boys' expense. And they need that.

                                                                  I just watched the end of what I guess is the first episode. I'll look for this show again. It's a travel show, not cooking. Compared to the Bittman/Batali travel/food, I really like the women in there to improve the chemistry. Bittman/Batali always feels forced, and it is just plain uninteresing to watch them eat.

                                                                  But what I'd rather see is Molto Mario, really cooking lessons. All these travelogues -- Diary of A Foodie, No Reservations, the Bittman Great Recipes in the World (or whatever it was called) are much less interesting to me as a form. o well...beats the Food Network hands down.

                                                                  1. re: pitu

                                                                    Agree with most, but the statement that, "Bittman/Batali always feels forced, and it is just plain uninteresing to watch them eat." I've always enjoyed listening to these two bicker. Ultimately, Batali teaches Bittman a thing or two, even if he doesn't always appreciate what he's learned. He appreciates and respects Batali - just thinks that his own shortcuts cut through the traditional and trained-chef bs - but in fact, he most often ends up showing us why the traditional and trained-chef steps are necessary to create the best food. He's like a foil to both Batali's great knowledge and pomposity.

                                                                    Here, they have two more foils - with even more divergent worldviews. I'm going to watch for the fun of it - if I learn something, then wonderful.

                                                                2. I would agree with comments that the chit chat is inane. But I shall continue watching for all the wonderful shots of Spain! Such a beautiful country. The light, the beautiful buildings, the rolling hillsides. I have a great urge to walk the Camino de Santiago now. I have got to get back. And every shot of jamon... whoop! Makes me so hungry.

                                                                  1. Spain has a very rich culinary heritage. I want to like the show but it's lame and contrived. I'll watch it again before I give up. I'm probably too tough on it. Probably I just find it boring like it's been done before and better

                                                                    Contrived as in --- The conversations, interaction and jokes are contrived.

                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                    1. re: gafferx

                                                                      I really want to like this show and have seen the first two episodes. That being said, I find it to be very self-indulgent. Do we really need to listen to the inane conversations as they drive around? Or the silly singing? I found myself fast forwarding anytime they were in the car, which in the second episode seemed like much of the time. They all have very interesting things to say, the scenery is beautiful, but it seems as though they are not showing us those parts.
                                                                      No way can you compare this to Anthony Bourdain's show. Yes, there are some silly segments in his show, but always interesting information. Even the food here is a tease. Show us more!! Jose Andreas show travels through Spain and he is always finding someone to show him how to cook something or make something or just eat something.
                                                                      I'll keep trying, but don't think I'd watch without the ability to fast forward through the drivel.

                                                                      1. re: sibeats

                                                                        How have you seen the 2nd episode if it's not supposed to air until Oct. 1st? Is the full episode online somewhere?

                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                          It was aired in NYC over the weekend.

                                                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                                                            Didn't realize that different markets had different air dates. Thx. I'll still watch it next Sunday afternoon to see how much of the chit-chat I can deal with.

                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                              well, I was busy with the Pats/49'ers game, so I didn't see either show. Obviously not as high on my radar screen as I thought it might be. Does anyone know if this is showing on hulu.com?

                                                                        2. re: sibeats

                                                                          Fast forwarding anytime they are in the car?
                                                                          Says it all.
                                                                          This foursome thinks they are more interesting than they really are. At least in this show. But many will find the show charming and I don't begrudge them

                                                                          1. re: gafferx

                                                                            Exactly right gafferx, they do think they are much more interesting than they are. Hopefully they'll soon realize that the inane chatter is not what people want to watch and have more food and cooking segments. Like I said, I really want to like this show but if I didn't have TIVO I sure wouldn't be watching it...

                                                                      2. I tried to watch this last night, but I couldn't get past the first five minutes. I truly thought that it was unwatchable, and so cutesy cutesy, aren't we all so cute and having so much fun! Oh, don't you just love watching us travel around and have inane conversations. Yuck! I love Mario Batali, I can stand Mark Bittman, but this whole format left so much to be desired, I don't know where to begin.

                                                                        1. i finally saw a portion of one show (no gwyneth) where they are eating pork cooked on a sizzling plate outside. and drinking. bittman was paranoid about it cooking enough, but they give the gal grief about eating all meat well done.

                                                                          i felt the whole thing was very forced, or that they were trying too hard. it made me uncomfortable to watch, somehow; i didn't enjoy it at all. i may try again, but i was not favorably impressed. and i love mario, usually.

