The Disillusioned Blogger

Before I begin ranting, I’d like to make a disclaimer that the idea of this post is in no way to condemn the work of any other bloggers, these are just some thoughts that have been lingering on my mind for a long long time that I finally decided to pen down (after consulting a few other bloggers).

I started blogging in August 2013 because I worked in the Video Surveillance industry which as exciting as it was, did not allow me to channel my creative juices. It was in almost a week’s time that Chai Cake & Kitsch was born. It was a whole lot of Googling, YouTube-ing, Video Tutorials, back and forth with my designer and feedback that helped shaped up CCK. I also wanted something that I could call my own.

In 2013, blogging, more specifically food blogging was still a niche in India. Fashion bloggers had been around for a long time and were doing exceptionally well. It was certainly an era of social media but it wasn’t rampant. Nobody still possessed the ability to destroy another’s reputation through one Tweet or a Facebook post. You still read the best food related stories in the local Sunday newspaper or weekly magazine. However, come 2014-15 and boy was there a big bang! A big kaboom through smartphones, social media and an obsession for documenting EVERY.SINGLE.THING.WE.DO. that gave rise to ‘food bloggers’.

Whilst it’s great that there are so many who are taking up food blogging, i know not how many possess enough knowledge, conduct a thorough research before posting an article, make the effort to do some beautiful photography, have genuine followers etc. There are certain things that infuriate us bloggers who do walk the extra mile to do so!

Here are a few that are exasperating to say the least:

Poor photographs:

Food that is presented well deserves to be photographed and publicised well.
Owning a fancy camera doesn’t make one a photographer. You can take beautiful pictures even with a smart phone so long as you understand aesthetics, composition, the works. My camera is not an extension of my body so at times I’m forced to take pictures with my phone under bad lighting. Sometimes restaurants require you to do Live posts, I apologise in advance for bad photography. Simply reposting pictures and videos, even if you’re giving credits is not okay too. Unless you specify that you’re a curator, don’t do it. It isn’t very nice to try and gain popularity by reposting somebody else’s hard work.

Disrespectful PR personnel – Where are your ethics?

i. This without an inkling of a doubt is a two way street. I have heard of stories of bloggers who will get to restaurants with a plus one demanding free food threatening ugly consequences on social media. I can understand how this is such a big problem for the industry but that’s why PR personnel need to do their homework. Fish out the good ones from the bad. Just because a blogger has 25k followers, it is not a representation of their work. It is very easy to buy followers these days!
ii. If you belong to one of the few companies / restaurants that pays bloggers, pay us within a week – 15 days’ time. I was once given my payment (of a meagre amount) 4 months after I handed in my review! It is extremely disrespectful.
iii. Ask your clients to follow us back on social media and repost our articles. This again is a two way street. If we’re writing and generating traffic for you, it is only fair for you to do the same for us.
iv. Ask your restaurant to prepare for our arrival. If you call us at 7:30, don’t start your event at 8.45. If it’s a one on one review, inform your restaurant to be ready. I can’t even begin to speak of the innumerable times that a particular brand invited me to try out their new menu every season and the staff had no idea what had to be done! It leaves a really bad taste in the mouth.. even before we’ve tried your food!

Research your food:

Bloggers, do your homework. Read up a little on the restaurant, on the hospitality team, on their history, on the cuisine they serve, exploit Google! Everything can be found online! Speak to the chef, speak to his team, find out what inspired the menu!

Learn to respect vegetarians:

This applies to a lot of non vegetarian bloggers, PRs and restaurateurs. If your menu is predominantly non-vegetarian (and I understand that), don’t invite a vegetarian blogger to try out the remaining 3 dishes on it. It’s not ok. We’ve made a choice to be vegetarians and as long as we aren’t disrespecting you, don’t do the same to us. We’re all free to be the way we want to be.

No I will not obsess over Zomato (my autocorrect keeps changing this to Tomato):
So apparently, not only am I required to be on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Instagram stories, Snapchat, now you want me to have a million followers on Zomato too? If I had chosen to speak to an audience via that medium, why would I curate such long posts? It’s unfair to miss out on deals just because my presence on Zomato is close to nothing.

One of my favourite bloggers calls it as it is “blogging is more about learning and growing than anything else. Let your work reflect how far you’ve progressed in your writing & photography skills. Be authentic and provide value to your readers. One of the coolest things about blogging is that you can connect with people who share your undying love for, say, olive oil ice cream. Constructive “genuine” criticism to a restaurant works wonders & don’t just tell them what they want to read. EDUCATE YOURSELF! Keep reading cookbooks, journals on food science, food magazines & let that reflect in your writing because you are an “influencer” whose words are being read by tens of thousands of foodies who put their trust in your words. Going on restaurant reviews with an established food critic on the same table as you despite having 20k+ followers for yourself & not knowing the basic difference between “dimsum” and “dumpling” reflects badly on you. Stand out from the rest”.

I understand that there may be a few who like this post, some that may get offended and I apologise for the same. Restauranteurs and PR, I understand that every story has two sides so I would be more than happy to hear yours! More often than not, I haven’t had the best experiences especially on the vegetarian  front, so this is just my friendly version 🙂

Advertisements

Restaurant Week India – Dining With Botticino

Ola Prime presents Restaurant Week India was back this September from the 16th to the 25th with a host of participating restaurants in the cities of Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, New Delhi and making its debut in Pune.

Ola Prime presents Restaurant Week is the largest pan-India culinary event spanning over 10 days and 6 cities giving discerning food enthusiasts the opportunity to dine at some of India’s finest restaurants at a fraction of a la carte rates. As the presenting sponsor, all Restaurant Week Diners were offered complimentary rides to and fro in Ola Prime cabs.

