It has been a week since I participated in Ottawa’s first Dishcrawl. With several days to reconsider (and digest the multi-course meal), I decided to blog about my experience after all. Though, I won’t blog about Caitlin Carrol and her partner in culinary crime, Michelle, taking 64 people (divided into 2 group of 32) around the ByWard Market on a tasting tour. It was a fun Tuesday evening out, visiting 5 restaurants (one, I haven’t been to in 3 years) on what is usually a slow day of the week.
Instead, I will blog about taking pictures in restaurants, something Phoebe Damrosch of New York Magazine addresses today in a post on Grub Street. Her post resonated well with lauded Pastry Chef David Lebovitz, so he shared a link on Facebook, which is how I came across it.
Accordingly, chefs and restauranteurs are noticing diners increasingly taking pictures of the food they are served. Several big name restaurants have banned cameras altogether. Listed are Chefs César Ramirez’s Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare and David Chang’s Momofuku Ko. Several noted chefs have spoken out about photography, disrupting dining experiences and service. Several, have instituted bans on flash photography. Besides, Damrosch generalizes, “no kitchen wants to see its carefully plated, innovative dishes become dark, murky images circulating the web.”
Dark murky images are what the majority of the photos I took during Dishcrawl ended up being. When I interviewed Carrol about bringing Dischcrawl to Ottawa, she described its goals of establishing new local food communities and growing existing ones. Hoping not to disrupt food enthusiasts from meeting one another, I opted not to bring our large DSLR camera along, so had neither lenses to change nor filters to adapt to different light conditions. [Not that I have any real idea how to use the camera...Seriously, this thing has a lot of buttons!] The only DSLR-equipped participant was a photographer who accompanied a journalist on the tasting tour.
Another goal of Dishcrawl is to encourage people to “get to know their neighbourhoods and discover restaurants they never knew existed.” Not sure who would be on the tour, I volunteered to help Carrol share our discoveries by “live-tweeting” them (hashtag: #dcott). I ended up being one of many who shared dishes with the twitterverse and later the blog-o-sphere. In fact, of the 32 people in my group, 5 were local food bloggers. Many came equipped with data-enabled cell-phones with embedded digital cameras.
What surprised me was how participants were discreet and sensible about how they took pictures at the various restaurants. Some retrieved point and shoot digital cameras to photograph their dishes, but quickly concealed them thereafter, never drawing attention to themselves. Even smart phones were tabled out-of-sight. I saw no flashes go off. I barely heard a shutter sound. No one asked to photograph anyone else’s dishes. Dishes were photographed as they were set down by our servers. No one setup tripods of any kind. Conversations weren’t interrupted. Food never cooled. It was seamless.
The result, some passable and some not so passable shots on my end.
One photo, the one of my tacos from Sidedoor Contemporary Kitchen and Bar (18B York Street), I later shared on foodiePrints’ Tumblr sub-blog “Bits and Bites” as part of our “365 Project.” Like the other bloggers, I chose not to share the dark and murky shots in a post. Even now, they are in a Flickr slideshow, not directly on foodiePrints. Tweets with twitpics (linked photos) are fleeting and difficult to find after several days, twitter being as active as it is. Blog posts, even short ones on meso-blog platforms like Tumblr are more easily searchable.
Wanting to better share the Dishcrawl experience, I took Jenn to the ByWard Market this past weekend with our DSLR slung over my back. We re-walked the route my group took, taking better shots of several restaurants.
At Cupcake Lounge (6 ByWard Market Square), we treated ourselves to cupcakes, one each.
Not cloyingly sweet, the cake was light and moist. The icing, luscious.
Damrosch’s piece, while insightful, misses something critical. Digital cameras are pervasive and have been a while. I have seen 8th graders visiting Ottawa with entry level DSLR’s around their necks. People are learning to be mindful of disrupting one another at restaurants. Give us a chance. Food blogger or no, we may surprise with how ethical we can be.
Links to other blog posts on Ottawa’s First Dishcrawl:
- “Attended: Ottawa’s First DishCrawl!” from Sheltered Girl Meets World by Katy Watts
- “Dishcrawl Ottawa. Yum.” from Local Tourist Ottawa by Hilary Duff
- “Ottawa’s first Dishcrawl event – tastebud tour” from Apron Strings by Lana Stewart
Update: The “journalist” mentioned in the above post is Alex Weber, a journalism student who happens to be the roommate of friend to foodiePrints and fellow Ottawa food blogger Hilary Duff (@hilaryduffcu). Weber’s piece with photos (some shot by her), was published on the front page of local newspaper the Ottawa Citizen’s food section.
Thanks Hilary for the head’s up! Congrats to your roommate!
The Cupcake Lounge
6 ByWard Market Square
Open Tues to Wed 9:00 am-6:00 pm, Thurs-Sat 9:00 am-7:00 pm, and Sun 11:00 am-5:00 pm
Tags: culinary tourism, cupcakes, Dishcrawl, food tour, sponsored, The Cupcake Lounge