                                                                          oh, the singing on the way to the vineyard? were they already drunk? help!

                                                                          also, enough with the road trip aspect. i've seen enough blowing hair, and flashing backgrounds....

                                                                          love jose andres' show -- soooo superior!

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                                              Jose was the Spanish-to-English translator on Bittman's episode on 'cutting edge' Spanish cooking (Best Recipes of the World, PBS Create). This is the one that focuses on the work of the Adria brothers at El Bulli. Jose apprenticed there many years ago.

                                                                            2. Really, really wanted to like this show, but am disappointed for the same reasons so many have described. (Jeez, it's like they actually tried to lame it down...)

                                                                              But in my house we are not content to simply stop watching. We do what we do best with a show like this: heckle. And this offering is very hecklable. (Um...Don Quixote?)

                                                                              A silver lining to get you through all the long drives and self-importance!


                                                                              1. I have to preface it by saying I only caught a few minutes. So I can't really judge the entire show on the couple of snipets I've seen. But it really didn't seem like something I would be into. I found Paltrow and Batali a bit self-absorbed in this show. And Paltrow sounded quite self-righteous with the whole factory farming bit. The thing is I pretty much agree with what she's saying. But it's the way she said it that turned me off. Not everybody has the resources that she has to do it.

                                                                                1. I'm a big fan of Spain, but I found this thing unwatchable. It way too noisy... the incessant, overly-loud music and the nonstop chatter left me with a very uncomfortable feeling, almost as if I was being rushed. They talk over each other constantly and never seem to finish a thought. White space is just as important as what fills in the blanks. It seems to have been edited with a music video aesthetic.

                                                                                  ...and the video quality is horrendous. I think that a handycam produces better images than that.

                                                                                  It's a pity, considering the potential that Spanish food and culture has for making a great show.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Beto_pan

                                                                                    That was another word that came to mind and thank you for reminding me: unwatchable.

                                                                                    1. re: Beto_pan

                                                                                      yes, exactly, a music video aesthetic: loud, jarring, wobbly shots, quick cuts, blurs, closeups of stupid stuff for no reason.....

                                                                                      yep, you also hit the nail on the head about getting a "rushed" feeling -- maybe that, too, is why i just felt uncomfortable in watching them interact.

                                                                                      bittman in particular just seemed to want to show off, by talking a lot just to hear himself talk, and not saying anything of consequence.

                                                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                                                        You mean you don't think it's charming how he incessantly asks Bassols how to say things in Spanish???! He's got to have more to bring to the table than that!

                                                                                    2. First episode is free of charge for download on Apple iTunes too!

                                                                                      1. Painful to say the least. Give me Jose Andres any day.

                                                                                        1. 2nd Episode (ending in Galicia) thoughts - much of the same, but I'm getting used to it. I guess I had lower expectation going into this one as far as the food content went. But my son had an interesting comment - he said that Paltrow and Basols were necessary so that Mario had someone to explain things to - after all, he's not going to talk to the camera on a show like this. The barbeque (call it what you will) in the vineyard was the best of the show - it looked like fun, and it most certainly looked like delicious food. They could have cut the walking the pilgrimage stuff in about half and extended that final cooking session with more detail. I'm not getting the most enjoyable vibes from the Bittman-Basols, English-Spanish banter. You keep getting the feeling that after the camera is turned off they're gonna turn around and either just walk away from each other, or tell each other to fuck off.

                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: applehome

                                                                                            i think you may be right, applehome. in some other series, i thought batali and bittman seemed to get along ok. but here, there does seem to be some underlying antagonism. maybe it is inherent competitiveness lurking just below the surface. bittman seemed sullen and petulant in that episode with the sizzle-plate and pork (don't recall locale...)

                                                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                                                              I think that's Bittman's schtick. He's a whiner, always hungry, and not interested in picking up much Spanish. When he's happy (usually when he's eating) he's much more pleasant, but who isn't?

                                                                                              I liked the Galicia episode -- agree that cooking in the vineyard was the best part of the show. I would have LOVED to be there.

                                                                                              I don't find GP nearly as annoying now that I know what to expect -- she's going to be a little bit lecture-y about eating blackberries instead of cows, but that just means more cows for people like me. :-)

                                                                                              1. re: yumyum

                                                                                                i think bittman had drunk a bit of wine!

