This post is delayed because I’ve been out-of-town, but I thought I’d take a moment to write about the past year, and a few notes about the year ahead. Halfway through writing this post, I realized 2015 will be the 10th year of PortlandFoodandDrink.com.
First, it’s always interesting (at least to me), what the most popular posts have been over the last year:
- Best Tonic Water – Are the Gourmet Brands Worth the Price?
- Q Tonic vs. Fever-Tree Tonic – is it any surprise that I updated this old article last year?
- Quoth the Food Dude, “Nevermore!” – How to Make Tonic Water from Scratch – this one amazes me. It consistently brings in 300-400 readers a day, 365. Lately it has exploded, but that is probably because I wrote an article for a magazine in the EU that links to it.
- Making Tonic Water from Scratch – My Descent into Madness. Notice a pattern? I’m thinking I should rename this blog, TonicWater.com
- Cheese – Care and Storage – by the terrific writer Tami Parr of the Pacific Northwest Cheese Project.
Of course this site has been around since 2005, and though my analytics only go back four years, they are fun to look at too:
- How to Make Tonic Water from Scratch
- Best Restaurants in Portland 2013
- Best Restaurants in Portland 2012
- Portland Coffeehouse Roundup
- Best Pizza in Portland 2013
Surprisingly, these are followed by the odd collection of personal memories that me and other writers have penned over the years. I didn’t realize how many people read them, so haven’t been doing them recently. Here are the next ten most popular posts over the history of the site:
- Review of Podnah’s Pit BBQ – a headlong plunge into my childhood
- Sunday Dinner with Betty – Tribute to Lauren Bacall
- Tribute to my Sister on her death
- Making Mayonnaise from Scratch – and more childhood
- 52 Fords, Fallout Shelters and the Steakhouse Review Summary – yup, more childhood memories
- Remembering Food, and Smoke Follows Beauty
- Of an Untimely Death, and a Ham Sandwich
- The Best Laid Plans
- Miss Delta and the Boiled Chicken Death March – a review and more memories
I will admit, I have left out a few posts which have gotten a zillion reads – I need to have a few trade secrets. The best day in the history of this website was, strangely, Christmas day 2014. I thought there must be some kind of mistake when I first looked at the stats.
Many of you have asked why I don’t cover as much news as I used to. I will post more general news this year, especially when I have an opinion about a story. Maybe I’m just getting old, but frankly I don’t care who is competing on shows like Top Chef; I don’t think the judges or situations are a determiner of someone’s ability to cook (though I just love Top Chef Jr.)
The “OMG!” sensationalistic style of press currently in vogue is stupid – it’s just a new restaurant. Most of it comes across like the people writing them have a quota, though I am sure if I was working for one of these news mills I’d churning stories out as fast as I could. Most national “Best of” articles are nothing more than meaningless click bait, which is why they are usually in the form of slide shows – they get to show you more advertisements that way.
I’m not going to say I’ve never been guilty of sensationalized stories, but it seems like everything on the web is so “Breaking News!” I’ve quit reading most of it, and I’m trying not to follow the pack. For those who aren’t aware of it, quite a bit of news comes to my pdxfoodpress.com site, which is growing and growing. Speaking of which, you may have noticed that I have pretty much quit using graphic images in the PR- it seems many of you use images that are not public domain, and then I get very personal letters from lawyers. Also, since many of them are lengthy, the feed is now just a teaser. Sorry, but it was overwhelming readers, and causing issues with Mr. Google. It is easy to click on any of them to see the full post.
What’s coming up?
The Best of 2015 – I skipped 2014, because it’s always a small group that takes the top places. However, a lot has changed in the past two years, so I’ll be doing the entire survey again – and already have $500 in various gift certificates lined up as incentive drawings.
More product reviews. I’m working on one now, testing bottled pasta sauces. Let’s face it – most of us have used them in a pinch, and they vary wildly in quality. I’ll follow this with reviews of a couple other items from store shelves.
I’m going to dive into home sous vide cooking a bit this year. Expect to see reviews of different immersion circulators and some recipes. They can be a really efficient and interesting method of cooking for home cooks.
Restaurant reviews? I get emails all the time asking if I’ll start doing reviews again. The quick answer is maybe, but not very many. To be honest, because of my health, I have a more difficult time getting out, and my income doesn’t go nearly as far as it used to. Add the burnout factor. It’s easy to write a positive review, but for me there is a lot of stress around writing a bad review. I spent a lot of hours tossing and turning. Nowadays reviews are online forever. If the restaurant gets better or worse, they still have to fight the old press. It’s difficult; as a reviewer you can’t go back and update everything. It’s also embarrassing when you give raves to a restaurant, and go back six months later to a lousy meal. After doing them for eight years, I was burned out. I enjoy going out these days, not having to memorize every detail, but just to be in the moment and enjoy my meal.
In my opinion, there is still one, maybe two good reviewers in this town, and as long as those gentlemen are around, there isn’t much need for me to jump in. However… when I feel strongly about a restaurant, I’ll may bring it up. Another thing: judging by the demographics of PFD readers, I think you are more discriminating than the average restaurant customer. We aren’t talking Yelp level posters – many of you have a pretty high level of sophistication. The “Best of Whatever” posts usually follow my own opinions, and I think they are a good guide for both tourists and locals to the local restaurant scene.
A few final thoughts. Readers of this site have been incredibly loyal, coming back year after year. I can’t express how much that means to me. I post on a random basis when I feel up to it or have something to say, yet you keep returning. I appreciate every one of you.
Thank you to John Valls for the amazing images over the years, and all the people who have been guest writers on this site. This link will take you to a list of each one of them and to their posts. I am honored to be the recipient of your time and effort.
I also want to take a moment and thank the people and companies who advertise on the site. I hope you have checked them out. Since most renew each year, spots rarely come available (I don’t want to plaster the entire site with ads). Some have been with me long enough to have millions of impressions and thousands of clicks:
R. Stuart & Co. Winery, Sysco, Marlin Group, Sapori Fine Flavors, Oregon Culinary Academy, Beaverton Farmers Market, New Systems Laundry, NW Food & Wine Guide, Tails & Trotters, and Portland Food Adventures.
Your contribution means a huge difference in my life. Not only does it pay the cost for the new server which is much more expensive (and faster!) than it used to be, you also pay for my prescriptions. I take 12 or more pills a day; one might say I’m high maintenance.
For those of you who have written recently asking about my health, the last 4 months were a challenge, and I will not be surprised if 2015 is too. It makes me sad that I can’t leave the house nearly as much as I used to. MS is a bitch, and I understand why so many people who have it, give up. But I’m a fighter. If I’m having a good day, I push, even though I know I may regret it tomorrow; life is to be lived, no matter what your circumstance. One must always reach for that brass ring1, push though it hurts, embrace what doesn’t, always keep learning, love those around you, sing in the car, dance while you vacuum, and cry when you need to.
Thanks for reading
1. For those who aren’t familiar with the term “grabbing the brass ring”, amusement park carousels used to have a brass ring hanging from the canopy. If you managed to grab it as you zipped by, you’d get a free ride. They didn’t make it easy.