Blogs have come to be one of the most argued over topics when it comes to discussing whether the Internet is a valid source of information. Anyone with a basic understanding of language and computers can start a blog to share their views and experiences. While this is a great outlet for the writers, how do readers know how credible the writing is?
This is especially true of food blogs because taste is so subjective. If I read a restaurant review in a newspaper, I can reasonably assume that the reviewer is working for me, the reader, and is adjusting his opinions to suit the people he is writing for and is aware of larger considerations than his own palate. With a blog, the person is probably just writing for himself, which makes it more candid but also less reliable.
I wanted to find out what resources Calgarians have besides those offered up by the major newspapers. Are food blogs a helpful source of information when seeking out new places to eat, and would I be able to afford the places they recommended?
Two blogs that piqued our interests were Calgary Foodies and Creative Juices and Solids. Calgary Foodies is ranked number one on Urban Spoon and covers a wide spectrum of restaurants in terms of style of price. The website, run by Jen Mikla and Nolan Matthias, occasionally delves into social issues and offers up some recipes as well. Their interview offered some interesting insights as to the responsibility of food bloggers and helpful hints for nervous diners.
We invited John Manzo, a professor at the University of Calgary, to speak about his blog Creative Juices and Other Solids. With the benefit of his academic background, John offers a unique outlook on Calgary’s restaurant and café scene.
If you missed the episode and want to hear these great interviews, as well as a choice quote form Anthony Bourdain, visit our iTunes page.
For aspiring food writers, we spoke about some of the guidelines that all food reviewers should follow. These rules are suggested by the Association of Food Journalists, a website I found in the book Will Write for Food, which of course is another great resource for those wishing to start food writing.
What are your favourite food blogs? Do you find them to be a reliable source for cooking and eating out, or are you loyal to print media?
For this week’s recipe I couldn’t resist taking from Smitten Kitchen. Although it is one of the best known food blogs out there and hardly needs publicity, it deserves this status. The author emphasizes two important things : seasonanlity of ingredients and ease of preparation. There are no tomatoes in January, and no truffle oil ever (unless you’re like me and think it should just maybe be slipped into most things…). She uses the medium to full advantage by suggesting all kinds of adaptations and welcomes discussion amoungst her readers. My favourite recipe I’ve made all summer is her tomatoe and corn pie, and we’re just within the season, so if you go to the farmers market right now you can have this by dinner. You will be most pleased you did.
Tomato and Corn Pie from Smitten Kitchen
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 3/4 teaspoons salt, divided
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons or 3 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus 2 teaspoons melted
3/4 cup whole milk
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 3/4 pounds beefsteak tomatoes
1 1/2 cups corn (from about 3 ears), coarsely chopped by hand (my preference) or lightly puréed in a food processor, divided
2 tablespoons finely chopped basil, divided (skipped this, no harm was done)
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
7ounces coarsely grated sharp Cheddar (1 3/4 cups), divided
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and 3/4 tsp salt in a bowl, then blend in cold butter (3/4 stick) with your fingertips or a pastry blender until it resembles coarse meal. Add milk, stirring until mixture just forms a dough, then gather into a ball.
Divide dough in half and roll out one piece on a well-floured counter (my choice) or between two sheets of plastic wrap (the recipe’s suggestion, but I imagined it would annoyingly stick to the plastic) into a 12-inch round (1/8 inch thick). Either fold the round gently in quarters, lift it into a 9-inch pie plate and gently unfold and center it or, if you’re using the plastic warp method, remove top sheet of plastic wrap, then lift dough using bottom sheet of plastic wrap and invert into pie plate. Pat the dough in with your fingers trim any overhang.
Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. If your kitchen is excessively warm, as ours is, go ahead and put the second half of the dough in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. Whisk together mayonnaise and lemon juice.
Cut an X in bottom of each tomato and blanch in a large pot of boiling water 10 seconds. Immediately transfer with a slotted spoon to an ice bath to cool. Peel tomatoes, then slice crosswise 1/4 inch thick and, if desired (see Notes above recipe), gently remove seeds and extra juices. Arrange half of tomatoes in crust, overlapping, and sprinkle with half of corn, one tablespoon basil, 1/2 tablespoon chives, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper and one cup of grated cheese. Repeat layering with remaining tomatoes, corn, basil, chives, salt, and pepper. Pour lemon mayonnaise over filling and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Roll out remaining piece of dough into a 12-inch round in same manner, then fit over filling, folding overhang under edge of bottom crust and pinching edge to seal. Cut 4 steam vents in top crust and brush crust with melted butter (2 teaspoons). Bake pie until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes, then cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Do ahead: Pie can be baked 1 day ahead and chilled. Reheat in a 350°F oven until warm, about 30 minutes.