It’s the Not Entirely Arbitrary Review of Food. That’s a mouthful, so we go by NEAROF. Or Nearof, if you don’t like the shouty-caps. It’s easy to remember, you can pronounce it, and, one would imagine, it’s got a great beat, and you can dance to it.
It’s not entirely arbitrary in that there’s some order in this chaos of foodie fun, even if it usually doesn’t look like it. Just how arbitrary? Meh. The heart wants what it wants.
What makes NEAROF different?
NEAROF is all about the food you eat between epic meal experiences. Our goal is to approach food in a fun and useful way, without any attempt to be pompous, elitist snobs about eating. Eating is a great human unifier, something we all do with varying degrees of interest and intensity. This site is about celebrating the little foodie joys that other more serious food sites tend to ignore. Who else is going to review gum and ketchup chips with the same level of interest as a particularly pungent cheese? That’s us, in a nutshell.
What kinds of things do you review?
The little things. Food items you may not even think of as food items. Beer is a topic of interest, as is organic food. If you discover a gem at the grocery store, tell us about it. We’re open to suggestions.
We’re suckers for kitchen gear and gadgets, so expect some of that, too.
But we don’t just write reviews. We also plan to run features, how-to guides, and other useful (or at least entertaining) food-related information. We’re making up our mandate as we go along. (And good god, does it ever feel liberating.)
What kinds of things don’t you write about?
NEAROF isn’t interested in writing straight-up restaurant reviews. That’s been done to death on the web, and there are lots of great restaurant review websites out there with searchable databases of maps and menus and reader reviews. That’s not our thing. However, if a new item on a menu somewhere catches our fancy, that’s fair game. But we’re not nearly as interested in restaurants as we are groceries.
Some things just don’t float our boat. Why review eggplant relish if we hate eggplant? Our choice of subjects may seem arbitrary, but it’s not entirely so.
Care to elaborate?
No, not really.
Where are you based?
As of October 2011, in the Canadian city of Calgary, Alberta. (Twitter folks: Our hashtag is #yyc. For foodie stuff, try #yycfood.) About a million people live in the greater Calgary area, and we have access to a huge array of foods, drawing on the traditions of a large multicultural community. While the chain eateries rule much of the suburbs, as they do in almost any major North American city, there are lots of interesting independent local restaurants. Also, there’s a shop that sells gourmet donuts, praise be to foodie jebus.
In some ways, our location matters. Summers don’t last very long, so summery food gives way early to autumn’s soups and stews, winter’s toasty mugs of hot chocolate, and spring’s Cadbury Creme Eggs. You will see snow in photos. I guarantee it.
In other ways, our location is irrelevant. We can get a lot of the same food that our friends in the States can, but with French and English on the box. If you have no idea where to look for something we review, leave a comment. There’s a good chance another reader may know where to find it in your neck of the woods.
How often do you update?
Generally, we post a new story every Monday, but watch for bonus posts. Some posts are features, while others are quick reviews.
How do I get in touch?
We’re on Twitter at @nearof, so that’s a good way to reach us. Iain, our fearless editor, is at @iainilich. If you’re a PR person with a company looking to send us a sample for review, get in touch using our contact form.
How do you make NEAROF?
Some folks are curious about stuff like this, so here’s the current setup. Right now, we use a combination of Macintosh and Windows machines to write, edit and manage the site, along with an iPad and iPhone to test mobile compatibility. More often than not, we shoot photos in our improvised studio space with a Nikon DSLR camera and some wicked Elinchrom lighting. We use Aperture, Pixelmator and Lightroom for photo edits, and writing is done in Word. We sometimes follow CP style, and sometimes we don’t. Because we’re like that.
What are your rules for commenting?
We’ve decided to allow comments on the site, though everything has to pass through a moderator before it gets posted. This isn’t ideal, but the web isn’t as innocent and friendly as it was in 1995. If we have too many problems with spam, or if we find our moderating tasks are becoming unmanageable, we’ll likely move to a registration system. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
The general rules:
- Remember to keep it civil. Personal attacks will not be tolerated. We want discussion, but we don’t want name-calling or bullying.
- Don’t hate the player; hate the game. If you don’t agree with something someone else says, don’t attack them personally. Present reasons why you don’t agree with their take. Calling someone a stupid idiot will get your comment banned.
- Potty-mouth will be tolerated, but keep it within reason. Your mom may be reading.
- DON’T WRITE COMMENTS IN SHOUTY ALL-CAPS. PLEASE.
- Keep it on topic. Nobody wants to read a screed on the failings of capitalism or communism on the bottom of a story about chewing gum. Unless you have a REALLY brilliant way of tying it all together, that is. If so, proceed.
- Spamming is, of course, not allowed. If only spammers read the FAQ. Sigh.
The bottom line: Have fun, respect others, and don’t take things too seriously. Respect the rights of other people to have fun.
I love the site. How can I help?
By visiting often, and by telling your friends. Seriously. This site will eventually take on advertising, so the more people who read it, the better the chance of it sticking around. Retweet and link to our stories, share your comments, and respect our copyright. Build a community by interacting with others. The more visits we get, the more we can justify making more frequent updates.
Merch may eventually become available if we feel there’s a demand. Let us know if you’re interested.
(Last updated December 31, 2012.)