Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Technology

Now live: Food & Drink category at Apple App Store

Food apps 1App developers got the news weeks ago and now the Apple App Store has gone live with a new category: Food & Drink.

As of this writing more than 7,600 apps are gathered willy nilly under this category. That's a lot of browsing and, like any category out there, some of the apps are useful and even brilliant, others not so much.

But that's for you to find out. And be sure to let us know if you uncover some indispensable app out there for food and wine lovers.

Meanwhile, I'm sticking with favorites like Evan Kleiman's Easy as Pie, Gilt Taste, Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything and Patricia Wells' The Food Lover's Guide to Paris, not to mention Weightbot.

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-- S. Irene Virbila
Twitter.com/sirenevirbila

Photos: The Food & Drink app offerings at the Apple App Store. Credit: Apple

 

 

The Latin Dish: Free bimonthly magazine for the iPad

Latin dishI just downloaded a new free bimonthly magazine for the iPad called the Latin Dish from Via Vargas Media. The editor is Joe Vargas Bock, who writes in his letter to the editor, “Our goal for the Latin Dish is to celebrate Latin American food by exploring its distinctiveness and educating each other on its role in current society, its root cultures, and the way it has evolved, all while giving recognition to the ways in which each of us makes it our own.”

In the first issue is a tribute to Jacqueline Vargas Bock’s grandmother Hope Saldaña Vargas along with her traditional tamale recipe, which her daughters make every Christmas. There’s also an article on Austin eats and food trucks, the history of pralines (a Tex-Mex favorite, who knew?), a brief treatise on making tortillas (how about a video, too, so we can see how it’s done?) and an interview with Cuban American chef Fernando Saralegui of the family cooking show Papi’s Kitchen.

Edible landscaping pioneer Rosalind Creasy, author of “Edible Mexican Garden” Latin chef (Tuttle Publishing, 2000) has a story called “Cooking from the Mexican Garden.” That’s not everything in the table of contents, but enough to give an idea of where the publication is headed.

The first issue has a sweet homemade quality to it, especially the photos. If the staff can keep up the quality of the articles and cover the whole spectrum of Latin cuisine, the magazine could work. Definitely. But it can’t be just a family project. And it could use someone more knowledgeable to write about Latin wines. I’d love to see something on the Baja wine country and the chefs there. How’s that for a second issue theme?

Remember, the Latin Dish is free at the iTunes store. Check it out. And send in any suggestions to the editor at joe@thelatindish.com

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-- S. Irene Virbila

Twitter.com/sirenevirbila

Photos: Cover of the Latin Dish iPad magazine, chef Fernando Saralegui. Courtesy of the Latin Dish.

The app: Mexican Essentials from Rick Bayless

Rick Bayless has just produced his first app for the iPhone: Rick Bayless: Mexican Essentials Rick Bayless, the multi-tasking Chicago restaurateur, cookbook author and TV cooking show star, has just produced his first app for the iPhone with his publisher, Chronicle Books. A bargain at $2.99 right now (normally $4.99), Rick Bayless: Mexican Essentials includes recipes for molcajete salsa, classic guacamole, sopes with plantains and crema, red-chile-braised chicken and whole fish baked Veracruz style -- about 35 recipes in all. These are the dishes, Bayless says in his introduction, that he turns to most often. 

Hit a button and each recipe's ingredients are added to a shopping list. Nifty. You can also email the shopping list to whoever's headed for the market.

But the real gems here are the short videos that explain in Rick Bayless has just produced his first app for the iPhone: Rick Bayless: Mexican Essentials Bayless' brisk, clear fashion how to make each dish. He also includes video tips on roasting and peeling tomatoes, chopping cilantro, crisp-frying tortillas, etc. 

Want to take the sting out of freshly chopped onions? Simply place them in a colander and rinse under running water. To read that tip is one thing, to see him doing it at his kitchen sink helps lodge the idea firmly in the memory. 

The app also has an ingredients list with descriptions of, what to look for when buying and how to store items such as achiote paste, banana leaves, fresh cheese, dried chiles, epazote, etc. Hit a button and you can hear Bayless expound on each ingredient.

Handy if you're not already an expert when it comes to Mexican dishes and want to get cooking for Cinco de Mayo.

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Photos: Screenshots from Rick Bayless: Mexican Essentials. Credit: Rick Bayless / Chronicle Books

Patricia Wells' 'The Food Lover's Guide to Paris' is back -- as an app

Patricia Wells' new Paris app
When I ran into Patricia Wells last year at a picnic in Paris to celebrate the first birthday of the collaborative blog Paris By Mouth (to which she is a contributor), she mentioned she was there to update her food lover's guide (last edition published 1999) as an iPhone app.

Wells spent some 15 months trying new restaurants and revisiting her favorites. And now she's distilled everything she's learned into 350 prize addresses. Wells hasn't just dropped into Paris to do a whirlwind trip. The former International Herald Tribune restaurant critic has been living in Paris and writing about food in Paris and all of France for some three decades. She knows her stuff.

