Every once in a while, a product so revolutionizes your day that you feel compelled to brag to your friends about it. You fantasize about it throughout the day, and when you go to sleep, you can’t wait to get up, just so you can jump out of bed and use it. That good. Such is the case with the Breville Oracle, which promises — and delivers — high-quality, easily made espresso at home.
In the Kitchen with Chef Hervé Malivert
We’ve come to the ICC in New York specifically to meet with Malivert, a native of the Rhône region of France and the man who oversees anything having to do with centrifuges and liquid nitrogen. His knowledge of food and cooking is apparent. He’s both professor and craftsman, dressed in a crisp white uniform and tall chef’s toque, presenting eloquently about sous vide cooking while simultaneously demonstrating.
Cooking under pressure
Cooking sous vide, French for “under vacuum” allows us to bypass this obstacle by cooking at a low and very precise temperature; it’s the equivalent of walking up to the dartboard and pushing the dart into the bullseye. While it’s a technique that’s been around for professional chefs, Iron Chefs and DIYers for ages, the technology has only been available to the average home cook since 2009. As more machines hit the market, we decided to test the one that started the home sous vide revolution, the Sous Vide Supreme ($500).
Here's your soda, jerk
Given new life by the advent of SodaStream, the do-it-yourself home soda stand is becoming increasingly popular. With the ability to tailor CO2-infused drinks to individual tastes (and control sugar content), pop-aficionados and mixologists alike can don Dr. Pepper’s lab coat to keep themselves awash in bubbly. These are the best soda makers for doing just that.
Low Hanging Fruit
For anyone uncomfortable with pills, powders, shots and gels, Mother Nature offers an alternative way to stay healthy this winter. We’re talking berries, those tart little packets of juicy goodness. But beware: not all berries are created equal, and some go together better than others. Our resident fruitarian breaks down some of the most popular options.
Protein shortage, averted
Some people hear the phrase “beef alternatives” and think tofu, seitan and bean burgers. We think local goat, French-style chicken, grass-fed lamb, name-brand pigs, roast duck, double-smoked Danish salmon, whole lobes of foie gras, elk — and then sometimes beef again, because beef from here is technically an alternative to beef from there. Ready to for a feast of all of the above? Here are our 10 favorite online purveyors of high-quality meat.
Good Gifts, Whichever Way You Slice 'Em
We get it — everyone is a foodie now. From your buddy excitedly fawning over the new Santoku he just picked up to your dad calling to inform you about the super authentic Ethiopian place he wants to try next time he and mom come to visit, the chances of having a cookie on your holiday shopping list are greater than ever.
But what do you buy them? Your food-focused gift-getter obviously already has the basics — the knives, pans and culinary detritus that make up his obsession — and nothing says, “hey, I’m too lazy to make an effort, but I think I remember you’re into food” like a gift card that ends up only covering half the bill at the restaurant-du-now. Thank Bourdain, we’ve got you covered with a dozen of the best gastronomic gifts for the season.
Entry Level, Mid-Range, High-End
During my senior year of college, I went on a health kick and decided I needed a blender. After a good deal of research, I settled on the Vitamix 5200. At $449, the entry-level 5200 was expensive, but I’d seen that baby in action at Whole Foods demonstration, and I was hooked. You can use it to make ice cream, for goodness sake. Ice cream. From a blender. Because I was vocal about my intentions, my grandmother promised to buy me one for graduation. It never happened. Although still Vitamix-less, my travails blessed me with knowledge of the best blenders at the entry level, mid-range, and high-end price ranges.
Burn, baby burn
As your great-grandpa knew (if he was a cattle rancher, a prospector or any other early explorer of the American West), a well-seasoned pan perfectly sears steak and features natural non-stick properties that increase with age. But with the introduction of Teflon-coated aluminum cookware during the 1960s and ’70s, cast-iron skillets fell out of favor. After a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2011, cousins John Truex and Jason Connelly opened a micro-foundry called Borough Furnace in Syracuse, NY in the hopes of bringing cast iron back.
Better Than Average Joe
For those who believe that little things make good coffee, the Brazen Brewer ($199) offers a mid-range drip machine with technology and temperature accuracy most often found on higher-end models. We put it through its paces as our office brewer for a week.
Slow and steady wins the race
If you’re serious about getting or staying healthy, you’d be wise to make juicing a part of you nutritional regimen. Since you probably don’t have the time nor the patience to nosh on two pounds of fruits and fresh veggies a day, it’s smart to expedite the process and simultaneously add variety to your diet. We recently tested the Hurom Slow Juicer to see how it held up during nearly daily use.
You might regret this
Hot sauce is a strange beast: part condiment, part cult item. Risking the ire of spicy fanatics everywhere, we’ve put together a list of sauces that light a fire under our own specifications: they have to taste good, look good on the table, and lastly, not offend any minorities or people who voted blue in the past ten years (this narrows the search considerably). Grab your antacids and dive in.
Poring over coffee's simplest method
Occam’s razor: A philosophical principle suggesting that simpler explanations tend to be better than complex ones. It has broad application, from medicine to ethics to proofs of the existence of God. Now if we apply the razor to our morning coffee, as the thinking men of Gear Patrol are wont to do, we can scrap our fancy drip machines and super-automatic espresso makers and still get a world-class cup of coffee without doing much more than pouring hot water over coffee grounds. We’ve assembled a pour over kit with all the basics to get you started — at a very affordable price.
We Don't See Nothin' Wrong With a Little Bump and Grind
You like the line at your favorite coffee shop? Ok, besides the cute barista, you can do better: start by grinding your own beans, then check back with Gear Patrol for other suggestions for stepping up to the big leagues. The journey from coffee hack to ambrosia connoisseur begins with freshly ground java in your French press, drip, or espresso machine. A quick primer first, and then on to our top 10 picks.