                                                                                                1. re: yumyum

                                                                                                  I am just now watching Bittman's Valencia episode of Best Recipes of the World. During the demonstration of paella, Bittman is doing a running translation of what the Spanish cook is say. I think he understands a lot more Spanish than his banter with Claudia suggests. He may not be as fluent as the other 3 in this show, but he's not an uninterested American tourist.

                                                                                            2. Clearly they did not pass this show through a focus group prior to airing. I'm trying hard to understand, exactly, what this show is about. Is it's focus on Spain, is it on the regional cooking, or is its sole design to allow four people ramble across the country on PBS' tab? My point is that this could be such a better show but it's been lazily put toghether and doesn't zero in on anything interesting for the view to immerse themselves in. It's a disappointment.

                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: cannedmilkandfruitypebbles

                                                                                                I totally agree with all you've said fruity pebbles.
                                                                                                There was an article in TV guide today about the show, basically an interview with Batali. He claimed that it was truly a road trip in that they would just get in the car and drive and not really know where they were going. I find that really hard to believe. I wonder if they taped all 13 episodes prior to airing. I have to assume they have, which means it won't improve as time goes on. Too bad...could have been a great show.

                                                                                                1. re: sibeats

                                                                                                  mmm, tragic. being a fan of travel shows in general (bourdain, Three Sheets, Zimmern, bitman and even Rick Steves and Rudy Maxa) I'm almost angry about how poorly they executed this program. Batali is a colorful character that knows his shnizzle about food, as does bitman, but the show just drags on, and on, and on.

                                                                                                  1. re: sibeats

                                                                                                    Claudia has charm to spare and comes across very well. The other three are just too schticky.

                                                                                                    1. re: ferret

                                                                                                      She is reason enough to watch the show...with the sound turned down! What a beautiful woman. Her voice is lovely too, so you can turn the sound back up now!

                                                                                                      Paltrow (whom I'm not even a huge fan of) has won me over with her knowledge of Spanish, and I do like the banter between her and Mario.

                                                                                                      Bittman is fine...I don't think he is snobby or crabby as has been suggested above, it's just his wry sense of humor. Although if I were him I'd smile a lot more often if I got to ride around Spain in a convertible with Claudia!

                                                                                                      Would I like to see Mario cook more often? Sure.! But if this show is taken into context as a travel show rather than a cooking show, I think it is definitely worth watching

                                                                                                2. I finally saw the first hour (not sure if this is one episode or two) last night. Even after reading people's comments, I was very surprised by my low, overall impression. I am left with the reaction that I would have loved to be part of their experience as it was happening, but watching the finished production was a disappointing experience. Very much the "you should have been there" kind of feeling.

                                                                                                  I have so much respect for Mario's culinary skills and knowledge that I am willing to hang in there and continue to watch, hoping with subsequent episodes that it improves. The most successful parts for me were the time in the vineyard, though I thought it was odd that the owners or workers of the vineyard were nowhere to be seen, and the final capon cooking segment. I thought the pilgrim trail portion had potential but the end result seemed more like filler than a substantial contribution to the episode.

                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: souvenir

                                                                                                    It brought nothing new to the game. Mario did better on his semi-solo road trip in Italy with the goofball sidekick. Bittman should stick to writing -- his schtick gets old very quickly. Paltrow is okay but brings nothing other than her celebrity. Claudia, as I mentioned earlier, is delightful, when she isn't being overshadowed by Bittman. All in all, nothing we haven't seen being done better, either by Jose Andres or Bourdain or Goumet's Diary of a Foodie.

                                                                                                    1. re: ferret

                                                                                                      Seems that part of the problem is that people keep comparing it to other travel and/or cooking programs, expecting it to do the same, only better. I don't think they are trying to improve on Jose, Tony, Andrew, Rick (Steves), Rudy (Maxa), or even Samantha. It had more the feel of a celebrity 'feasting on asphalt' program. The participants aren't just narrators or guides. Despite the fact that Mario is a well known cook, it is not a cooking show.

                                                                                                      So far I've only seen the 1st episode, with Toledo and Mancha. In terms of cooking I got some ideas from the vegetable rice preparation, and the migas segment. In terms of scenery, I liked seeing the roads around Toledo and the windmills. Often things like this are shot from an angle that hides any modern features.