And how convenient is all that information on an iPhone, iPad or iTouch? (Sorry, other formats not yet available.) You can browse by category (modern bistro, classic bistro, haute cuisine, vegetarian-friendly, Moroccan, etc.), by arrondissement (neighborhood), price, details (Michelin stars, takeout, exceptional wine list, fireplace, garden terrace, etc.) and by specialties (Breton, brunch, oysters, steak frites, etc.).

Paris is not the kind of city where you can just wander into any restaurant and get a Patricia Wells' Paris food guide app
good meal. You have to have the right addresses. And except for casual wine bars and the occasional bistro, you have to reserve ahead. She's also included her favorite cheese shops, bakeries, pastry shops, chocolate shops, markets and more. 

The layout is clean and serviceable, but could use more and better photos. Maybe that will come with time. The great thing about apps is that they can be easily updated.

For more information, visit www.foodloversparis.com and the iTunes store, where you can buy the app for $4.99. A total steal and no heavy book to carry around.

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Seattle chef taps Kickstarter to fund app and ebook

 

Every week I get an email from Kickstarter highlighting three projects for possible funding. Former Los Angeles Times food editor and LA Weekly editor Laurie Ochoa’s literary journal Slake showed up one week. She and fellow editor Joe Donnelly were trying to raise enough funds to publish issue No. 4 of the Los Angeles literary journal. And they did: It’s due out soon.

Last week Seattle chef John Sundstrom of Lark had his project featured. He wants to build an app and ebook that features Lark recipes. I’ve been to his restaurant several times. It’s one of my favorites in Seattle.

"This will not be a traditional cookbook. It will be an app for both Apple and Android platforms, featuring over 90 of John's recipes inspired by the Pacific Northwest, beautiful photography, step-by-step instructions, and videos of John in the kitchen and in the field. An ebook and limited edition print version will follow."

What's interesting is that Kickstarter donors will have the chance to participate in the process. Seattle residents can take advantage of invitations to recipe tastings, preview events and behind-the-scenes video shoots. But everybody who signs on "will have a chance to 'test drive' recipes yourself as they are developed, and share feedback through exclusive access to 'Roughcuts' video clips."

Like most Kickstarter projects, pledging certain amounts will get you different benefits. Pledge $10 or more and you’ll get Lark Roughcuts (weekly access to new recipes, videos and updates on the progress of the project). Donors of $25 get all that plus their choice of a copy of the finished app, iBook or ebook. $100 or more? All of the above plus a custom letterpress print of a recipe from the cookbook. $250 donors get invited to an intimate cooking class. And bigtime donors ($1,000 or more) get a one-of-a-kind tasting menu for two with wine pairings at Lark. For the three backers (so far) who have donated $5,000 or more, the chef will throw a dinner party at their house. 

The project will be funded on Friday, April 6, so you still have 42 days to participate and join the 384 backers who have so far pledged to donate.

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-- S. Irene Virbila

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Video: Courtesy of John Sundstrom / Lark

 

iPhone app: Vini d'Italia 2012 from Gambero Rosso


PhotoThe respected Italian gastronomy review and publisher Gambero Rosso has a new iPhone app: Vini d’Italia 2012 del Gambero Rosso

OK, it is in Italian, but it’s free and even if you use just one element, it can be useful. After all, the names of the wines are the same in Italian and English. Go first to the button at the bottom labeled “I migliori” — the best. That’s where you’ll find a listing of this year’s wines that have won the review’s highest honor — Tre Bicchieri (three wineglasses). Consider it a crib sheet to the best wines in Italy at the moment. Note too prices are in euros, and will be different than U.S. wine shop prices.

You can also view a map of Italy and find wines by region and producers, very useful on a road trip through Tuscany or Piedmont. But if you want to know more about any particular region, you’ll have to buy the $1.99 package for that region.

I tried out the one for Campania, the region known for Greco di Tufo, Fiano di Avellino and Taurasi, among other wines. After purchasing that package, when I press the name of the producer, I get the address, email address, phone and website. It also tells me if you can buy directly from the winery — si or no — and gives me a listing of all the wines made at the estate. If you want to read further about the producer, though, you’ll need to get out your Italian dictionary.

Oh yes, you can also add your own tasting notes to the listing for each wine as well as make a list of favorites so you don’t have to go scrolling through the entire lineup in order to find a wine.

All in all, I would say the app is pretty handy at the wine shop or on a trip to Italian wine regions.

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Photos: A screenshot of Vini d'Italia del Gambero Rosso. Credit: Gambero Rosso

 

Rome for Foodies now for iPhone, iPad and Android

Photo copy 3Rome for Foodies, an app designed for both iPhone and iPad, is just out from food writer and Rome blogger Katie Parla. And at $3.99, it’s a steal compared to travel guides that may be already out of date by the time they’re published.

Parla, a food journalist and culinary historian who has contributed to 15 guidebooks, knows her territory and collects her favorite trattorie, wine bars, markets and more in Rome for Foodies. You don’t have to trawl through hundreds of entries: this is a curated list of 135 foodie-centric addresses (with phone numbers and websites as well). The brilliant thing about an app is that it can be easily updated Map_screenshot to include the latest hot spots.

