“If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it:
‘Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.’”
The above is quote appears at first to be one of those awful pre-packaged one-size-fits-all faux-inspirational sayings, ripe for being plastered all over shabby-chic knick-knacks and hung around the house to show how terribly deep and full of joie de vivre you are.
However, despite its trivialisation by the household tat trade, the concise genius of the phrase still holds. It is taken from the fascinating and multi-talented William Morris, a designer, craftsman, fantasy author and general renaissance man, and when you actually find the context you discover that it is anything but a light and fluffy aphorism. It is in fact a central theme of a 60,000 word epic called ‘Hopes and Fears For Art’ which was he delivered as several lectures in 1880 – you can find the full text here.
Also, he had an impressive beard and eyes you could get lost in.
I have my own slightly truncated version of this philosophy, which sums up my attitude about purchasing for my new house. I’ve paired it down to three words, and it goes like this:
“Only nice things.”
For many years I bought stuff which was not only cheap (my thrift drive is still well and truly in place here – nice doesn’t JUST mean expensive!) but also nasty. And it wasn’t as if, had I been sensible about it, that I couldn’t have got nice things. I just decided to spend money now on rubbish rather than save up for something worthwhile.
So in 2016 I am trying to turn over a new leaf, and get Only Nice Things – which brings us to the subject of this blog!
Back in May I went to the Derbyshire Food and Drink Fair, a wondrous event held at the National Trust’s Kedleston Hall – of course every type of food was available for sampling and purchasing, but there are also those other important stalls which cater (athanku) for those wanting to cook – cooking tools, as it were.
I was already on the lookout for some new pans, and was instantly drawn to the Berghoff stand – the lady doing the demo was absolutely brilliant, and showed off the selling points of the EuroCast range very well by actually cooking on them for the audience. I will try to give them half as good a write up here for you.
I was suckered (sorry, persuaded) not only by the obvious quality of the product but a 5-item bundle was available for (of course) a discounted show price – my purchase came to around £170 (including delivery) for what would normally cost £260 on their website. Not bad!
Waiting for them to arrive was fraught with excitement – and when I eventually got them, I was slightly intimidated by these new, nice pans. What should I cook in them first? What if I dropped one and broke it? How could I dare to use these pristine items and ruin their perfection?
Eventually I did begin, following the pre-use instructions to the letter (something I’ve never done before) and it has been awesome.
Just for the record, the rosta of my items is as follows…
- 1 x 20cm/1.1 litre frying pan
- 1 x 16cm/1.2 litre saucepan
- 1 x 18cm/1.8 litre saucepan
- 1 x 20cm/2.7 litre stew-pot
- 1 x 24cm/2.6 litre grill pan
You’ll notice I went for the smaller models, as even at the time I was preparing for downsizing, space saving and energy efficiency.
NB: I’d like to state for the record that I have no sponsorship at all from Berghoff, nor have I received anything in either financial or other compensation from them – this comes from my own genuine experiences! But, you know, Berghoff, if you’re interested, I do do quite a lot of cooking…
So, teflon has been around for a looong time, promising us ‘non-stick’ pans.
I have come to be wary of that particular claim, as there have been many sticky situations for my pans in the past. However these are made with a material called ‘Ferno Ceramic’ (whatever that means) which seems to be the real deal.
When they say it doesn’t stick, it means it doesn’t stick – ever. At the show I saw a load of burned rice (a nightmare for most cookware) pose no problems for the little pan that could – a dome of blackened carbohydrate simply emerged from it like a giant scoop of carbonised ice-cream. I had a fantastic time cooking my first ever batch of home-made tortillas using the frying pan the other day (coming soon to the Tiny House Kitchen!) and it went like a breeze – no burning, no smoke, no stick. I can’t wait to try pancakes!
As someone who routinely leaves things in the pan too long to the consternation of one and all, it’s great to find a product that makes up for my deficiencies as a cook – now I can turn my back on the oven for as long as I like without worrying!
(Disclaimer: this probably not a good idea)
Another great advantage of the non-stick-ness as someone who is trying to eat more carefully is that you don’t need to use oil – and if you do choose to for the flavour, you don’t need much!
2. Conductivity (and energy efficiency)
The literature which comes with the EuroCast products is very clear on this: you do not need a lot of heat. The pans are very quick to heat up (fab for cooking) and cool down (fab for handling). A low-to-medium heat is all that is required to get them cooking with great efficiency, even the larger stew-pots.
3. Draining Lid
I likes me a lot of pasta and rice (although I try not to eat as much as I used to), but I don’t like draining the pan. And they are numerous times when precious food has been lost forever, a tribute to the Gods of the Sink, because of the old ‘holding the pan lid just slightly off the corner of the pan’ method. But these are designed with a special inbuilt draining gap, allowing liquid to escape but not your food – woop woop!
4. Easy Clean
A secondary function of the non-stick properties. It’s ace!
5. Detachable Handles
This was a big sell for me, because of the storage implications – for the Tiny House, it makes even more sense. The demo lady made it look effortless, but I must say when I got my set it took a little while to master the screw-and-disengage method (ooh err missus) the handles have – there is a kind of lightning-stoke shape you have to match up on handle and pan before it works, but it is a great help.
It also means you can put the pans in the oven a bake a cake in them (yes, they double up as cake tins!) without the handle getting in the way.
Just don’t put the larger handles on the smaller pans – the weight is too much for the poor things!
Oh, so light. Looking at their sort of marble-effect finish, you’d think they were heavy as anything, but they’re as light as regular steel pans and far more well balanced. A joy to handle!
And when I went to the Post Office (inevitably I’d been out when they tried to deliver) to collect the whole big box of 5 pans, 4 glass lids, 5 handles, plus all the packaging – it was no weight at all, even to my skinny arms.
Well, I think I’ve spent enough time now sounding like a corporate shill. I’ve more or less repeated stuff they show in this demo anyway, but I wanted to put a personal spin on it.
The bottom line is that I recommend these pans to you and will be buying more Berghoff stuff, but the line under the bottom (the chair line? The cushion line?) is that when you invest in nice things, it can really improve your quality of life, in small but significant ways. And I plan on doing that for the foreseeable future.
A very quick shoutout to the London China Company, who do all the demos and shows for Berghoff in the UK – thanks guys, keep on hawkin’ those wares!
Now, I have to get back to the kitchen…those meal-planned meals won’t cook themselves…