The way we view cook books and restaurant reviews has changed dramatically since the introduction of the iPhone and the App Store. There are some fantastic paid apps out there for those of us who want to know where the best restaurants and bars are, those who are after nutrition information, or for anyone looking for a large database of recipes they can quickly and easily access on their iPhone. But for those who want access to great food information on their phone without having to fork out 5 bucks every time they see an app they want, here is my list of the best free apps for foodies.
There are many apps that let you check out the best restaurants in your local area, but the difference with Foodspotting is you can check out exactly which dishes are near you. As they say themselves, Food spotting “helps you decide what to eat, not just where”. You can submit photos of what you’re eating right now, leave a brief review or tip, track where you’ve been in a similar way to foursquare, and search for really specific dishes, such as strawberry tarts, wagyu beef burgers or espresso martinis. You can use it purely to view the dishes or make it more interactive by signing up: here you can follow people, places and food, upload your food photos or add dishes to your “want” list. For people like me who make “to do” lists just for food and restaurants, this app is a great way to track the places and dishes you want to try.
Cheese matters will help you enjoy that beautiful cheese even more by matching it with a delicious beverage. Or the app can work the other way: Already got a bottle of Shiraz and want to know which cheese would be perfect with it? Just spin the mix n’ match wheel and take your pick from the selection of matches listed. Once you’ve picked your wine and cheese why not turn it into a platter; the app also lists other sides, such as tomatoes, olives or pitta bread, that would finish the dish off nicely. If you’re not sure where to start, check out the “Best Rated” section, which lists the top matches as well as the best individual wines and cheeses.
A tie-in to the tv series on ABC, this app is a great place to catch up on all the recipes from each week’s show. You can watch previous episodes, see what’s coming up on the show next week and review all recipes by dish type or key ingredient. Also worth a look is the section on cooking techniques, such as knife sharpening, tea smoking and cake decorating. The recipes cooked include some of Poh’s Malaysian favorites but also feature a mix of cuisines from French sauces to Asian dumplings and Thai green curries.
Urbanspoon is a favourite of many foodies already but for those who haven’t checked it out yet, it is one of the best guides out there to find the nearest cafes, restaurants, takeaway places, whatever you feel like, wherever you are. Shake your phone to find a restaurant at random or lock in your options (e.g. Port Melbourne, Japanese cuisine) and shake to find all venues that match your search criteria. Urban spoon receives contributions from food bloggers, professional food writers and everyday diners, and there’s a good chance you’ll find a review or a sample of the menu of wherever you’re considering dining.
Melbourne Coffee Review
One of the most respected and well known coffee review sites and apps in Melbourne, the team of coffee geeks at Melbourne Coffee Review have dedicated their time to trying the best – and worst – of Melbourne’s coffee so that we don’t have to waste our time drinking crap. Each of the top coffee joints listed on the app has full contact information and opening hours as well as a full review. Search by suburb to see what’s near you or select “All” to see which suburb hosts the majority of the city’s best coffee!
An excellent guide to markets in Melbourne and all around Victoria. This app has a comprehensive listing of food and farmer’s markets as well as clothing, second hand, vintage markets etc, with profiles of each market listing opening times, locations and websites. It’s easy to find what’s going on in your area by choosing to search “Near Me”, or to find out what’s happening on any given day select “Open Today”.
Thousands is an Australia wide app and website, but select the Three Thousand page to view what’s going on in and around Melbourne. There are separate categories for shopping, nightlife and tourist attractions, but if you’re like me you’ll head straight to EATDRINK, to view some of the coolest and interesting places to dine in Melbourne. As with most of the apps this one has a “Near Me” function, and check out the “Must See” page for essential Melbourne experiences.
It’s handy to have a list of cocktails and mixed drinks readily available, especially for entertaining guests at home or when at parties, to allow you to quickly whip up an impressive concoction like it was nothing. Many of the free drink apps are covered in advertisements or have a very limited range of drinks, but Mixology’s list is extensive and can be searched by category, ingredient or at random, which makes it easy when you have a couple of bottles of spirits lying around and can’t decide what to make with them.
If you want a huge listing of recipes on hand at all times then the All Recipes Dinner Spinner is a good choice. Choose the dish type – dinner, a salad, breakfast etc – then the ingredients – perhaps some rice, cheese, salmon – and the length of time you want to spend in the kitchen, and soon you’ll be choosing from hundreds of recipes that match your criteria. This app has a huge range of cuisines and recipes of varying difficulty too.
Another well known one, Epicurious lists a huge range of recipes. It’s regularly updated, contains over 30,000 recipes and has apparently been downloaded by over 3 million people. Great for on the go, it allows you to create shopping lists after viewing the dishes you want to make, check off the items as you shop, and email your lists and recipes to yourself or friends. If you only download one free recipe database for your iPhone, you’d be pretty covered with this one.
If you shop at Coles, this app allows you to select your local store and view the week’s specials, view recipes and products available in store and then produce a shopping list, eliminating the need for pen and paper in the supermarket. The range of recipes available to browse is actually quite impressive, and categorised into easy to view sections such as budget dishes, kids meals, and recipes based on the season.