Back in the International Home and Housewares South hall, I stopped by the Le Creuset display to see what is new in 2011 for this French housewares company.
More Housewares Fun
They were showing the new Fennel color of their fine product lines, which is presently exclusive to Sur La Table. While the new color was interesting, I found the gift sets the most interesting. Le Creuset has partnered with food purveyors to create gift sets that match their small products with honey, preserves and barbecue sauce as appropriate. It is a great way to show people how the “lesser known” products from Le Creuset can be used in everyday life, with something for every season. There was also a nice set of small, ceramic cocottes of varied colors in a lovely gift box.
CDN, the makers of fine measurement gauges of all kinds had a couple of new cooking tools that require attention. The two I liked most were the Infrared Gun and the Remote Temperature Probe. The Infrared Gun measures the surface area of whatever you hold the beam on, from a pan to a liquid. I use these types of tools to ensure that my pans do not get too hot while cooking and to help maintain a certain temperature. You can also use them for chocolate or candy to know you have the correct temperature for the intended purpose. I do not own a CDN Infrared Gun, but would like to try it out to see if it works as well as it seems it would. It feels solid and has a very quick response. The controls seem simpler than the one I presently use. It has a laser target illumination so you are sure it is working and where you are pointing it. The Infrared Gun also has a back lit screen, high and low alerts and memory function.
If you know me, you know I am a big fan of remote temperature probes. I use them when cooking meat in the oven, on the grill, and when deep frying or making yogurt. I like the ability to set temperature ranges which provides great control during cooking. Additionally many remote temperature probes have timers with up and down counting functionality which is very helpful. CDN’s model WT2 includes a function that will count up after the timer reaches zero which is a useful feature if you arrive after your timer has gone off: at least you know how much time you are over your target. The new CDN WT2, unlike my current model, has a remote pager option. There is nothing worse than being in another room and not hearing your alarm. I foolishly ruined milk heating for yogurt as I was out of the room while heating the milk and didn’t hear the alarm, giving me scorched milk. Even though the WT2 remote probe comes with the USDA “done-ness” temperatures pre-loaded, you can override those settings to achieve properly cooked meat, in addition to using it for other tasks.
Moving from one form of measurement to another, I examined Pourfect, a housewares company you may not know but one that you should get to know if you are an avid baker or are frustrated with your measuring bowls or cups. The Pourfect products fall into the not-new-but-new-to-me category. I have wanted to talk to these folks for sometime drawn mostly to their stand mixer beater blade replacement, similar to Beater Blade Plus, called SCRAPE-A-BOWL. However the Pourfect version is different in a couple of ways. First, it is taller than the Beater Blade Plus and even the KitchenAid beater; the company feels you get better ingredient immersion and mixing with it and won’t have to scrape the sides as is sometimes required with the other version. Second, the overall blade design features more a pronounced curve and is thus unlike their competitors. I can’t wait to buy one and compare it against the Beater Blade Plus. Pourfect also makes Whisk-A-Bowl, a redesigned whisk for the stand mixer, that is odd looking but, in the demo I watched, created some impressive peaks on egg whites and smooth unbroken whipped cream. Their whisks’ unique design won’t break as is often the case with the standard whisk that comes with a stand mixer. These two tools come in colors to match any KitchenAid mixer.
After observing and learning about Pourfect’s stand mixer tools, I became enamored with their bowls, beakers, measuring cups and spoons. Not only do they appear to be very accurate – they guarantee it – but they also have markings in English, metric and Braille. All their bowls, cups and spoons have a unique features which allow the cook to cleanly pour or dispense the measured ingredient with their patented design. The various measuring bowls, cups and beakers have a perfect hand grip, an egg cracking ledge, measuring guide marks inside, and gull wings to fold ingredients back into the bowl eliminating over-spills. There is a rubber ring on the bottom for non-slip stability, a channel to align ingredients for smooth pouring, a pivot to securely position the bowl on another container for perfect control and a drip-less spout. They are microwave and dishwasher safe and are made of stain resistant polypropylene. A great line of products that will be replacing my old stuff very soon, I think.
Continuing in the baking mind set, I stopped by the Escali team to see what culinary housewares they had to offer. I have been a fan of Escali not only because their scales are reliably accurate, using decimal readings which I prefer, but also because they have a good price value. This year they are offering a 3/4″ ultra thin version of their basic scale, called Arti, in a wide variety of colors which will serve most kitchen needs very well. It has a large display and a big 15 lb. capacity. But what caught my eye was the new product called Pana. This is a scale made with avid bakers in mind. Not only is it easy to read, it is highly accurate, a 13 lb. capacity, responsive, sensitive and also displays in either fraction or decimal amounts. The most amazing feature is that it can give pure weight readings or weights by volume. Let me explain. As any baker will tell you, a cup of flour weighs different depending on the type of flour weighed, so it can be frustrating to properly weigh flour when the recipe says 1 1/2 cups. I own a booklet with guidelines that I use, but this Pana machine has volume weights programmed in so there is no guessing. In fact, there are 150 ingredients programmed into the scale. The company worked with King Arthur Flour to get the proper weights for each type of flour that might be weighed. THIS is an awesome feature! This is the best scale for the home kitchen I have seen and I am lusting after it. I will most definitely buy one when they become available later this year.
Revol, the fine French porcelain maker, has introduced a very cool new product line called REVOLution. It is a line of ceramic cookware designed to be used for cooking with any type of heating device, including induction. The cocottes and tagine are similar to Emile Henry’s pottery based Flametop cookware, but they have a special piece of material on the bottom that allows it to be magnetic for use on induction cooktops but not enough metal to make it blow up your microwave. I do not know how they have created this bottom piece, but the concept it truly amazing. As Emile Henry proved, you can harden pottery to such a degree that it can withstand direct flame, but this added attachment ups the ante a bit. These pottery based cookware lines are so much lighter than cast iron and enameled cast iron and come in chic colors and styles. I am anxious to buy this REVOLution cookware and put it through the paces to see how it functions. I love it when companies push the envelope, finding new ways to use technology in everyday life of “common” housewares.
Last but not least on this housewares write up is a company called Soiree. They make a unique bottle based wine aerator that looks like a globe with internal spikes which help to move the wine around and soften the tannins as the wine glides over the interior surface. I have obtained this product and am including it in the “work in progress” article about wine aerators. So many interpretations for speeding up the process of decanting wine. It will be interesting to see how it performs.
The International Home and Housewares show is always beautiful and fun information overload. I will have more to write about later, but for now I hope you are excited about the new products that will be available this year.