I went to the TBEX travel writers’ cocktail soiree last night at the Hotel Giraffe in Manhattan. When we entered, we filled out our name tags (I led with “@bastable,” since there are lots of people who know me by my Twitter handle and not the name I was born with), and put our business cards in a metal urn.
Andrew Zimmern, the host of the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods, was one of the special guests. You won’t be surprised to learn he has a firm handshake and was friendly to everyone. But I don’t think I would have liked to have been the caterer at this event — if a man who eats foreskin and rancid blood on TV tells you that your canapés are delicious, is it a compliment?
He said he loves the newly emerging digital travel press, so he brought a giant gift basket of hand-selected items for one of us. And lo, I won it.
I don’t usually win much. I certainly never win the trips to China for eight that they usually give out at these travel press confabs. But I did win Andrew Zimmern’s sour-cream-and-onion flavored crickets. Among my haul: his latest book, a DVD of his show, and some Travel Channel goodies such a cap and a tee-shirt.
There was some other good stuff in there, too, including snacks he personally swears by: Blenheim Ginger Ale (two bottles, one of which had amputated the arm of the Andrew Zimmern Bobblehead), a Hotlix “Watermelon Flavor with Worm” sucker, Blair’s Death Rain Habanero Chips, and a lolly made from cinnamon oil by Leslie’s of Clovis, New Mexico. You can only buy those in bulk, he said, so these were from his private office stash.
It was like Oprah’s Favorite Things, except they were the favorites of a famous testicle eater.
My favorite presents were the two boxes of “Crick-ettes” and the small white box, ominously labelled “Chocolate Covered Insects.” I asked him which ones they might be, and had no problem identifying them by the shape of the chocolate coating. “Mealworms,” he told me. “More crickets.”
I told Andrew that I wanted to have him over to Aol so I could eat these bugs in front of him. He said he’d love to come, but he pointed at the crickets. “Those are awful,” he confided. “I’ll bring you the good ones.”
A lovely fellow, really. Bringing a gift basket was so — dare I say it? — tasteful.