Our choice of fine dine was the Botticino at the Trident, BKC, always a personal favourite. There is no doubt about the fact that Chef Sushil Multani and his team are artists par excellence and they displayed their talent once again at our dinner.

The evening began with an Amuse Bouche – Fresh watermelon packed with orange juice, courtesy molecular gastronomy. What a delightful way to kick off the meal. Next was the Minestrone a’la Botticino served at the perfect temperature. It was packed with flavour, however unfortunately the vegetables were a tad too soft, overcooked.

Then we were served what turned out to be the favourite part of our meal – Beetroot tartare with orange spheres, beetroot macaroons and preserved lemon gel. So fresh and light, it felt like a garden in the mouth! The orange spheres were the perfect amount of tangy so as to cut through the sweetness of the macaroons and lemon gel. This dish takes the team 3 hours to prep for and 4 minutes to plate! Certainly worth every minute spent on it ❤

We were then offered the guava sorbet as a palate cleanser with black salt and chilli powder. This was nothing like anything we’ve ever had before!

Mains included Spaghetti Primavera with grilled vegetables, capers, olives in a Mama Rosa sauce. Rich, thick and smokey this is a MUST HAVE. Since I vacationed in Italy this year, the Primavera took me back, making me plan my next European holiday already!

Then to desserts – my oh my the Affagato! The dessert glass was topped with a chocolate bowl, hot espresso was poured over this in order to melt it into the glass. The dessert comprised of vanilla ice cream, praline, nuts and chocolate shavings.. bitter, sweet and warm. This is officially what heaven must be like…

The chocolate feuillant is another recommendation seeing as it has a chocolate mousse base topped with meringue and chocolate fans. Despite being absolutely full, we still dug into this combination of the smooth meringue and the crispy chocolate fans. A third (!!) dessert was their famous trio of gelatos – Fig, berry & chocolate chip. The perfect, light, refreshing way to end such a heavy meal!

image_20160928132409.jpg

We’d like to thank the organisers, Ola and The Trident for having us over and treating us to such a gracious meal. Dining at the Botticino each time is an experience in itself. Our preferences and diets are always taken care of and not to forget the incredible hospitality we are always shown!

The Grand Indian High Tea At Lobby Lounge

Press release: ~Revisiting the British High Tea with an Indian Twist at the Lobby Lounge~

This September, Lobby Lounge at The Grand Hyatt Mumbai customises your Hi-tea experience to give you a unique taste of India. Taking inspiration from “When in India, do as the Indians”, Grand Hyatt brings to you the exotic high tea layered with three times the love from India.

Your afternoon soiree, intimate gathering or business meetings now get more enjoyable with Hot Chai and Spiced Chaat. Sit back and relax as they pour your favourite cup of tea and take you on an Indian culinary journey with sweet and savoury delights.

This three-tiered thoughtfully curated high tea includes regional specials like the pinwheel sandwich, khandvi, cream cheese and cucumber sandwich, hare mirch aur matar ki tikki, cocktail samosa, open face dabble, assorted Indian pralines, saffron phirni with Pistachio, raspberry mascarpone cup along with the hot beverage of your choice.

No matter the plan, purpose or pursuit, unwind with tasteful food and refreshing tea at the Lobby Lounge. The Hi-Tea is available from September 01 – 31, 3:00 pm to 8:00 pm, priced at INR 1500 plus taxes, for two.

dsc_8786

The August Moon Festival with the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel

Press release: ~Golden Dragon plates ethnic Chinese cuisine this festival~

Casting its luminous glow, the August Moon festival ushers in an auspicious phase for the Chinese masses. Golden Dragon invites you to celebrate the mysteries and glories of the moon from 16th to 25th September, 2016 at The Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai.

As legend has it, ten suns existed in the ancient times making people’s lives difficult. Resolving this great devastation, Hou Yi shot down nine suns earning himself, an elixir rewarded by the Queen of Heavens. Protecting her heroic husband from a tyrannical ruler, Chang E consumed the elixir as she shot up to the moon where she took refuge. While Hou Yi grieved his loss, he offered fruits and cakes to the moon making their love immortal.

Re-narrating this enigmatic tale, Master Chef Ma Chi Wing, Golden Dragon brings you a sumptuous feast for your palate this month from the Far East. Revel in the festivities with a specially curated menu showcasing delectable Chinese mezes. Featuring on the menu are delicacies like the Chicken Xia Long Bao, Papaya Stuffed Flaky Dough, Sauteed Shrimp and Asparagus with Chilly Drizzle, Silken Tofu Tangy Sesame Peanut Dressing, along with exotic soups like Chicken and Ginseng Nectar and Winter Melon and Morels Broth. Indulge in an array of gourmet delights with Sauteed Crab Meat with Snow White Bean Thread, Wok-Fried Pork Spare Rib with Black Bean Sauce, Stir Fried Haricots with preserved Olive, Braised Shitake and Winter Bamboo Shoot and Wok Tossed Sticky Rice, Marbled Egg Served with Lotus Leaf. Complete the Chinese feast with the revered Moon Cake and the Traditional Red for dessert.

Traverse to the Sichuan province and experience the mysticism of Orient at Golden Dragon, The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai as it invites you to partake in the culinary galore!

Date: 16th – 25th September, 2016
Time: Lunch and Dinner
Venue: Golden Dragon, The Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai

For reservations, please contact Golden Dragon, at The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai, (022) 66653296