A few recent developments in Houston food media:
Southbound Food Radio
Would you believe the best new source of information about Houston restaurants is on . . . AM sports radio?
Southbound Food is a weekly radio show about Houston restaurants with three great hosts:
Bryan Caswell: chef and co-owner of Reef and Little Bigs
Lance Zierlien: Houston's best am sports radio host (I'm a longtime listener)
Jenny Wang: the shining star at the center of Houston's Chowhound and blogger scene
I just discovered Southbound's podcsts, which include Randy Rucker explaining why he left Rainbow Lodge and new restaurants by John Tesar and Tony Vallone.
These are not only informative. They are a huge amount of fun.
Fearless Critic's new restaurant guide
A few years ago, I mentioned the first Fearless Critic Houston Restaurant Guide. Its reviews were mostly written by local chefs.
The new 2010 edition has just been released. This time, the new reviews were written mostly by Houston bloggers -- with a serious amount of editing.
Disclaimer: I was one of those bloggers. I will not make any money off the book. But it would be unfair for me to review it.
I'll leave you to decide: are reviews better written by professional chefs or amateur bloggers?
Houston's food blogs: dying or just changing?
Last year, Houston food blogs exploded. As Fearless Critic editor, Robin Goldstein, told me, Houston had the most exciting food blog scene outside of New York. And Houston's scene was more of a community than New York.
This year, the air seems to be rushing out the bubble. Many amateur food blogs have gone silent. Others are published less frequently. And they are less adventuresome.
Some of the bloggers have gone professional. The Houston Press hired several oustanding bloggers -- which is both a good and bad thing. On one hand, the Press's Eating our Words has frequent posts and is a great source of information. It may now be Houston's best food blog. On the other hand, you can feel the corporate control. Writers have to write a minimum number of posts. And the style is not as idiosyncratic as an amateur blog.
Of course, the same thing has happened to me. Although I'm not paid, I put more energy this year into Fearless Critic than this blog. The Fearless Critic had style guidelines. And my style changed to comply.
One by one, the bloggers have been co-opted by for-profit ventures. And the blogs have changed.
The energy also has diffused because so many bloggers now spend their time on Twitter. Twitter makes blogs seem wordy, old-fashioned, and old media.
Worse there has been a lot of public criticism about food blogs in Houston, including a rumor that food bloggers demand free food from restaurants. I seriously doubt that rumor is true, but the charges hurt the community.
Our food blogs have lost the high energy, DIY ethic of 2008 when we all did it solely for the love of food.
Perhaps food blogs will continue in a style that is more informed, restrained, and mature. Or perhaps the halcyon days of Houston's amateur blogs are over.