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5 Christmas gifts for the foodie

You know the foodie in your life. He or she is that person who will drag you miles away from your home to try out a new restaurant that they've heard about, or will spend hours cooking up an "experiment" in the kitchen, only to decide at the last minute to go out to eat.

Finding the perfect gift for the Apple-owning gourmet in your life doesn't need to be an exercise in futility. Follow along as I bring you five ideas that are sure to keep your foodie friend on his or her journey to palatable perfection.

1) The first -- and one that I use on a regular basis -- is actually a free present that you can provide. OpenTable [Free, iTunes Link] is a service that is used by many foodie-friendly restaurants to capture reservations. You'll need to sign your gift recipient up for a free account, but once you're done, she'll be able to make reservations at that new French bistro that just opened up with just a few taps.

2) What's a good meal without a good glass (or bottle) of wine? Since your gourmet buddy might also be a budding oenophile, he might enjoy knowing which wines would work well with a certain meal, and how other wine lovers rated a particular wine. My favorite app in this area is The Wine Ratings Guide by Nirvino [US$3.99, iTunes Link]. The app calls upon the huge database of wines at the Nirvino website, and asks for your ratings and tasting notes, as well as photos of the label on the bottle. It's useful for finding highly-rated wines when you're at the local store picking up a few bottles for your enjoyment.
3) Foodies have to have something to do while eating and drinking, and conversation is usually the most convenient way of entertaining your dinner companions. Here's a cheap stocking stuffer app that is a bunch of fun -- Foodie 500! Facts [$0.99, iTunes Link] has all sorts of conversation starters jammed into it. Your foodie will have all sorts of fun telling you things like "The average American eats 18 acres of pizza in their lifetime" or "Celery has negative calories. It takes more calories to eat a piece of celery than the celery has in it to begin with." Then again, maybe talking about your idiot co-workers is more fun...

4) Does the foodie in your life have a Mac but no iPhone? Then MacGourmet Deluxe [Mariner Software, US$49.95] is the perfect gift! Not only will the recipient of this software be able to create delicious recipes and store them in the application, but they can import their favorite recipes from the many food and recipe sites on the Web.

They can create and publish their own cookbooks, which means that you may be getting cookbooks as Christmas gifts from your friend for the foreseeable future. There's a Wine Notes feature that they can use to track wine information, with information such as winery, region / sub-region, vintage, and more. As with the iPhone app described earlier, they can even add a picture of the wine label. And if your buddy has a wine cellar (every foodie has to have a wine cellar!), he can put in information about where the bottles of a particular vintage are located.

5) Finally, after all of the eating and drinking your foodie is going to do, he's going to need to keep an eye on his weight or he'll look like Mr. Creosote (above). Why just get any bathroom scale when you can get one that broadcasts your weight and fat content over Wi-Fi to a password-protected website, Twitter, or an iPhone app?

The Withings Internet Connected Body Scale [US$159.00] can make tracking weight a pleasure instead of a chore. I'm testing one right now for TUAW and will have a full review soon, but I can tell you that it's a very accurate scale. Watching my weight and lean body mass curves over time has almost become an obsession, and doing it has pointed out types of meals (pasta at my favorite Italian restaurant, for example) that tend to cause my weight to balloon temporarily.

Hopefully this little guide has provided you with the perfect gift for that fabulous foodie in your life. If you have any gift ideas for gourmet gadget-heads, please leave those ideas in the comments.

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You know the foodie in your life. He or she is that person who will drag you miles away from your home to try out a new restaurant that...