Gadgets Galore

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It was a container of my favorite smoky Pimenton De La Vera that came crashing out of the pantry when I was looking for a vanilla bean that made me realize I've gone insane and needed an intervention. Simply put, my pantry is overrun. Sure, I could blame this compulsion on my day job, but truth be told I'm a little obsessive at times. After some rooting around I rediscovered a small arsenal of extra virgin olive oils from practically every country you could imagine, vinegars made from fruits I've never even heard of and enough sauces and marinades to fill an olympic-sized swimming pool. Mind you, these were items I swore I needed and would use at one point or another, and damnit, I just couldn't stand to get rid of them.. for heavens sake they were still good. But then the rational mind kicked in– that's it, I said, no more! I will attempt to keep a tight clean ship around these parts and lighten up. Heck, winter is on her way out, I should wise up and get a jump on my Spring cleaning.

With pantry doors open I proceeded to begin my purge. So far so good. Giving away baskets of condiments to friends was the easy part. I knew these items were going to good homes. But then suddenly, looking around my kitchen, I suddenly felt a general sense of uneasiness, a nervous tingle developed in the pit of my stomach and tiny beads of sweat began to appear on my brow. Oh my god, please, no, don't.... don't make me.... I can't.... I won't.....

The gadget drawer.

Oh, The Gadget Drawer. Well, it's more like 4 gadget drawers. Also known as the place where kitchen utensils go and die. Or just hang out. Permanently. A place where orphaned wooden spoons eternally wonder if they'll ever find a mate. A place where kitchen shears stack up upon each other once their blades go dull. A land of rusty vegetable peelers, lone measuring cups, cracked egg timers and mix-matched chopsticks go to live. And die.

I knew what had to be done. And I knew I was the man to do it. However painful it was going to be, I rose to the challenge, put on a brave face and purged the kitchen gadgets that no longer worked and that I no longer needed. All of a sudden I felt a sense of liberation, the unease began to disappear as I placed each old tool in the recycling box. And you know what? It feel great.

All this spring cleaning was good for me. It made me realize that no matter how much I collect things, I've got a small trusty set of gadgets and devices that I cannot do without and I shouldn't ignore them. They need me. They love me. So the next time I feel the urge to buy that fuscha silicon whatchamathingie or my 127th set of cheese knives, I'll remember that less is always more.

Matt's Top Ten List of Things He Couldn't Live Without In His Kitchen

10. Molcahete. Quite possibly the most low tech item I own, it probably also has the most history, not only in my kitchen but also culinarily speaking. Made of stone, this morter & pestel gets a regular workout, mashing garlic, spices and making my collection of chunky sea salts a bit more usable. Couldn't live without it.

9. Kyocera Ceramic Knife. Ok, so it looks like it should be taken to a picnic, it's light, white and feels like plastic. All similarities stop there, though. Produced in Sendai, a small city in southwest Japan on the island of Kyushu, this knife simply kicks ass. Made of high tech zirconium oxide, this material is second in hardness only to a diamond and lasts years without sharpening. I wish I could say the same for my expensive metal knives.

8. Zyliss Cheese Grater. I don't know how many of these I've gone through over the years, but for a cheese lover they are indispensable. I love you, Zyliss!

7. Microplane. I'm a citrus freak. The snappy zing of lemon or lime makes me happy. Adding lemon zest to muffins, roasted chicken, dressings and Caprese salads adds that sparkling quality that cannot be created by any other ingredient. Having a zester makes it easy, and it also works great with ginger.

6. Wine Openers. "Hahaha you should really put 'wine opener' on that, babe. I mean, that's totally something you use EVERY SINGLE DAY at home, if you know what I'm saying. Remember that time you couldn't find it and you freaked out because you you forgot that you put it in the picnic basket for the Hollywood Bowl and you were about to grab a screwdriver to push the cork in because you said you really wanted a glass of wine? Man that was funny, good times you guys".

Yea, very funny Adam. Real funny. (yet true.)

5.Silicon Ice Trays. I couldn't help but notice the perfectly square bar ice in my cocktails in Barcelona. Three beautifully formed cubes in a Collins glass was pure perfect simplicity. I had to recreate this at home, and my quest led me to Sur La Table where I found these cute little silicon ice trays. My friends laugh at me over my excitement, but put two cocktails side by side, one using bar ice and the other with those ugly malformed automatic ice machine ice cubes and tell me which one you'd like to drink. Yea, I thought so.

4. Kitchen Thermometers. I test many recipes for work and accuracy is always important. My other half, the man with the sweet tooth to end all sweet teeth, is always talking about hard and soft ball stages when he makes candy. Enter the thermometer. Checking temperatures for doneness and readiness isn't something that can be easily guessed and a thermometer gives you that assurance. I can't stress the importance of this enough. Unless you're a superhero. Or a psychic. In which case you can just use your mystical powers.

