Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.

27.8.09

Food fight.

Australian Gourmet Traveller chief food writer Pat Nourse explains the loneliness of the long-distance restaurant reviewer:
" ... you need to eat out on a Tuesday night in winter when you'd really rather just go home."
Nourse's angst is understandable. Naturally, food reviewing is a higher art than other criticism:
"It's not like reviewing a film where you can take a cheap shot and make a small dent in a Hollywood budget. It's someone's livelihood."
Someone's livelihood??? Ask your threadbare independent film-maker friends what they think of that comment. However, the loneliness and angst pay off:
There are only a handful of full-time reviewing jobs in the Australian media and the competition is fierce. ... It certainly takes skill to write about food, like this on Sepia from the current issue of GT: "The more classical salad of roast squab is a lovely dish, the very pink pieces of the bird arranged among tendrils of green over little barrels of confit potato and pickled beetroot delicately dusted with chives."
Very pink. Subsequent to publication of the article in the link above, the Australian Gourmet Traveller restaurant awards were announced, outraging Melbourne food writers and restaurateurs:
MELBOURNE'S elite restaurants were again rejected by Gourmet Traveller in its annual restaurant awards last night. In a repeat of last year's snub, Vue de Monde was the only Melbourne restaurant to achieve the apparently prestigious three-star rating from the Sydney-based magazine. ... Gourmet Traveller editor Anthea Loucas defended the decision, saying while Melbourne had more nominees for the awards than Sydney, ultimately the restaurants weren't up to scratch. ... "If you look at every single three-star restaurant they each offer very distinctive experiences. For us, it's a combination of everything - what's on the plate, the service, the room, the wine list.
Loucas means the brash-Sydney view out the window. In Melbourne, diners look at their dining companions and the food on their plates instead of gazing out the window or craning their necks to see which z-grade 'celebrity' is walking in the door.
Herald Sun food writer Bob Hart described the awards as laughable. ... "These Sydney-centric fantasists have done it again: they have ignored several Melbourne restaurants that are more than a match for most of their Sydney nominations. Where, for example, is the incomparable Jacques Reymond - an elegant fine dining establishment that easily outguns at least five of the three-stars on the Sydney list?"
Clearly, no harbour view in Williams Road:
Extrafood restaurant reviewer Stephen Downes said the awards didn't accurately represent the Melbourne dining scene. "It promotes those places that it believes its readers feel they must be seen at," he said of Gourmet Traveller.
*

This Sydney-Melbourne thing is greatly entertaining, of course. It has its roots in the cities' historical rivalry in vying for the status of federal capital. Failing to decide between the two, the States were lobbied by a local newspaper proprietor into creating an entirely new city. Land-locked Canberra was the result, today remaining a hermetic city of 345,000 bureaucrats stuck in the middle of nowhere, threatened increasingly by hordes of resurgent kangaroos anxious to reclaim their territory. The failure of common sense in not establishing either Sydney or Melbourne as national capital meant there was no closure for the cities' rivalry, and the two remain locked in petty antagonism. Even the rail lines in the two states were of a different gauge until relatively recently. To travel to Sydney from Melbourne you had to stop at Wodonga in the middle of the night and get on a different train into Sydney. And vice versa.

5 comments:

Ed said...

Yes,very pink.

A Melbourne Girl said...

Yep, I'd say Stephen Downe's is probably right. It's all sizzle and very little sausage north of the border.

Lesley

kitchen hand said...

Ed, what's happened to your column?

Lesley, Sydney probably still uses rum as currency!

Ed said...

Death of 1,000 cuts nearly 2,000 days ago. It was a pain of sorts though.

kitchen hand said...

That's a shame, Ed.