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Knifey goodness

So after a quick lunch at Consuelo Mexican Bistro (hint: order one meat course to share between 2 people and a side for each person), kproche and I stopped at Sur La Table.

Yeah, it's a chain, but it feels less like a chain that Williams-Sonoma does. That, though, may just be because the store layout doesn't feel quite as "designed" (which means, of course, it's probably much more designed), relying on simple wire shelving instead of fancy built-in shelves...

...and Cooking Etc. (our local independent cookware store) isn't open on Sunday, nor does it carry the knives that I like. That's actually a big deal. I don't blame them for trying to keep their knife inventory down (it's often the biggest capital-sink in a cooking store), but it means I can't go to them to buy knives.

I've been dissatisfied with our kitchen knives for a while. They're crappy stamped stainless with wood handles slapped on the side. I can sharpen them and get an edge, but not without major effort. And those are the better knives; the serrated set with plastic handles are worse. It's been time for new knives for quite a while.

The plan was to replace the stack 'o junk knives with just a few good ones that would be comfortable, high-quality and easy to keep clean, and the Global "Black Dot" series from Yoshikin fit that description nicely.

Now there are plenty of knife sets available, and Global doesn't lag behind the competiton. Alton Brown says, though, that knife sets are rarely the bargain they look, as they usually include pieces that you will never use (and lord knows, our old blocks contained more than a few knives I never used). I was pleasantly surprised to see that Global did a very basic 3-piece set: 8" chef's knife, 6" utility knife and a paring knife. Nothing wrong with that; those are all knives that I would use on a regular basis.

Only Sur La Table didn't have the set in stock.

They had the new Global 3-knife set. Very similar, but featuring a slightly different paring knife and a 8" hollow-ground santoku (Japanese-style chef's knife, yeah the link is a Henckels, but there are very few pictures of the Global hollow-ground santoku). That made the decision easy. Well, that and K deciding that this would be a good birthday present for me.

We also picked up a magnet bar (not the one linked, but a cheaper one; it's not like magnet bars are high-end items, even though Global sells a matching "black dot" magnet bar that costs $120) and a steel (can't live without one) so these knives wouldn't end up like the old ones.

Oh, and while we were there I looked at box graters (our box graters were also really crappy). Microplane is making a really cool box grater, so we picked one of those up too. Now we've got two fewer knife blocks taking up counter space, and one fewer box grater.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 29th, 2005 05:17 pm (UTC)
I'm happy for you. Good knives are the basis of any comfortable kitchen.
-sends jealous vibes in your direction-

Aug. 29th, 2005 05:49 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a very cool set.

However, according to a "America's Test Kitchen" segment I saw this weekend, that while they liked the santoku design, it was far to light for their tastes and they also preferred the rocking motion you can get with standard chef's knife.

I wish they had listed what it was good for though, because they said they liked it, then listed only the negatives.
Aug. 29th, 2005 06:44 pm (UTC)
The santoku was recently popularized by Rachael Ray; the lightness was actually part of the reason she adopted it. She's got a bit of repetitive stress injury, and using a santoku didn't aggravate it like a traditional chef's knife did.

The long straight blade on the santoku doesn't rock the same way that a standard chef's knife does, but a standard chef's knife doesn't really rock that well either; it's also got a very long straight blade.

A santoku can be made with a granton edge (the little hollow-ground scallops); this helps the knife slide through sticky materials more readily than a plain edge. I've not seen traditional chef's knives made with a granton edge.

The general opinion around santoku knives is that they're very good general-purpose knives. They do most things a chef's knife does well. They also substitue beautifully for a vegetable cleaver.

Future purchases will include a 10" drop-forged chef's knife, but there's no great rush.
Aug. 29th, 2005 06:17 pm (UTC)
The first major household investment I ever made was a good (assembled myself) set of Wusthof knives. I have never regretted it. At some point I want to get a good santoku to add to the mix.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 29th, 2005 09:09 pm (UTC)
I'm less thrilled with W-S. Mind you, I've spent fair chunks of money in there, but recently I've found that Sur La Table stocks a wider variety of product, and more importantly, the product I want.
Aug. 29th, 2005 09:36 pm (UTC)
Yay for spiffy sharp things :-)

Happy birthday!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )