Speaking for Those in the Industry Without a VoiceThursday, June 13
In my time as a writer I have tried to keep things politically correct and not stir the pot too much, but sometimes a guy just can’t keep it in anymore.
This week’s column will be a voice for all of my peers here in Edmonton and around the world that don’t have a chance to speak their mind in an open forum and be heard. Maybe, I can only hope, that it will help to educate others out there and help ease this escalating stupidity.
What’s got me up in arms today you ask? Online restaurant review websites do. Yes, I know they aren’t new, and I know I am not the first to speak out about them, but because of a review I recently read I felt the need to say something. You’re probably thinking that I read some horrible review about our restaurant and now feel the need to lash back. Well, you’re wrong! The truth of the matter is that I was sent a linkto the review of a friend’s restaurant and it was so laughable, and at the same time frustrating, that I felt it was time that something was said. Let me fill you in on the specific review and then I will make my point. This well travelled, worldly diner, with the palate that I’m sure, could only be compared to thatof legendary food critic Ruth Reichl, felt the need to share his truly valued opinion of his experience, because clearly we could not make an educated choice about where to go for dinner without hearing his feedback. His “review” starts by sharing the news that he took the experience in with his ex-fiancée, whom he had only asked to marry a few weeks earlier. Already I could tell this would be a life-changing read!
As their linguini arrived they began to argue over how dry the dish was and that’s whenthings went really south. The fight got so bad that his fiancée slammed the ring down on the table and stormed out, declaring an end to their engagement bliss. So this “gifted” food critic did the only thing he knew how to do. He went on to Urbanspoon to share his “horrible experience” with the whole world, and of course he chose to “doesn’t like” the restaurant while he was there. Allow me to take my chef hat off for a minute and put my relationship critic hat on. My friend, I regret to inform you that if your relationship died over a heated argument about how dry your bowl of pasta was then you should be thankful she gave back the ring and you saved the years of torture, followed by the back breaking cost of a messy divorce. What’s that you say? What right do I have to critique someone on his or her relationship? Well, I have been in a relationship; I have even been through a messy separation. That must make me an expert, right? No? Well then why is it that anyone who has shoveled in a bowl of pasta or two in their life think that they have what it takes to be the next great food critic? That’s my frustration.
The World Wide Web is filled with food review sites and horrible blogs written by people who feel they possess a keen palate and a swift wit. What’s worse? People are actually taking these wannabes seriously. It is clearly evident that there is a certain demographic of people out there that actually choose their dining choices on the percentage of likes or dislikes. Seriously? Is that what theworld has come to?
There was a time when the position of professional food critic was to be revered and respected. The best food critics also had the decency to allow the restaurant two to three months of grace before they unleashed their wrath. They would allow the business the time to bring their staff up to speed, learn to cope with the onslaught of people coming to check out the new restaurant, and to truly hit their stride. They would even have the wits about them to visit the business on more than one occasion to determine if their first visit was the exception or the norm. Not today, not in the instantaneous environment we live in now. Nowadays the food bloggers and “experts” are making cracks about the light fixtures, or the color of the drapes before the business even has a chance to open the door.The weirdest part of all is that it doesn’t seem to happen to other industries, or at least, not to the same degree. I have never been online to read a review about a concrete company or where to buy my next laptop. I have never checked out the feedback on my dentist or the mechanic I take my car to, but everyone seems to rely on the opinion of the masses to make their dining choices.
Let me be the first to inform you that generally the masses don’t get it right. Here’s my advice to you. Stop relying on the guy who had a bad day at the office and took it out on the business or the girl who thought the fresh cut fries weren’t as goodas the crinkle cut frozen fries she grew up eating. Be leery of the trendy spots that are propped up in the polls by the hipsters who think it’s the most ironically cool place in town, with the most exclusive collection of hipster brew., and even has a place to hang their fedora. Take online reviews with a grain of salt and try the business for yourself. I have come to find that the restaurants that are well reviewed online seldom live up to the hype and the real dining gems in this city get overlooked. Experience the business for yourself and find out if they fulfill the need that you are looking for and leave you with a positive lasting memory. If so, go back, again and again. If not, grab something from the drive-thru on the way home and try again somewhere else.
So with that off my chest I will shut my big yap (sorry Yukon!) and get back to sharing recipes. This week, let’s keep it simple, as I don’t want my recipe to be reviewed too harshly.
Steak Bite ‘Sandwiches’This is a simple little throw together dish that is sure to please anyone. It’s alsoa great opportunity to use up trim of tenderloin or striploin if you happen to butcher your own beef. Often times when cutting steaks from a whole tenderloin you end up with end pieces that are perfectly good beef, but not large enough or uniform enough to serve as a steak.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Makes: 1 dozen bites
12 oz. tenderloin or striploin
½ inch cubes, this must be a tender cut
1 tbsp. Cajun seasoning
1 tbsp. canola oil
12 slices baguette, sliced ½ inch thick
2 oz. fresh arugula
2 oz. shaved parmesan
A handfulbeet chips (for garnish, you can buy these, or make your own!)
•Peel and mince the garlic
•Stir into the mayonnaise
•Add the Worcestershire, stir to combine, season
•Preheat the oven to 450F
•Preheat a frying pan to high heat
•Butter and season the sliced baguette and place on a baking sheet
•Bake in the oven until toasted nicely, 3-4 minutes
•Toss the beef with the Cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper
•Lightly oil the pan with canola oil and sauté the beef quickly, tossing regularly, cook for 1-2 minutes
•Place a teaspoon of the garlic mayo down on the baguette slices, then top with the beef
•Shave the parmesan over the beef•Top with fresh arugula and garnish the plate with beet chips, or alternatively, use your favorite chip