Wednesday, 26 September 2012


Get your own personal hipster restaurant name!

Friday, 14 September 2012

How to Be a Food Blogger

Want to eat for free? Become a food blogger. It's easy. Just get a blog and write about what you had for breakfast. Everyone will love it!
Before you start, I thought I'd write a little list of helpful tips to get you doing things properly.
Most of these points probably relate to any kind of industry, such as beauty or fashion, but because I'm about as fashionable as a tie-dye T shirt and a pair of crocs, I'll be referring to food blogging.

1. Content.
There are two types of posts:
1. Review of something (a restaurant/sandwich/burger)
2. Your own recipes.
Stick with no 1. No-one gives a fuck about your recipes.

2. Freebies.The first and most important thing about being a food blogger is GETTING FREE SHIT. The way you get free shit? SAY NICE THINGS ABOUT STUFF. The more nice things you say, the more free stuff you will get.

2. Where do you start?
Start by going to restaurants, cafes, bars etc. Yes, unfortunately you will have to pay for a few meals to begin with. Don't worry, this won't last long. Next day, blog about how brilliant it was. Send a link to the restaurant, chances are they'll thank you with a free meal. Never be nasty about anywhere, except for easy targets. (see below)

3. Easy targets.
The only places you are allowed to be negative about fall into three categories:
1. Crappy chains you wouldn't seen dead in such as Aberdeen steakhouse, Yo! Sushi etc. (you can ironically blog about them though, which will raise a wry chuckle and a wink with other food bloggers).
2. Celebrity chefs' places that are so big and famous they don't give a flying fuck about food bloggers. Jamie Oliver, Ramsay, Wallace etc.
3. Places that bigger food bloggers have already been nasty about.

4. Go to events. As a food blogger, you will be invited to many events. Openings, launches, pop-ups, street food festivals etc (I'm literally going through hundreds of emails for tonight alone). It is customary to tweet about your TERRIBLE hangover from said event last night so people know exactly where you were, and which brand of just-launched vodka you drank, with in-jokes aplenty from the night before.

5. Distance martyrdom. As highlighted by MBFBY once before, here, if it's not in Central London, point out how much of a trek you went on to get to aforementioned restaurant you're blogging about. You want to get across how dedicated to food you are and how nestled you are in the cool places to be.

6. Quantity.
You don't have to write much. Nobody reads it anyway. One thing that's become quite popular is minimal text (what the dish is called) and a many of pictures. Oh, and multiple pictures of yourself = winner. Who DOESN'T want to see your smug face on a blog about food?

7. Blag.
Beg, tweet, email and call all the restaurants you can possibly think of to 'arrange a review'. If it's in public, all the better. Make out you're doing them a favour, too. Of COURSE Gordon Ramsay needs the publicity of a dedicated post in your  exciting unique blog.

8. Be first.
Introduce a new opening as your own personal discovery, using phrases like 'hidden gem'. The fact that Richard Vines tweeted about it a month ago and 90% of Twitter are talking about it doesn't matter, 5% of your readers think you are a God (NB: That's your Mum, Dad and the guy/gal who's trying to get into your pants).

9. Photograph it.Instagram everything you eat, ever. Even if it looks like a turd. No-one will believe you've eaten something if it's not documented in the proper food blogger fashion. Using, of course, my handy tips on food photography to help you along (photographed from above, blurry vignette along the corners, retro feel).

10. Build twitter followers.
Lots of followers is crucial, for status and blagging rights etc. Easy right? Just tweet regularly in a witty agreeable style and everyone will RT you, and nobody will risk not following. OR - buy blocks of followers in the 1000s of single, busty God-worshipping teenagers from Canada who love Justin Bieber and have zero followers themselves. (See @douglasblyde)

11. Be fickle.
Agree with everything bigger bloggers say. Someone with more that 5000 followers likes Nutella? YOU LIKE NUTELLA. Oh wait, actually no she doesn't? DAMN YOU HATE NUTELLA.

12. Be on trend.
You must like the latest trend. Aperol, Hotdogs, camping crockery, Japanese earthenware, Danish beardy weirdoes, be an expert on them and pretend to have been enjoying them since 1972 when they were invented.

