Food Matters: Last-minute gadgets for the cool home cook
NIBBLESNAMED FOR “THE FRENCH ASPEN TREE” Revamped to resemble a modern Victorian home on Aspen Island, Betula is set to open on Thursday, Dec. 20, in the space formerly home to bb’s. Chef Laurent Cantineaux, a Paris native who for 20 years lived and cooked in Venezuela, Miami, and St. Barth’s (the latter home to sister restaurant Bonito), prepares French-Pan American fare. (Check out his showpiece rotisserie, imported from France.) Betula is the birch tree genus, widespread in Europe. 525. E. Cooper Ave., 970-429-8683 MAKE AMERICA GRATEFUL AGAIN Stocking-stuffer idea for your favorite hippie: A groovy souvenir T-shirt (three designs, including “Dancing Bacon”) or glow-in-the-dark logo Frisbee from Grateful Deli. Tie-dye stickers: free. 233 E. Main St., 970-925-6647 COOKING SCHOOL HOLIDAY BUFFET Can’t get a rez at your top spot or blow your baller dining budget on holiday gifts? ‘Tis the season! Consider a moderately priced meal out at the Cooking School of Aspen’s “elevated family buffet,” which runs almost nightly from Friday, Dec. 21 to Sunday, Dec. 30. The menu is geared toward all palates: an 18-item salad bar, soup, and choice of entrée including smoked prime rib au jus, brown sugar-chile-glazed salmon, Rustique Bistro’s famous fried chicken with gravy, or vegan mushroom Bolognese pappardelle. Full bar, wine, side dishes, and assorted desserts, too. RSVP or walk-in; $55 adults, $30 kids 10 and under; 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. 970-920-2002, cookingschoolofaspen.com/calendar ASPEN WINTER MARKET: TAKE TWO Find jewelry, art and, yes, food at Grey Lady every Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m to 4 p.m., through March. Pick up nutrient- and antioxidant-packed supplement powder Prasada by Almeda Labs (just add water or nut milk) and CBD-infused Wise Bar, made in Carbondale with whole organic ingredients. Plus: breakfast and lunch catered by The Biscuit food truck and bevvies at the bar. Grey Lady, 305 S. Mill. St, 787-685-1633
1. CRUNCH TIME
Though it’s a tall order to expect a newfangled air fryer—which circulates hot air at a rapid rate to mimic the effect of a traditional fryer, minus a messy oil bath—to turn french fries, chicken fingers and wings as crispy as their conventionally cooked counterparts, the Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven comes pretty darn close. And because the 1800-watt “whisper-quiet” machine doubles as a convection toaster oven that also bakes and broils, with space for an 11-inch pizza stone (sold separately), it can live on a countertop. Tempura anytime? Aw, yeah.
$199 at Miners Building Kitchen Loft, 319 E. Main St., 970-925-5550, minersbuilding.com/kitchen-loft; Kitchen Collage, 840 E. Valley Road, Basalt, 970-273-0400, cuisinart.com, kitchencollage.bridgecatalog.com
2. SMALL & MIGHTY SOUS VIDE
Cooking food in a bag submerged in hot water is only weird until you try it…and taste a supremely tender protein. Dozens of sous-vide gadgets promise pro results, but the Joule Sous Vide by ChefSteps is praised consistently by chefs and amateurs alike for its ease of use. Wi-Fi connectivity via smartphone app and integration with Amazon Alexa, Facebook and the company’s website portal of recipes make steps virtually foolproof; “Visual Doneness” swipe-through videos serve as a clever guide. A magnetic base makes it stand up in a pot, too.
Available on Amazon and at chefsteps.com/joule.
3. QUICK STICK
Innovated by ThermoWorks, the ThermoPop is a rotating display pocket thermometer—the splash-proof readout spins in 90-degree increments at the push of a button, allowing it to be seen from any angle, even upside down. Calibration of up to 572 degrees in three to four seconds and design for either hand makes this stick essential in any kitchen kit.
About $29 at Miners Building Kitchen Loft, 319 E. Main St., minersbuilding.com/kitchen-loft, 970-925-5550
4. HAUTE CUT
Upgrade your cutlery with the OG king of knives: Laguiole, forged in France since 1829. Sets available locally include five-piece place settings, steak knives, cheese tools and a stunning carving duo with sleek handles carved from buffalo or cow horn or silky smooth olive wood.
Prices vary at Chequers Aspen, 520 E. Cooper Ave., 970-925-7572, chequersaspen.com; laguiole.com
5. PRO PIZZA PRONTO
While most folks will stage the Roccbox outdoors on a patio, imagine showing up to a park or campsite for a pop-up party and pulling this out: A portable pizza oven with porous stone floor, retractable legs, and interchangeable gas or wood burners…say wha!? The Roccbox gets up to temp fast: 900-plus degrees, crucial to create a crispy artisanal crust, and in 60 seconds or less. (That’s an estimated 20-plus pizzas per hour, according to Gozney, master of commercial ovens.)
6. HANDMADE TIDBITS
Need a little gift for a foodie friend? Maker on Cooper Avenue has a slew of super cool items for anyone on your list: Handblown glass straws from Berlin ($32, pipe cleaner included), a hammered-brass coffee scoop from Japan ($78), and a Hawaiian volcanic-ash-speckled stoneware carafe that self-regulates a slim stream of soy sauce ($98).
Says Maker co-owner Candice Olson: “Manufactured things don’t radiate (the same) beauty and energy.”
Maker, 614 E. Cooper Ave., 970-379-8130, makerandplace.com
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The timing is ripe for nearby weekend getaways in the mountains.