Build a Better Fork ...The idea of a fork-knife hybrid seems almost too kitschy to share shelf space in any boutique where you’ll find $300-plus sterling silver wine decanting funnels. But, the Knork is right at home there or anywhere else.
Creator Mike Miller of Wichita, Kan., got the idea as an eighth-grader. “I was at an age when you don’t know if you should eat pizza with your fingers or impress the girls by using a fork,” he recalls. “I chose the fork. It wouldn’t cut and I got an indentation on my finger from pressing so hard.”
Eureka, a business opportunity. Using the automotive filler Bondo and his mom’s flatware, Miller fashioned a better fork. With that prototype and a $15,000 investment from dad, the now-25-year-old entrepreneur launched Phantom Enterprises.
The Knork’s outside tines are rounded and beveled without being sharp. They rock through food like a mezzaluna. A finger platform prevents indents. It’s not only practical, but classy.
“My 12-year-old daughter eats with the Knork every night,” says Ellen Stirn Mavec, owner of the former Potter and Mellen. “They’re great for buffets when you don’t want to juggle a fork and knife or for older people with motor-skill disabilities. And they’re beautiful, well-designed pieces.”
Find the Knork at Viking Culinary Arts Center at Legacy Village, Lyndhurst. It is sold individually, in sets of four, or in full place settings and is available in a heavy, shiny dressed-up version or as a disposable for picnics.
’Screw the Gender Gap ... Heinen’s head wine guy Ed Thompkins opens his vino with a French waiter’s corkscrew. His wife, Angela, uses a self-puller, the kind that spins until the cork rises up the worm, the technical term for the spirally thing.
Mark Fuerst, owner of The Sawyer House Restaurant & Vintner’s Cottage in Mentor, insists that his staff use the double-clutch wine key, similar to the waiter’s tool preferred by Thompkins.
My gal pals unanimously chose the effortless Screwpull Lever or competing Rabbit.
This unscientific, random poll shows that men chose brawn, while women chose brain to get into their wine.
They may have to vote again as Screwpull brings a new corkscrew to the market. The 3-in-One ($20) is a streamlined, 6-inch combination of corkscrew, foil cutter and bottle opener. This model, in vibrant red, orange, blue or black, is the perfect pairing: waiter’s corkscrew meets self-puller. It can be found at West Point Market in Akron; The Cookery in Hudson, Williams-Sonoma stores and other specialty kitchen retailers.
The Great Cutting Board Debate ... So what’s safer — a plastic or wooden cutting board? Plastic doesn’t trap bacteria. Wood offers anti-microbial properties. The debate rages. What’s a cook to do?
Epicurean Cutting Surfaces is charging into the kitchen with an alternative, a cutting board made from a paper-based composite. The tough material, available to commercial kitchens for nearly 40 years, is also used to build skateboard ramps.
The surface is nonporous, as in no nooks and crannies for lingering smells, flavors or bacteria, and doesn’t dull knives. Cooking school owner Loretta Paganini likes them because they come out of the dishwasher without absorbing funky or soapy odors.
As for what’s truly safe? The USDA continues to recommend nonporous boards. That means plastic and Epicurean. “Wood is acceptable, but a wood board used for raw meat and poultry should be reserved exclusively for raw meat and poultry,” says Diane Van, acting manager of the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline. After each use, any board, she says, should be washed with hot soapy water or in the dishwasher. All should be sanitized regularly with a little bleach.
Epicurean Cutting Surface cutting boards are available at the Loretta Paganini School of Cooking Store in Chester Township, The Chagrin Cook in Chagrin Falls, Sur La Table, Williams-Sonoma and Crate & Barrel.
Silicone Implants for the Kitchen ... Move over metal, silicone is making its move. Brightly colored, slightly jiggly silicone is taking up more and more retail space. And it’s not just baking mats, hot mitts, spatulas and muffin pans. Silicone bakeware is getting bigger.
SiliconeZone, which introduced its first pans in January 2002, introduces three new cake pans: star cathedral bundt, wildflower and sunflower ($25 each).
Rubber bakeware? “It’s tough to get used to the idea,” says Heather Haviland, owner of Sweet Mosaic Bakery in Cleveland. “I want to love them, but I remember my grandma and her metal pans.”
While Haviland’s in no hurry to change, Cleveland pastry chef Eric Lowrey is a fan. “I like them for things that need to be unusual shapes,” says Lowrey, who has worked at Lockkeepers and MoJo. “You can do things with [silicone] that you can’t do with regular bakeware and it’s easier to get things out of them. You won’t leave part of the product in the bundt pan.”
While most retailers are offering silicone products, SiliconeZone bakeware can be found at Sur la Table, Wild Oats Markets and West Point Market in Akron. |!|