Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The 10th Anniversary of The Passionate Foodie

Today, The Passionate Foodie blog celebrates its Tenth Anniversary, a significant milestone. With over 4100 posts, I'm very proud of what I've accomplished and I look forward to continuing to write, continuing to spread my passion for food & drink.

I've actually been blogging for 11 1/2 years as before I started The Passionate Foodie I wrote for another blog, the Real World Winers, which has been defunct for many years. Over 12 years ago, I started hanging out weekly with a new group of friends and I would bring a bottle or two of wine. Soon, someone else brought a bottle and then another person did so too. We ended up drinking 6-8 bottles of wine at our weekly get-togethers. The group eventually decided it might be fun to do a podcast and blog that reviewed the wines.

This became the Real World Winers, and eventually I expanded the blog to include restaurant reviews. After a year, my friends were finding the blogging to be too much work, and the reviews were falling behind. However, I was still loving the writing and wanted to continue. As I was the only person interested in writing, I decided to strike out on my own and began The Passionate Foodie, allowing me complete creative control over the blog. I still love the writing, continuing to find it fulfilling.

Over the course of the past ten years, I've seen many food/drink blogs come and go, with many ending after only a year. It can be a lot of work, and certainly takes significant drive and dedication. If it is only a hobby, then many other matters can take precedence, making it easy to put aside the blog. However, there are other blogs which have stood the test of time, which have lasted for many years too. And those people deserve many kudos for their passion and dedication.

During the past 10 years of The Passionate Foodie, I've learned so much about food & drinks, exploring a wide variety of topics, essentially anything I can eat or drink. I also became a Certified Spanish Wine Educator, a Wine Location Specialist (Champagne & Port) and a Certified Sake Professional. There is still so much more to learn, a never ending education with much room for growth. That is one of my favorite aspects, learning about new things and then sharing what I discover with my readers. It helps that I'm a voracious reader and love to research new topics.

My blog has provided me a myriad of wonderful opportunities and experiences, creating a vast storehouse of fantastic memories. I've sampled so much excellent and exciting food and drink, in this country and others. I've gotten to travel to some amazing destinations, including France (Bordeaux and Champagne), Spain (Sherry region), Italy (Tuscany & Collio), Argentina and Chile. I've judged a number of cooking competitions, including one that ended up on Japanese television. I was honored to be inducted as a Cavaleiro in the Confraria do Vinho do Porto, a Knight in the Brotherhood of Port Wine.

I've met so many interesting people, which has enhanced my experiences as I've long said that food and drink when shared is even better. Some of those people have become close friends and I think those friendships will last for many years to come. It has been fascinating to meet numerous wine makers, distillers, brewers, wine & liquor store owners, importers, distributors, restaurant owners, chefs, and much more. From each, I've learned something new, which has helped my writing and understanding.

I've tried to share with my readers information about these people and their businesses, interests, and passions. In my own small way, I've tried to highlight the diversity of some of these people, in ways like Wine, Women & The Internet, showcasing women who write about wine, and Celebrating Local Diversity: People of Color Blogging About Food & Drink.

During these ten years, my hobby has transformed into my profession. I'm now a freelance writer, having been published in a number of magazines and newspapers. I'm also a Sake educator and consultant, working for a variety of clients, from restaurants to distributors. Plus, I work part time at a local wine store, gaining an insight into the average wine consumer. In addition, I write fiction, and have published three novels and a book of short stories. The fiction is mostly part of the Tipsy Sensei series, about a Sake expert in Boston who learns that the supernatural creatures of Japanese folklore are real. I was also a contributor to a comprehensive whiskey guide, The New Single Malt Whiskey.

It has been my pleasure to try to showcase and promote under-appreciated and/or lesser known wines, spirits and other drinks. From Sake to Sherry, from Franciacorta to Georgian Wines, from Mezcal to Baijiu. I've championed many of these underdogs, all which areworthy beverages deserving of much more attention. It has also been my pleasure to recommend and promote the restaurants which I have enjoyed. I want those businesses to succeed, so I'll be able to dine there for years to come. I want my readers to understand why I am so passionate about the matters I recommend.

Out of my over 4100 posts, I have some favorites, those posts which I am especially proud of for various reasons. At the top, I am proudest of my article, An Expanded History of Sake Brewing in the U.S., which involved lots of research, including searching through old newspaper archives. It presented an intriguing history which surprised numerous people and changed some of their previous beliefs. This article was even used a a major source and inspiration for someone else to recently write an article on this topic in The Japanese Journal For The History of Brewing.

I'm also pleased with a more recent article, The Origins of Pechuga, Pierde Almas, & Mezcal de Conejo. With more original research, I was able to locate printed evidence of the existence of Pechuga Mezcal back to 1864, about 70 years older than any previously known evidence. In addition, I found over a dozen other printed references, from 1874-1904, concerning Pechuga, providing even more information about this intriguing type of Mezcal. This article may even be referenced in an revised book on Mezcal in the near future.

I'm also proud of my multi-part histories of Port, Sherryand Champagne. One of my most popular posts, and another favorite of mine, is The Science of Sake & Food Pairings, discussing all the reasons why Sake pairs with all types of food. Finally, my most popular post, as well as the most controversial, is Rant: Alton Brown, I Call You Out! That stirred up plenty of emotions, both positive and negative, but ultimately led to Blue Fin Tuna being banned on Iron Chef! My weekly Monday Rants and Thursday Sips & Nibbles columns have also proven popular.

In addition, I'm proud of my myriad of Seafood-related posts, especially those encouraging consumers to eat more sustainable seafood, especially domestic seafood. I've explored seafood sustainability in numerous posts, from aquaculture to wild-caught fish. I've also provided home cooks with numerous methods and recipes for preparing seafood at home. I've won several awards for my Seafood coverage and was also chosen as one of the Gulf Coast Seafood's Top 100 Seafood Bloggers.

I owe many thanks to all of my readers, as it is their support and encouragement which has helped motivate me to continue writing year after year. I also owe thanks to my family and friends who have been so supportive for all these years. In addition, I am grateful to everyone in the food and drink community, from chefs to wine makers, who have helped contribute, in a myriad of ways, to my blog. Life is about connections, about the relationships we make, and they all contribute to what we do.

One of the keys to my longevity is that I never had a narrow focus on my blog, though there are definitely subjects which capture more of my attention than others, such as Sake, Sherry and Georgian wines. I've had the freedom to write about any food or drink topic which grabs my attention. I love that diversity, the ability to expand my palate in so many directions. It has also allowed me to learn about so many different foods and drinks, restaurants and wineries, food markets and distilleries. As I don't limit my explorations, I'll never run out of ideas to write about.

I'm also extremely happy at what I do and that is what is most important in life. If I didn't thoroughly enjoy what I've been doing, then it would have ended years ago. I find it fulfilling and satisfying, and hope that my passion for food, drink and writing never dims. I look forward to celebrating my 11th anniversary next year, and I hope my readers keep reading me year after year.

It's time to celebrate!


Rob Ciampa said...

A friend, a great guy, and an ambassador for those things that make life better. Congratulations, Richard, and may the next 4100 be even better!

Lisa Johnson said...

Congratulations Richard! It's always a pleasure to read your blog and it's been nice seeing you IRL over the years. Plus you were a formidable opponent for the seafood writing competition! Cheers! ��

ashokraja raman said...

Congrats Richard.