Old School, High Quality, No BS
In the constant pursuit of a high-quality, stylish lifestyle, it’s understandable that we men may stray from the path a time or two — a truck stop frozen burrito here, a discount-grade pair of white socks there. Most times, though, we regret purchasing shoddy products. Owen & Fred, The Store For Men is a response to just such disappointing gimmickry, providing the superbly crafted choice for everything from dopp kits to ties to kitchen accessories and all the rest.
Better your inner barista
Let’s face it: the average North American spends less time contemplating the beans behind his morning motivator than it takes his barista to scowl disapprovingly. To open his eyes and shed a little light into those dark waters, the GP team delves into the differences between single origin and blended coffees. Our goal? To arm you with information on micro-lot farming, blend aging and why that cup tastes the way it does. It’s all about being informed and maximizing enjoyment in your every-morning drink. So put on your scholar cap, pour yourself a cup and read on to explore the methods used to turn those remarkable beans into a masterpiece.
Bursting Your Bubble
SodaStream teams up with the Korean electronics giant to integrate their automatic sparkling water dispenser inside the Samsung RF31FMESBSR 36-inch Four-Door Refrigerator.
The Prohibition Kit by Francesco Morackini is provocative project that’s designed to help home hoochers mitigate the risk of discovery by “camouflaging” a small-scale still as everyday kitchen objects. Specifically, the all-copper setup splits into a watering can, fondue stove, cooking pot and fruit bowl while not in use for home-made lightning.
Rock Out With Your Crock Out
There’s a magic cauldron for preparing food — one you’re likely not using — that combines convenience, a near-guarantee against overcooking and the ability to transform inexpensive, tough cuts of meat into tender, flavorful dishes. This fire-and-forget-it tool? The slow cooker. A slow cooker, as the name suggests, takes low heat, moisture and a long…
Whittle away at your meal
Sure, you’ve used an Opinel blade to eat — but that was a skewer of venison charred over a kindling fire under the stars. Enjoy quality cutlery under different circumstances with Opinel’s Bon Apetit Table Knives ($70). These dishwasher-safe, olive wood-handled knives feature Swedish stainless steel blades and handsome, sleek design, somewhere between a paring and a steak knife
How a stove suits up
Listen, we’ve all said some stupid things to impress people. The only difference is that we’ve never said anything that can be disproved (go ahead, see if there’s evidence on the internet proving our uncle wasn’t the inspiration for Weekend at Bernie’s). But you. You actually told a young lady that you’re an excellent cook,…
Ask any coffee aficionado about the best method for brewing a cup and they’ll rifle off one of several manual techniques. That’s because doing it yourself is far more precise than your average Mr. Sloppy in terms of water temperature and distribution, which are key for the proper extraction of coffee bean oils. Behmor’s Brazen…
Knives for a pro to show
Function and performance should always be a cook’s first concerns when picking a set of chef’s knives, but if you assume that means style has to sit on the back burner, you clearly haven’t looked hard enough. The Edge of Belgravia Ceramic Series Chef’s Knives ($422) are a prime example that would look right at…
No petri in your dishes
You may have hoodwinked a loved one into dropping some coin on a proper knife set this holiday season, but you probably didn’t realize that a decent cutting board is just as important. In many types of cutting boards (both wood and plastic), a knife leaves a scar or slice mark in the material, which…
The War of the Brews
Whether the result of sipping the caffeine-laden mixture it produces or simply seeing its form in your periphery, the CB Industries Jules Espresso Maker ($~1390) will surely open bleary morning eyes. This limited edition espresso maker, created by Swiss artist and Designer Carlo Borer, features a beautifully polished stainless-steel orb perched upon a tripod of…
Best thing since toasted bread
The pop-up toaster began burning bread for the masses in 1919, and while it was an American invention, the first iteration had very British tendencies and toasted only one side of its crusty victim. By 1925 this had been corrected — and the toaster has more or less remained the same ever since. Regardless of brand, number of buttons or inclusion of countdown timers, the driving principal behind browning has always been to apply heat to bread for a pre-determined amount of time; a process simple enough, but one that more often than not results in an unsavory end product.
Whole latte love
Yes, it’s adorned with enough chromed steel to outshine a Kansas City bound Freightliner. Yes, it’s breathtakingly expensive. But for the truly dedicated, the Rocket Espresso Giotto Evoluzione ($2,100) is the closest thing to espresso nirvana we’ve ever had the chance to pull a shot from. Less white-gloved show pony and more workhorse, the Evoluzione…
12 gifts for the handyman
You lean on him all year-round to assist, assemble and install everything from kitchen cabinetry to those amazing Patagonian rosewood floors you love so much. He tirelessly tackles the disparate demands of Honey-Do lists and familial fixes without so much as a peep. And yet, of all the men featured in our 12 Guys of…
Drink it all in
The plastic pitcher currently filtering water in your fridge is a far greener way to stay hydrated than pounding down bottles, but it stills leaves plenty to be desired — both in terms of form and function. Its tupperware aesthetic isn’t exactly ready for the bright lights of the dinner table, and if you fill…
A baker's dozen for the culinary nut
Blame Anthony Bourdain and his gallivanting food porn circus. Blame Bravo’s utterly watchable, bro-it’s-not-reality-TV show, Top Chef. Blame the hipsters, the bandwagoners, the trust-funders — and for Guy Fieri’s sake — please, someone, blame Bobby Flay. Because if one thing is certain in today’s chow-crazy culture, it’s that you’ve got a foodie on your holiday…