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December 1, 2011

SIMPLY SUPER Christmas Gifts: 1 An Heirloom

by Val Reynolds

Novelli place settingOur selection of Christmas Gifts is from the many items we have tried throughout the year. Some are very expensive, others more modest and some affordable by most of us.


Knives for Cooking In November a group of us had a Christmas Lunch cooked by the chef named as the World’s Sexiest Chef” by The New York Times. Jean Christophe Novelli. We couldn’t vouch for that of course, but he is very good looking and his French accent added an extra, attractive flavour to the experience.

That apart, the meal was excellent, the turkey succulent, the gravy spot on, the vegs al dente without being chewy. The dessert, apple pie with wonderful vanilla ice cream, was superb. However, the object of the session was not to eat and drink ourselves silly, but to watch Jean in action with his recently launched Ziganof cooking knives.

Top of the range, these knives are for life, even to pass on to the next generation. With the core made from the best surgical steel and covered with 63 layers of Damascus steel, the hardest and sharpest knives have been created. See more detailed information on the Novelli website. You can see the striations in this photographStriations on cleaver

Jean showed us how using just the two knives it is not necessary to have any others. The paring knife is a multipurpose knife ideal for peeling all small vegetables and other intricate work such as deveining shrimp, removing seeds of small jalapeno peppers, skinning mushrooms and all the other delicate jobs in the kitchen.

The cleaver is the ideal tool for virtually every job in the kitchen. It is ideal for meat preparation, all large and small vegetable and will even finely chop herbs and spices. The width of the blade will allow it to be used as a spatula. A multi-purpose precision tool.

We were shown how to sharpen the knives correctly (also included on the DVD included with the knife sets) using the whetstone with very clear instructions (they are also on the Novelli website). We tried out the knives, rather tentatively because they really are sharp, but a joy to use. No pushing or hacking with these knives, just smooth stroking on the vegetable and you can achieve accurate results. It’s all about control and these knives have it in spades!

The two knives come in a beautifully crafted wooden box with its own key and a whetstone. A 70 minute DVD is included with the set that shows both knives in action together, how to use them safely and with a How to Cook a three course classic french menu.
Are they worth the £249 price tag? Yes they are. We are using these knives every day now, having been shown how to use them safely we feel far more confident when preparing vegetables and meat and can appreciate their excellent design.
Go to Jean’s website for latest prices, the last time we looked there was a £50 reduction if you order before 31 January 2012.

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