The week that was (11 November 2016)

- That’s a lot of openings and a lot of closings. I read recently we gained 3000 seats in the past six weeks. SIX WEEKS. To panic or to trust in market forces?

While you ponder, do read Huck’s rant on the lazy reliance on clickbait concepts, looking specifically at the idea fine dining is dying. His article is level-headed and thoughtful. He adds some staggering stats to the chat: “The exit and entry rate of all foodservice businesses is astoundingly capricious – around 20 per cent a year. Equally as staggering, only one in two hospitality businesses survive four years of operation (51.9 per cent) ...”

But he's not calling death, in fact the opposite, he was calling for people to be thoughtful about the industry and about their commentary - "By that I mean rabid news scribes. The glee in the tone of some is incredibly grating. Spraying bullets with the same old loaded rhetoric as if they’re social equality warriors in their own fantasy of Sean of the Dead."
- You might also read this piece in The Thousands on all the food on offer at Barangaroo - at its core a question of whether food is being used to replace culture. Is food culture? I say yes, I say it's one of the greatest forms of culture. However, I do agree that one should not be lauded at the exclusion of the other. I also think it's fundamental we keep the developers in check - I fear their desire (requirement?) for restaurants in every new development could create a false economy; and we all know it will be the chefs and restaurateurs left behind who will suffer.

- For an insider's take on opening restaurants, read Keith McNally in the NY Times on opening his 14th - "In my case, it’s partly to pay the bills but mostly a result of an urge to correct the mistakes I’ve made with previous restaurants. Despite their relative success, there isn’t one that doesn’t possess elements that make me wince every time I enter the space." And I thought this was interesting - “Reviews are almost always disappointing, even the good ones. But they’re the way of things, and one must accept them. And I do. Usually by praying for the reviewer to be pulverized by a hit-and-run driver who is possibly my cousin. Then I become more philosophical, and realize he doesn’t have to be my cousin.” I had a similar conversation recently, talking to a chef about the innate dissapointment of a review even if it's good. It must be very hard to have that kind of open criticism of your work simply considered par for the course.

- And finally, a little rant before I say my farewells. I was frustrated to see another comment about the cost of "simple" food without context. Food with incredible provenance, cooked with incredible care, is valuable. It should cost. I believe it's the food writer's role to explain that, instead of sensationalising it for an opinion you think your readers have. We need to start talking up to people - if they don't understand you need to work to explain it, give it context.

My blood pressure rose further as I read Amy Harris’s review of Bodega 1904 – I generally avoid her writing as I find it gushy and lacking substance. But I’m including it this week, because I am pissed. This:

“Take the blood cake – a type of blood sausage made to a ratio of around 60/40 pig’s blood to pig’s head meat, infused with cumin and coriander and served with yoghurt and a spicy salsa verde. If you can get past what you’re eating, it’s one of the tastiest and most inventive dishes in the city right now.”

Of course it sounds delicious, but blood cake is hardly reinventing the wheel. And then there's the whole “get past what you’re eating”? What? Are you a child or a food writer?

As journalists we need to take responsibility for the stories we tell; to disseminate information and to play a part in educating, that's not about getting up on your high horse, but it is about being thoughtful. That seems particularly poignant today. 

- And so if, like me, you’re looking for somewhere to wait out the impending apocalypse, you might (again like me) want to consider the Adelaide Hills. Last week another cracking wine bar/restaurant opened (or so I’ve been told on pretty good authority). The Summertown Aristologist is in part named for the restaurant Jennifer Hillier and Michael Symons (of One Continuous Picnic fame) had in Uraidla in the '80s. The aristologist name is now in the hands of wine makers Anton van Klopper and Jasper Button (who also, incidentally, both have fantastic names). South Australia has long held an interesting place in Australia’s culinary culture as an incubator of sorts (think Maggie, think Cheong) – their food fascinates – the connection between producer and city fascinates – and these collaborative, producer run, cellar-door-meets-restaurant (also see Lost in a Forest) are another step in the right direction. If you're looking for me ...