Saturday, March 13, 2010

No Reservations - China - will I be hungry for more?

When I first heard that Tony was going to be visiting China on this week's No Reservations, my mind filled with clichés like.

After watching, will I be hungry for more in an hour?

I profusely apologize for my insensitivity - but the Fu Dogs that used to flank the entryway of my aunt's house made me do it!

The truth is that I'm very excited about Tony's visit to Harbin in northeastern China (he's visiting the "Dongbei" area). I can't figure why he'd bother filming in the dead of winter, but's not ME that's suffering out in the cold.

Tony's answer to warming up? Having a few drinks of course. Meeting up with Alan Wang to discuss the region, before heading out to freeze in the ice-cold streets to eat with the locals. Of course for Tony, it's going to be all about his favorite food...YES PORK. There'll be pork belly, pork meatballs and I'm going to have to double up on my Lipitor just watching this segment. It's so good in fact, Tony has a hard time leaving this pork paradise called Zhang Fei.

Next, Tony and Alan meet up with a VERY interesting character - Jia and  head to USA Bucks Bar. This guy looks like a riot - singing and dancing to songs from the 1970's (wardrobe change included). His motto? Live like a kid. I keep hoping that he'll get Tony drunk enough to join him.

The next morning Tony gets up early and hops on a train for a trip to Yabuli ( a work in progress winter sports resort outside Harbin in the Changbai Mountain Range). Winter - Ski resort - Tony and Patrick Cao (executive partner of the resort) and some skiis? Well, it turns out Patrick can ski…and so can Tony. However, I understand that Mr. Bourdain tries to luge. I'm thinking that MOST people (even skiers and snowboarders) never luge and there's a good reason for it - LACK OF BRAKES. This is going to be pretty funny.

Back to the city to meet up with Dmitry (one of Alan’s Russian friends from nearby Vladivostok). 25 degrees out and this guy isn't wearing any gloves or a hat? Yes, this can only mean ONE thing.- MASSIVE amounts of VODKA (along with a meal of Russian fare at Around the World Russian restaurant). This might be one of those Ferris Bueller type of segments, when you get drunk by doing a shot every time they make a toast. Finally, a good DRUNK scene with a morning to follow.

That alarm had to hurt, because Tony wakes up early to meet Jia and Alan for some ice fishing. The same guy who was singing karaoke is now taking Tony out to sit on the ice in the FREEZING weather. Tony says - "Two of my favorite things in one place actually. Freezing to death and karaoke". OK, so maybe this will be one of those times when you actually feel bad for Tony - his job isn't ALWAYS as easy as it looks.

Finally, the crew wraps up his visit to Harbin, by eating a big banquet meal at Lao Liu Sha Zhu Cai. All of the sidekicks from the trip gather at this local restaurant to try out what is known as “Sha Zhu Cai”- which literally means “kill pig cuisine”. It is a reference to the Lunar New Year tradition of slaughtering a pig for the big holiday feast, and Sha Zhu Cai is the collective name for all the dishes that can be part of that feast, pig and otherwise. (But, lots of pig)....and so we end on the same note that we started - PIG, PORK, and cholesterol.

As always, I'll be glued to the TV set on Monday, March 15th, at 10 E/P.Make sure that you set your clocks forward tonight so you don't miss it!
If you're interested in learning more about the area - check out Anthony Bourdains' Guide to Harbin, China


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