5 Gifts for Gourmands
Inspiration for the foodie on your list from Cuisine et Chateau.
For the Baker
Most recreational bakers in North America will tell you their recipes call for cups, ounces, tablespoons and teaspoons. But professional bakers and home cooks almost everywhere else in the world weigh their ingredients.
“Professionals measure ingredients by weight because it’s faster, more accurate and has a fraction of the clean up time compared to using volumes like cups and teaspoons,” says Marnie Fudge, pastry chef at Cuisine et Chateau. “Once someone understands how effective a scale can be in baking, they never go back.”
Fudge recommends practicing baking by weight and getting comfortable with this measurement system before translating all the family favourites. Most kitchen scales on the market are digital and battery operated. Prices start at about $30.00.
Another great tool for the baker — and a perfect stocking stuffer — is a bench scraper. This dull, thick, flat metal blade with a handle along one edge is about as simple a tool as you can find.
“It is definitely the tool I use most both at work and at home,” Fudge says. “It helps lift my pie crusts into their baking dishes, it makes great chocolate curls, it cuts and divides dough better than a knife, it cleans the counter without the use of water — it’s an all-in-one tool!”
Bench scrapers can be found at most kitchen stores in Calgary, and typically cost less than $10.
For the Gadget Lover
These days you can find a tool that will claim to do almost anything for you in the kitchen. They’re great fun to buy but much less fun to use, and usually just end up cluttering the kitchen.
“Good quality knives are all that a chef really needs to be effective in the kitchen,” says Thierry Meret, executive chef of Cuisine et Chateau’s Interactive Culinary Centre. Meret recommends a chef’s knife, a paring knife, a boning knife and a serrated knife to round out your block.
A great quality, expensive blade of any type is only as good as the chef who sharpens it, and that process isn’t as simple as it appears. Many people think they can sharpen their knives with a “steel,” a metal stick with a handle that accompanies many knife blocks — but this is a misunderstanding.
“A steel will hone the blade, but for real sharpening you must use a stone,” Meret says. With proper stone sharpening technique, your knives will stay sharp for a very long time; well-maintained knives can even be passed from generation to generation.
Investing in a great set of knives can be costly, so make sure the tools you buy are well cared for and effective. Consider enrolling your foodie in The Cutting Edge: Knife Skills, a hands-on cooking class with a focus on maintenance, honing and sharpening skills.
For the Oenophile
Joining a wine club or subscribing to a service that delivers bottles monthly is a great way to make a Christmas gift last all year. The opportunity to learn about wine and understand its complexities and profiles is another wonderful gift. Add food pairings, and you’ll be enriching a friend’s lifelong appreciation for this classic culinary marriage.
In 2018, Cuisine et Chateau will teach your food-loving friend the principles of pairing in its food and wine appreciation classes A Year in French Vineyards.
For the Meat Lover
Some Albertans think meat cooking is best done on a BBQ. There’s nothing wrong with open flame, but it might be time to broaden a friend’s horizons with Cooking Method Fundamentals.
“Whether it’s braised, roasted, sautéed or poached, different proteins and different cuts of meat require different cooking methods to ensure the very best outcome, and that’s what we teach our students in this class,” Meret says.
For the World Traveller
A Culinary Journey
For the romantic, the adventurer or the gourmand on your list, the ultimate food experience is Cuisine et Chateau’s French Culinary Journey, an all-inclusive luxury tour in southwestern France. Send your friend to stay in a chateau, tour the countryside, discover escargots, hone French baking skills, see where cheeses are made and experience sensory overload in the markets. This is a once-in-a-lifetime journey where every detail is looked after. Book, buy a plane ticket and let the gastronomic discoveries begin.
For the undecided