Saturday, January 27, 2007

Store Review: Sur La Table

Today, it was grey and dreary outside, and we didn't make it past the doorstep until three pm. After lounging around and having a morning equally dismal to the sky (I spent the time working on another grad school application -- 11 down, three to go! -- and he cleaned up a storm. Pretty boring for a Saturday, if you ask me) we decided that it was high time we own a strainer. And a pastry brush. One that wouldn't burn if we got it hot. And a new oven mitt -- ours had a giant hole in it, from a burner/hot pan incident, and he was forever concerned that I was going to burn myself again through the hole, which was highly possible. Also, we were in need of some metal tongs and some cookie cutters, for the scones. We made away with two fancy cutters: a nice flower shape and one in the shape of a dachshund! I couldn't believe how many crazy cookie cutters this place had. Plenty of dinosaurs, but no simple squares (unless you bought a set, which I do not need.) I even saw a squirrel-shaped cookie cutter. I would love to know what kind of a person purchases and uses a squirrel-shaped cookie cutter, but I'm afraid it's someone a lot like me: I considered buying it.
So we went to Sur La Table, a fancy-pants kitchen utensil store within walking distance of our apartment. Of course we didn't walk, being that the windchill put the temperature at below zero, but we took a bus down Michigan that landed us three blocks from the store.
It's a great store to visit, especially if you're into kitchen gadgetry, although the salespeople tended to be a bit on the fake-helpful side. By that I mean they kept asking us if we needed help. Over and over, the same two people -- now, if I didn't need help ten minutes ago, why would I need help now? As we went to check out, they all disappeared, and we stood there, goods in hand, waiting for one of them to stop bugging the other patrons and deal with us, now that we were ready. Slightly annoying, but... that's what shopping is. People falling over themselves to help you until you actually need their help.
I'm throughly satisfied with everything that we bought, although I regret not getting the ice cream scoop we had debated on: it's perfect for portioning out the scones and for making meatballs. A very versatile tool that I'd love to have, unnecessary as it may be. Here's a picture of me using the new strainer to wash some baby carrots. You can see our new silicone oven mitt in the background, mouth open and ready for something hot to grab onto. I have to get used to it, though, as I'm not really comfortable with having my entire arm exposed to the hot oven. However, the larger silicone mitts are pretty awkward, since they're not as pliable as the standard fabric. One other great thing about this mitt? It's dishwasher-safe, which means that after getting melted chocolate all over it after baking scones? I just have to pop it in the dishwasher and it'll be clean as a whistle. Not so with our old, now discarded, fabric/rubber contraption: it was stinky and couldn't be washed, even in the laundry. So long, lame-mitt!

Adding to the list of things I wish I had purchased but didn't, due to my penny-pinching ways:
1. Another oven mitt. One isn't enough for properly grabbing things.
2. A really really nice kitchen knife. I didn't even bother looking, after seeing the price tags on the wall. But a girl can dream, right?
3. The plastic hot dog basket. He wanted one of these, and I should have gotten it for him! But I didn't, for some reason. He's a hot dog fanatic, and it would be really fun to have a bona fide basket for the house.
4. A garlic press. This, though, I can live without, because I love the smell of garlic on my hands. But it's a good thing to have around.
5. A silicone baking mat, or some silicone muffin cups. I'm really into the whole silicone bakeware thing right now, and I really would like a nice mat to use for prep and for baking.
6. A pickle fork, for him. Also doubles as an olive-picker, or so he says.
7. The ice-cream scoop, or possibly a meatball maker scoop (which they also had). Reasons listed above.

All in all, though, it was a highly successful trip to the store. I recommend Sur La Table for their fantastic selection, knowledgeable staff, and their prices -- some of which are high, I admit, but for most stuff it was very reasonable.

Sur La Table
52-54 East Walton Street
Chicago, IL 60611
To find another location, click here.

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