Sunday, April 19, 2009

Best Coffee Ever!

I have tasted the best coffee in the world and it's made by a dog, Black Dog Coffee to be exact.

Today, the Future Mrs. and I were out driving all over West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. On our journey, we stumbled upon a small Arts & Craft show. Since the two of us are involved in that sort of thing, we decided to drop in and check it out.

After moving past the tables upon tables of handmade jewelry and typical by/sell garbage from China, a man offered us a cup of his fresh roasted coffee. It was, without a doubt, the best cup of coffee I have ever tasted. Tiffany, who normally drinks her coffee with milk, and me, who loads his coffee with enough cream and sugar to kill an ox, drank it black. There was no need to drink it any other way.

The owner, Brian Bircher, is a true coffee geek. He can, and will, talk for hours about coffee, which I love. It's so nice to find people that are passionate about their craft and will share that passion with you.

Next time you need coffee, skip Starbucks and the giant bags from Costco, give Brian a call. You'll be hooked after one cup.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Gear Nerd's Tool of the Week #1

OXO 2oz Angled Mini Measure

Prices range from $3-$4 each or $10-$12 for a S/3

I can not begin to tell you how much I love these things. I have a stack of twelve that I use all the time. They come in handy for damn near any recipe and are a must for when I need to crank out twenty dozen organic dog treats.

Not only are they great for cooking, but if you’re stingy with your liquor, they come in handy.

If you don’t have at least two of these, run out and get some more, you can thank me later.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Welcome to my little corner of the interweb.

Every week I'll present
The Gear Nerd's Tool of the Week as well as comprehensive comparisons of the everyday kitchen tools we take for granted.

I'm always looking for ideas and products to test so hit me up with anything you have.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Gear Review 1

Straight Peelers

Every one of us has used a peeler, probably even in the last few days. A lot of people insist on using the latest gimmick to come down the pike while others are using the same dull swivel peeler that their mother used. Then again, you may be using an even older Lancashire peeler.

You may ask yourself, how do I work this? And you may ask yourself, where is that large automobile? Wait, actually, you may be asking yourself “what is a Lancashire peeler?” A Lancashire peeler is what a lot of people probably have in their kitchen drawer right now, you know, that peeler in your drawer with the rust all over it.

There are two other common types of straight edge peelers: Y-peelers and Aussie/Euro peelers.

Four Common Styles of Peelers

From Left to Right: Swivel Peeler, Lancashire Peeler, Y-Peeler, Aussie/Euro Peeler

Swivel Peelers and Y-Peelers are pretty self explanatory and don’t require a long diatribe. Even to this day, those are the two most common styles you will find, but that is changing.

Aussie/Euro Peelers are becoming more and more common, especially since the “OXO Revolution”. An Aussie/Euro Peeler is defined as a right angled, swivel style peeler where the blade is supported on both ends by an “arm” that extends up from the handle.

A Lancashire Peeler is defined as a peeler which has a rigid, stationary blade that extends directly out of the handle. These peelers are still popular in Britain and Japan as well as in the tool kits of many a Garde Manger.

Given the amount of peelers on the market today, it can be hard to find the “one” that you want taking up residence in your kitchen. Who would have thought that choosing a good, reliable peeler could be a daunting task? Well, me, the biggest gear nerd around!

I set out with a five pound bag of potatoes, a five pound bag a carrots and a block of chocolate along with over a dozen peelers from various Nationwide and Local kitchen retailers to find the “one”.

Let’s get started.

Kuhn Rikon Carbon Steel Y-Peeler $3.50 - $4.00

This has been my favorite peeler for a long time and nothing has changed. It is light, comfortable and has a wicked sharp blade. The eye gouger is set to one side which makes it easy to use.

Another plus: It’s cheap! If the blade breaks, you get a new one. One downside: It has a carbon steel blade which can rust so it is not recommended that you run it through the dishwasher.


Sweco Stainless Steel Swivel Peeler $6.00

When I found this peeler, I figured it was going to be just like those old swivel peelers you can pick up at the grocery store, which I hate. I was shocked, SHOCKED, that I liked this peeler as much as I did.

This little Swedish-made tool is light, comfortable and has a very sharp stainless blade. It has a sturdy design with rolled edges all around which allow it to fit perfectly in the hand. Like all swivel peelers, it has an eye gouge at the end of the blade. Unlike most other peelers of this style, it actually works well.

