smartphone

Piri Piri chicken, baked potatoes & zucchini

With all the rain last week, cold wind and gloomy faces outside, it sure is time for comfort food. Had 3 large chicken legs, cut into parts and rubbed with Piri Piri spice mix then set it aside to marinate. Half of the time when cooking I whiz up the dishes without thinking too much, even when I am experimenting I should write it down immediately not to forget even to photo record the little tweaks.

Cooking with a camera in the kitchen, nearly broke the damn thing because it almost slipped off the counter. Or had to throw away cooking attempts because it burned while being distracted with other devices not being cooking utensils. Ever since the smartphone arrived featuring 5 or higher megapixels camera, combined with options for HDR settings I have become a die-hard fan. Using mobile photography as long as I don’t forget to pick it up and make shots in between. It is also the main reason why I am searching for photo apps as an amateur to make better photography shots of ingredients, dishes and fun things.

A while back I wrote a post about new photo video app, referring to Everlapse an iPhone app with PC version, well Flipagram is a newer app free download for iPhone, Android and Windows version. I have started using this app and become a fan, am really pleased with the results. While the photo video story below has an intense glow, it’s not because I used a filter but they were made in the kitchen at dinner time with only kitchen lightening hence the slight distortion.

In the kitchen busy cooking, background music entered the kitchen from the living room playing fittingly “I just wanna make you smile”. Now you know how this little photo video story came together. You can find the recipe here under attached to this post.

Piri Piri chicken, baked potatoes mix and zucchini

 

Instead of regular chicken seasoning give it a try with a Piri Piri spice blend, choose a Portuguese, African or original South American mixes or make your own mix it’s worth the try. You will grab this more often and not only for chicken, very versatile uses with all kind of meats, shrimp and prawns. Share your dish and favourite cooking method with us, leave a comment and like us on Facebook Asianfoodtrail page.

Piri Piri spice blend it’s just a tiny bottle, little bag or packet but it carries a long and interesting story. A history of slavery and an origin far from what most people believe they know about this pepper, watch here for the upcoming post.

7 Wine journaling apps & more

For the love of Wine, how to keep track of all the fine bottles, grapes, tasting notes, lest alone the places we have visited over the years. Smartphone users who have been searching for Android mobile wine apps, wine searches, food & wine pairing. On a regular base I’ll browse for new versions, check and use apps, recently I found some new ones and revisited former app. The apps are downloaded on my Samsung Note 3 device. Here’s an overview of wine journaling apps & more. Note: The wine apps use different scoring systems, most commonly given out of 100, 20, 10 or 5 points.

7 Wine journaling apps & more

1. Vivino wine scanner         Android frad;ee or paid version €3.99

Vivino Wine Scanner Android apps op Google Play

Vivino

I had used Vivino a few years back and at the time one of the major issues was that the camera had focus problems, rendering the search function in operable. However after hearing and reading positive reviews I have re-installed the app. True enough the image-recognition is working perfectly, with the feedback from users they have made improvements to the app. A new feature I like is the recommendation of ‘Best wines under €15 right now’ as rated by Vivino users in The Netherlands (location based) over the past month. For e.g. it recommends a Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore 2012 Casa Nostra, €12 ranked #10, based on 86 user ratings with a 4.6 score. For wines it uses a 5-point scale for scores, the above mentioned  wine is rated 3 stars. The paid Pro version promises wine cellar management with My Cellar for wine collectors, haven’t heard or read specifically feedback on this function yet.

2. Wine Notes                         Android free or paid version €0.74

Wine Notes Android apps op Google Play

Wine Notes

This app really feels like a wine journaling app, Wine Notes has a clean UI, the background is very dark which might lead to viewing problems if used in darkened surrounding or with mood-lightning settings. The wine journal is more comprehensive and allows you to catalog your personal impression on your favorite wines. I have only started using Wine Notes recently and the camera works but lacks a bar-code scanner. It features a dictionary with 100 key terms and uses the 100-scale system, which is based on the American high-school marking system, so the scale starts at 50 (rather than 0) and popularized by the Wine Spectator magazine. Which means that the same Valpolicella wine used as example above has a 83/100 rating using the 100 score scale.

