Wednesday, 2 February 2011
the first cut is the deepest
In the meantime, here's a short posting about an interesting tool. I'm sure that many of us have bought a new knife, or even a set, and happily rushed home to cut up anything we can find to test our butchery skills on. Only to find out that within somewhere between 10 minutes and a day, they aren't exactly sharp. Also, we've all been told how more accidents happen with blunt knives than sharp ones. I'm not sure I agree with that. As far as axes go, for instance, I'm rather glad that the one I nearly chopped my thumb off with last year WAS blunt. I didn't actually try to chop it off, it was an accident. Albeit a ridiculous one. I was chopping wood and I needed a log to be smaller, so I held the log . . . . needless to say, having a sore thumb that was hit by a blunt axe was much less traumatic than if I'd have used a sharp one. I still wake up shuddering from the thought of what could have happened . . .
Anyway, back to the story. The tomato test seems to be popular amongst advertisers for all things "knife-sharpening". If the tomato tends to just squash rather than slice, then your knife is too blunt. Believe me, I've searched for a decent knife sharpener for several years now.
We bought a nice set of Sabatier knives a couple of years back, and as mentioned above, within a few days of buying them they had lost the factory sharpness they came with - the wooden chopping board had assured that. Whilst I was ill the other week, I got bored and continued the quest for a decent sharpener. After reading various reviews and chasing a particular one that had been recommended, one brand kept turning up with good reviews. The one I was after seemed to only get reviews that rated it "okay". I took the plunge with the self-proclaimed "The World's Best Knife Sharpener" by AnySharp. As it was't electric and only cost just under a tenner from Amazon, I decided to take the chance.
And I'm glad I did, gentle reader. It does, indeed, keep knives sharp with very little fuss. It clamps onto your work surface with a suction cup and you only need one hand to use it. So it's useful for Captain Hook and very nearly me, after my contretemps with the axe last year. But, in all honesty, it's a nice device. It makes older knives a pleasure to use again. Advert over, but the upshot is, it may not be your knives that are useless - you can breathe new life into them!
In his excellent book Amber, Gold & Black, Martyn Cornell points out that brewers use such adjectives as chocolate and liquorice because UK porters tend to err on the sweet side. However, he also says that if they name it a porter it's an attempt at making a nod towards authenticity as opposed to just a 'stout' or dark beer. I quite like SN beers and although I tend to be a little sniffy about Supermarket own brands I must admit that this "London Porter" is indeed quite spicy and intense (presumably the "charred malt" used). Not that I'm an aficionado. So I don't know just how authentic it is or isn't. Do they have Sainsbury's in Dubai, Martyn? But I did learn from my last trip to a brewery - St Austell in the Summer, that M&S 's "Cornish Beer" is brewed by St Austell. So, all-in-all I'm becoming a little more happy with some own brand beers.
They're cheaper too, of course.