Top Blogs for Foodies Like You
By Elizabeth Wasserman
Tired of serving the same old meals from the same old family recipes? Has The Joy of Cooking got you down? At the mention of chicken parmesan or beef goulash, did you just stifle a yawn? Food blogs can help.
In this day and age, there is a seemingly endless variety of free food blogs online that can help you go gourmet, turn vegetarian, pair wine with food and even rustle up a meal fit for a New Yorker. All it takes to blog about food is an interest in cooking and an Internet connection. That's why so many would-be Wolfgang Pucks -- along with top chefs -- are doubling as foodie bloggers, showcasing their culinary creations and often illustrating them with mouth-watering photos as well.
Here are four food blogs from coast to coast that can help enliven your dinner table and bring pizzazz back to your palate.
101 Cookbooks is a living, daily-changing Food & Wine-type magazine with a vegetarian twist. Unusual recipes -- such as black-bean brownies, hazelnut & chard ravioli salad and Thai-spiced pumpkin soup -- are coupled with photos that make your brain quickly communicate with your salivary glands.
- Who's behind the blog Heidi Swanson is a San Francisco-based photographer and cookbook author, whose writing and photos have appeared in a variety of publications, from The Wall Street Journal to Vegetarian Times to Glamour. According to the site, Swanson started the blog because "When you own over 100 cookbooks, it is time to stop buying, and start cooking." Swanson set out to chronicle her cookbook collection "one recipe at a time," but has since evolved to incorporate original recipes, discussion forums and guest contributors.
- What you'll like In addition to Swanson's fabulous photos and recipes, you can search for a recipe based on ingredients from asparagus to zucchini and by useful categories, from appetizers to gluten-free to holiday to vegan recipes.
- Bonus features You can subscribe to the blog feed through RSS (Really Simple Syndication), download recipes onto an iPhone or personalize a copy of Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks Taste Book with recipes of your choosing and have it printed for $29.95.
The Epi-Log is the blog for magazine publisher Condé Nast's food web site, Epicurious, which features 35,000 recipes from Gourmet and Bon Appétit magazines. Top food writers and staff contribute postings daily about "food news and views," everything from new restaurants to kitchen gadgets to what to serve on Greek Easter (leg of lamb stuffed with greens and feta). "We cover the culinary universe -- chefs, restaurants, cool gadgets, nutrition, food culture -- and have assembled a dream team of bloggers to ensure we cover news like no one else," the blog boasts.
- Who's behind the blog The "dream team" of staff and a range of contributors includes Rick Bayless, chef and author of six cookbooks, including the classic Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico (William Morrow); Traci Des Jardins, owner of San Francisco's Jardiniere; and wine expert Natalie MacLean, author of Red, White, and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass and winner of four James Beard Foundation Journalism awards.
- What you'll like The writing and recipes will bring out the inner gourmand in you. You'll be up on the names of all the hot new chefs, in addition to the gossip from the American Idol of food shows, Top Chef.
- Bonus features You can subscribe via email or RSS. You can also sign up for newsletters, such as Recipe Flash (weekly recipes and food features) and Tasting Notes (monthly wine reviews).
Serious Eats is a daily updated, New York-based tabloid of a food blog. It's got separate sections for eating out, recipes, videos and even features about ice cream. It's a site where a person can post a plea ("I'm getting married, but I need a menu") and get feedback by day's end with links and suggestions or just general advice ("Try and remember messy means people will mess their clothes"). Plus, there are important reminders, such as the day White Castle was offering sliders for 27 cents apiece.
- Who's behind the blog Ed Levine, a New York-based food writer and cookbook author, founded the site. Levine wrote the books New York Eats and Pizza: A Slice of Heaven, among others. "Some people count sheep when they can't sleep," Levine explains on his blog. "I call all-night diners I have known and loved to find out what kind of pie they have."
- What you'll like You'll be entertained by musings on corn dogs, burgers and even cheese. Community forums dish on everything (food-related) New York -- from the best pitas to Japanese liquor stores.
- Bonus features There's a Serious Eats mobile version for your cell phone and newsletters with recipes and only-in-New-York features.
Cooking With Amy is full of thoughtful musings about recipes, restaurants, travel and basically anything to do with food. The blog includes Amy Sherman's writings about everything from the food she encountered on her trip through Naples, Sorrento and Amalfi in Italy to what she had at a new restaurant when she was in Oahu. In between travels, the site highlights recipes from whole-wheat vanilla pancakes to Kona kampachi ceviche.
- Who created the blog Sherman, a San Francisco-based marketing-consultant-turned-food-writer, is the founder, blogger and CEO. While Sherman has studied cooking around the world through her travels, her "primary culinary experience is as a home cook, grocery shopper and restaurant patron." She fesses up to being obsessed with food since she can recall. "When I was just a little kid, about 8 or 9, I watched a television program that invited viewers to send in contributions," she says. "So I sent in a recipe for an 'apple split' -- my take on the banana split."
- What you'll like The drop-down menu on the left-hand side of the blog that lets you cut to the chase and look for recipes based on categories -- including breakfast, vegetarian, soups & salads or what to do with such ingredients as beets or kumquats.
- Bonus features There are RSS feeds, a monthly newsletter and Sherman’s Twitter about her travels and foods.
With so many food blogs these days, it can be hard to get noticed. Sherman, for one, started her blog "just for fun" in 2003, but she got a boost when Forbes magazine listed Cooking with Amy among the top food blogs. "It's one thing if your husband says you’re a good writer, or your mother," she says, "but it's quite another thing when Forbes finds your writing to be witty and smart."
Elizabeth Wasserman is a freelance writer and editor based in Fairfax, Va. She writes for a variety of publications including Congressional Quarterly Inc. magazine, and she edits the online publication CIO Strategy Center.