                                                                                                      The visit from Don Quixote and Sancho was a bit hokey, though I suspect the characters are a regular part of the local tourist industry (like getting your picture taken on a camel at the pyramids). I thought Sancho's style of chowing down on the migas was a nice reminder of the rustic roots of that dish.

                                                                                                  2. Still enjoying the show ... all the haters can keep their "it's not a good cooking show, there's too much talking, why are they in the car" etc.... I just find it pleasurable to tune into on a Sunday afternoon, and my Spanish is getting better due to Ms. Paltrow. The lobster and clams grilled a la plancha in the vineyard? Yes please. Bueno!

                                                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: yumyum

                                                                                                      This was the best so far. The clams and scallops were wonderful to learn about - if I ever make it to Galicia, I'm heading to Cambados. The grilled lobster and razor clams looked good too, but the secret to the octopus (45 minutes... but you turn it off!) was great. I think people who skipped this show missed some great food info.

                                                                                                      1. re: applehome

                                                                                                        I just got to see the 3rd episode, the one focusing on Galicia and seafood. I also happen to have a library book that has most of the featured dishes, 'Spanish Home Cooking', Miriam Kelen.
                                                                                                        Pulpo a la Gallega - complete with the triple dipping before the 45min simmer
                                                                                                        Empanada Gallega
                                                                                                        Queimada - the coffee brewed in hard liquor
                                                                                                        Curiously all 3 of these are in the Catalunya section of the book.

                                                                                                      2. re: yumyum

                                                                                                        I did enjoy the Galicia show - but probably my biggest peeve is the constant background music, whether it's Willy Nelson or a Spanish guitar. If they toned down the volume of the music, perhaps it would be better, but it just seems a bit loud, even when they're speaking.

                                                                                                        1. re: yumyum

                                                                                                          yumyum, do you really mean to say "haters"? imo, that term is almost always an exaggeration -- by a long way. but i see it so often overused/abused in all discourse. just sayin'.

                                                                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                            Yeah. Read the thread. Lots and lots of haters -- of Gwyneth ("does she even eat??) to the Bittman schtick, to the excessive use of car shots, to the overly loud music in the background and on and on. It's like the show personally insulted someone's own vision of Spain and ruined the whole thing.

                                                                                                            Oh, and "haters" is slang. I don't mean these guys literally hate the show, but they sure do diss it enough.

                                                                                                            1. re: yumyum

                                                                                                              I've now watched all the episodes so far and am still enjoying it - and, yes, Paltrow does eat, and Batali keeps referring to how much she eats. She also seems to enjoy red wine!

                                                                                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                Glad you like it too MMRuth. You no hater.

                                                                                                              2. re: yumyum

                                                                                                                I hate it - thoroughly, and proudly so! I dozed off watching something else, and awoke already in a fit of pique because my unconscious brain realized what show was on. Felt much better once I pounded the remote.

                                                                                                                1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                  You know what grey? I totally admire your owning your hatred of the show. To me, this show is like cilantro ... you either really dig it or really can't stand it. (Oh, and some claim that they are allergic to it, but I don't buy it....)

                                                                                                                  A married couple I know who are a little late to this party got into a HEATED argument about it over the weekend that almost ended in a real fight. The guy loved it, but admitted part of that is the eye-candy. Wife thinks it's a waste of time.

                                                                                                                  C'est la vie, non?

                                                                                                            2. re: yumyum

                                                                                                              Thank you... I was beginning to think I'm the only person who looks forward to this.... Ahh to no longer be alone in the world...

                                                                                                            3. 4th episode - Bilboa, the Guggenheim, of course, with a session with Gehry. Since I love any and all architecture by Gehry, I really enjoyed this - both the museum and the Marques de Riscal, down the road.

                                                                                                              And the food wasn't too shabby. They visit the same wood-fire grill guy that Bourdain and Andres showed - I guess the grilled caviar is mandatory, but they enjoyed the shrimp and the sea cucumber even more. The Bittman-Batali tapas bar hopping was great.

                                                                                                              If you go to their site (www.spainontheroad.com) there's a video of a short conversation between Bittman and Gehry on Matzoh-Brei, which is, as we old-timers know, the definitive dish of Chowhound! Here's the link to the You-tube video post:


                                                                                                              Also - thought I'd mention that the Google maps satellite view of Bilboa is unusually clear. The museum shows up in pretty good detail, although a top view doesn't show that much.

                                                                                                              I'm obviously really getting into the show - it's hit its stride. All the little asides (Paltrow in the wine hot tub) are just that - petty asides. The meat is where the meat is!

