6th Issue V3Food

Blog Rolling: Sifting Through Boston Food Blogs

By Joel Kahn • December 4, 2011 at 11:57 pm


There sure are a lot of food blogs out there. Unfortunately, however, they are usually run by recent college-grads trying to make it in the city and supplementing their menial day jobs by photographing anything and everything they eat. (This process has aggravated many a chef and food enthusiast alike.)

Then, on the other hand, there are the giant, wonderful food websites. Chow and The Daily Meal both offer tons of recipes, food stories, musings, and general food tips, but they lack the microsphere of local restaurant reviews, food truck locations, and interviews with the people behind your favorite local haunts.

The Best of Boston. Plus My Drunk Kitchen.

However, just a couple weeks ago, Eater, the crème de la crème of food news websites, launched Eater Boston, a version of its site tailored specifically to the Hub. Eater has more local branches than the Occupy Movement, and it is about time they set up a site for us here in Boston. The site is updated every day with local food news (usually restaurant reviews, chef transfers, plans for new restaurants), as well as links to websites with recipes, “best of” lists, and videos of any time Stephen Colbert or Jimmy Fallon mentions food.

One of Eater’s most useful features is their “Heatmap”—an often updated map of the trendiest places to eat right now. They have one for every city in the Eatersphere, and Boston’s is very helpful in picking a nice spot to take a date or go out with friends before leaving for winter break (Island Creek Oyster Bar, conveniently located in Kenmore Square, is currently on the list). However, Eater Boston is too new to have an “Eater 38″ map yet. The “Eater 38″ are the website’s picks for the 38 essential restaurants in a given city. The lists are updated every six months, and much like Car and Driver‘s “10 Best” list, all the choices are specifically not supposed to break the bank. The theory is that if a restaurant charges upwards of $100 for a meal, it better be pretty damn good (and some website doesn’t need to ordain it as such). Hopefully, the Boston 38 map will launch soon, so we can all begin checking off our favorites.

The Eater group also runs Racked and Curbed, their sites for shopping/fashion and interior design/real estate, respectively. Curbed Boston launched on the same day as Eater Boston, though Racked only has outposts in New York, LA, and The Hamptons.

Relatively speaking, Grub Street Boston is an aged cheese compared to Eater Boston’s baby carrot. Grub Street is the food blog originated by New York Magazine, and though the Boston version is somewhat flimsy compared to the wonderment of the New York version, it does offer some nice news on food and beverages in the area. Whereas Eater offers a separate national site, Grub Street chooses to put its national stories in with the local feed, which makes Grub Street Boston slightly less about the city, and more about everything else.

The Feast Boston was founded after Eater co-founder Ben Leventhal took an offer to develop an Eater-like site for NBC Local. It started as a food feed in several cities, but soon evolved into a Twitter-like news site on general cultural happenings (usually fashion-related) that still kept its gastronomical name. It collects stories from Grub Street, The Phoenix, Boston.com, Dig Boston, and Boston Magazine into one handy scroll-as-you-go site.

For those smaller, more recipe-oriented blogs, Boston Food Bloggers maintains an extensive list of all sorts of webpages in the area. These are, however, mostly the cell-phone photographing diners as described earlier, but many people enjoy those anyway. While a blog about blogs is delightfully meta, it takes some sifting to find a non-recent college grad (or local mom) who describes themselves as a “foodie,” but the site does offer a calendar of food-related events around Beantown, and offers blogger meet-ups every few months for its featured writers, which is great for meeting a fellow self-proclaimed foodie. It’s probably a good group to join if you have a little food blog going and would like to get a little attention for it around town. Their application is not very rigorous.

Boston may not be the biggest city, nor does it have the most colorful food scene (there are only so many versions of clam chowder), but it does have a distinct identity, and each of these sites highlights the great opportunities waiting in the local food scene. Mark them to your bookmarks, follow them on Twitter, and read them every day. They’re a great resource to find out what is going on in the Boston’s culinary sphere.

*As a side note, My Drunk Kitchen is perhaps the greatest exhibition of food on the Internet. Sure, it doesn’t have any useful food knowledge (or anything described in this article), but it is pretty damn funny. There are 11 episodes, and if you have never seen it, I suggest starting right now.




Responses

  1. Thanks for mentioning BostonFoodBloggers.com! Just for clarification, there’s no ‘application’ per se; the community is open to any blogger who writes about food and is based in Massachusetts (or elsewhere in New England with frequent MA-related posts).

    We’re currently nearing 500 members, and there’s quite a mix of new bloggers and more experienced bloggers. If you dig deep enough, you’ll find some gorgeous photography and true journalistic writing.

    Except for a very small minority who make a living off of advertising money, very few bloggers are “supplementing their menial day jobs;” most just do this for fun. However, a number of us do have professional writing gigs that came about because of our blogging.

    We do have a lot more meet-ups than appear on the site (mainly because I don’t have much time to update the site anymore). A lot of our networking is done through social media.

    Thanks,
    Rachel Leah Blumenthal
    Founder, BostonFoodBloggers.com

    PS – I’m a BU alum! I earned my MS in Science and Medical Journalism from COM last year.

  2. I’m neither a recent grad nor a cell phone wielding photographer at restaurants. Nor am I, as the writer disparagingly referred to, a “local mom who refers to herself as a foodie.”

    I am a BU grad (M.Ed, SED ’04) who also has a culinary arts degree from Johnson & Wales. I have worked in fine dining, hotel and corporate dining. I’ve earned my “foodie” pedigree, thank you. I also develop recipes and write my own food blog, Oh Cake. There are many excellent food bloggers in the Boston area that are not “giant” websites. Buttercream Blondie is one, as is Cookbook Love and Greenthyme among many others.

    Frankly I am dismayed at the dismissive tone of this article. If the author himself knew anything about food he wouldn’t have used the analogy of “aged cheese to a baby carrot.” Aging cheese properly takes a masterful hand while baby carrots are actually giant, ugly, unsellable carrots that are machine lathed down to a cute little nub. Before you go around dismissing those of us who love our little corner of cyberspace and have worked hard to amass our knowledge dig deeper into our ranks and get to know us. Just because we don’t have an SEO administrator working in our living room doesn’t mean our voices shouldn’t be heard.

  3. “Food blogs…they are usually run by recent college-grads trying to make it in the city and supplementing their menial day jobs by photographing anything and everything they eat.”

    Re: Boston Food Bloggers – “it takes some sifting to find a non-recent college grad (or local mom) who describes themselves as a ‘foodie’.”

    I’m curious why you assume 1) the majority of bloggers are recent college grads or mothers and 2) if that were true, why it’s something to criticize.

    Yes, large websites are organized, updated frequently, and pretty to look at, but they are businesses. This article fails to recognize the unique perspective (and level of accountability) independent bloggers bring to the Boston food scene.

    Very few local bloggers receive any monetary support beyond a very occasional complimentary meal. They blog because they’re knowledgeable and passionate: some are fantastic cooks or bakers with professional experience/culinary school; others take beautiful photographs and studied art for years; many love to write and have extensive backgrounds writing and editing. How does recently graduating from school or having a child negate any of those credentials?

    I don’t need to prove my ability to produce a high-quality blog to you. You can see for yourself via the link to my blog, EatingPlaces. While you’re browsing, I hope you’ll rethink the tone of this article.