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Photos from Ottawa’s First Dishcrawl – updated

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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.

Dishcrawl Button in front of Mambo Nuevo Latino

Dishcrawl Button in front of Mambo Nuevo Latino

Sidedoor Contemporary Kitchen & Bar

Sidedoor Contemporary Kitchen & Bar

Sidedoor Contemporary Kitchen & Bar's Front Door

Sidedoor Contemporary Kitchen & Bar’s Front Door

Kinki Asian-Fusion Restaurant's New Side Patio

Kinki Asian-Fusion Restaurant’s New Side Patio

At Cupcake Lounge (6 ByWard Market Square), we treated ourselves to cupcakes, one each.

Chai Latte and Red Velvet Cupcakes

Chai Latte and Red Velvet Cupcakes

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:

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.

Weber's Coverage of Ottawa's First Dish Crawl

Weber’s Coverage of Ottawa’s First Dish Crawl

Thanks Hilary for the head’s up! Congrats to your roommate!

Particulars:
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
Cupcake Lounge on Urbanspoon

Mild-mannered IT professional by day and food blogger by night, I founded foodiePrints with a single intention, to share my love of all things food. My first post shared a recipe. Many followed. Eventually, I learned Ottawa prepares and serves great food. Thereafter, I started meeting restaurateurs, chefs, cooks, farmers, and other local producers, all good people. Ideas for food-related content swirled in my head. foodiePrints grew into a place to put them. From exploring foreign and domestic cuisines to shopping for exotic ingredients and cobbling together my takes on dishes in my meager kitchen, there are stories to tell. Welcome to foodiePrints. Here, you will find stories about food and drink, cooking, and eating in Canada’s capital. Be it food-related or just food-for-thought, I hope you find something tasty here.

Comments

And, Ottawa is Dishcrawling Again | foodiePrints

[...] Dishcrawl originated in San Francisco, California almost 5 years ago. It came to Ottawa May 2011 when Caitlin Carrol organized her first tasting tour of the ByWard Market. Sixty-four of us were [...]

Pickles

I think one of the words needed is: commonsense.

As a diner I would be really annoyed with a flash going off, unless it's some kind of celebration. As a reader, I'm annoyed with bad photos. If it doesn't resemble anything you ate or made - don't post it, no matter how much you loved it! I can also understand a chef's frustration at seeing something they worked hard on being turned into a white/dark fuzzy blob.

Commonsense. That's all we need.

Pearl

I can see the point of the Grubstreet article. Food photography is at odds with restaurants — hard to capture artistry. we don't photograph in art galleries.

8th graders having DSLRs and them being ubiquitous is not the same thing as quality images being made.

a restaurant's dim lighting isn't easy, even with better cameras and photographers.

alea@myrealfoodlife

I agree with your point on ethics... i think most food bloggers are quite discreet (us being the polite canadians that we are :) ).

However, if i was a restaurant owner and plated a gorgeous piece, and saw that someone took a photo that was taken with a flash (augh), or not well lit, or out of focus, or mis represented in any way, I kinda get it. They are artists. They want their art to be shown the way it was intended.

I think if a chef is honestly that particular about how their food is visually portrayed, there's got to be a workaround to be a partner with foodbloggers instead of banning the cameras. We can all be friends
:D

Maybe inviting a blogger that has great food shots, to take pics of the weekly menu and post it up on the restaurant's website so that other bloggers can download and use in their posts?

I must admit though, I cringe at alot of my own photos - the more i learn, the more i realize i don't know :)

If any of you guys are into food photos, check out the mytartlette blog- she has a terrific easy book she just came out with ("from plate to pixel"). Its step by step, easy, fun, full of great images, and info on how to use your dslr. I've been buried in it all week :D

Great post on this topic guys! Thank you :)

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@foodiePrints (Jun 16, 08:56 AM)
Photos from Ottawa's First Dishcrawl http://nblo.gs/jdTMI

@urbanitejewelry (Jun 16, 08:58 AM)
oooooo! RT @foodieprints: Photos from Ottawa's First Dishcrawl http://nblo.gs/jdTMI

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@thegoudalife (Jun 16, 08:57 AM)
@foodiePrints - How was it??

@foodiePrints (Jun 16, 08:59 AM)
@thegoudalife It was a great way to spend at Tues evening. But, it also reinforced my thoughts of 2 restaurants I haven't been to in years.

@thegoudalife (Jun 16, 09:01 AM)
@foodiePrints - Oh no, thats a bummer. You hope that maybe it would have changed for the better. (curious which resto!)But glad it was fun!

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@thefoodca (Jun 16, 12:55 AM)
Photos from Ottawa's First Dishcrawl (foodiePrints) http://fewd.ca/a26718

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