Sunday, December 28, 2008

Cutlery Lust / Early New Year's Resolution

Just stopping in for a quickie post. The holiday season has been the usual busy blur, and has mostly been wonderful. A bit too hectic, as usual, but fun all in all. I'm in the midst of a truly heinous attack of Cedar Fever, however, which is making the tail end of 2008 about as miserable as could be. And when I'm miserable, my thoughts turn to those of...

... well, food, really. Or, more precisely, cooking. I love cooking when I'm down. The process, the preparation and planning and procedures. It's all a wonderful distraction from whatever's bothering me. Plus, I really get a lift out of making other people happy with food. Most people really enjoy eating, after all, and I've found that the best way to defuse tension is to give people something to stuff in their mouths. It's very hard to argue when you're chewing on a tasty morsel of something yummy.

And maybe that's why I'm so utterly and completely, head-over-heels in love with these:

Shun Elite chef's knives.

My god they're beautiful.

Here's the description of this line, from the KAI website: "Shun Elite is an innovative combination of aesthetics and performance in kitchen cutlery. Handcrafted in Seki City, Japan, the center of the ancient samurai tradition, Elite’s stunning design is directly inspired by the artful aesthetics of samurai swords, down to the smallest detail. The blade is made of a unique core of SG2, an exotic powdered steel that’s hardened to 64 Rockwell (compared to the 56-58 Rockwell of European kitchen knives), resulting in an exceedingly sharp and smooth edge. This amazing metal means that Elite knives stay sharp several times longer than comparable stainless cutlery. The knife is then clad with two layers of SUS410—a softer stainless steel that provides strength, flexibility and corrosion protection. The only thing more beautiful than the knife in your kitchen is the way it performs in your hand. Hand wash. Lifetime warranty."

These things are gorgeous. I was literally salivating over a set in the Sur la Table yesterday. Besides being astonishingly sharp and strong knives, they are utterly and completely beautiful. The gleaming edge, the wobbly line where the powdered steel coating meets the core, the deep black pakkawood handles, the exquisite traditional Japanese styling, every detail made me Want Them. And while the Ken Onion series may be more voluptuous (that beautiful Damascus-look steel, the lovely curved handles -- I'm sure they feel fantastic in your hand) and the Alton Brown series more ergonomically designed for extensive kitchen use (that nice little angle on the blade must take a lot of stress off the wrist when doing extensive knife work), I have to just accept that my aesthetic sense is hopelessly Oriental/Asian Influenced, and these things look like something a True Samurai Chef would use to whip up something spectacular.

So, I'm making my first New Year's Resolution. Not of the self-improvement sort, although I will make some of those as well, but of the life-improvement sort. I haven't bought myself new knives in over 12 years. I'm still working with the Henckels set I assembled over the course of a year back in 1995-1996, and while they're hanging in there, they need to be professionally sharpened and even then their edge is getting woefully worn. It's time to rebuild, and over the next year I am going to assemble a complete set of these beautiful pieces of sharpened steel.

Yes. Yes I will.

And if anyone has an extra $1000 lying around and wants to help get this process going quicker I'll be most obliged ....

Mood: Wry, tired, allergic.
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