Published on August 3rd, 2009 | by Greg0
In the Kitchen with Vineyard Pantry and Chef’s Choice
Lately, we’ve been doing so much outside, that it’s a bit of a relief to return home and try out some new stuff in the kitchen. That’s why we’ve been looking at some Vineyard Pantry items, from the same folks behind the Made in Napa Valley line and Kingslake and Crane granola snack mixes. And we’ve been noticing our knives dulling a bit from regular use, so we turned to Chef’s Choice for an electric knife sharpener.
Vineyard Pantry makes quite a few items from flavored oils to tapenades to various rubs and seasonings. We’ve enjoyed some grilling lately, and were tired of the same old marinades. And so we were pretty impressed with the Cherry Zinfandel Glaze, perfect for those end-of-summer cookouts. We tried it with some pork chops, but it would also go well with lamb and perhaps even grilled fruits (they recommend peaches). It’s pretty rich stuff, and the wine is not too powerful, but it’s a great alternative to the barbecue sauces.
We’ve also tried their lemon ginger champagne vinegar, probably the best of the items we tried. It was pretty light, and we liked the citrus zest, though the champagne again wasn’t all that noticeable. With salads, it made for a great dressing with some olive oil, especially those with an Asian fusion bent (think carrots and some nuts). And it wasn’t too sour, but well balanced. And finally, their blue cheese dijon mustard was more divisive, with some reviewers raving about adding it to their sandwiches but others disliking the lack of spice. The Vineyard Pantry packaging is fairly classy, and with prices ranging from less than $5 for the mustard to $5.50 for the glaze and $9 for the vinegar they make easy gifts. Available in some fine food stores, like Nob Hill Foods, and online.
Knives dull. And when they do, you have a few options on how to get them honed again. Doing it by hand can be tough and results can vary widely. The Chef’sChoice 1520 AngleSelect Diamond Hone Electric Knife Sharpener makes things much easier, as it can handle just about any knife. We used a variety of blades- including penknives and pocketknives, single and double-sided knives, and even some Japanese blades. Serrated or not, it mattered not. We also learned about the difference between Asian and Western knives- a 5 degree difference, with American and European knives usually being at a 20-degree angle and Asian knives at 15 degrees. The sharpener has three sections: you use the first stage for the latter style of knives, stage 2 for the former, and stage 3 does the stropping (buffing) and polishing.
This versatile unit should handle most any cutlery, uses 100% diamond abrasives, doesn’t need or use lubricants, and comes with pretty detailed instructions (which are fairly necessary, it would’ve been nice to have labels on the machine itself). The unit is fairly heavy, and takes up a bit of space, but feels quite sturdy. It isn’t portable, and does cost quite a bit more than a sharpening stone at around $170, but can pay for itself with renewed blades, likely sharper than the day you bought them.