Rice with Things
This episode boasts fast boats, slow food and a recipe for leftovers from one of America's top chefs. Bittman begins his exploration into all things rice at the epicenter of paella: in the fields, markets and restaurants of Valencia, Spain. There, he dines at La Pepica, a restaurant famous for seafood paellas; browses in El Mercado Central, Valencia's art nouveau market; visits La Albufera, Spain's rice-growing region, and even previews the 2007 America's Cup race. Back in the U.S., chef Mario Batali gives Bittman a lesson in making risotto with asparagus, then chef Gary Danko supplies a decidedly California version of the starch.
Pure Porcine Pleasures
This episode celebrates Bittman's love of the pig and pork as he tours Smithfield, one of London's recently restored meat market; samples "snout-to-tail dining" with Fergus Henderson, chef and owner of St. Johns Restaurant in London; and visits a farmer, a butcher and a chef in the Devonshire countryside (where he gets up close and personal with the local swine). Then, Bittman stops at a restaurant in Tuscany where cooking is a family affair, and savors chef David Chang's breaded pork chop at Momofuku in New York City, a restaurant where virtually every dish contains pork. Other recipes include: bacon pork chop with chutney and pork in red wine with apples in white wine.
How Sweet It Is
Bittman's sweet tooth leads him to Tartine, a San Francisco bakery specializing in scones, then to the tiny town of Totnes in southwest England, where he eats scones with clotted cream and learns about Agatha Christie. In nearby Dartmouth, Bittman samples a British staple - sticky toffee pudding - then feasts on a sweet cherry soup with red wine, mango and creme fraiche in California.
Wide World of Wine
As Bittman treks the world, he notes the commonality of wine country: it requires the right land, climate and people, and always attracts great food. In the vineyards of Tuscany's Brunello wine country, Bittman receives a one-on-one lesson on wine appreciation from chef Mario Batali. In the Penedes region of Spain, Bittman feasts on local Catalan dishes and wine that have become increasingly popular in the United States. Finally, he journeys closer to home, in Sonoma and Napa Valleys, to re-discover classic California cooking, including Gary Danko's lobster with a white wine butter sauce.
The Old Man and the Sea
Bittman and John Burton Race, one of England's top chefs, go fishing (with limited results) in the cold and rough waters off of Dartmouth, a seaside town in Devon, England. Afterwards, Burton Race prepares an elaborate sea bass with seaweed-wrapped scallops topped with two sauces. Bittman - "The Minimalist" - also proves less can be more when cooking fish: he poaches mackerel with soy sauce, garlic and ginger. In Spain, Bittman visits one of the country's most celebrated restaurants to dine on soquet, a classic Catalan fish stew and marvels at the amazing variety of fish and shellfish at Barcelona's La Boqueria.
On The Hoof
Bittman has the answer for anyone still wondering, "Where's the beef"? He visits Bill Niman's ranch in Bolinas, Calif., which raises American beef in a sustainable and humane manner. Then, Bittman and guest Mario Batali get up-close and personal with white Chiannini cattle in the Maremma region of Tuscany - Italy's cowboy country. Later, in the hot Tuscan sun, the pair duels to see who can produce the best steak Florentine. Finally, in London, Bittman discovers the ultimate meat-eaters dish - marrow bones.
Fast Food, Good Food
In this episode, Bittman sets out to prove that fast food can be high-quality, healthy, good food. Bittman and chef Mario Batali breakfast in Rome on pizza bianca fresh from the oven. Later, Bittman enjoys a wide and wild variety of taste combinations from Quimet & Quimet, a fourth-generation tapas bar in Barcelona; devours a Portuguese-style steak sandwich at the Eagle, London's first "gastro pub;" discovers a four-hour recipe for fast-food burritos in Denver, and produces quick fruit desserts in Batali's newest restaurant in New York City, Del Posto.
Bittman travels through the most famous open-air markets in Europe and California to showcase the region's best vegetables. Barcelona's La Boqueria, features an amazing array of vegetables, including eight different tomato varieties. At Campo di Fiori in Rome, chef Mario Batali shows Bittman an even wider variety of tomatoes. Back in California, Bittman visits America's first farmers' market in Sonoma, while chef Gary Danko prepares grilled mixed vegetables with gazpacho dressing. Other recipes include: Bittman's goat cheese-stuffed figs wrapped in grape leaves and grilled on the barbecue.
The Cutting Edge
In this episode, Bittman visits the world's most famous restaurant, El Buli in Las Rosas, Spain, where the waiting list runs 50 years. Chef Ferran Adria of El Buli blends science, philosophy, wizardry and cooking to create his distinctive "liquid" olives, olive oil "spring" and Parmesan "air." Bittman also tours the Culture and Science Center in Valencia, Spain, which features Santiago Calatrava's cutting-edge architecture, and the blue water and rough coastline of Spain's Costa Brava. Other recipes include: yogurt shells with Jack Daniels ice cream, powdered honey and crystallized mint.
Pure Porcine Pleasures II
The sequel to "Pure Porcine Pleasures" finds Bittman back in the Tuscan countryside, where he tours a pig farm with chef Mario Batali. Then, from a butcher shop in Montalcino, the pair samples the Italy's best salamis and hams, including a foodie favorite called Jabugo. Later, at an unimposing shop on the Ramblas in Barcelona, they indulge in the "best sandwich in the world." Back in Boulder, Colorado, Bittman sups on Restaurant Frasca's crispy pork belly served in a proscuitto broth with greens.
The Shellfish Game
From the flat-top griddle of a Basque restaurant, Bittman pits the Mediterranean's amazing array of seafood against America's. Then, after a motor boat tour of California's Tamales Bay and Hog Island oyster farms, Bittman enjoys "sweet" local oysters barbecued with garlic and chipotle butter, grilled oysters with fresh horseradish and lemon and chef Gary Danko's poached oysters in champagne sauce. In Dartmouth, England, Bittman visits a lobster and crab pound, and stops by John Burton Race's restaurant, the New Angel, for crab-stuffed tortellini in crab, ginger and coriander.
Never Basta Pasta
From a country farm house in Tuscany, Bittman and chef Mario Batali receive a pasta lesson from Olga Petri, who has been making pinci, a type of pasta found only in Tuscany, for more than 60 years. Then, from Batali's Del Posto restaurant in New York City, he and Bittman prepare three pasta dishes in 15 minutes. At Fresca in Boulder, Colorado - often described as the best restaurant between Chicago and Los Angeles - Bittman enjoys potato gnocchi with fresh horseradish, beets and cheese.
Sunday Dinner In Europe
Nobody does Sunday dinner better than the Europeans. In Mont Clar, a small village in the foothills of Spain's Pyrenees Mountains, chefs Jose Andres and Kim Marquess treat Bittman to a typical Catalan-style Sunday afternoon cookout, which includes aioli, pan con tomate and grilled sausages. Then, from the Pope's vineyards and summer residence outside of Rome, Bittman and chef Mario Batali spend a Sunday afternoon preparing ravioli and dining with Rome's matriarch of home cooking, Paula di Mauro.