Showing posts with label Dehilleran. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dehilleran. Show all posts

24 November 2007

Kitchen Tools: Essential for a Kitchen Dominatrix

I bought a new whip in Paris.

Really, it's a ball whisk, a relatively new tool which features weighted, vibrating balls on stainless steel rods. This arrangement promises to provide good results with less effort. (I certainly support the notion of less effort.) So far, it has lived up to its promises. Restraint is key: Don't overdo it with this utensil.

It was during our pilgrimage to E. Dehillerin, that dusty commercial cathedral to the art of the kitchen, that I found my new weapon. Actually, it was Kim, the charming salesman who led me to it, after he found me a copper bowl for egg whites.

The ball whisk is excellent for whipping little clumps of flour into submission in any pan or bowl. The balls allow you to reach the insides of pans, the dark little places where the bottoms and sides meet, a feat that is difficult to perform with a wire whisk. To read more, click here.

(As Kim pointed out, the ball whisk can also be used as a scalp massage tool. It feels pretty good.)

When I packed our suitcases, I carefully wrapped the whisk in its original paper and attached the receipt from Dehillerin. Just in case someone rifling through my luggage thought it was a sex toy. You never know about these things.

The whisk got its first real workout when I made Bearnaise sauce for my Chateaubriand on Thanksgiving. It performed admirably.

You don't have to go to Paris to buy one, although I recommend it. You can buy a ball whisk from many online sources.

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29 June 2007

Copper Bowls from E. Dehillerin

The day we visited E. Dehillerin was sunny and mild with a barely perceptible mist in the air. I was a bit apprehensive, having heard how snooty the sales staff could be. Would they turn their noses up at my Wisconsin-accented French?

Founded in 1820, E. Dehillerin wears the patina of its age well. It is everything it is reputed to be: Cluttered and cramped and a bit dusty.

No matter. Here is where the serious cook finds serious tools for the kitchen.

Dehillerin is best known for its copper and our mission was to buy a copper bowl for whipping egg whites.

Egg whites whipped in a copper bowl are more stable than those beaten in a glass bowl, thanks to copper ions, which migrate from the bowl to the egg whites. It will take longer, but the result is high-quality foam.

As we entered Dehillerin, we were met by Kim, a charming man of about 45 who knows his stuff and sells it. Our conversation was half in French and half in English, as it often is in France. We talked of Julia Child and chefs and the properties of copper. My husband, whose vocabulary grows with each trip, joined in.

We explored the basement, at Kim’s suggestion, and found all manner of kettles and pans and boilers and pots that would not fit in our suitcases. But, oh, how lovely they would be in my kitchen!

The basement is a place of mystery, with a blocked off set of stairs in one corner and a dark sub-basement crawl space filled with boxes. Descending the stairs, I felt as if I were moving down through time. Imagine the hundreds of chefs, long forgotten, who had done the same!

We followed our trip to Dehillerin with a visit to the park atop the former site of Les Halles., a hop on the westbound No. 69 bus, and a shopping spree on Rue Cler.

It was the perfect Paris day.

The trick to navigating E. Dehillerin, I believe, is to know what you want and to know something about the store and its specialties.

As we left, Kim predicted we would return. Of course we will. Always.