Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mostly boring, buying kitchen stuff

Our consumer binge

Two weeks ago, we finally took the money that Amy's parents had given us for kitchen supplies and had a day of it. I looked up the old NY Times $200 kitchen article, then we started out at Charlie's Fixtures, on Venice east a ways.

We already had most of what we needed; my folks got stainless religion a couple years back and proselytized us. We finally got Amy a stainless stock pot that she'd wanted for a while, as well as a mortar and pestle, and a bar citrus press. All told, about $65-70, not bad at all.

We were looking at the microplanes, at better mandolines (weirdly enough, the one I bought at Ross for $9 is a piece of shit. Who knew?), and, well, I started thinking about how life would be different if I had my own soft serve machine and professional doughnut fryer.

"No more amateur doughnuts, Amy. For real."

We didn't find the chef's knife that I wanted, nor the cast iron skillet. Their cast iron was only in griddle form, or tiny, and for some reason they didn't have a very good selection of chef's knives at all. Like, I could get twelve different kinds of boning knives, but all the chef's knives were 10" or even 12", which is pretty much a fucking sword, and where am I gonna store that? A scabbard on my hip?

Then we headed down to the barware joint on Cotner, which swore on its website that it was open weekends. It is not.

Finally, we headed to Surfas (online as Culinary District), in Culver City. Now, we drive past this place nearly every time we go to an art opening, and I figured it was a regular restaurant supply spot, similar to Charlie's, only with a bit more of the chichi that Culver requires, the type of people who would declare that if you're not microplaning, you're not zesting.

Well, it is, kinda. Except that it's lacking about two thirds of the shit you'd need to have any sort of functional restaurant, and has used that extra space to bring in overpriced gourmet ingredients, a cafe, a test kitchen, and about 5000 goddamned yuppies waddling through the aisles like stoned geese.

Sure, granted, it was Valentine's Day. They'd had some kind of test kitchen event where they had fondue (getting TMBG's "Hot Cha" stuck in my head for the rest of the day… "Fondue forks for everybody!").

But we found a cast iron skillet there, no problem. Their knives were a bit of insanity—I'd love to spend $85 on steel honed by German gnomes, but I just can't. And while Charlie's had only had electric sharpening steels for real goddamn professionals—"Sure, our cheapest one is three-fifty." "That's three hundred fifty, right?" "Yeah." "Oh."—Surfas had plenty of exotic sharpening implements that drew the least purpose-driven browsers, so I ended up just deciding that I didn't need to figure out the Japanese whetstone system even if it was only $14 bucks or so.

Then, after waiting behind a guy that kept telling us that he was in line, he was in line, and yet letting cute girls step ahead of him since they had so little, we were finally out. The experience had overstimulated my German gland, and I was stalking off with fantasies of gassing the whole place, but goddamn if I don't love that skillet. We've used it for weekend breakfast potatoes a couple times now, and it's amazing. The stainless, it just took so much oil, and could never get a high heat without sticking the potatoes to it, whereas the cast iron just gets things so crispy and so deliciously brown. Big fan of using it to heat tortillas too, since it takes very little oil there. Stainless seems likely to be relegated to fry pan status, which is cool, because it's deep enough and heat sensitive enough to give a lot of control, but that cast iron is going to be the main skillet from here on out.

Oh yeah, and that chef's knife? Finally just bought a mediocre one at Smart and Final. Ten bucks or so, same basic model that I used at Tio's all those years ago. Loving that too, since now I can slice shallots totally see-through. I need to find a regular place to get our knives sharpened though, since the last guy that did it at the Farmer's Market, those blades barely kept the edge a month. The shitty Kroger knife, I expect that (though it's surprisingly sharp given the abuse it's taken), but the Calphalon santoku should get real attention and needs to be retrued.

Next week? Buying a bed!

But so that this isn't a total waste:

1 oz. Blood orange juice
1 oz. Lime juice
1/4 oz. Simple syrup
1 oz. Soda water
1 oz. Brandy
1 oz. Rye
dash bitters

Pour rye and brandy into rocks glass. Add blood orange juice, lime juice, simple syrup, soda water, bitters. Stir. Delicious. Needs a name.

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