3. WS Wine Secretary          Android free      

WS Wijn en wijnkelder Android apps op Google Play

WS Wine Secretary

The Wine Secretary is an impressive wine journaling and wine search app; with an enormous wine database, wine details, local database of 1000+ wine regions and 70+ varietals, on- and off-line use. On top of all that, adding your own wine notes based on wine style. Like Vivino and Wine fog app following next, the Wine Secretary uses the same 5-point scale for wine scores too. For Dutch readers click for review: Wijn en wijnkelder app Nederlandse beschrijving.

4. Wine fog                                 Android free

Wine Fog Android apps op Google Play

Winefog

The Wine fog app is a new discovery and the first impression just on looks is that it lies in between Vivino and Wine Notes and has the 5-point scale for wine scores as well. Different from the other apps, Wine fog backs up all of your data into the cloud in case you switch phones or use multiple devices and is suitable for tablets.

5. Winesearcher                        Android free

Wine Searcher Android apps op Google Play

Winesearcher

Another impressive app built around Winesearcher price comparison engine, listing almost 7 million bottles from 50,000 merchants around the world. Assisting millions of people locate, price-compare and purchase quality wines, beers and spirits. If you want to find the best vintage or a wine shop nearby, just type in a name or take a snapshot and their label recognition scanner will quickly present you with ‘location based’ recommendations with the best value bottles and answers. They have added a a camera for snapshots still in beta mode, in the settings you can modify your preferences. Next to the where to buy information, is an overview of wine details, wine producer information with even a price history and search rank based on Wine-Searcher popularity of last year. Under the vintages you will find the year with and a 100 score scale rating and if available an average price.

Food and Wine pairing apps

 6. Simply Wine and food      Android free

Simply Wine and Food Android apps op Google Play

Simply Wine and Food

For newbies to Wine and Food pairings with a new feature, adding desserts pairing and wine of the day advice.

7. Wine find                                  Buy €1.76

Wine Find Android apps op Google Play

Winefind

The beauty of this app it fills in the  gap of wine and food pairing with feathered and furred game dishes, it has a comprehensive section with recommendations. “The app, developed in partnership with Halesown-based Smartphone Media, works as both a training tool for hospitality students, a point of reference for industry professionals and a bank of knowledge for anyone who loves food and wine but isn’t sure how to get the best out of both”. Excerpt Wine matching app Wine find taken from the Daily Mail’s interview with the app creator Amy Hollier, click on the highlighted link for full article.

& More

Just Wine

Just Wine Android apps op Google Play

Just Wine

This is a new app which I had downloaded a few months earlier, at first glance you’ll notice immediately the use of rich feature images very appealing visuals. However I was very disappointed with the QR scanner not working and not able to add wine notes, I decided to remove the app for now. Left a review comment on which I received promptly a reply from the developers.

Mobility Quotient 3 december 2014

Thanks for the feedback. The QR scanner works with url supported codes, unfortunately not every wine producer uses these. You can add your own wine notes from the main menu. Please check back soon, we’re adding tens of thousands of new wine records to search!

It is a promising app worth to mention and hopefully the feedback will speed up the next version with improvements.

Which of the above wine apps are you using already, share your findings and experience or your favorite by sending a comment on this post.

WSET wine course in Leiden

After years of enjoying many and more glasses of wines and spirits I decided to sign up for the International Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), qualification Level 2 and 3. The WSET wine course is the largest wine educator in the world with 56,000 students per year in 62 countries. The institution has become the international standard for sommeliers, importers, retailers and hospitality. This action does not come as a surprise for my inner circle, who are familiar with my entrepreneurial history in the restaurant business. The enrollment was just a delay due to travel and living abroad. What’s not to like in another discovery trail and acquiring a certificate for wine appreciation it is hitting two birds with one stone.

