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Everything posted by Chad

  1. Chad

    Kershaw Shun Knives

    The Hattori HD's are excellent knives. Truly outstanding. The drawback, again, is that you won't find them even in specialty cutlery stores. You'll have to take a chance and buy before you try. Most of the better Internet knife stores have reasonable return policies, but it is a consideration. I have a 240mm Hattori gyuto that is one of my favorite knives. Very hard to go wrong unless they just don't ignite your passion. The link that Bob posted to JapaneseChefsKnife.com is like the magic door for knife nuts. The site itself is clunky and a little amateurish, but Koki Iwahara is a treat to do business with. Prices are great, customer service is top notch (despite the language difference) and shipping from Japan is astoundingly fast. I've had stuff arrive in as few as three days -- faster than shipping within the US. Russ is exactly right about the Kyoceras. In Japanese knives, light weight and hardness are virtues, but the Kyoceras take that to an extreme. They feel too light, slightly out of control and toy-like. They will also crack or shatter if you drop them on a hard surface. The other problem is that they are not as sharp out of the box as better Japanese knives and you can't do a damn thing about it. They can't be sharpened at home. Pass for now. The technology just isn't there. As for MAC knives, I'm a huge fan. One of the best values out there right now. MACS are highly valued in professional kitchens because they are solid, comfortable workhorse knives that will take and hold an aggressive edge, even under pretty extreme use. They are also easy to maintain. A big plus in a non-knife nut kitchen . Hmm, don't know how this will come across, but when my mother confessed that she didn't have good kitchen knives ( ) I sent her a MAC MTH-80 chef's knife and PKF-30 paring knife. They don't have the snob appeal of the more esoteric knives but they are excellent performers at reasonable prices. Last point. Russ is exactly right. The Global handles are a love 'em or hate 'em affair. Some people can't stand them. I didn't like them but have come to appreciate the light and lively feel of the G2 8" chef's knife that I've been playing with. The handles are the real make or break feature of these knives. The blades are pretty good. It is a lot to think about. With any of the knives we've been talking about it would be hard to go wrong. Just don't go nuts. You don't need a $1,800 22-piece set of knives. You need two or three to get started. If your budget is larger than that, add on a little, get two good cutting boards and a sharpening stone or two (Bob's suggestions were right on, but if things get tight before pushing the "checkout" button, a 1K and a 5K stone will get you going). Take care, Chad
  2. Chad

    Kershaw Shun Knives

    Looks like a good choice to me, too. Bob right about putting most of your budget in your most used knife. And don't be afraid to mix and match among brands. Mismatched handles are the sign of a relaxed, confident cook. As for the veggie knife, well I suspect Bob and I just going to have to disagree. I use a 270mm gyuto or chef's knife nearly 95% of the time, but it is nice to have a smaller knife if I just want to dice some mushrooms or something. Having a veg knife is also very handy if you cook with someone. Two big knives in a standard household kitchen leads to bumping elbows or worse. It's nice when your partner can do some of the prep while you're using the big knife. Just another point to consider. Chad
  3. Chad

    Kershaw Shun Knives

    I agree with you, Bob. A gyuto/santoku combination normally would be a little duplicative. That set I posted earlier, though, comes with the 8" G2 gyuto and a 5-1/5" nakiri looking knife as well as the 4" parer. They're calling the nakiri thingy a "utility knife," but if that ain't a mid-sized veggie knife I'll eat it. Dunno, looks like it might be a good combo for her. Of course, I'd also steer her toward MACs and Tojiros if there were a way for her to see if the handles fit her hands. One of the nice things about Globals is that you can test drive them in nearly any Williams Sonoma, Bed Bath & Beyond or Sur La Table. Chad edit: spellig
  4. Chad

    Kershaw Shun Knives

    An usuba is the dressier, more professional version of the nakiri. Both are blunt nosed, thin bladed vegetable knives. In traditional use of the terms, though, the usuba is chisel ground (flat on the back with a very wide edge bevel on the right side) and is for professional restaurant use. The nakiri is double beveled (ground from both sides like the knives you are used to) and usually thinner and lighter weight. Think of it as a santoku with a flat nose. Let's see if this works. That's a traditional nakiri on top, a traditional usuba in the middle and a westernized usuba on the bottom. Hope this helps, Chad
  5. Chad