The Sweco has made it in to my peeler rotation and will stay there.


OXO Good Grips Peeler $7.95 - $8.95

We all know this peeler. We all love this peeler. A lot us probably HAVE this peeler.

This is the tool that kicked off the aforementioned “OXO Revolution”. It has a large, comfortable grip, a sharp, stainless blade and a good eye gouge.

I have heard of one drawback, the grip itself. Even though it has a soft, ergonomic handle, some people feel that the handle is a little big for their hand. If you find yourself in this boat, OXO makes the I-Series and Steel line peelers for a slightly higher cost. They have a lot of the same features as the Good Grips, but have a smaller handle and have replaceable blades.


Rosle Swivel Horizontal Peeler $25.00

Well designed, Well made, High price. Like all things German, this Rosle peeler is built for the long haul and you are damn well going to pay for that quality.

The handle is hard and cold, yet comfortable. A nice feature of this peeler is that the blade can be replaced. The eye gouge seems to be placed in an awkward position, but it works.

If you want a peeler that will never have to be replaced and one that your grandkids will fight over when you are dead and buried, this is the one for you.


Zyliss Smoothglide Y-Peeler $6.95

This was one of the largest peelers of the bunch yet it was comfortable and worked well. Even though it is made with similar materials to most of the other peelers I tested, the handle feels "harder" than most. Even with a “harder” feel, the design of the handle makes it comfortable to use.

The eye gouge is well placed and does a good job.


Chef’n Palm Peeler $6.00

I know what you’re thinking, “Is he serious?”. And the answer is, “Yes!”. It fits in your palm and allows you to peel with out straining your wrist. Yes, the eye gouge is as useless as a single child stroller is to “Octomom”, but you’re not using this to cut eyes out of your potato.

If you have kids helping out in the kitchen, this is a great peeler for them to use.


Kyocera Adjustable Ceramic Peeler $17.99-$20.00

The peeler is sharp…I mean nasty sharp. Kyocera claims that the peeler blade, like their knives, will hold its edge for at least three years. The head of this peeler can pivot from a straight peeler to a Y-peeler and can even lock in at a 45° angle. Alas, there is no eye gouge.

The handle takes some getting used to, but overall, it’s a decent peeler, albeit, a little pricey.


OXO Good Grips Horizontal Peeler $8.95

Unlike the Aussie/Euro style OXO peeler, this Y-peeler is only okay. The blade is good, however, in this style, the ergonomic handle just feels bulky. The eye gouge is also placed at an uncomfortable angle.


Messermeister Damco Peeler $8.00

This is the lone Lancashire peeler in the review. The slim handle is comfortable and it has a sturdy feel overall, but the peeling action was awkward due to the lack of the familiar swivel.

It is a peeler that would take some getting used to.


Swing-A-Way Surgical Stainless Steel Peeler $2.95

Swing-A-Way makes a lot of great products and has for many years…too bad they didn’t spend more time on this peeler. The blade and eye gouge are passable, but the handle is just plain bad.


Prepara Trio $14.95

They get an A for effort. This peeler reminds me of those four-color pens we all longed for in school. Housed in the peeler’s handle is a straight-edged blade, a serrated blade and a julienne blade. The entire thing comes apart for easy cleaning.

The problem is the handle. It is bulky and you may, MAY be able to peel one potato before you have to readjust your grip. Too bad, I wanted to like this peeler.


Chef’n Pop Stainless Steel Peeler $7.95

Here’s another idea I liked which came up short. The handle is comfortable, but the blade arm has very little clearance and quickly clogged.

At times, the blade would jam while being pushed back in to the handle. The eye gouge, like the other Chef’n peeler in our rundown, is a joke.


Zyliss Stainless Steel Smoothglide Peeler $6.95

I am normally a Zyliss fanboy, but this peeler is terrible. Unlike it’s y-peeler brother, this thing is flat out uncomfortable to hold for even a few seconds. The angled handle makes even the simple task of peeling a carrot awkward. At least the eye gouge works.


Good Cook Swivel Peeler $1.69

I paid $1.69 at the grocery store for this peeler and I feel ripped off.

I’m not even going to rate this waste of metal. If you have this peeler at home, throw it out, or give it to someone you hate.