WSET wine course in Leiden

The above mentioned WSET wine course has approved program providers in The Netherlands ensuring the high standards of teaching. From the listed companies on the WSET wine course page in Dutch I have chosen the Dutch educational company “Wijnstudio”. The Wine Studio claims since 2005 the highest exam results for the International Wine Certificate with 99 graduates in one take and 71 graduates  for Wine Professional (Source: wsetglobal.com).

The Winestudio is an independent company, who does not sell wines nor being tied to an importer. The company also focuses in addition to the educational courses on gastronomy, the pairing of wine and food taste in flavor and aroma. For those who aspire a professional career and wonder what the education differences entails here are two summarized articles to consider on wine courses; comparison of wine certificationsGuide to Wine education courses. More information in the Wine education widget as listed on our Asianfoodtrail ZEEF page.

Having viewed Dutch wine educational websites information and comparing course fees, it was enlightening to notice their graduates success rate. While this is encouraging information, the decision maker however was distance for preferred location. The WSET wine course program is being held in my present hometown Leiden at a new course location this year. Instead of a bored meeting room it is being hosted now at the wine shop La Bordelaise which lies conveniently in the heart of the city.

Last night entering the class room, all students received the course material and the box with tasting glasses. The Level 2 Award course began with our teacher opening the first bottle of the evening, a Royer Brut Champagne, France. Although we received a wine tasting list overview, I wished I had remembered to take a snapshot of the wine labels. Besides illustration purpose I wanted to test a new mobile wine app, coming up in a next post.

WSET Level 2 award

Unboxing of WSET level 2 award

Apricot Almond Cake recipe

Apricot Almond Cake slice

Seasonal fruit in abundance, the fragrance, the colors, the shapes, taste and textures everything awakens all your sensory feelings. The thought of biting into juicy fruit stimulates a neurons overflow of flavors, watering my mouth instantly. In a flash sparking all the creative possibilities of how-to cook, bake, stew, grill, with knowing taste buds enjoying foresight of a gratifying experience. Mmmhmm….

Still contemplating on choosing the right recipe and ultimate dish, I started first by macerating the fruits in a little bit of sugar. While it is not necessary I like to add a liqueur to enhance flavor. The choice was made on the first bottle in direct view an almond liqueur this time, but other favorite choices are Cointreau or Grand Marnier both combine and infuse well too.

Over time I also experimented by using Cremoncello di Sicillia Mandarino liqueur, while enjoying Limencello original mostly in the summers this is a very nice surprise. Limoncello and other fruit variations are traditionally served chilled after meals in Italy, it is quite popular around the Mediterranean coasts. 

A sprinkle of sugar draws out their juices and mixing the fruits starts blending the liqueur, it creates a syrup and as you can see it coats the fruits with a beautiful gloss. After 20-30 minutes when you transfer the fruits on top of the cake batter, save the infused syrup as a glaze for later.

Fresh apricots, macerating fruits

Choosing  between Apricot-Almond Clafouti recipe by Eating Well and a Cake I choose the latter, since I started preparing in the morning. A Cake can be enjoyed cold anytime of the day, but a Clafouti is slightly cooled right after dinner enjoyed at its best. While Cherry clafouti is one of my favorites, haven’t tried yet using Apricots another reason to follow up soon while this fruit is at its peak.

Apricot Almond Cake

When I started mixing I discovered too late that I hadn’t had enough self-rising flour so I had to do a little improvisation by adding flour and one teaspoon of baking soda, it worked out just fine. After creaming the butter with sugar I added the eggs one by one and finally a drop of vanilla essence, when I realized I could have used almond essence too, will leave that for the next bake. Normally milk is one of the ingredients but I only had soy milk and used it without a problem in the batter. Having done that I need to mention that I used a commercial brand not my own homemade unsweetened soy milk which has a more pronounced bean flavor. For the inexperienced tasters it can have an impact on appreciating the final result in complementing tastes. Press the  apricots into the batter and drizzle a bit of the juice syrup on top and pop it into the heated oven.

Apricot Almond Cake - Springform

By the time the bake is nearing its end our kitchen is filled with an incense and I…..

