The Hottest Food Trend of 2009: Chowhound and the iPhone Apps

Thus far, Chowhound does not seem to have an iPhone application, but I have to include them here, because they are my most used online resource for all things food. For those of you looking for a quick read.  I highlighted my favourite ones in olive green.

Chowhound

Chowhound’s tagline is “for those who live to eat.”. Chowhound is where I go if I have a question about food in general or restaurants when I’m travelling.  Recently, my brother’s fiancée was looking for a caterer for their wedding and Chowhound was where I went first for some guidance.  When I was looking for a turkey that was local this Thanksgiving I went to Chowhound.  It’s my Google of the food world.  There’s even a thread about my hometowns Kitchener-Waterloo.  It is not commercial, and has enough people regularly contributing to make it a current and useful resource for almost anything food related.

The range of applications for your iPhone is amazing!  You can find the closest Starbucks, find a local dive to die for, you can monitor your Kosher self with the Parve-o-meter, and you can find some great healthy family recipes as well. Because my job as CEO of the family doesn’t pay so much, I have chosen to discuss the free iPhone applications, but if you are willing to pay 99 cents and up then your selection is even bigger.

Food Around You

Urbanspoon

This is another fun and informative site for the urban eater.  The iPhone application lets you shake, saunter and spoon.  You shake the phone to activate the application and Urbanspoon will suggest somewhere in the neighbourhood for you to saunter over to and pick up your spoon for some fine eats.  The slot-machine type screen has three sections any of which can be locked:  Neighbourhood, food type, price.  Sitting at my computer in Cambridge, I can give it a shake and get Harvard Square, Bakery, $ and the result is the Hi Rise Pie Company.  Another shake comes up with Arlington, Mexican, $ and the result is Ole Mexican Grill.  You can then click on the restaurant for a phone number and directions.  Then you can read reviews.  Although Urbanspoon is low in calories it does seem to have addictive qualities.

Roadfood

Roadfood is a resource for regional meals along highways, in small towns and in city neighborhoods.   The idea is that you can drive to Grandma’s house and if you need to stop on the way for a meal, it should be a good one, a local one, and a non-chain destination.  Isn’t that what we all strive for on our road trips?  Okay sometimes the requirements are just that there be a somewhat clean bathroom, but that’s a whole other article.

Local Picks
This is Trip Advisor‘s application.  You can filter the list by distance (from your current location), rating (out of 5 stars), and Price.  Once you click on a restaurant.  You get a rating, price, and cuisine list, directions, phone number, a link to see reviews on Trip Advisor and the restaurant’s website.

Goodrec
I love how Goodrec works because it has all the restaurant information of the other applications:  the map, directions, phone numbers, filters, and reviews.  In addition, it’s a bit like Facebook, there are groups, you can invite friends, and when you pull up restaurants there will be some goodrec member comments as well as the CitySearch review.

Lunch?
This is perfect if you are looking for a chain restaurant.  If you need a Starbucks right away or you know that you can feed the kids and yourself at a Panera Bread, then this is the perfect application to have on hand.  You can shake and click on a chain restaurant or you can scroll down to find a particular place.  Then map it and it will give you directions immediately.  The free version only allows you to have 5 restaurants, so I just use it for the preprogrammed chains.  Mine has:  Starbucks, Panera Bread, Olive Garden, Jamba Juice, and Cheesecake Factory.  Those are my chains of choice.

Fast Food
While we are on the theme of fast food, there is Fast Food.  Fast Food has an alphabetical listing of fast food chains as well as “restaurant types” such as seafood, Mexican, Indian, and grocery stores.  You just click on the name of the chain or restaurant type and a list of all the locations in the area will pop up with an address, phone number, and distance from your current location.

Munch
At the bottom of the screen it reads:  Pizza Italian, Chinese, Mexican, and More.  You can click on Pizza and it will bring up a listing with phone numbers, address, and map for all the Pizza places near your current location.

Around Me
This is not just for food, but you can find bars, coffee, programmed favorites, pubs, restaurants and supermarkets nearby.  You just click on one of the categories and a complete listing of the, for example, Supermarkets and smaller markets around you will come up with the address and distance from your current location.  At my computer, I am 201 yards from Formaggio Kitchen, for example.  Once you select a destination, it will give you the phone number and you can either add to contacts, get directions or email the information to someone.

Open Table
I use this for most dinner reservations.  Now it is also available on the iPhone.  You just look up the restaurant by name, area, or cuisine and then make your reservations.  There is also a system of points.  To be honest, I’m not sure what the points are for, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out when the time comes to use them.

