Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday Quickies #2: Potluck contributions and comped reviews

Potluck BBQ: A friend hosted a housewarming potluck in her upscale apartment in the O.C. this past weekend, so I whipped up some quick dishes to go along with their grilling of chicken, salmon & beef - a not-quite-tzatziki dip inspired by the delicious life (my not-quite take was from my substitution of cherry tomatoes for raw cucumbers; and also added some pan-fried garlic & scallions... and yes, a little fresh dill action in there too). I also whipped up some curried deviled eggs (essential party dish for me) and my raisinless bread pudding, this time with asian pears since they're in season. I caramelized them to bring out their subtle flavors a little more, and it turned out great with vanilla ice cream.

I also brought some fragrant whites - a '05 Screaming Jack Viognier (nice lychee-peachy bouquet, a pleasant lingering finish) and a '06 Elena Gewurz (big mineral flavors, also a bit drier than expected). Overall, all the food & drinks there were yummy and practically no leftovers remained.

Comped Reviews: The foodblogging story of the week came from a most unexpected source: the Wall Street Journal and their "exposé" of food bloggers being comped for their meals, in turn leading to inflated ratings on sites like Yelp and Citysearch. Other blogs and boards have already pounced on the debate, my take on it is a little less black-and-white. While I'm certainly skeptical of reviews based purely on perks and freebies, I don't consider the occasional comped food a cardinal sin, especially if 1) that's the only way you can get a preview of the place e.g. restaurants' pre-opening parties for the media, 2) if the writer disclosed that they were comped.

As others noted, food bloggers aren't the only ones getting tempted by free meals, food journalists/critics may rely on them too when their companies don't have a dining expense account. But as long as they're upfront about it from the get-go, I wouldn't take issue with them since they had a "buyers beware" sign out.

Might as well go into my own policy for comped/free/discounted stuff: unless I specified that something came to me free or discounted, I paid for it myself. Thus far, that's about 95% of the case. Additionally, I generally dine as anonymously as possible, jotting notes on my Crackberry and using my camera with discretion (and without flash).



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