“Heaven… I’m in heaven,
And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak.
And I seem to find the happiness I seek,
When we’re out together dancing cheek to cheek.”                  – Cheek to Cheek by Irvin Berlin –

Apricot Almond Cake Recipe

This is one of my favorite recipes, without fail it turns out great every time with all stone and soft fruits. Once you macerate the fruits, the batter is easily mixed under 10 minutes since the magic happens during baking which takes around 50-60 minutes depending your oven. Just check towards the end with a wooden skewer whether it comes out clean.

The Springform straight from the oven, say no more, say no more. Let it cool slightly than brush the syrupy liquid on top of the fruits to finish off with a beautiful glaze.

Apricot Almond Cake - Plate

My hubby was in a hurry he didn’t realize that the baking paper lining was not yet peeled off the bottom. That didn’t stop him to cut a slice on the go and munching happily away.

 

Food photography: The images in this post were all made with a smartphone camera, Samsung Note 2 model. Pixlr image editing tools was used; to crop and a vignette no color or enhanced editing on the images.

 

Continuing app stor-y-age

My Apps (2) – Like anyone else who travels and like to take photo’s or work with important data, knows you’ll have to make a back-up by transferring the content over to a memory card or a handy app as Dropbox. This file-hosting service offers cloud storage for all your data & documents synchronizing directly from your smart-phone. A great way to make back-ups, uploads your camera shots in a whiz from your desk PC and across other working stations as well. Really love the simplicity and its sharing tool, at the moment I have earned even extra storage space by connecting other stations, referring, linking to Twitter, send like tweets and even a Samsung promotion delivered bonus storage. All that accumulating to a whooping 51.25GB it sure does sounds a lot to me, but who knows how rapidly I could fill up that space with what I’ve been working on during this month.

I’d featured the Watermark App in my previous post but just having had a discussion on intellectual property and use of photos on products am mentioning it again. For copyright security you have options to be barely visible or plain bold, you can also add a personal message or fun graphics. Have a look at this Add Watermark Android review by AppEggs with info and alternative options.

I received this tip from Elaine Ching from the The Brandroom and webshop TrunkV introducing and importing Asian fashion brands. Will feature an upcoming post containing their new website showing latest trends with clothing and accessories items. I very much like their slogan: “It’s more fun if you are the Lucky One”.

Another productive mobile app is BufferApp, a great twitter app for multiple social media accounts and it connects WordPress too with a plug-in very practical. This is a service that stacks your tweets and publishes at defined times, by scheduling you can organize your work flow more efficiently by buffering in advance. Hence it’s appropriate name!

The most appealing features must be bit.ly shortening of links and and analytic’s showing the reach of your tweets by clicks, re-tweets, mentions or marked them as favourite. Thereby identifying your followers profile, a definite keeper on my App list.

In the beginning just looking at my time-line was enough, well that changed over time including the use of more platforms it was time to re-organize. I had downloaded and deleted quite a few tools, while comparing my own findings with other users reviews on pros & cons, I concluded there is not a perfect app yet including all my preferences.

The social media dashboards I have installed; free version HootSuite on the PC and Ubersocial for my Smartphone & Tablet. Initially used both smartphone applications side by side but gravitated towards Ubersocial, it has a clean feel and in my view better equipped for smartphones. Having said this everyone each own preferences there is no argumentation when it rotates around “like”, functionality will become apparent with a lot of trial and error process during the course of daily intensive usage.

Let me know what app clients you use and share your experience and/or findings. Always happy to learn more or even better if you have a review of a new app breathing ‘easy’ all the way.

 

 

 

Fav Android mobile photo apps

My Apps (1) – Lets not kid ourselves our society has been transformed the moment mobiles entered our life-style and made slowly but surely changes especially games, mobile applications and widgets. The possibilities in here has avalanched the way we read and made influential changes how we spend our time according to latest researches. I will not dive into scientific areas or technical description far from it even, for me as end-user I am only interested in convenient and efficient.

