When Adytum had her “soft opening” and Chris and Julia enjoyed The Orion Suite, they noticed details in the kitchen the next morning at breakfast that they wanted to incorporate into their new house construction and their kitchen. Later when I was getting a hair cut from Julia at her Moda Capelli Salon in Olympia she asked more specifics: “Where did you get your round cutting board? What was the pan you served the fritata in?” We talked tools for awhile and how fun they make time spent playing in the kitchen.
I have, like I shared with her, a list of “musts” that I’d never be without. The Boos round chopping block she was admiring was a gift from my kids. It was inspired after reading, Nicole Mones’ “The Last Chinese Chef”, a book I highly recommend.
Not only is the writing impeccable and the story fascinating in its depth of Chinese culture and the art of dining but in a personal email to me, she admits she is entirely self taught. Having studied classical music she says, “When I try to describe something I think first of the sounds that would be there. That’s not all I describe but that is often my way in (to the scene she’s writing) These chopping blocks become family heirlooms. Years of knife cuts achieved with the steady thrum of knife to wood begin to carve a story in the wood, both audible and tangible, that speak of hours of loving preparation for those we love and care for. It is one of my treasured tools. It will be with me always.
My chef son, Phillip Gritton who cooks a lot in the Adytum kitchen, introduced me to Shun knives out of sheer desperation I’m sure… He couldn’t find a good knife in the lot. So another gift and one I really cherish. (and hope he adds to!) After using it, I can’t tolerate the lesser knives on my magnetic wall rack anymore and will hopefully get a whole set of Shun knives. There’s a certain pleasure that accompanies a precise cut. It feels like slicing butter, no matter what I’m working on.Definitely adds an element of delight…
When we were in Vermont at one of Phil’s restaurants years ago, we inquired about the tiny matchstick cuts on salad carrots and on the garnishes; thin long ribbons of beet and zucchini. We were told it was a Ben Riner. I thought they were talking about someone, but that’s the name of the cheap looking little mandolin that creates these awesome and fast cuts. We bought one home from the Culinary Institute’s kitchen shop in Hyde Park, NY; where Phil was a student. The razors are dangerously sharp and each of us – except maybe Phil- has nearly cut our fingers off….but what can I say? It’s worth it for the time saved and the finished look of the dish. I use it every day.
Before Julia left her stay at Adytum, she had taken notes on the pan her Frittata was made in – All Clad; another treasure of mine. It starts on the stove and ends under the broiler and is served in the same pan with incredible appeal. I use the Ben Riner to create a mix of mushrooms, onion, red bell pepper, garlic, etc. that the eggs will accompany. It’s all so quick and easy, yet looks elegant and appealing.
The last “essential” I’ll share today is my Vitamix blender. Not only do we use it daily for our Metagenics Medical Food shakes for breakfast, but before the 4 eggs went into the All Clad Frittata pan to make breakfast, I whizzed them in the Vitamix.
Years ago, a chef taught me to use a tablespoon or two of water- not cream- to make the eggs steam up nicely in an omelet. Magic. The instruction, the fine cuts on the filler for the frittata…where would we be without good tools?
May you always have loved ones around your table.