    Kershaw Shun Knives

    Hmm, let's take this a point or two at a time. You really only need two knives, a big one and a little one everything else is optional. Your big knife (chef's/gyuto) should usually be at least 8 inches long. Anything less than that won't reach all the way across a pot roast and will be a pain to use for any length of time. Your little knife (paring/petty) will be somewhere between 2-1/2 and 4 inches in blade length. The curved, bird's beak knife is specifically for peeling and tourné-ing (turning) vegetables. If you don't tourné, skip it. The sheepsfoot blade -- the one with a flat edge and spine that turns down to meet the point -- is good if you use the "granny technique" where you hold your vegetable in one hand and cut against your thumb. The spearpoint model is more useful all around because you can use it on a cutting board more easily without banging your knuckles. The choice is up to you and your style of cutting. If you're not sure, go with the spearpoint. Your third knife, the option knife, can be whatever you want. It depends on your cooking style, level of skill and cuisine choices. A deba is a heavyweight knife, even in the small sizes. It's for chopping -- usually cutting the heads off fish or doing rough cleaning/fillet work. If you don't do a lot of that, a deba is not your best bet. Same with a boning or fillet knife. They're roughly the same size and shape. The boning knife will be stiffer, the fillet knife more flexible. In a pinch you can substitute one for the other with little difficulty. But if you don't do a lot of boning or filleting, you can skip these, too. I've boned ducks with a paring knife. It's not that hard. If you eat a lot of vegetables, a santoku or nakiri might be a good choice. These are thin vegetable knives with wide blades for scooping. They're shorter than chef's knives or gyutos. This is completely ignoring the difference between these knives and heavy, forged German or French knives. Those are a different animal entirely. They have thicker spines, more obtuse edges, softer steel and full bolsters (generally). They are sturdier in hard use but require more maintenance. The Globals and other Japanese made knives will be thinner, lighter and have sharper (more acute) edges. They don't stand up to abuse as well as the Germans, but are plenty strong. The Germans (and French) would be SUVs, the Globals would be, say Mazda Miatas. In general, the German/French model has been prevalent for the last 30 years or so but the Japanese have made huge inroads, especially in professional kitchens. Knife cognoscenti usually gravitate toward the Japanese made knives. We'll take performance over dump-truck-like sturdiness any day. Hope this helps, Chad
  6. Chad

    Kershaw Shun Knives

    Bob's right about the Tojiro mentioned in your homework reading . It is a very good knife at a reasonable price -- probably the best performance to price ratio available today. The handles are a little blocky though, which concerns me a little here because you seemed to like the sleeker Global handles. Handle feel is a very personal thing and can be the difference between loving a new knife and having a very expensive paper weight. Ya know what? If you liked the Globals, get the Globals. They're good knives. Start small. You can do 90% of everything you'll ever need to do in a kitchen with just a chef's knife -- 100% if you stretch your technique a little. Add a paring knife and a bread knife and you'll rule the world. And given that you don't eat a lot of bread you can skip that one or get that nifty 4" Asian paring knife or a Santoku as your option knife instead. Just checked -- Global has a three piece starter set with an 8" chef's knife, the GS7 paring knife you liked and a santoku/nakiri sort of thing that looks like a hell of a veggie knife. Not bad for $162. Bob and I would be considered pretty hardcore knife nuts. Our tastes are a little exotic for most. However, I have to admit I was very pleasantly surprised by the Global G2 chef's knife. It's light and lively, balances well and cuts like a champ. It doesn't have the esoteric steel or provenance of a bunch of the knives in my collection, but Globals are reasonably priced and you have the advantage of being able to try them out in the store to see if they suit your hands. I'd say they're a good fit. Chad
  7. Depends on what you're looking for. For a good beer & burger, Abbey Road Grill is hard to beat. It's a bar but there is a non smoking section with a separate entrance. It's not pretty, but the burgers are damn good. Downtown Cary (man that's weird to type) has Cindy's House Cafe. Reviews are good, and you'll probably need a reservation. I haven't been for dinner, just breakfast, but the service was spotty. One experience was good, the second time was atrocious. I've only been to Maximillian's (Chapel Hill Road) once but enjoyed it very much. On Buck Jones Road, the Hotpoint Cafe is supposed to be pretty good. Chad
  8. Wow! Thank you so much. I really appreciate the thought and effort. A quick search brought me to the M.F.K. Fisher collection at the Harvard Library. There is mention of a Jay Perkins/Fisher scholarship and a couple of commencement addresses to the California Culinary Academy that seem promising. I'll have to see if they can help me track down this quote. Thanks again, Chad Edited to add: Steve, you're exactly right. It is a great quote and I'm determined to use it with appropriate attribution.
  9. Woohoo! That's always great to hear. That sounds like an excellent idea. Getting a couple of beater knives to practice on was a great start. Being able to repurpose one of them for your piscatorial guillotining is even better. That 10" F. Dick sounds about ideal. Let us know how it turns out. Take care, Chad
  10. The Japanese know a thing or two about cleaning fish. The traditional Japanese knife for basic fish butchering is called a deba. It is a big honkin' cruiserweight knife ideally suited for cutting off fish heads and breaking down sides. The middleweight version is called a mioroshi deba and is good for smaller to midsize fishies. Both are single beveled traditional Japanese knives with rounded lightweight handles. They'll feel weird at first but do an amazing job. On the other hand, a heavy chef's knife or western deba (sometimes called a yo-deba) might be more suited to your hands and comfort zone. Both will have a standard double beveled edge and European style handles. The heavy chef's knife will have a more obtuse edge angle and softer steel. It will withstand lots of abuse but won't match the cutting efficiency of the western deba, which will have much harder steel and a better edge. I have a Tojiro 240mm western deba (scroll down for it) and it is a beast. I use it to chop barbecue, hack through light bones and do just about anything else where I need a good edge and axe-like strength. Splitting the difference would be a Chef's Choice 8" or 10" chef's knife. The Chef's Choice knives use higher quality and harder steel than most European style knives. They come with edges that are more obtuse than I like but you'd have to work pretty hard to damage one. On the other hand, if you've had success with a cheap fillet knife maybe you just need to upgrade to a higher quality knife. Phil Wilson at SeaMount Knifeworks is justly famous for his fillet knives. The S30V, S60V and S90V he uses can maintain flexibility even at the upper ranges of Rockwell hardness. This might be the best solution if you don't mind spending some money. Hope this helps, Chad
  11. Chad