                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                I have to give it some cred here. I did like this episode. It seemed well thought out and it was, mostly, packed with interesting television.

                                                                                                                1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                  Re-Bilbao, the two guys go and do tapas but the show's website gives no information except that they visited four bars, all on one plaza. Anyone catch the names of the establishments, or recognize them from visiting the city? The website focuses only on the more celebrated, formal eateries they visit, unfortunately; it's a bit irritating considering how Batali and Bittman rave about the tapas they put away during their 'gym work out'. Thanks!

                                                                                                                2. I've traveled in Spain and was really looking forward to this show. Such a disappointment.

                                                                                                                  Too much car, too much music, not enough about the culture and food. Let's face it, Jose Adres has set the bar for Spanish food shows too high for others to follow. Batali et.al. tried to do something different, but it just doesn't work for me.

                                                                                                                  Deleted if off my DVR.

                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: bkhuna

                                                                                                                    The format that depends on conversation among two to four equally informed participants is not conducive to giving a lot of cultural information. One of them may start explaining something, but others chime in or one of them injects some personal observations (e.g. berries along the pilgrimage trail remind Mario of berry picking in the Pacific NW).

                                                                                                                    Jose is usually talking directly to the audience. Mario in his Italian series had a dumb sidekick who played the part of the audience. Those are better formats for instruction in cultural matters.

                                                                                                                    The second episode (just aired in my area) was not as interesting as the first. I muted the sound several times when the banter and singing got too much. The main culinary tip that I picked up was some more interest Tempranillo based wines.

                                                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                      The main culinary tip that I picked up was some more interest Tempranillo based wines.
                                                                                                                      Same here. Otherwise, as much as I wanted to enjoy this show, I find it rather boring.

                                                                                                                  2. We enjoyed the episode we saw...grilling in the vineyard. We didn't like the music in the background. Thankfully we can pause and repeat so as to get the conversation!

                                                                                                                    It was pleasant and I enjoy watching people who love food and wine..and Spain. I'll watch again. It's not a cooking show at all...it's a talking, eating, drinking, countryside show.

                                                                                                                    1. Don't like the show AT ALL!!!! I turn it off when it comes on. Don't want a Travelogue!!
                                                                                                                      They don't give very much of anything about food, recipes, and techniques.

                                                                                                                      1. My beef (or my carne, whatever) is that the show is, unlike every other public television show ever created, not informative or educational enough. Maybe that allows them to sound less canned, but in this case I could do with a little more...canning.

                                                                                                                        And I'm sure we're all very proud of Gwyneth that she went to Spain on foreign exchange in high school from Spence prep and it's touching that she still visits her host family all the time (as documented a few years ago in InStyle magazine during a highly orchestrated comeback that involved spilling the beans on breaking up with Brad), but that does not an expert make. Nor does it make her a good tour guide of the country. I personally think her Spanish sucks from a pronunciation standpoint.

                                                                                                                        I expected a little more from Bittman, though I'm not sure why. He's a writer, and writers aren't known for their screen presence. As for those who think this is a travelogue in the vein of No Reservations -- I wish it were.

                                                                                                                        That is the problem with this show: there is no Anthony Bourdain.

                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: iwantmytwodollars

                                                                                                                          Have you seen Bittman on his 'Best Recipes of the World' show? PBS Create is playing it now. It has a number of Spanish segments.

                                                                                                                          1. re: iwantmytwodollars

                                                                                                                            My sense of Bittman is he's letting Batali play alpha dog, and he's literally and figuratively along for the ride as he sits in the back seat while Mario drives.

                                                                                                                            Batali obviously knows food and is hugely successful...but while watching the show I realized he reminds me of Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons, both his looks and his discerning mannerisms.

                                                                                                                          2. For those who are interested, I saw the companion book to this series at Costco yesterday for $21.99.

                                                                                                                            1. okay..just watched the episode where G and M go to the Bilboa museum and talk with Ghery. Sorry if I spelled anything wrong. 5 minutes of that would have been enough.

                                                                                                                              I looked at this show with a fresh eye. I think Gwyneth and Mario get high together...a little marijuana with your wine? I enjoyed when Bittman and the actress went and ate smoked caviar, shrimp, etc. Tony visited that same guy when he did the Barcelona show. I want to suck the head of a shrimp!

                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: melly

                                                                                                                                Oh my god I think you're totally right.

