12 Favorite iPhone Apps for Food Lovers

Thursday, 23 December 2010 / Published in Everyday Living, Inspirations

I love food, and I love my iPhone. I also love that there are so many cool iPhone apps for food lovers of all kinds. So, I was excited to learn about iSpice, the brand new app by spice expert, and food and travel writer Monica Bhide. Monica, who will also be presenting  at the Eat, Write, Retreat food blogger conference, along with me and Lisa, developed this extensive treasury of information. Cataloging 100+ spices, from “Achiote paste” to “Zhoug,” each subject gets the interactive, encyclopedia-style treatment, including a photo slideshow, recipes, and hyperlinks to videos and sources for purchasing. Users may leave comments  and can easily share items via email from inside the interface. I’ll use this fantastic resource while planning a shopping list, reading menus—or to settle arguments. To win a free iSpice app, please see info at the end of this post!

Contest is closed…

Congratulations to the winners of the iSpice iPhone app by Monica Bhide: Lynda Thorne, Sylvie Hong Nguyen, Brian Polak and Stuart Drexler. Enjoy using it in good health!

Discovering this fabulous new app inspired me to invite my Twitter and Facebook followers to suggest their favorites. First I asked Monica, who recommends cook/author Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio app, based on his popular cookbook, Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking. As Ruhlman states on his website, “[my book, Ratio] is now an iPhone app that will help you calculate amounts of ingredients in all the fundamental culinary preparations. When you know a ratio, you don’t know a recipe, you know 1,000. And this application does all the calculating for you.”

From expert food stylist Debbie Wahl, I learned about the Seafood Watch app, developed by Monterey Bay Aquarium. Championing sustainability of seafood, the app provides info on best/worst choices of specific seafoods and sushi. It also helps you find and/or recommend “ocean-friendly” seafood by location. This app was also recommended by Spanish food and travel writer Yanet Acosta, who’s also a visiting professor in Food Writing at Madrid’s Universidad Complutense.

Food professionals had great suggestions, but I also had some input from veteran tech evangelist/blogger Robert Scoble. I saw him tweet a recommendation for the food photo/social sharing app, Foodspotting. He tweeted that he thinks the user photos there are better than the ones you see on the yelp! app.

Both apps can help you find restaurants by asking your current location, though yelp! is really designed for that. They are both fun for people who enjoy sharing their food photos and opinions, and checking in with restaurants to gain points and badges (both having various “geolocation social gaming” features, like Foursquare). Yelp! is more text-heavy, review-centric (sometimes negative); while Foodspotting capitalizes on photos of specific dishes, and stays positive: You only recommend what you like via posting your photo and a short comment.

From Robert’s tech enthusiast’s perspective, here are his other recommendations: “I like Zagat’s app (expensive, but worth it [$9.99]), OpenTable, Epicurious, Jamie Oliver’s 20 Min Meals, SocialGrapes.”

Zagat’s app offers a fun, high-tech trick: Via their augmented reality feature (see below), you can use your iPhone camera (3GS or 4) to see nearby restaurant ratings. They superimpose over the camera’s live image, which updates simultaneously with you, as you move through the area.

Social Grapes is a wine app w/social sharing tools, so you can make lists of your favorite wines and compare yours with your wine-loving friends’ lists. We love wine and so do many of our friends, so this also could come in handy for gift shopping!

Often when we travel I use the Urbanspoon app to find and check out reviews of local restaurants. I love the interface, which lets you easily specify location, type of food and price range—plus it has the fun “shake-to-refresh” feature.  Searching on Urbanspoon led us to a very unique experience when we found Conflict Kitchen and Waffle Shop in Pittsburgh last summer.

One of my all-time faves is the New York Times app, which has a seperate section for Food & Dining. I read the articles and email recipes to Marty!

Once I started thinking about them myself, I found others’ lists of  iPhone (and iPad) apps for foodies, from locavores to junkfood junkies, from to sustainable fish finders to food truck trackers! Starting my mind on this tangent was this piece by reporter Bonny Wolf on NPR’s Weekend Edition. Then, when I complimented Monica on her new app and asked for her recommendations, she shared these new lists with me: “10 Must-Have iPhone/iPad Food Apps and Accessories” on Serious Eats; and, “Food Apps for iPhone and iPad” on Christie’s Corner, independent food writer Charmian Christie’s blog. Charmian recommends iSpice also, and shares this handy holiday season tip: You can buy an app as a gift by simply clicking “Gift This App” at time of purchase (if you are registered with iTunes and signed-in).

And, speaking of gifts…

Monica Bhide generously offered to let me share her exceptionally useful and beautiful iSpice app with my readers!

To be eligible to win the iSpice app:

1. Please leave a comment on this post.

2. Please be follower of mine on Twitter and Facebook.

On Monday, January 3, I will select five winners at random from that qualifying group.

Thanks, Monica! Best of luck to everyone!