I never used to care about my mobile phone. First it just made calls, then texts, and then I really went upmarket and had one with a camera.
And then that one died.
And on a bit of a whim, plus curiosity, I bought an iPhone. And, other than the appallingly short battery life, I love it!
Officially, love it.
Especially for the world of apps that it brings to your fingertips. Before I owned one, someone said to me at a party that you could tell a lot about a person by their apps, and not having one probably told him a lot too. But a look now would confirm what most people know: I love food, drink, eating out, eating in, more food.
There are a lot of food and drink orientated apps out there, with a lot, of course, directed at the US. So, purely in the interest of research, I’ve been playing with some that seem more intended for those of us here in the UK. Here’s my thoughts:
Jamie’s 20 Minute Meals– had to start here I guess, given how many zillions of downloads there have been of this. The cheeky chap meets high tech and delivers some pretty good after work dinner recipes in his own style. I like the instructional videos for things like the best way to slice and chop an onion, and also how to organise your kitchen. So yes, this is not aimed at the most experience cooks around, but there will be some people who find this great. Recipe groups include soup, risottos, quick curries, salads and even pudding, something for all kinds of tastes. The very inexperienced cook may find it helpful to have a photo of turning the knob on your oven to the lowest setting, but I think most of us can manage without. I’ve used this at work for quick inspiration, used the shopping list feature and then just knocked something out at home. Pretty good, as long as you don’t have your fingers in a mess for when you need to swipe the screen and you can keep it somewhere where it’s not going to fall in pans of stuff whilst you cook. Currently £2.99.
Nigella Quick Collection– where Jamie leads…well, the only amazing thing is that it’s only Nigella from the roster of UK chefs and cooks that seems to have followed. Recipes are sorted, possibly in a Sophie Dahl tribute, by food mood, including comfort, romantic and nibbly. Recipes do have a nifty voice control for going forwards or backwards through the steps, avoiding the possibly messy swiping involved with Jamie’s. The videos look like clips from the TV programmes so not ideal to cook along to, but you can email the recipe to yourself and print it out. The invite function is a cute little quirky extra, and I really like that you can set the units and retailers to UK or US. Is it worth £4.99? I’m not sure, you could buy How to Eat for less than that and have a whole host of meals at your fingertips.
Ocado – this is my favourite app, if only because I normally end up in bed reading Olive or something similar and adding stuff straight away to the next delivery. I love that it gives me options to add everything I’ve had before, or some of it, recommends stuff I might like based on other stuff I’ve bought, and is good on highlighting offers. Bit short on inspiration, but high on convenience.
iCook– there is a huge range of cookery styles available in the iCook series, and I’ve been trying iCook Curry. For 59p it’s ok, you could probably Google all the recipes quite easily, but it’s convenient and gives you 18 recipes. Some on here were quite normal (Chicken Tikka Masala) but then included things like Persian Biriyani and Murgh Chana Balti. Instructions are clearly written, but not extensive, but I imagine most competent cooks would be fine with them. The series includes cupcakes and gourmet burgers, and also some more generalist volumes too. Would probably give it a B minus, and could try harder.
GoodFood – the magazine has two apps, festive recipes and healthy eating. I’ve got the latter, although would probably like the recipes in the former better. There’s a pick of the day, recipes for each meal and videos for things like preparing a whole fish or how to grill peppers. It’s okay but not particularly inspiring. At £1.79 I’d save up and buy a copy of the magazine.
Good Food Guide– You don’t need this and Zagat I would say, and this is obviously much more comprehensive in its coverage of the UK. I like the near to me function, giving you everything around where you are, or you can combine this with keywords. The listings include those places that won Reader awards as well as Editors’ awards, those with notable wine lists, and those that have been in the list the longest. I would say this was £4.99 well spent if you want to eat out a lot.
I am sure I’ve not exhausted the list of apps available, as it increases every day, so I’d love to know what you’ve found, what you think I should have a try of. And there are gaps. I can’t find anything relating to farmer’s markets (although you can get a National Farmer app), or much from the big wine makers or retailers. You would have thought that wine pairing would be great as an app. I am sure it will happen!
Meantime, I’m off to the Little Chef to test out their Afghan menu!