Dining Out?

Last week New York Magazine ran the special ‘New York vs. London‘, calling London ‘the other New York,’ an honour to be sure, and the article was accompanied with a glowing review of London – the undisputed capital city of Europe.

New York Magazine is obviously regional, and abroad, if one wants to get the pulse of a city there’s simply no substitute for Time Out, which has always been an invaluable resource to me – whether I’m in London, New York, Paris, or Chicago, I make sure to consult with the website and find out what’s going on, where to eat, where to dine and where to hang out. Time Out rocks plain and simple. Whether you’re in Helsinki or Hong Kong, Time Out’s got insider advice and is the Lonely Planet for footloose socialites.

But what about when you stop by to visit a friend in Raleigh-Durham or stop in to Atlanta, or Baltimore, Princeton or any other of the thousands of possible places you may be going? In this day and age, click to enlargeculinary expertise is becoming an international standard, and while Wolfgang Puck, Rocco DiSpirito,Todd English, Thomas Keller, Nobu Matsuhisa and Emeril Lagasse bang out their drum-beat across the international stage of fine-dining, there are many local gems with high-quality and knock out ambience that the outsider will never find. Local dining sites, reviewers and wine blogs are a dime a dozen, but up until now, there hasn’t been a community that embodies the the world within and around restaurateuring, specialty foods, dining, socialising, travel and wine.

Who better to tell you about a neighbourhood, specialty store, restaurant or new wine than someone who knows you? Whilst Amateur Gourmet, Friends Eat, Menu Pages, Chow Hound, Restaurant Spy, CIA, Accidental Hedonist, Amy, Rob, Food Goat, Epicurious and Fork and Bottle are all awesome resources, there’s something missing. My feeling is that these sites all have to be specifically book-marked or recommended, as I’m doing here, in order to be found. So many great , wines or food shops have that ‘we just stumbled upon it’ feel, but there’s something very pre-meditated about going to a blog such that one feels that the blogosphere is preaching to the blogosphere. Food blogs so often miss out on providing wine recommendations, whilst wine blogs seldom mention food and both rarely provide a tool for getting the food or getting the wine.

When I’m on Amazon or browsing the iTunes Store, I often come away with something unexpected, which is why I keep going back. Reading food or wine blogs however, is not much different to reading a food or wine magazine, in that’s it’s a one-way communication channel. Perhaps I’m too juiced up on the current digitial explosion, but the food and wine blogosphere leaves me wanting more: more content, personalisation, interaction, recommendations… more community.

In South Africa there is a word, Ubuntu, and it means ‘I am because we are,’ which is spirit of any community, and is perhaps less succinctly put by John Donne in writing ‘no man is an island.’ Indeed, then, no blog is an island – a food blog needs restaurants or recipes, and a wine blog needs wineries and they all need people to enjoy them. Isn’t it time then that there was a community which embodied food, wine, restuarants, vineyards, friends and wine lovers all in one?

Grape Thinking is working to build a platform to do just that – providing a community that will guide you to anywhere where wine is served, enjoyed, treasured and appreciated for everything it is. Through personal profiles and personal reviews, in the true sense of the word ‘community’, users, restaurants, and wineries will share personal knowledge and reveal the delights of their cities and hang-outs to the world.This is the ultimate goal of Grape Thinking, to bring wine and its surrounds together. We want grapethinkers to discover not only their taste: but to help a world of taste find them.

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