13. Peckhamism.You must live in South East London. Brixton Market is your weekend hangout. Be especially touchy if anyone non-food-bloggy mocks the fact that it's bandit country for people that can't afford to be in as nice a place north of the River.

14. Hate the right people. You must HATE star-chasers, journalists (except the ones who have deemed you cool enough to be in their gang), chain restaurants and anything that Pret or Waitrose does. You must look down on, well, basically anything the bigger, stronger food bloggers do because if you disagree with anything from the canon, you're basically dead.

15. Be unpredictable.
Occasionally you may tweet about something not about food, like politics or something serious. This shows your deep character. But remember, any tweet you post that's not about food must be preceded by an apology and 'NB: NON FOOD-RELATED TWEET'.

16. Get in the clique.
Get in the loop. Chat to all the other bloggers and slowly they will welcome you into their gang. Turn up at all of the openings. Buy them Negronis (and know Russell Norman on first name terms), they will be putty in your hands.

Good luck, fledglings!!

Melissa x (always sign off with your name and a kiss)

Friday, 7 September 2012

Duck Soup: Aloof, but Still Good

Duck Soup is a good restaurant. It is typically Soho-esque, the food is simple and good and it's in a great location. I walked past a few times and I noticed it hasn't been so busy, and it's not being talked about as much. But perhaps it's just full a normal amount after the initial flurry of interest. A restaurant doesn't need huge queues every night to be a success. Still though, it would be nice to see it a little busier sometimes. They're not very active on social media but perhaps that's the way they want to keep it.

I hadn't been to Duck Soup since it opened so when I took a visiting friend to dinner, it seemed like a good place to revisit and to show her a bit of Soho.

Queues. After standing behind two people who it transpired were having a conversation in the doorway and not queuing at all for five minutes, we got a seat straight away. It remained moderately busy all night.

Service. Our assigned waiter, whilst being polite, had a rather brusque manner about him, (crescendoing by his huffily clearing away not our empty plates but our napkins).

Wine. We asked for the 'house white' (read: the cheapest wine. Payday is not yet in reach). He replied, 'They're kind of all our house whites.' He recommended one that was 'just a couple of pounds more' for something that would be 'better suited' to us (somewhat patronisingly). We agreed because despite the cheeky upsell, the £25 bottle sounded a bit too complicated for our unsophisticated palates (though surely the cheapest wine should be accessible, right? Maybe it's a natural wine thing, as Duck Soup provides itself on having an all-natural wines menu). Anyway, it was nice wine, and for £30 (I balked) I would hope so.

Bread. They've obviously taken note of people complaining about the two weedy pieces of sourdough they gave me last time because there was a decent-size portion. I still can't quite agree with restaurants charging for bread, though. It's mean and it's the kind of thing you can get from a similar place (such as 10 Greek Street) and you're given automatically.*

Figs with Lardo & mozzarella

Food. The food was good. High points included the mozzarella, lardo and figs. It was deliciously sweet, salty and soft at the same time. I could have eaten dozens. They also didn't skimp on size of salami slices, which were what salami should be, complete with big fatty bits throughout. The low point was the shallots, goat's cheese and mint. The cheese overpowered the shallot and the toast was a bit more burned than I'd like. The dessert was a greengage tart with various spices, which was ok. Nothing to write home about.

Seating & decor. I actually preferred sitting at the bar, because you could see what was going on, and it didn't feel like you were boxed off next to the wall (though my clumsy dining companion continually elbowed her neighbour due to lack of space). It's a tiny, tiny space but it works (if you're small. If you have pointy elbows or long legs, you won't enjoy it as much). It's got the classic Soho exposed lightbulbs and it's shabby chic. It works. My visiting friend commented (without irony) 'Their wine list is on tiles! That's so different!' I envied her for not knowing any different.

So instead of saturating the new restaurants (you'll have to queue, or book 3 months in advance anyway and they really don't need the business), visit restaurants like Duck Soup which had a flurry of excitement which has now quietened down considerably. Because they're still good. It's just the Twitterati have stopped talking about them so much. But I'll continue to go back there.

A sample of the day's menu

Ducksoup on Urbanspoon Square Meal


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