Given Bourdain's on-screen persona I was not at all surprised to learn that in addition to a his food-related nonfiction, including the 2000 best-seller Kitchen Confidential, he has also written a handful of hard-boiled crime novels. The most recent is The Bobby Gold Stories, a slim but eminently palatable noir novel of wiseguy dirty dealing set against a backdrop of a trendy Manhattan bistro. It's a great read, and only cemented my opinion that Bourdain is way cool.
So when Kathy mentioned that Lola Bistro (home of Cleveland's own Food Network celebrity chef, Michael Symon) would be hosting a "book dinner" to promote the release of Bourdain's new Les Halles Cookbook, attended by the man himself, I was happy to shell out the $300. The deal included two copies of the book, plenty of wine, a four-course French bistro dinner for two based on recipes from the book, and chance to rub elbows, however briefly, Bourdain.
When we arrived we were a bit surprised to learn that we would be sharing a table with two other diners — the event was a sell out and Lola was packed. But our table mates turned out to be quite pleasant, and as we meandered through the champagne and into the wine the conversation became more and more like the kind of conversation people have when they're getting their grape on.
Bourdain, in a black leather jacket and black slacks, arrived just ahead of the first course, making his way from table to table, chatting amiably and stooping to sign books. It doesn't come across on TV, but from my seated perspective Bourdain appeared to be well over nine feet tall. When he stopped at — or should I say "loomed over" — our table our companions were suddenly transformed into giggling seventh-grade school girls. One asked Bourdain to sign her book "to the light of my life." Bourdain added, "and the fire in my loins." I had a brief moment to ask if he had any plans to write any more fiction (he does), and he also mentioned that he's working on a new series for the Travel Channel. He moved on, and we got about the business of stuffing our faces, French bistro style.