Our REROUTING series is focused on items, ideas and experiences that can come to you, while moving about still feels uncertain. If we can’t take you out in person, let us share the world with you in a different way.
So dining out lately is … complicated. The way restaurants fill a certain, very specific desire for each of us has possibly never been as apparent as it is right now. Everyone has their own flavor — their personal reason for returning again and again to the call of a professionally-cooked meal, their personal yearning for ‘the first place they’ll go’ when restaurants are no longer shuttered in response to the pandemic.
Normally the summer months are filled with dining occasions: our chauffeurs working daily as you enjoy your exclusive reservations, new restaurant openings, private parties and events with family and friends. This year the streets are quiet, the tables empty, and all of us left seeking that thrill of ‘new and delicious’ that only food experiences can really satisfy.
Thus, for the first in our REROUTING series, let’s talk about cooking. And more specifically, about a few gadgets, appliances and indulgences that might shake up your meal routine a bit, and maybe even create the feeling that you’ve stepped into someone else’s dining room.
We’ll start simple with a spiralizer. A surprisingly satisfying thing to have on hand. Concerned about your quarantine bod? Zoodles to the rescue. And zucchini is just the beginning: sweet potatoes, cucumber, butternut squash, broccoli stems and even plantains are all fair game. Have a vegetable-forward riff on a pasta experience (not as insane as it sounds) or get creative with salads, make a stir-fry, or even experiment with little breakfast cups that look like a bird’s nest but are mostly eggs and, you guessed it, long strands of vegetables. We like the OXO Good Grips 3-Blade Spiralizer. TIP: There are smaller options — OXO also makes an excellent handheld one with 3 blade attachments — but they aren’t as effective once you get into the more firm, starchy veg options.
This list isn’t complete if we don’t pay homage to the Instant Pot, though it’s mostly a courtesy. On the other hand, if you’ve somehow managed to not own one yet, maybe you have enough time now that every month feels like a year to recall that the best and most favorite appliance in recent memory is just one internet click away. You can make everything from rice to a whole chicken to yogurt to AN ACTUAL CAKE in this thing … seems obvious what the move is. This is the best one, though you kind of can’t go wrong.
Now that we all own Instant Pots, we’re convinced the next must-have appliance is the air fryer, and with good reason. Traditionally, frying things at home is mostly more work, and mess, than it’s worth. Enter the air fryer: a compact machine that uses super hot air rather than oil, doesn’t make the whole house smell like a grease trap, and has additional functions like ‘dehydrate’ and ‘rotisserie.’ Instant Pot makes a good one, and we also really like Cuisinart’s model because it doubles as a toaster oven and WHY NOT?
A sous vide is a great way to feel fancy without requiring a ton of skill up front. If perfectly-cooked, tender and flavorful meats inspire you, pay attention. But these slender ‘immersion circulators’ lend themselves to all kinds of things, from the aforementioned perfect meats, to vegetables and seafood, and we’ve even seen single-serving cheesecakes made in jars. Pronounced ’sue veed’ (meaning ‘under vacuum’) it uses continuously circulating hot-but-not-boiling water to gently cook items that are bagged and submerged for a length of time. Nearly impossible to mess up, and producing gourmet-style meals … your microwave has never been so ignored. The Breville Joule and Anova Precision Cooker Pro are both outstanding, and if the idea of cooking in single-use plastic makes you feel weird, consider picking up a few Stasher bags, which are perfect for the system.
Move over sourdough, there’s a new meditative and time-consuming grain experience jockeying for position: pasta-making. A bit less science-y, but potentially equally rewarding, making pasta by hand hearkens to a simpler time, and just might make you forget that you’re trying to cut carbs in favor of giving yourself over the pleasure of rolling and slicing ribbons of delicate farina dough for yourself and your loved ones. With regard to your pasta machine, the Marcato Atlas 150 is the agreed favorite, produced in Italy since 1930, and there are also a variety of recommended accessories that we’ll let you dig into yourself.
With its cult-like following and storied history, the Big Green Egg is iconic in certain circles. This ceramic Kamado-style grill is visually compelling and definitely promises a killer steak, along with anything else you happen to throw over the charcoal. Their whole thing is ‘grill, roast, smoke, bake and sear with this all-in-one magic space orb’ (we may have riffed on that quote a little.) It’s an investment, but comes in a variety of sizes with a lifetime warranty, and when you factor in how much money you’re saving by not eating out all the time … we’re not great at math, honestly. Mostly just excited that it’ll even make a pizza!
And filed under ‘This could be amazing if it actually works!’ is the Hamilton Beach Double Breakfast Sandwich Maker. If you’re a city dweller, you likely live and die by the breakfast sandwich at your favorite neighborhood bodega / deli / coffee shop / other place. What if that morning habit comes home to your own kitchen while keeping a semblance of the ‘someone else made it for you’ feeling? You could even wrap it in foil and let it get a little soggy before eating for a truly authentic experience. For everyone else: who doesn’t love an insta-sando anyway? Someone please buy this and let us know if it’s cool. Maybe this is the next George Foreman grill?
Obviously this is an unprecedented time of strangeness and uncertainty, but we’re committed to grabbing for the silver linings, and want to bring you along for the journey. Carrying you from one place to another – even if it’s mental – is kind of our whole thing, right? Our team is always here with safe and reliable private transportation options, and in the meantime, we hope this helps expand your world in some way that feels supportive and maybe even fun. Until next time, be well. And don’t hesitate to send us photos of your breakfast sandwiches.