THREE GREAT KITCHEN GIFTS FOR THE HOLIDAYS
by John Mariani
THE WINE CELLAR
Like everyone, I like a good kitchen gadget that works, though I’ve never been suckered in by any of those sold by info-mercials on TV, when, “if you call now, you get two extra thigamajigs and a whole set of steak knives for just $29.95 in three easy payments plus shipping!”
I’ll never be convinced of the importance of owning a can opener shaped like a toucan ($25) or a wheat grass juicer ($142), and the microwave oven someone gave me years ago has never come out of its box.
So when I come across three items that really impress me for their utility and as-promised dependability, I want to tell all my friends who spend any serious time in the kitchen.
Then, this summer, I was sent a demo model of the Waring Pro Double® Induction Cooktop ($249.95), which looks more or less like a simple hot plate but is actually every bit as impressive as what I saw in Ducasse’s kitchen. Weighing only seven pounds, it’s easy enough to put on your kitchen counter, and its various settings allow you to instantly modify the cooking temperature, has a 150-minute timer, and shuts off automatically 30 seconds after a pot is removed. And it uses 70 percent less energy than conventional cooktops.
At first I thought the cooktop a reasonable alternative or addition to my gas range, but during a brutally hot July, when I didn’t want to turn on a flame burner to add to the kitchen’s heat, I used the induction cooktop relentlessly, with the only heat coming from the food being cooked.
One caveat: it only works with stainless steel pots and pans, so you can’t use your cast iron or simple aluminum cookware. But I have really learned to love this novelty, which strikes me as one of the better inventions of the 21st century for the home kitchen.
I bought pizza dough from an Italian bakery, topped it with various ingredients, and, after heating up the Pizza Maker as instructed for five minutes, slid it onto the stone. Five minutes later out came as perfect a pizza as I’ve ever made at home—the crust was crispy, slightly charred underneath, and had those glorious charred bubbles of dough around the circumference (which Italians call the “cornicione”). It was easily as good as some my favorite pizzerias make. (The photo on the right doesn't really show the blistery beauty of the real thing.)
Had I made this pizza in my regular gas or electric oven, I would have had to heat up a pizza stone at the highest heat attainable (only about 450 degrees) for an hour before putting the pizza on it, then cooking it, shifting it around in the process, for about 15 minutes. The Pizza Maker reached a much higher, controlled temperature in five minutes, evenly throughout, so I didn't need to shift the pie around.
I was so impressed that I was making pizzas
every night and even for breakfast, with a spread of
Nutella hazelnut and chocolate. Now, that’s a
They are terrific looking—the
black ones look like Ninja knives, though the lime
green ones are merely pretty—and though light in the
hand, I found them so sharp that, without being
serrated, they cut with surgical precision through
tomatoes and the tough rinds of limes in one movement. You can buy
the knives individually—slicer ($107.90), chef’s knife
($92.90), santoku ($76.90), utility ($76.90) and
paring ($44.90)—or as a set ($399.50).
spend hours chopping and slicing may contend that they
prefer more heft and weight in their knives, but I
found the slicing so easy and consistent, and I can't
imagine any home cook slicing up 200 zucchini.
NEW YORK CORNER
I have not (yet) visited the Dalmatian
Coast, which I hear so many wonderful things about—the
ruggedness of the seaside, the stretching away of the
dark Adriatic, the small villages and a cuisine that
takes full advantage of its location, not least for a
great array of seafood. I am already an admirer of
modern Croatian wineries.
The restaurant is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner. Appetizers, soups and salads: $5.75 to $15.75; main courses: $18.75 to $34.75.
NOTES FROM THE WINE
WINERY AIMS FOR A WORLD-CLASS CRU
by Andrew Chalk
Since the onset
of the modern South African wine industry in
1994, there has failed to emerge a dry red table
wine that is mentioned in the same breath as the
great Cabernet/Shiraz red wines of the world like
Bordeaux Crus, Australia’s Grange and California’s
cult Cabernets. That should change if an
international consortium of oenological and
business talent has its way.
MORE REASONS YOU JUST GOTTA LOVE L.A.!
"We have talked before about the gentrification of deep downtown, the colorful area familiar from dystopian novels and Tom Waits lyrics that has become the most reliable destination in town for bespoke cocktails, vintage party dresses and monogrammed dog bowls."--"Purist omakase sushi at Zo" By Jonathan Gold (November 9, 2013) LA Times.
Eric Weiss, who has been teaching people
the art of service since 1994, has steadily broadened
his reach, training the staffs of restaurants,
resorts, hotel groups, then in 2012 an entire
city—Healdsburg, California—and in 2013 an entire
California county, Mendocino. In the new year he will
present Countywide Service Excellence Workshops in
Sonoma and Napa in January and April.
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I consider this the best and savviest blog of its kind on the web. Potter is a columnist for USA Weekend, Diversion, Laptop and Luxury Spa Finder, a contributing editor for Ski and a frequent contributor to National Geographic Traveler, ForbesTraveler.com and Elle Decor. "I’ve designed this site is for people who take their travel seriously," says Potter. "For travelers who want to learn about special places but don’t necessarily want to pay through the nose for the privilege of staying there. Because at the end of the day, it’s not so much about five-star places as five-star experiences." THIS WEEK: THE FIVE BEST TRAVEL BOOKS OF THE YEAR
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Tennis Resorts Online: A Critical Guide to the World's Best Tennis Resorts and Tennis Camps, published by ROGER COX, who has spent more than two decades writing about tennis travel, including a 17-year stretch for Tennis magazine. He has also written for Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, New York Magazine, Travel & Leisure, Esquire, Money, USTA Magazine, Men's Journal, and The Robb Report. He has authored two books-The World's Best Tennis Vacations (Stephen Greene Press/Viking Penguin, 1990) and The Best Places to Stay in the Rockies (Houghton Mifflin, 1992 & 1994), and the Melbourne (Australia) chapter to the Wall Street Journal Business Guide to Cities of the Pacific Rim (Fodor's Travel Guides, 1991).
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