Simply said, are apps & widgets easy to operate and handy. Do they deliver any time and anywhere access, supporting tasks and retrieve latest updates. As social media fan and enthusiastic user, who loves to find out best practices with nifty gadgets and/or apps. I retrieve and exchange answers also from user groups, twitter feeds with search #hashtag for advice on the why’s, dont’s, do’s or just what is fun.

Since there are so many and only frequent usage will reveal whether it serves it purpose or not and I have my favourite free Android mobile apps. This is the first post of a series featuring “My Apps” list in categories starting with visual apps.

Photography
  • Instagram – Iphone most talked and raved application, now acquired by Facebook because it was the first photo-sharing experience on mobile phones! I installed the android version right on my Samsung S3 because it’s connected with other social media applications. For Iphone & Android users have a look at post mentioning other apps for even more possibilities and effects by Mashable Tech 10 Photo apps that enhance Instagram Tumblr post Instagram Apps unofficial catalog of cool apps or Lifehacker Five better alternatives for Android No need to explain why it turned immensely popular, it was fun to play and connect with friends and groups but I wanted more photo Fx (effects).
  • PicsArt Android – Now we’re talking this is a complete photo editing tool and super easy to use, once you start playing around with its features your hooked! I’ve downloaded this app also on my Samsung Tablet P1000 and if you like Photoshop this comes quite near.
  • Streamzoo  Android – After Picsart this is my second best favourite because of its thriving community, members are prompt to tag their photo’s with hashtag as in Twitter, which makes it easier to follow and to find both people and interests. Since I’m a of Foursquare fan too I like the game reward element collecting points and badges. Photo’s I uploaded were instantly picked out and liked, sharing is also appreciating efforts of others so yes this app is a keeper.
  • Photo Grid Android – I’ve just recently added this and signed up for Beta-version testing, I like it as an addition to PicsArt making photo collages, single photo’s can be powerful but at times a collage can be as entertaining to want to see more.
  • Add watermark – Android I downloaded this after positive referral, easy to set-up and use. Sign your pictures with text or logo as protection for your digital and intellectual property, but also serve to advertise your company, website or other information at the same time.
  • Daily Mugshot Android – Is a fun app to take daily photo’s and upload instantly, some users have found an entertaining way to change their snaps by altering head wear, color lipsticks or just yourself as you. The only thing is I keep forgetting to take snapshots so I have one with big gaps but still fun when quickly flipped through to notice changes as an old film/cartoonbook.
There is so much more and available that actually having all these choices it just makes it harder and you may not like my choices, perhaps this post Top 20 Android Photography apps will enlighten you with more options of photo effects.

Android photo apps

Trendy cover accessories for Smartphones & Tablets

As an avid user I have these devices as my personal kit and like to keep them at hand, functional and protected. Choosing a cover can be as simple, a fashionable or technical requirements as to one’ s liking or preferences, most brands offer choices of accessories as in slides, hard and soft covers but they are either butt ugly, not always practical or a short-lived  life-cycle that makes it just pricier. It is here were all the merchandising for accessories has found its way to owners and buyers to pimp up the hardware and apps for user convenience, I am a big fan of apps and will dive in a separate post with a list of favourites, most used etc.

The black keyboard cover (incl. USB cable)  as shown in the picture is a nifty Bluetooth gadget lightweight covering all applicable language character sets, this item is available at various online-shops in The Netherlands. I’ve purchased this model for €30 and enjoyed using it but carrying other devices along over time in my purse does get bulky and heavy. It wasn’t for long that I started looking at other possible functional accessories in China.

The fun of this 7inch tablet is the very convenient size, it’s big enough to read and hold comfortably. The Samsung GT-P1000 included apps with a pre-installed skin. But I opted to download Kindle and FBreader to use as favourite e-reader apps, read my post on apps & widgets for smartphone and tablets with more information.

Unfortunately no more examples or stock at the moment for 7inch Tabletphone covers, new models are on the way leave me a comment or send me an email if interested.

Smartphone covers for Samsung SIII model, I am using the green croco-print and am selling the other colour & models as shown.

The black croco model – €18,50 |   White model with strap €15,00  |   The red swivel model €12,50