                                                                                                                                I don't think it's just the shrimp that are smoked, so to speak! Maybe I would enjoy the show more if I were stoned...but I'm asthmatic, so it's tough. And frankly I do not need to be encouraged when it comes to the munchies. I have those stone cold sober.

                                                                                                                                1. OK - Paltrow is officially blond. She screams Treif at Batali trying to get her to try the ham... then turns around and devours the shrmp. A blond shiksa - how strange...

                                                                                                                                  I'm getting the feeling that all these celebri-chefs all know the same 3 or 4 places and people in Spain, and they're not really as adventurous in seeking out new places as we might think or hope. The last episode has them at Bourdain's favorite - Arzak, in San Sebastien, with his "mentor", (turns out to be Bitty's best friend, too), Juan Mari and Juan's daughter Elena. This time around, in Catalunya, it's the younger Adria's place. If these regions are really so full of wonderful places to eat, why do the same places and the same people keep getting highlighted?

                                                                                                                                  But at least this show was more food and eating and less driving and meaningless drivel.

                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                    Paltrow's father, Bruce, was Jewish, so she is official only half shiksa...

                                                                                                                                    1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                      thus the shrimp but not the ham! {;^D

                                                                                                                                  2. Just home from Costco where, in the cookbook section, I spotted a very thick companion cookbook for this series. The recipes in this book looked far more interesting than the series.

                                                                                                                                    Sidebars on the pages include silly quotes from the travelers. Only example I can recall is: what are you happy to see on your hotel pillow?

                                                                                                                                    Paltrow, room service menu and chocolate
                                                                                                                                    Batali, my head
                                                                                                                                    That is all I recall.

                                                                                                                                    Thought someone might be interested in this....

                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                    1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                      maybe mario IS partying with gwyneth if he can see his head on his hotel pillow.

                                                                                                                                    2. Obviously there is no shortage of comments on this show, but for the record, I find this show a major waste of time. And I'm a Batali fan. What was he thinking! But that seems to be the problem. No one is thinking. Pity. So when it's the only thing on, I just turn off the TV and listen to my CD of fog.

                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                        LOL caroline: CD of fog. produced by brian eno, perhaps? ;-)

                                                                                                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                          Don't laugh! I really do have one. When I was working on a script and needed some "atmosphere," I put the CD on, closed my study door, and set a pot of Japanese seaweed to boil on a butane burner. Foghorns, lapping waves, distant sounds rumbling through the fog, smell of the ocean. Very evocative! Hell of a lot better than Batali and Bittman in Spain!


                                                                                                                                      2. Here is Bittman's review of Inopia, the Barcelona restaurant that Mario and Gwyneth ate at in the 'Rockstart surprise' episode.

                                                                                                                                        Does anyone know more about that eggplant and sugar (or molasses) dish they raved about?

                                                                                                                                        1. This show on Andalusia is absolutely the worst, worst episode, and food/travel show ever.

                                                                                                                                          There's no Mario! WTF?!

                                                                                                                                          Bittman and Paltrow go on, and on, and on, and on about NOTHING!!! This was worse than Seinfeld! If I wanted a talking heads show about the history of the Alhambra, I certainly wouldn't have tuned into a travelogue starring some self-centered actors and a foodie wannabe.

                                                                                                                                          Everything we criticized this show about before is at its worst here. I cannot believe that any producer worth anything would think that this was worth putting on the air. What a shame.

                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                            It seems that the hosts cycled in and out of the tour except for Bittman, who had nothing better to do.

                                                                                                                                            Seriously though in the Asturias show, the visit of Bittman and Batali to the shepherds home is what the series could and should have been.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                              At the end of the Barcelona episode, Mario left the others, supposedly to visit family. Paltrow had left a couple of time before.

                                                                                                                                              The book is available in bookstores. You can get a quick overview of the remaining episodes there. It also includes a modest number of recipes. The recipe from Inopia is pineapple with molasses and lemon zest, a combination which is surprisingly good. A glance through the book is probably the best way to get the food highlights.

                                                                                                                                              I'm not sure if I'm going to see the remaining episodes or not. My local PBS has been playing it Thur night at 11pm, and even that was bumped last week. But my public library system has 8 copies of the book, and all are checked out. I also put a hold on the new companion book to Jose Andres's Made in Spain series.