If you have your phone GPS turned on, hitting the button labeled nearby at the bottom of the screen will show what's nearby. But even if you're offline, you can still use the content and maps to navigate the city. 

Parla also includes itineraries and a top picks list for quick reference.

The app is also available for the Android at the odd price of $2.79.

For more information, check http://www.parlafood.com/rome-for-foodies.

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-- S. Irene Virbila
Twitter.com/sirenevirbila

Photos: Screenshots from Rome for Foodies. Credit: Katie Parla.

Harvard’s Science + Cooking lectures: Now playing on iTunes U

Science + Cooking
Apple just released its iTunes U app for iPad and iPhone, which makes it much easier to browse for free classes and lectures from top universities around the country.

One category is Food & Nutrition, where you’ll find 32 courses available, including Tips for Sustainable Gardening from Oregon State University, Food and Sustainable Agriculture from the Yale School of Forestry, Food Processing from UC Davis and Health and Nutrition from Cornell University.

But the real find here is Science + Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter from the Harvard School of Engineering and Science, 52 one-and-a-half- to two-hour videos from a lecture series that “discusses concepts from the physical sciences that underpin both everyday cooking and haute cuisine.” You have Ferran Adria of the late El Bulli presenting spherification, Jose Andres of The Bazaar (and minibar in Washington, D.C.) discussing basic components of food and gelation, and Wylie Dufresne (wd-50 in New York) on inventions with transglutaminase. 

Just listen to the titles of some of the lectures: “Mixing the Unmixable,” “Sous-vide Cooking: a State of Matter,” “Meat Glue Mania,” “Olive Oil and Viscosity.” Heady stuff, and it’s free, free, free -- even the app.

A new way to suck up large amounts of time and bandwidth for the aspiring or experienced cook. But also a new way to learn from the best in the business. An incredible resource. Note that, because the lectures are videos, once downloaded, they will show up in the video app, not the iTunes U library.

Also, the iTunes U app syncs, so you can start watching a lecture on an iPad and finish it on an iPhone. Pretty seductive.  

However, maybe millions are trying to watch the same lecture at the same time. I keep getting messages that the lecture cannot be downloaded at this time (it could just be my sluggish connection), but with a little patience it eventually restarts.

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Image: A screen shot of the title page of Harvard's Science + Cooking lecture series.

Must have: Evernote Food app

Mzl.eikknpcy.320x480-75For avid fans of the free app Evernote, which allows users to collect and remember everything any time, the company launched a new app Wednesday called Evernote Food. What do obsessive snappers do with all their food shots? With this app, you don’t have to fret over how to organize that endless stream of smartphone images grabbed on the sly. Evernote Food organizes your photos by “Meals.” 

According to Evernote, “Each Meal consists of a meal title, as many photos as you like, photo captions, venue, notes, and tags. When you add a bunch of photos to a Meal, the app takes on a 'T' shape, with horizontally swipeable photos along the top and meal information displayed vertically.” For easier sharing, Facebook, Twitter and email are built into the app. 

If you’re cooking at home, using this app, you can easily take notes about what worked and didn’t in the recipe, capture step-by-step photos of the process, or even record snatches of conversation around the table.

Just as I was thinking how it would be great for developing recipes, I see Evernote is one step ahead of me. On the app is a chef alert: “Evernote Food makes the process much easier. Create a new meal and title it with the name of the dish you’re working on. Take photos every step of the way and Mzl.phgkjoui.320x480-75 caption them with measurements and instructions. In the notes section, add more information about the dish along with tips and ideas.” 

Now that sounds really useful.

I’m a big fan (and user) of Evernote, mainly because it’s a supremely flexible way to remember and organize all sorts of information. And this new app shares those same virtues. All your food photos and notes in one place, easily searchable and available -- and synced -- on your computer, iPhone or iPad. Brilliant.

Here’s another way to use Evernote Food -- for tracking your food intake, making notes about ingredients and calories. 

Free. And available right now for iPhone only.  

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-- S. Irene Virbila
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Photos: Screen shot of Evernote Food. Credit: Evernote

Got an iPhone 4 or 4S? You need one of these cases

SushiiPhoneCase2I look at the Japanese design blog Spoon & Tamago from time to time. This morning it featured these astonishingly weird iPhone 4 cases. In Tokyo there's an entire neighborhood devoted to making and selling faux plastic "food samples" of sushi and other foodstuffs, even café au lait.

Now someone's had the moxie to apply some of that faux food to an iPhone case. Per the blog, some of the designs, such as unagi and matsutake are based on seasonal food and released in the appropriate month. Sure, wearing one of these iPhone cases is bulkier than going naked. (The food is three-dimensional.) But think of it more as an accessory for your phone to be trotted out on KabayakiiPhoneCase special occasions. They're hilarious, really.

Available from the site Strapya, which is only in Japanese. It looks like the price is 3990 yen, which is about $51. Shipping, I couldn't tell. But it can't weigh all that much. Anybody who covets one of these iPhone cases will have to get someone who speaks Japanese to translate.  

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Photo: Delectable iPhone 4 cases. Credit: Strapya

 

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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.