Thank you for all the responses and insight, guys and gals! After a bit of soul searching, I came up with this post. As usual, feel free to bang me if you think I'm wrong!
I conclude that most of you concur that the Chef was being silly by not allowing people to tkae photographs of the food in his restaurants. Jun, SC , gfad, Thule and Jason rightly pointed out that bloggers actually provide free publicity for the restaurants they post up in their respective blogs, and even without blogs, word of mouth is also a very important method of disseminating information about where to get good food (or bad food, if you are a masochist).
I have no problems with the Chef not allowing pictures to be taken in the restaurant. I am fine with that. He has probably weighed the pros and cons himself before arriving at that conclusion. To be completely honest, I went back to the restaurant 2 times after that, because the food was good. I observed the Chef cooking (the Kitchen is an open kitchen) and he seemed to cook with so much passion. During the meal, he will drop by and ask if everything was allright, and again, even after dessert! I really liked him, and of course he is a genius in the kitchen.
Nigel has provided us with some interesting points. I think every food blogger wants to be a food critic when they grow up! Ha ha! In real life however, the line of distinction between a food blogger and a food critic may be blur.
Let's say for instance. A blogger reviewing typical Malaysian Fare may be acting as a critic. After all, we have been eating Nasi Lemak since two years old (maybe less) and even helped our own mother prepare it. In this aspect, I think the average blogger is actually as qualified as a Michelin Inspector to comment on the food.
Benchmarks are also interesting. The typical Food Blogger presumably, is a well travelled person and may have tasted the same dish overseas. In the case that he or she is not well travelled, he might have sampled the dish in Malaysia from another establishment.
As for me, if I am tasting the dish for the first time, I usually mention it in the post, and my comments will be a descriptive one. How the food tasted, how it is presented, and try to limit any disparaging comments.
Another benchmark is cooking technique. We generally have an idea on how a good piece of fried dish would be, or what to expect from a grilled/sauteed/baked dish. For example a good piece of fried chicken would be crispy, not too oily to the extent that every bite spouts a gusher and some retention of moisture that would still give the fried meat succulence. Even if I have not tasted Zimbabwean fried chicken before, if it came burnt till charcoal black, tougher than a piece of leather, I can honestly say that the dish was not very good and get away with it.
In the Sea is a very technical blogger who really knows cooking techniques very well (very typical of Hong Kong Chinese) and interestingly, his benchmark for Chinese Food is the quality of Rice served, and for Western Restaurants, the bread.
Another interesting observation is that by the description of the dish itself, we already have an image formed in the brain on what to expect. Take for example, Honey Roasted Chicken with Rosemary and Dijon. You already formed a mental impression on what to expect, right from the presentation and the taste. If you were served with a piece of chicken that tasted like KFC with some mustard on the side, you do not need a food critic to pan that dish.
Babe_kl (Thanks for the Blogniversarry wishes!), Joe and Rokh rightly pointed out that we should be very selective about the blogs we read, which I can only agree. Boo's blog was one of the blogs I read online when I frist relocated to KL. Her blog is usually very well reasearched, balanced and neutral. She earned my respect when she commented that Chef Takashi Kimura's amusement bouche failed to amuse her!
And Nic, maybe we should coin up a new name, eaggers, as distinct from bloggers and floggers! By the way, most of the nutrients for fetal growth is passed from the blood in the umbilical cord that is linked to the placenta which sticks to the womb. The swallowing of amniotic fluid is just to help train up the digestive tract and the baby's kidneys actually produces amniotic fluid. Fairly complicated stuff, I know.
My conclusions (or at least, what I'll do from now on):-
1. Bloggers are qualified to comment, but must be honest and know their limitations. I will only comment on what I know, and if I am unsure, I will ask the chef, other bloggers, other foodies or consult a book.
I went back to the comments of the restaurant that I found in the net and found that the comment on the pork skin was way off, and now I understand why the Chef was so miffed.
There are many ways to roast a pork. Slow roast and really slow roast. The blogger ordered the Speciality of the day which was probably the really slow roast (overnight) and is not the siew yoke kind of roast. The dish he ordered produces tender, strip off the bone kind of meat and is impossible to get the crackling skin with this dish.
Probably the best thing to do would be to ask the chef before posting, or if the chef is upset about the post, email the blogger, to correct him. As Nigel correctly pointed out, try to let the blogger write an informed opinion.
I would like to think that eating can be a learning experience itself too. Food just opens up the while microcosm of history, art and culture.
2. I will not be lazy. It is more difficult to write a bad review than an effusive, glowing review. Instead of just saying I don't like a dish, or casually mention a dish is not up to par, I must justify the reason behind it. For example, the Pork Chop review (Italian on sixth) that I did. I just said the onion sauce was too oriental. I should have justified my dislike by adding that in most Italian restaurants, the Onion Sauce that is usually richer (with added butter or cheese), infused with herbs such as thyme (which I was not able to taste) and depending on the version, some white wine or port in the sauce.
The Criteria for Selction of Michelin Restaurants are deceptively simple.
1) Quality of ingredients
2) Skill in preparing them and in combining flavours
3) Level of creativity
4) Consistency of culinary standards
5) Value for money
Probably we too, have been following this guidelines unconsciously while we are doing our write ups. I suppose, I'll just keep on blogging and hopefully, able to do so with honesty, integrity and transparency. If I stray from the path, my friends, feel free to let me know!