I started eating at places Bourdain went to years ago, knowingly wanting to see what his palate was like, or if his local friends were short-changing him. On some occasions the food met with muted grief, on others divine raptures of falling angelic gang-bang euphoria shaking the very foundations of my soul.
I remember distinctly watching an episode of No Reservations when he sits at a table at Naughty Nuri's and has that first deep sip of their signature Martini. That quenching, debasing gulp that sets straight all the torpor of yesterdays excesses, and smooths out a foundation for tonights mistakes. He drank 3. Ate ribs, chatted with locals as was always the case, and became more and more bollocked as the show clicked on.
Despite a thirst for unknown delights, and a rather sturdy disposition in regards to consumption, I was not going to attempt to replicate his achievements because unlike him, I had to ride a scooter home and didn't have the luxury of a driver. Therefore a maximum of 2 would be my limit.
Almost fooled by the Nuri's Mexican place a few hundred meters down the road, I thankfully kept walking and headed to the OG. Sat outside, face kissed with the smoke escaping pig carcasses lying in deathly silence atop glowing coals transforming pale, insiduous flesh into caramelised glory fit for triumphant orifices. Stacked full, the plates danced their way to my table, I sipped deep of the martini, licked my lips in anticipation and dug in. As I had been told multiple times "Order a side of sambal" and so I did, and the acidity and kick rounded off the edges of an otherwise sweet rib rack.
The evening traffic wove it's snaking way past me up into the hills that now collapsed where light was swallowed, the hiss of a fresh rack being introduced to the fires of hell, the distant chatter of tables in hushed praise, the endless click of a photo-bloggers camera. As the flavours became a short-lived joy, and bills were paid in earnest, guests bode farewell to, and lonely path taken downhill to where the scooter lay in it's original formations, life kicked into it's sleeping engine by an expertly placed key, and helmet secured, the perfumed nights of Bali were entered in mirroring hallucinations of dark enterprise. Roads curled beneath trees, over bridges, past temples astray in gamelan hauntings, and my hands kept stable, avoiding pot holes and wayward novices, past the snap of angry street dogs, up the ramp and through the dangerously tight alleyway, turning right at the pool, parking under the safety of rooftops, keys secured, room opened, balcony sat on, beer opened, and life just stilled into a beautiful seance for a dead man's memory. RIP Anthony. You did life right.
All these recommendations are just personal opinions based on my palate, things change, chefs get fired or replaced, places open-close, relocate, so take it all with a pinch of MSG and discover your own gems too. But please do try a few of these, they have been researched exhaustively.
"Sadness is tempered by umami, grief by the motion of slurping, hope restored by the ladling of glistening, fatty broth"