I love No Reservations. I love Anthony Bourdain. I am seriously obsessed with this show. Even though it went off the air in 2012, and Bourdain now hosts a very similar show on CNN called Parts Unknown (which I like just as much, with better cinematography provided by a larger budget, no doubt) I still find myself watching a marathon of No Reservations on lazy days. I’ve watched my favorite episodes multiple times, thanks to Amazon Prime.
Admittedly, there are some not so great episodes (Egypt, Ireland and many of the US episodes) but when he gets it right, it’s so, so right.
Check out a few of my favorites in no particular order:
Spain (Andalusia) – Bourdain’s love of this beautiful country comes through on each frame. Between the amazing tapas in San Sebastian to the scientific artisan chocolate eggs, there’s so much passion. It might not be the best episode, because those are the ones where something comical happens, creating entertaining television, but the enthusiasm that he shows is when he is in his element, making a great episode. Not to mention Barcelona and Spain are one of my favorite places in the world, so I might be a little biased.
Brittany – the belon oyster sequence was perfection. The way he slurped down those rare, delicious things made me red with envy. The cinematography in the opening shots is beautiful and the whole striped shirt buying sequence is hilarious, not to mention Tony’s incessant shell fish tower talk. Great episode.
Croatia – I would have never assumed this would end up being one of my favorite and most watched episodes when I first clicked play and Bourdain seemed to echo the same sentiments on how much he ended up liking the country after not thinking much of it before going. The wine, the high grade, blue fin tuna, the truffles and did I mention wine? It’s also full of awesomely whitty and sarcastic one-liners.
Vietnam – there’s no two ways about it – Anthony Bourdain loves Vietnam. His return to the country in the sixth season is filled with noodles, soup and banh mi is appetizing, but more than that his love of the culture and society comes through. The tribute to his friend Mom Gao is touching and a rare glimpse into a non-brash Tony.
Paris – For his 100th episode Tony went back to Paris to discover the changing dynamic and he brought along Michelin Star chef, Eric Ripert, who is the perfect partner in food. It’s Paris – need I say more?
Emilia Romagna – admittedly, I knew nothing about the “breadbasket of Italy.” The food in this episode made me unbelievably envious. I also loved chef Michael White’s story and the relationship he shared with the country and food. Oh, and I need to get my hands on that egg, ricotta and spinach ravioli with morel mushrooms one day!
Mozambique – I have an obsession with Africa. I want to explore every possible corner of the continent and this particular episode was beautiful. Post-colonial Mozambique is mysterious and haunting. The old hotel scene is heartbreaking.
Provence – one of the most romantically ideal places on earth. The cinematography is beautiful, capturing the postcard-esque locales. Tony promising to cook a meal at the end of the episode makes for hilarious television, mixed in with the beauty of the village. It’s a life that every city person dreams of.
El Bulli – absolutely beautiful. No one will ever experience El Bulli again, but Tony got to be there one last time. This episode is a little different from the rest, but the passion of Ferran Adria and what he created is magical. The respect that Tony has for him is very evident as well, coupled with Jose Andres in near tears when talking about Adria gives you a glimpse into how important the institution was.The beauty of this episode stayed with me long after it was over. I can watch and re-watch this episode and be inspired every time.