The show opened with Eric Ripert nervously laughing and muttering answers to a demanding Anthony Bourdain. Eric sat center-stage, hunched over on a folding metal chair, and watched Anthony circle him like an authentic detective. The questions were harsh and Anthony was relentless and, ten minutes in, he questioned Eric on a very sensitive topic: ortolan consumption.
There is a group of people who think ortolan consumption is a sin. Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert are not part of this group. For those of you who have not heard of ortolans, I’ll fill you in. Ortolans are tiny songbirds that are captured, force fed until they can no longer move, drowned in cognac, and roasted to golden brown. The ritual ceremony around eating ortolan, now illegal in most countries, starts with the diners placing their napkins over their heads and eating the piping hot birds, bones and all in one single bite. I will let you formulate your own opinion about ortolan consumption and leave my personal views out of this. But… there seems to be something somewhat sinister about having to cover one’s head before going to town on the little sucker, shielding your guilt from your fellow diners. This was just one of the many Good vs. Evil topics that were touched on last Friday night.
After much grilling and awkward, semi disturbing topics, questions were opened to the audience. That was it, that was my one chance to ask the man himself anything I wanted. The man who I had watched travel the world on every single episode of No Reservations. But I’m lame and couldn’t perform under pressure. Stage fright got the best of me. Thankfully others were not as star-struck as I, rattling off witty questions and getting wittier answers in response. The best question of the night: What eateries do the guys plan to hit up while in SF? I leaned over to David and muttered, Swan Oyster Depot. Cha – ching. Anthony answered, “Swan Oyster Depot,” and I knew where I would be eating breakfast tomorrow. Everyone walk out of the theater at the end of the night feeling delightfully sinful.
Unfortunately, while I peacefully slept through my alarm on Saturday morning, both men were probably slurping oysters and Bloody Mary’s at Swan Oyster without me. Sigh. Next time.