3. Egg Timer. If I had my grandmother's intuition I wouldn't need this. I would know when my eggs are ready at every at every point in the boiling process. However, I am not my grandmother but a boy who must rely on this drop-in timer so he can have a perfect soft-boiled egg with truffle butter and toast. God I love technology almost as much as I love eggs.

2. Silli Silicon Brush. Nothing irks me as much as the feeling that no matter how hard I try I cannot get a basting brush clean. Well, as clean as when I bought it. As a result, I kept buying new ones. Until I got my Silli brush. It's a small brush with silicon bristles and it makes basting and brushing a cinch. Olive oil, butter, bbq sauce, anything. Plus I love the name.

and my #1 favorite kitchen gadget...

1. Adam . My partner and the best husband anyone could ever wish for. He's a dishwasher/handyman/cook/baker/guinea pig, all wrapped up into one beautiful tattooed package. And he cleans up my messes and experiments with a smile on his face. Now if everything in the kitchen were this good.

14 Responses to “Gadgets Galore”

  1. Anonymous melissa 

    matt my love, as always, beautiful intriguing colors and images, and can i just say - were you in *my* kitchen? if one of us were deceased i'd swear we were each other in a former life. with the exception of the ceramic knife (i HAVE to have one of those) and the silicone ice cube tray (i'm heading to sur la table right now - one of my favorite websites!) i have all of those other top 10 things. except one - can you give me a heads up as to where to pick up one of those handy adams you mentioned? the models i keep finding are cheap and good for nothing, and i have to keep throwing them away... ;)

    beautiful post again, matt. kisses to you & your number one kitchen can't-do-without!

  2. Anonymous MM 

    Ah, good tip re the sili brush because I am forever cursing and swearing after trying to clean my basting brushes. Fab post as usual.

  3. Anonymous Amy 

    Great post. I too am goofy for gadgets. I share many of your favorites. The silicon spatula while more of a tool than a gadget, is a real favorite of mine. I also love my immersion blender for making soups and sauces.

  4. Anonymous bea at La tartine gourmande 

    Good good post! Surprise! :-) NO!

    I totally cannot do without a vegetable peeler and a grater. Then what? So many!

  5. Anonymous Darrell 

    I thought it was too funny that I just took a break from cleaning out the pantry to sit down to the computer and see what goodness you had for us. It must be spring or something.

    I'm with Melissa on the Adam thing...I have one that doesn't work very well, but I'm too attached to it to just throw it away.

    Oh, and thanks for the goodness.

  6. Anonymous tara 

    What talent it takes to create a post that is engaging, insightful and a little bit sweet - all at once! Though I would have to stage a pantry-raid at your place, a peak into your gadget drawers is even more fun. I am a sucker for the proper utensil/tool for a given job. I love my mortar and pestle as well, along with those enraptured with microplanes, silicone and all the rest. I would also have to add an array of tongs to my own list; while they are not ground breaking, they probably are used most often in my kitchen.

    Oh! And if ever you need some additional company for eggs and truffles, let me know.

  7. Anonymous olivier 

    Tag, Matt, you're it!

  8. Anonymous jared 

    i read and laugh - the only folks worse than cooks for gadgets is the technopile, and i am both and thus doubly cursed. There are only three (kitchen) things I cannot live without - the winekey, the santouko, and the saute pan. Don't hold me to that, please.

  9. Anonymous Piperita 

    Dear Matt,
    funny enough we just did a meme among italian food bloggers about favourite kitchen tools...
    And we began philosophic discussions about the importance of owing a lemon zester...


    Your pictures are astonishing!

  10. Anonymous Ivonne 


    Can I add the Kyocera vegetable peeler to your list? When I try to decide which kitchen gadget I love most, that's the one my loving gaze usually falls upon. Of course the other kitchen gadgets get jealous but what are ya' gonna do?!

    Wonderful post!

  11. Anonymous Pille 

    Oh no, I have a bad case of gadget envy now!! Sulk ;(

  12. Anonymous Vanessa 

    I have to say I'm in line with Pille.... I envy. One day I hope to have an over flowing gadget closet...

  13. Anonymous Fanny 

    I especially love the #1 - this is so so sweet! And i think i could say that i have the same gadget at home and that (it) he is way more useful (and lovely) in the kitchen than thousands of gadgets re-united.

    Anyway, may i place an option on that silli brush, it seems to be incredibly useful.

  14. Anonymous Brett 

    Matt, thanks for the tip on the 2 silicon items - the brush and the ice cube tray. I have thrown out way too many pastry brushes in my day for the exact same reason - you just can't get them clean. The concept of perfectly square ice cubes sounds just too perfect to pass on.

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About me

  • I'm Matt Armendariz
  • From Los Angeles, California
  • A man with a passion for good food and a wonderful life with a dash of irreverence. Read at your own risk. Advertising director by day, wino by night. All photos on this site by Matt Armendariz.
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