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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Meet the Bloggers: Alastair Bland

Posted By on Wed, May 25, 2011 at 3:47 PM

click to enlarge Definitely the Best Photo Ever. - ALASTAIR BLAND
  • Alastair Bland
  • Definitely the Best Photo Ever.

You read them here, now find out who the hell they are: We give you the diverse group of men and women who cover the local food and drink scene for you on SFoodie.

Alastair Bland

Blogs about: Beer and wine

Alastair Bland may be one of the only San Franciscans who has a hard time naming his favorite restaurants. As a devoted home cook (and a full-time freelancer on a budget), he doesn't eat out all that much. This made it tricky to choose an interview spot, but Alastair finally settled on Café Gratitude, where we shared a vegan lunch of rice and bean tacos with cashew cheese ("I Am Transformed), a faux-BLT ("I Am Extraordinary"), and a hazelnut fig vanilla bean smoothie ("I Am Luscious.")

Jesse: Alastair Bland cannot be your real name.

Alastair: It is, actually. My parents traveled around a lot in the decade before I was born. They spent some time in Scotland, where Alastairs are as common as Michaels. A lot of people get hung up on my name but it's just who I am.

You have to admit, it sets you apart.

I guess so, when you Google me or something. I just hope my success as a journalist is based on more than a unique name.

When did you first start writing?

I started in college but got my first clips published when I spent 10 months backpacking around Baja California. I wrote a few travel pieces, which were accurate insofar as a year of experiences can be expressed in 1,000 words. I also wrote stories about the fishing industry for small, local papers in Baja.

And now you write full-time?

Somehow I manage to support myself through writing for a lot of different places. I do a weekly farmer's market report for the Sacramento paper. I do a fishing report for the Marin Independent Journal. I even write for papers as far away as San Diego. It's kind of amazing, with the media in such bad shape and publications closing down all the time, that I'm able to keep writing steadily. (Knocks on wooden bar.)

Tell us about your SFoodie "beat."

I write about beer and wine, and their connections to farming and the land. If you look at brewers, they have a natural vocabulary attached to agriculture, with hops, malts, and the soil and climates they grow in. It's the same with grapes. I find these agricultural aspects more interesting than acid content or things that "pair well," whatever that means. I'd be happy to live on fish and red wine for every meal, though I know that's a crime in the wine industry.

You chose Café Gratitude for lunch. Are you a vegan?

There are like 10 meats in the world and about 5,000 plants. I would take a colorful salad any day over a big hunk of flesh. I mostly eat vegan as a consumer but I also do a lot of fishing and diving off the coast. My brothers and I like to dive for abalone and crab.

Do you like the taste of abalone?

It's okay, but I really don't think it lives up to the hype. I mean, when we catch some abalone it makes a great excuse for a barbecue but it's chewable at best. I honestly don't get why people spend that much money for it.

I'm guessing you fish sustainably.

As much as possible, yes. When you take an animal out of the ocean and kill it, it's certainly not sustainable for that creature, but it isn't like I go out on party boats to catch Chilean sea bass. I also write a lot about sustainable fishing practices, for the East Bay Express and a few other places.

Anything else you want to tell us?

I have an identical twin who is a videographer and filmmaker. No, you are not talking to him right now. We only switched once, back in high school, though in hindsight we should have done it more. Now people barely believe we're related.

Other blogger profiles:

-Lou Bustamante

-Tamara Palmer

-Alex Hochman

-Laura Beck

-Carina Ost

-Sean Timberlake

-Jason Henry

-Luis Chong

-Albert Law

New York refugee Jesse Hirsch tweets at @Jesse_Hirsch. Follow SFoodie at @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.

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Jesse Hirsch


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