Sunday, 10 October 2010

A Prologue

When I started writing this blog, it was as a bit of fun to mix my obsession with travelling and food into words that friends and a few other people could read. 2½ years later somehow it is still going. No idea how really.
As my job as a travel agent, gifts or complimentary stays at hotels or flights are part and parcel of the job. How else do you think I have travelled so much. It’s a way of them leaving you with a nice feeling, so you can sell their product better.
This also happens with critics of all forms, whether they are music, film or food critics. Little gifts go a long way. I scratch your back you scratch mine.
I have been noticing many many people who write blogs that are receiving complimentary meals from restaurants, or are guests of wine merchants etc. Some decide to tell us that, whilst some do not. But once you start reading a blog, it kinda becomes obvious that it was a freebie, as the writings flatter a place so much, that you would believe they had gone to heaven and back.
I never envisaged I would be offered anything, especially as I have a limited fan base. I’m sure that my mum and her friends do not really even really read half the stuff I write. So when, within a week 3 turn up at once. Just like the number 65 bus, I was gob smacked.
The first was to an informal breakfast at Roast for a kind of launch of the London Restaurant Festival. Unfortunately we were at Polpo the night before and I never made it up that morning in time to go. Damn as Roast do some fine sausage sarnies.
The second was to goto Camino. This I jumped at with open arms, as we’d been to the King’s Cross arm of this burgeoning empire and always had a good time.
The third was to a Jazz Evening at the Pizza Express Jazz Club in Soho. Unfortunately again, we were both quite hung over from Camino that there was no way we could have made it. I was a complete waste of space at work that day. Nothing new there then.
I am used to being given free lunches at hotels, which normally involve a tour of the hotel and its facilities before settling down to a hosted (i.e. someone from the marketing department eats with you), or unhosted (you eat alone) meal in their restaurant. The unhosted ones are the oddest, especially when you are in an empty restaurant.
I really cannot tell you how many I have had over the years. I’ve lost count. In fact after a while they kinda get dull and repetitive, and all you crave is for some badly cooked street food. Well I was like that in India. Took me about 3 weeks before I could escape from a hotel restaurant to a normal restaurant with dirty floors and stroppy waiters.
Now I am not the type of person to write good things just because it is free. Since returning from that trip through the sub-continent and beyond and giving my presentations at work. My boss hasn’t spoken to me since I said Burma was the least favourite country I visited in those 10 weeks.
Now to anyone else this would not be a problem, but as she was born in Burma and has major attachments to the country. I kinda fucked up. But hey, I cannot lie.
Now you are probably wondering why I am going into so much about this. Well it’s because we had a great time at Camino Puerto. Such a good time that even without it being comp’d, I would have happily paid the bill myself. It was that good.
But the real reason is that I am getting fed up of people pretending that a free meal isn’t a free meal. Just tell us it was free and write what you think. If it was shit, then it was shit. If it was ok then say so. Don’t bollox us with over hype, just so in case you never get invited to another free meal. Tell it as it is, and we will respect you even more.
Now the next blog will be me over hyping Camino Puerto to the point of it being nauseating. Enjoy.


Kavey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kavey said...

I prefer to make it very clear when a meal has been comped.
Even then, I do my best to be honest about what I love, what I like, what I dislike, what I hate.
But I still prefer to let readers know because, let's face it, when a restaurant knows you are coming in to review, they have an added chance to focus on making it a good experience. In some cases, your experience is genuinely typical and in others, it's a bit more polished.
So I prefer to disclose.
Of course, sometimes it's just a case of falling in love with a place regardless. I paid my own bill for my Delhi Grill visit and absolutely raved about the place!

Michelle Peters - Jones said...

Ha, I wish someone would give me a free dinner once in a while :-)

PS - I read every post you've written, as I enjoy your style of writing. I aprticularly enjoyed the Indian adventures, as its always enlightening to view my country from the eyes of a stranger.

Keep blogging.