Melbourne blogger Brian from Fitzroyalty recently set a virtual cat amongst the cyberpigeons with his post entitled 'when bloggers sell out audiences stop reading', discussing the increasing tendency for some formerly independent Melbourne blogs to take on a more commercial aspect, whether by featuring advertising on the blog, writing about freebies the bloggers have accepted or writing explicitly sponsored content (sometimes outside the stated ambit of the blog), with some blogs offering giveaways and/or branding the photographs in their sponsored posts and accepting payment to spruik a camera. Brian's post caused quite a bit of a commotion in the Melbourne blogging community (at last count the post had generated over 50 comments, some agreeing and some disagreeing with Brian's position on the topic). (Edited 18/10/10 to add: Duncan at the blog Syrup and Tang has also written an excellent, well thought out post on this topic here.)
As a blogger, I reflect upon this topic frequently. While I feel uncomfortable with the idea of writing sponsored content, when an invitation comes my way that particularly appeals to me I will generally accept it. If I feel strongly enough about the experience afterwards that I want to spend my precious free time blogging about it, I generally will. Case in point: appearing here on the blog shortly is a write-up of a meal I had at a Very Nice Restaurant I visited as part of a famil Tourism Victoria hosted for a group of journalists and bloggers. It's a restaurant I'd been dying to visit for months (and would always have written about, even if I had not been invited), so I felt comfortable accepting the invitation. I think every blogger has a right to draw their own line in the sand, and that's mine.
That said, as an avid blog reader, the simple truth of the matter is that I find I'm not interested in reading blogs that are increasingly filled with sponsored content. I thought I'd write a short post about some of the food blogs I have been enjoying recently - blogs that I love for their individual voices and distinctive approaches.
As someone who loves eating out and seldom
Speaking of beautiful photography, I don't know the coffee geeks who write Espresso Melbourne but I'm currently BESOTTED with their gorgeous blog posts about Melbourne "cafes that matter". The very functionally titled Melbourne Cafes Photo Blog is another recent find.
Mellie and EG's blog Tummy Rumbles has long been my favourite Melbourne food blog: as I've mentioned before, it was my direct inspiration for starting my own blog. I also love It Pleases Us, the blog my friend Em writes with her sister-in-law Sas, as it's very well-written and strikes a good balance between restaurant reviews and recipes (it was also a useful resource for my recent sea-salt-encrusted chocolate chip cookie recipe baking TRIUMPH). Oh, and the internet has spawned several pale imitators, but my friend That Jess Ho is the original Gonzo food blogger in Melbourne.
Sunnybrae and The View From My Porch are two blogs I enjoy reading that are written by chefs who really "get" food blogging. On TVFMP, Steve's July post about his "small business dilemma" was a post that really stuck with me.
Foodhands is a lovely website started recently by Melbourne blogger Tresna about "food, people, and the stories that connect them", featuring interviews with growers, artisan producers, chefs, waiters, sommeliers, restaurant reviewers, baristas etc. It's the only site I know of that fills this particular niche in the Australian food blogging community.
As a Richmond resident, I was pleased to find SwanBridgeVic, a new hyperlocal site dedicated to the 3121, much as Fitzroyalty is dedicated to the 3065.
I tend to focus on Melbourne food blogs, but The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry is a fabulous Sydney food blog I only recently discovered for myself. Speaking of Sydney, I'm heading up there on Thursday: any food tips or links to good Sydney food blogs I may not already know about would be much appreciated.
There are LOTS of other Melbourne food blogs that I love, links to most of them appear in one of the boxes to your right.
Oh, and these aren't food blogs, but they're local blogs I love reading that I wanted to plug: Lucy's brilliant, brilliant design blog The Design Files, Caustic Cover Critic (an excellent blog about book design, written by a chap in Adelaide) and Ryan on Coffee, a frequently hilarious blog written by Cat Empire bassist Ryan Monro. As much as I enjoy his Brunetti Stopwatch Challenge posts, my favourite Ryan on Coffee entry would have to be a three-way tie between the footnoted post about Sensory Lab, the recent post about bills in Surry Hills (written entirely in lower case) and the post about the piano solo in Guru Josh's 'Infinity' ("the only thing that's more badly executed than the last two seconds of that solo is the first thirty-eight").
Which food blogs (other than your own!) do you think deserve a plug?
The gratuitous macaron and truffle photos used in this post were taken at Alana Kennedy's Orpheus Diningroom Project MMX, an art installation exhibition opening I attended recently at fortyfivedownstairs. The 300 macarons were made by Shocolate and the three flavours were Cherry Red B52, Macadamia & Vanilla Violet and Truffle & Chocolate Truffle. As you might expect, the truffle/truffle one was VERY earthy, but the other two were exquisite.