    Menu Atrocities

    My favorite failed attempt to bloviate was a menu in an Italian restaurant several years ago. I'm sure you're all familiar with Pasta Puttanesca ("whore's pasta"). This place apparently came up with what they thought was a seafood version and called it Puttanesca de la Mer -- yup, Hookers of the Sea. As any mermaid you happen to see . . . Chad
  12. Trois Gros, Quatre Gros, however many Gros it takes. Chad
  13. I will definitely give them a try. Thanks for the heads up. I had no idea such an organization existed. Chad
  14. Yep, I did just that. He's not exactly sure. He said it came from one of her essays, one that also mentions the prevalence of jail time among chefs. Possibly from "How to Cook a Wolf." I'll pick up the book this weekend to see if I can find the quote. In the meantime, does this ring a bell for anyone? Thanks again, Chad
  15. Yep, a financier would have been just about perfect, especially with a little gold leaf. Chad
  16. Help! In a recent interview with Michael Ruhlman, he quoted M.F.K. Fisher, "Any chef worth his salt keeps his knives sharp as lightning." It's a great quote and I'd like to use it in my book but I can't find it anywhere to verify the wording and the attribution. I've spent the last couple of days trying to track it down. Can someone more familiar with her works possibly point me in the right direction? Thanks, folks. I appreciate it. Chad
  17. Food joke and blond joke rolled into one: A man receives a phone call from his blond girlfriend. She says, "I'm working on the hardest jigsaw puzzle in the world! I don't even know where to start. Can you come over and help me?" He says, "Sure, honey, what's the puzzle supposed to be?" She pauses for a moment and says, "Well, according to the picture on the box it's supposed to be a tiger of some sort." The man goes over to his girlfriend's apartment, takes a look at the table and says, "Okay, let's just put the Frosted Flakes back in the box." That's my time, folks. Tip your waitresses. Chad
  18. Times Picayune story here. Seems there was to be a museum, retail outlet, offices and a cooking school to draw tourism. But the tourists aren't coming and more storms are. I do think the VP put a nice spin on it, though. Chad
  19. Holy Cow, er, pig! How did I miss this? Sounds like a wonderful dinner. My wife and I still haven't made it to Vin yet, but this may be what pushes me out of my lethargy. Sounds wonderful. Chad
  20. I hope Zilla and others will jump in; Chinese cleavers are pretty great. To get you started, this is a section from Andy777's Cleaver How-To on knifeforums.com's In the Kitchen section. Andy is the resident cleaver nut/expert. I have six or seven cleavers on hand at the moment. On the bargain end, the Dexter Russell Chinese chef's knife (the one endorsed by Martin Yan) is a steal at about $40. The Suien and Sugimoto cleavers are both excellent Chuka bocho -- Japanese made Chinese cleavers. The Suien at $128 is the entry level to high end Japanese made cleavers. The Sugimoto is bizarrely expensive but the top choice among professional chefs in Japan. Cleaver technique takes a little getting used to, but once you master it -- a matter of half an hour or so -- you can see why Chinese chefs use their cleavers for absolutely everything. Hope this helps. Take care, Chad
  21. Good choice on the Tojiro. Sometimes the fit and finish can be a little variable. I have three in-house at the moment and all are excellent, though one did come with the edge slightly rolled. Others, however, have not had such consistent luck. Make sure you purchase from a dealer with a good return/swap policy, so if yours comes a little rougher than you like you can trade it in for a better one. As for the sandpaper & mousepad rig -- yup, it works great. Like anything, though, it will require some practice. The mousepad deforms as you strop, so it's a little more forgiving of sloppy technique than a rigid stone but you still have to maintain a consistent angle. Two things to keep in mind: Sharpening with a mousepad and sandpaper requires a stropping stroke. That means that you lay the knife on the paper with the edge facing you, raise the spine and stroke away from yourself -- basically pulling the edge along the sandpaper rather than pushing it. When you get to the end of the stroke STOP and lift the blade straight up off the paper. Resist the natural urge to roll your wrist at the end of the stroke. Flip the blade over and do the same thing coming back. You'll need to put the mousepad on a raised surface to give you sufficient clearance for your hand. Find a piece of 2x4, a dictionary or just place the mousepad at the edge of the countertop, but you need the handle of the knife far enough above the work surface so your fingers don't drag and change the sharpening angle. Hope this helps. Take care, Chad
