Saturday, September 5, 2009

Taking stock of the blog

So we've been noticeably silent for the last few months, at least for the 3 of you who check back on occasion. The big event is that we did pick up a summer townhome in Denver this summer, so that Mrs. RJG could be closer to her family. And Mr. RJG can get out of the Texas heat. We lived in Denver from 1994 through 2002, and we visit every year, so why not actually spend the whole summer here? And because I run a national practice for a large telecom company, we can live anywhere. And so it came to pass. For the immediate future, we're in DFW from mid-October to mid-May, and the rest in Denver. And Mr. RJG has to go back once in awhile to DFW during the summer for business anyway, so it works out all around.

But what about this blog? I think the idea that we write about every restaurant we eat at is, while a noble concept, not sustainable for long periods of time. One, I'm not that creative of a writer. Two, the reviews and restaurants begin to blend together. Three, I'm not a food reviewer nor do I want to be (as discussed in the original post).

A blog has to have a purpose. And the more narrow the focus, the better it serves the intended audience. Just as in school when you were asked to write a term paper, your teacher would ask for a topic. I was the kid who would say "I'll write about baseball". And the teacher would say that I had to narrow it down. "OK - the Majors". I was a dumb kid... and not much as changed. But as someone who also writes music blogs as well, I do know that a specific focus gives it meaning. And the music blogs I maintain are successful, and easy for me to maintain.

So what is the purpose of this blog? Mainly to continue the legacy of the restaurants of yesteryear. They can be new establishments, but in the old style of cooking. Finding reviews of new restaurants with new concepts is not hard. Your local newspaper does that. As do many foodie blogs. This is a defined sub-culture. They have their rock stars as it were (chefs), and their rabid followers (groupies). Most of these restaurants rarely stay in business for more than a few years, because of the mercurial nature of the chefs behind them. They are artists, and like musicians, tend to be very creative, capricious and temperamental people. Few have good business acumen. Before someone writes in all half-cocked, I said "few" - not NONE.

But I was inspired again recently when I saw what I consider a now VERY typical comment in Urbanspoon. It was in regards to a high end Italian "fusion" place here in Denver. She stated something along the lines of "If you're looking for spaghetti and meatballs, don't come here. This is for people with more sophisticated palates". What an absolute snob. And I see comments like this way too much. That somehow one is more sophisticated if they take a veal chop, and put two asparagus stalks on top like a tee-pee. Or that going into the backyard, and picking the weeds and throwing them in your salad is somehow more genius than a good bowl of romaine or iceberg, with an excellent dressing. And they charge three times more too! Now who's the stupid one? I'm not against new foods, new ideas and new creations. I think that's great, and we'll eat at places like that too. Sometimes for business, I have to. And generally I'm satisfied (though knowing the place probably won't be there the next time I'm in town). When I'm in the kitchen, I like to play around with ingredients too. It's fun. But don't think it makes one more "sophisticated". There are few things better than a really good, homemade meatball, or sausage - mixed in with a red or white sauce recipe handed down for generations.

So with that, I'll probably move to more general postings. Like "some good places to get old school red sauce Italian in Denver", or "Tex Mex in DFW", or "Green chile in Denver", etc... I'll avoid "Best of" lists, only because it implies an exhaustive search, of which I probably haven't done. My ultimate goal is to ensure these places have some recognition since the food snob press completely ignores, or as is sadly the case, derides these places that have been enjoyed for two to three generations. Or new places that emulate them. The key is always "Is it good?". If the answer is yes, then I'll mention it. Otherwise, sometimes an old place is just OLD, and needs to board up and retire.

The other thing I'd like to mention is the comments I receive. If you have an axe to grind, don't use this site as your bully pulpit. I'll delete it without publishing. I'm OK with a negative review, as long as it's well stated and professional. What I'd rather see is encouragement.