Well, I’m now several weeks into this blog, and it’s actually been a pretty fascinating exercise so far. I’ve really enjoyed getting to flex my writing muscles a bit, mundane as the topics of my posts may be, and I’m immensely grateful for all of you who have been following along. But there have definitely been some bumps in the road I never would have predicted when I started Experimental Gastronomy. The largest one being that I love food too much to stop and smell the roses, or rather, take pictures of them.
I mentioned this problem back in my post about Levain. I had every intention of photographing my City Bakery trip, but once I moved from the frosty November air to the cookie-infused interior of the restaurant, I was dunzo. Cue stuffing my face, my phone snuggled safe in my purse without a thought of documenting the experience. This happened yet again on Saturday, when I went to brunch with a friend at the Cornelia Street Cafe. I really, really tried to be better this time. Even though I was running late and huffing and puffing my way from the subway, I paused for a moment to run across the street and capture a few images of the facade of the Cafe:
And once I got inside I was bold enough to be a creeper and take pictures of the interior, complete with innocent bystanders who will now have their breakfasts scrutinized by the cold eye of the internet. Sorry about that.
See how adorable it is? Apparently they have a performance space in the back, with a rotation of different types of live music throughout the month.
But yet again, once I sat down and started actually brunching with my friend, all thought of recording the meal for posterity went out the window. The problem is that I’ve never been much of a camera person — I tend to get wrapped up in the moment with the friends or family I’m with, and just hope that someone else is on top of the photography. I had a few friends in college on whom I relied for physical evidence of my social life, and now that we’ve graduated, I think the number of new photos of me on Facebook has decreased exponentially. And when you throw food into the mix, I have a disappointing habit of immediately putting it in my mouth, which does really hampers the development of a thoughtful critique. Maybe food critics never review when they’re hungry? Then how do the judges on Top Chef endure the 18 dishes each they have to try each episode? How is Padma Lakshmi so goddamn skinny?!
Unfortunately, photography in food blogging seems pretty essential. Even if I’m just using my lame iPhone camera, I need to be able to share some part of the meal with you all, to provide context for my comments and descriptions. I always get upset when someone reviews a product and doesn’t offer up any photos — how am I supposed to find the limited edition Gingerbread Oreos if I don’t know what box to search for in the supermarket? (Seriously, though, if anyone finds and tries those, let me know. I have a great recipe for Gingerbread Oreo blondies I’d like to try.)
For those curious about my brunch at Cornelia Street Cafe, it was nice, but not revelatory in any way. The Cafe offers a $20 prix fixe brunch, which includes your choice of bread, a selection from a few of their brunch dishes, a juice or alcoholic brunch beverage, and coffee or tea. I ended up just getting scrambled egg whites with garlic rosemary potatoes, and a mimosa and coffee, which all were satisfactory. By far the best and most unique thing about the meal was the initial choice of bread. My brunchmate recommended the “warm chocolate bread,” and unsurprisingly I went with it (Maggie? Chocolate? Who would have thunk it?). I wasn’t sure exactly what would arrive at our table — would it be a dark brown quickbread, chocolate through-and-through? Maybe something scone-like? It actually ended up being more like a cinnamon roll or monkey bread in terms of texture (and here, a picture would be so useful, dammit!). There were layers of fluffy, yeasty white bread to pull away piece by piece, and the roll was studded with oozing, gooey chunks of chocolate that coated both my fingers and my plate. It was messy, but well worth it. I’m not sure the chocolate was anything too gourmet, but as a longtime fan of Nestle Tollhouse, I had no real issue with that. I would definitely come back for the bread, and maybe get an omelet or the eggs florentine next time.
In the age of Instagram, I feel woefully stodgy and provincial with my natural and kind of selfish inclination to just be in the moment without documenting it, but I guess I need to get with the times, as they say. I don’t really have a roadmap for this blog or what I want to achieve with it beyond it being a creative outlet for my own thoughts and obsessions with food, so I’m fortunate not to feel real pressure to offer professional level photography (or erudite, well-written insights, it appears). But as a consumer of food blogs, I know what I look forward to in a new post, and part of that is the photography. It’s the reason I spend way too much time on Foodgawker, why I have Chopped on my DVR, and why I generally try to buy cookbooks with pretty pictures. So with the new year approaching fast, maybe I can make an early resolution on being more aware and more deliberate with my photography for this blog. It’s a small change that could make a big difference, and maybe it would help me to slow down slightly with my habit of immediate food-to-face intake.
The Cornelia Street Cafe
29 Cornelia Street New York, NY 10014