  22. Dang, Chris, you gave that stone a heck of a workout. I'm glad the flattening procedure worked out for you. As I said above, I'm usually able to flatten the coarse and medium stones several times before they get too thin to use. It's a good trick to know because it works for just about any sharpening stone, not just the Edgepros. Take care, Chad
  23. Sorry for the late reply. I decided that writing a book just wasn't stressful enough, so we packed up the family and moved across the country . Most of the rooms are coming together, but I'm still hip deep in boxes and packing paper. The wire edge can be a problem, especially with softer steels. It just wants to flop back and forth without ever letting go. You probably already do this, but the first trick to getting rid of the wire edge is to use less and less pressure as you progress through the grits. When the two sides of the knife come together in a perfect V, the edge is pretty thin. Pressing too hard will make it roll over. So when you get to the finer grits, back off on the pressure and continue to decrease it as you stroke the stone. Another trick worth trying is to actually knock the burr off. Keep a block of wood handy (I sharpen my knives in the kitchen, so there's a cutting board nearby), and when you're just about ready to move up to the next stone, place the edge perpendicular to a corner of the block and lightly slice from heel to tip. Swipe the edge through the wood a couple of times. You should see a dark line in the wood. That's metal from the weakened wire edge. Finish up with a couple of passes on the stone at a slightly steeper angle than you used while sharpening. Do the same when you're nearly finished with the next higher stone -- swipe the edge down a block of wood a couple times then back to the stone for a couple of finishing passes at a very slightly higher angle. See if that helps. Take care, Chad edited to add image
  24. Sorry for the late replies, folks. I'm still unpacking from a cross-country move. Dave is absolutely correct. You don't need a steel made by the manufacturer of your knives. I don't like grooved steels at all, as a matter o' fact. I'm partial to the high grit ceramic honing rods sold by EdgePro or HandAmerican. As for the Tojiro knives -- the three samples I have on hand all have excellent fit and finish, though the edge was rolled slighty on one right out of the box. However, there are many reports of variable finish quality. These knives are great bargains, but with the caveat that they might not be up to the Wusthof level of refinement. Take care, Chad
  25. <Ed McMahon voice> You are correct, sir! </Ed McMahon voice> Yup, the hollows ground into the side of the blade are called kullens. They reduce the contact surface of the knife and, theoretically, keep foods from sticking. In practice the effect is largely negligible. Wet, dense fruits & veggies (think potatoes or apples) may peel off the side of the blade a little easier, but in side by side testing on chef's knives and santokus I can't really tell if the dimpled knife is actually performing a little better or I just want it to. The scallops do help on ham/roast slicers. Interestingly, ham/roast slicers are actually closer to a true Granton edge. If you do a side by side comparison you can see that the kullens go almost all the way down to the edge on the slicer whereas they stop 1/8" short on the chef's knife or santoku. A true Granton edge is a very different beast altogether. The hollows/scallops not only go all the way down into the edge, they also alternate from side to side on the blade giving a nearly serrated effect. If you want to get really freaky and take the kullen concept to the extreme, try a Glestain knife. I have one coming for testing, but I've read reports that the mutitude of scallops actually does work. Should be fun. Take care, Chad
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