channel hop

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 December, 2007, 12:00am

Like the sizzle of Alka-Seltzer tablets dropped in a glass of water, the sound of Anthony Bourdain's (right) dry humour heralds relief for those who have overindulged in holiday cooking specials. Don't get me wrong, Nigella's sultry styling and Jamie's inexhaustible pep are indispensable to merrymaking but, during the Christmas season, when everyone is doling out gift ideas and bird-stuffing techniques, Bourdain's globe-trotting reminds us there is more to life than turkey.

The third season of No Reservations (Discovery Travel and Living; Sundays at 10pm) begins tonight. Last season's exciting finale, which took place in Beirut, grabbed an Emmy nomination for TV's bad-boy chef-cum-travel-show host.

This season takes Bourdain to Argentina, Tahiti, Germany and, after a quick trip home to New York with fellow organ-meat lover and food-celeb Andrew Zimmern (Bizarre Foods, Discovery Travel and Living), Hong Kong (episode 5; airing January 13).

With Bourdain in town, Hong Kong can finally stop tooting its own horn - the American chef's enthusiasm for the city's delights is as loud as the brass section of an orchestra. In keeping with previous seasons, No Reservations 3 is as much about the people as the place, and matching Bourdain stride for stride in Hong Kong are some of our own food luminaries. Bourdain likens his experience here to being in a giant pinball machine.

To get the ball rolling, Bourdain meets up with Josh Tse, a food blogger of epic proportions, who is as comfortable squatting down to delicious back-alley grub as he is at three-star Michelin restaurants in Paris. Thanks to Tse, Bourdain meets one of the last masters of handmade bamboo noodles, tries 'guts on a stick' at the Temple Street night market and indulges in a favourite - suckling pig.

After a hilarious interlude involving what we shall call 'wire fu' fighting, Bourdain encounters Frank Sun, owner of fine-dining restaurant Tribute, at the Happy Valley races. Sun rescues Bourdain from the bookies and shows him the secrets of typhoon-shelter crab and seafood dai pai dong.

Finally, a friend nicknamed 'China Matt', takes Bourdain to Bo Innovation for off-the-wall culinary creations by self-styled 'demon chef' Alvin Leung.

Spoiler: if you keep your eyes peeled in this segment, you might catch a glimpse of the South China Morning Post's own Susan Jung, consuming an array of tongue-twisting dishes.

This should whet your appetite for a series that begins in the land of Tsars, where Bourdain revels in the caviar and vodka of old Russia and the velvet-rope club experience of new Russia.

For those with a cosmic appetite, TVB invites you to Feel the Force (TVB Pearl; Friday at 8.30pm), a programme that pays homage to the blood, sweat and tears that went into telling the greatest ever intergalactic tale (for the two of you who are none the wiser, that's Star Wars). Hosted in part by droids C3PO and R2D2, the show has something for everyone: Industrial Light & Magic fans, those still nursing a crush on Princess Leia and those seeking Yoda's wisdom. As Mark Hamill (who plays Luke Skywalker) says, 'It's as deep or as shallow as you want to make it.'

Feel the Force preludes most of (but not all) the Star Wars movies (TVB Pearl; Saturdays at 9.30pm), starting with Episode I: The Phantom Menace this week.

Drop your knife and fork and put your hands up where we can see them. Step away from the turkey and, instead, take a journey around the world, or better yet, to a galaxy far, far away.