Monday, January 29, 2007

An Oven to Last a Lifetime


The Le Creuset family of cast iron, enamel coated ovens stands up like an heirloom. These sturdy, durable, and classically fashioned multi-taskers don’t come cheap, running up to $300, but they are guaranteed to last a lifetime. The one I’ve had my eye on, a 5.5-quart round “French” or “Dutch” oven (pictured), retails for about $230.

On the market for the past year or so at Crate and Barrel are similar but more affordably priced products backed by (Molto) Mario Batali. I’ve been tempted to purchase a 6-quart cast iron, enamel coated Dutch Oven, in D'anjou pear green, white, or red for the low low price of $99.95. There’s also a Risotto Pan and a barrel of cooking utensils in matching hues. But upon closer inspection, the Batali line comes with a few words of warning. First, Batali’s Dutch Oven pot edges are a bit thinner than Le Creusets’. Second, the instruction booklet cautions against flaring up the stovetop fire full blast. And finally, users are warned to be careful when sliding the pot on the stove range top, since a little dragging might seriously mar the surface.

In the end, I realized that the lifetime guarantee on the Le Creuset model really was in my favor. The good news is Sur la Table has many sizes and colors of the round ovens on sale, and I snagged mine for $195. Hopefully, I’ll be able to pass it down some day.

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