Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Food apps on iPhone and iPad

I’ve spent a fair of time over the last few days playing with (er, researching) apps on my iPad and it’s amazing how many there are (3066 in the Lifestyle section alone)

What got me started was Mitch Tonks excellent Eat Fish (£1.79 until Dec 31st) which includes a series of videos on techniques such as pinboning, skinning, scaleing and filleting as well as information about what fish is in season and ‘fish facts’ and recipes for different fish.

Jamie O, as you'd expect, is there though I'm more impressed by his Jamie's Recipes than the free 30 minute meal timer to encourage you to buy his latest book which I note he doesn't promote on his site.

So, more surprisingly, is Antonio Carluccio whose Simple Cooking you can download for £3.99 (you could do with a sample video to decide whether to buy it) and Nigella fans can have access to the Voluptuous One’s Quick Collection for £2.99 until January 3rd (£4.99 after that).

Then there’s Flipboard, an app which enables you to create a stylish-looking magazine of the sites that most interest you (including a brilliant full-colour version of Twitter that shows your followees’(if that’s the right word) photos. You can also download excerpts from Bon Appetit but they frustratingly only give you a teaser on many items. For the whole story you have to go through to the website with an invitation to subscribe.

I prefer the approach of Food and Wine which enables you to download a couple of full sample issues (iPad is potentially a great way to subscribe to overseas food mags without having to wait for them to come through the post) and Epicurious’s Epi which is more like an e-zine. (You can see how they plan to make their money from the PEARfect dishes section sponsored by USA pears.) It also gives you the opportunity to sync your recipe box (for £1.19) if you’re an existing Epicurious fan.

Blogshelf (£2.99) which I discovered through Sarah of Bray’s Cottage, I suspect will become addictive. It’s a great way to keep up with your favourite blogs giving them glossy magazine values. The American site Serious Eats* comes pre-loaded and you can add whatever other blogs you like - the more visual the better.

And there are cookbooks too. Not so much from ibooks (can that survive?) but from the more extensive Kindle store where you can pick up books for free though I have to say Classic Cookbooks - 12 books on cooking before 1800 - is pretty indecipherable and I’m not sure I want 250 Slow Cooker Recipes even at 74p. But it’s worth downloading samples of books you might be interested in buying like The Food Stylists Handbook (hmmm, not on the basis of the download). Note Kindle editions may be different from the standard version and may not be much cheaper than a real live book.

Of much more interest is the stunningly photographed The Photo Cookbook and The Photo Cookbook - Baking with their crystal clear step by steps - a great buy for just £2.99 (through the App store)

I have two worries about all this. One is actually cooking from my iPad. Judging by the bespattered state of my cookbooks there’s a fair chance I’ll manage to destroy it by spilling boiling hot stock all over it.

And it does make me wonder if we’ll actually have food mags and cookery books in five years time. I hope so - I still think that books are nicer to handle - but I fear it means even more focus on celebrity titles that can spawn apps. What do you reckon?

*I've just discovered Serious Eats has its own list of iPhone and iPad apps including back issues of the late, lamented Gourmet magazine - more distracting apps for you to browse!


  1. How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman is also available for iPad, for $ 9,99. I've looked up a few recipes, but so far I haven't actually used my iPad in the kitchen...

  2. I spotted that, Anda. Hesitating about whether to get it - I'm not sure if it's as full a version as the book.