                                                                                                                                            2. where were bittman and the spanish gal sitting for breakfast in some square, and she is eating prosciutto, and bittman is trying to steal some, then gives her some little proto-sexual compliment?

                                                                                                                                              oh. this. is. pain. ful.
                                                                                                                                              they. are. sorely. in. love. with. hearing. themselves. talk. about. NOTHING!

                                                                                                                                              aaaaaarrrrrrggggghhhhhhhhhhh! i couldn't bear anymore. i just about tossed a shoe at the telly. or lunged at bittman's self-satisfied throat. i couldn't flip fast enough....damned remote!

                                                                                                                                              1. CreateTV has scheduled a SORA marathon, for the weekend of Jan 10-11

                                                                                                                                                and for different fare, Jan 3 is a Jacques Pépin marathon.

                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                  Poor, poor Mario.
                                                                                                                                                  The three companions have limited conversational skills which necessitated the addition of the constant and distracting soundtrack to transform the show into a music video. They even imported Michael Stipe to loosen the mood and he fell in lockstep with Gwyneth's awkward formality. I mean, you're supposed to depict fun in Spain, no? Why was everyone so uptight?
                                                                                                                                                  If Gwynnie couldn't say "Oh My God" or "wow" she'd have nothing to say! Nobody described the food except Mario.
                                                                                                                                                  I'd like to think that if a PBS camera was in my face, I would think to "give" to the audience some sense of what the fish tasted like and whether or not it was salty or crunchy and what the cheese smelled like. I would talk and initiate conversation. I might even google the night before shooting and know something of the area and the history.
                                                                                                                                                  The women were oddly demure and quiet except for their constant exaggerated facial expressions of ecstasy while eating. As if, to watch them eat would be enough for the audience.
                                                                                                                                                  There was an awkwardness between the four of them that I can't quite put my finger on. Bittman was occasionally contributing, but Mario carried the mood and the entire meal.....after meal....after meal.
                                                                                                                                                  I think the addition of two camera-friendly women for no other reason than that was a mistake and tanked the dynamic. They served no purpose except as decoration; it's a shame for them and for us. Bittman seemed uncomfortable in his role of squiring around a beauty through Spain and Mario seemed a bit tight trying to get everyone to have some fun "grappa baby!"
                                                                                                                                                  Poor Mario. Good idea; bad casting.

                                                                                                                                                2. i never saw the show, but i got a kick out of the following line from an article about Gwyneth in the Sunday Styles section of today's NY Times:

                                                                                                                                                  "In September, Ms. Paltrow appeared on “Oprah” to show off her post-pregnancy workout routine, then proceeded to mystify audiences by appearing with Mario Batali, the chef, in the PBS series “Spain ... on the Road Again,” where she drank soy milk and followed her quasi-vegan diet while others pigged out on pork."

                                                                                                                                                  LOL :)

                                                                                                                                                  entire article is here...


                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                    Even more amusing is this paragraph: "Ms. Paltrow has recommended expensive hotels, restaurants and jewelry and offered tips on getting reservations at two of the Momofuku restaurants that don’t, in fact, take reservations."

                                                                                                                                                    Good one, Gwynnie.

                                                                                                                                                  2. Self absorbed cult of beauty and confused sexual tension. A running ad for unaffordable sports cars. Batali sporting some of the ugliest and worst footwear to ever be sold. This is great viewing at a vomitorium.

                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: keg

                                                                                                                                                      I just watched the Anthony Bourdain No Reservations episode in Spain where he encounters a number of the same individuals seen in the PBS series. Despite Tony's often wise-guy attitude, I got more out of his one hour show than the entire PBS series in regards to food.

                                                                                                                                                    2. Did anyone catch the following?

                                                                                                                                                      "Mario Batali repeatedly dropped the f-word at the $1,000-a-plate dinner on Feb. 19 while announcing Chef José Andrés to a crowd that included King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia of Spain, the Miami Herald reports.

                                                                                                                                                      "Batali, who emceed the dinner celebrating Spanish food and wine at the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival, used the swear word while trying to quiet the crowd, the paper said.

                                                                                                                                                      "The New York chef famous for his orange clogs and "molto" personality allegedly grabbed Andrés' buttocks following the salty introduction to the group of 400, the paper said. Among the celebrities in the audience: Emilio and Gloria Estefan and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.

                                                                                                                                                      "Queen Sofia "blanched" at the remarks, guests told the paper."


                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                                            i wondered about that on the series, too.