Food & Health

Lose It
This is my favourite nutrition application, since I don’t focus on 40-30-30 so much and I don’t eat primarily at chain restaurants.  This is a food journal of sorts.  The application helps you calculate your daily food “budget” and then you track it.  You set goals and you track your weight.  You can add food for your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.  The application has many foods already built in with the calorie information.  You can also add your own.  You can also add exercise, including sledding for those of you out sledding today, as part of your daily log.

Restaurant Nutrition
Allows you to click on a Chain restaurant and either map it and get directions or get the nutritional information (or should I say lack of nutrition information).  You can keep a diary of when you ate this food and what you ate.  If you tend to eat at this type of food establishment on a regular basis, this could be a very handy tool.

40-30-30
This is based on the idea that one should try to have a diet composed of 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 30% fat in one’s meals.  What it allows you to do is to enter the grams of carbohydrates, protein, and fat and it will calculate the % for you.

Yum Yum
This is an alphabetical list of great Vegan recipes.  I love it!

The Bar

There are so many great cocktail apps that I will just list some here:  Cocktails, DrunkDial, and Drinks Free

Basically, for these apps you can choose drinks my ingredient, you can spin for a drink recipe.  You can mark your favourite drinks for a reference later as well.

Beer Brands
This is a great app where you can star your favourite beer brands.  You can also select a beer and see the brewery, brewery type, container, best glass to serve in, best temperature for serving, fermentation, alcohol by volume, alcohol by weight, beer year, and what it is best served with

buzzd
For those of you who are still out painting the town red you can use buzzd to find out “What’s going on around me right now?”™.  The categoreis are Eat, Meet and Play.  For Zagat members you can find out the rating of a place (for non members you can just get some of the basic info about a location).  You can have your friends set up on buzzd and meet them if they’re out and buzzing.  If you’re like me though, most of your friends were in bed at 8:00 p.m. and if they’re staying up partying it’s with a bottle of wine, the remote and until the wee hours of 10 p.m.  You go girls!

Kosher

Parve-o-meter
This is a fun little application.  When you eat meat you press the meat button and it starts the countdown to Parve.  Ditto for dairy.  You can set your degree of  “Kosherness” for the dairy to meat countdown.  It seems that the meat to dairy countdown is non-negotiable

Laws of Shabbos in the Kitchen
This is a document that is divided into chapters covering the laws of Shabbos in the Kitchen.  It is written by Rabbi Nissan Dovid Dubov of the UK.

Miscellaneous:  Green, Gluten-Free,

Seafood Watch
This application is a guide for making wise ocean-friendly choices for Seafood in the US.  The guide is divided into regions:  Central US, Hawaii, National, Northeast, Southeast, Southwest, and West Coast.  There is also a Sushi Guide.  When you click on the guide it will give you your best choices, good alternatives, and vish to avoid.

Gluten Free Card
This is great for those of you that travel and eat, or have a child that eats, gluten-free.  The card explains in almost any language what it is to be gluten-free so you can safely order in any restaurant anywhere.

iLocavore
This is the “all things local blog” -roll.  The tagline for the website is local food: local products and that is what they write about.

Canadian Living
This is like the Canadian version of Good Housekeeping meets Martha Stewart Living all in one.  I like to read it occasionally and get recipes or ideas for the many “Hallmark” holidays we tolerate…I mean celebrate each year.  You can browse the magazine by section and bookmark recipes or other articles of interest.

Howcast
This is a collection of short videos that show you “how to” do anything.  It is divided into different categories, you can see the most recent, top rated, and search for specific topics as well.  You can watch anything from how to clean your refrigerator to how to make a creme brulée.

Little Chef
Will show you how many teaspoons are in a cup or how many Fluid ounces are in a quart.  This is not quite as comprehensive as I would like when I’m cooking, but it works quite well.

Conversions
This is a more comprehensive conversion tool.  You can work in angles, area, blood sugar, currency, energy, temperature, volume and weight among other things.

@bffoodie Bon appetit. ttyl on twitter your BFF (Boston Family Foodie)

This was not sent from my iPhone.

For more info:ChowhoundRoadfood.com, Top Kitchen Toy: The Cellphone? (NY Times), LocalPicksLunch?,  GoodrecOpenTable,  Restaurant NutritionAroundMe,  buzzd,  Yum Yum,  Seafood WatchiLocavore,Canadian LivingHowcast

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