Wednesday, 31 August 2011
A Visit to the Thermomix Test Kitchen
One of the repeatable 'discussions' Kelsie and I have is about the amount of kitchen equipment I've accumulated over the years. There was definitely a point in time when I'd regularly bring home something new that I 'needed'. Some of these aquisitions have still not been used: i'm thinking of the iron disc i got in Barcelona that is heated and then used to make a perfect burnt sugar crust on crema catalana. and i'm thinking of the tortilla press that's still in the box waiting to be used. And there are some acquisitions that only get hauled out once or twice a year: the iddli cooker that i finally used last christmas, the individual sized pudding moulds (set of 8) that i've used a few times for dinner parties, and the sugar thermometer.
A lot of these are packed away in one of many plastic tubs that are down in the cellar. Somehow i keep track of what is where. Then we get to the bigger equipment: my Magimix which i definitely use at least 1x week, the blender which K has been using every day for her smoothies, the ice cream maker which has lately been taking up room in the freezer while i deliberate on whether Schlagsahne will work in place of whipping cream, the toaster and the filter coffee pot. We're probably going to bin the coffee maker. it's not been used since we started making cappuccinos in the morning with a 3-cup espresso maker and hand powered milk frother.
These days i more often than not say no to myself before indulging in another piece of kit. But I do know of some things i still want/need: a 28-32 cm stovetop casserole pan; a bigger than 10" cast iron frying pan, and i'd love one of those oval shaped le creuset pans that fit a whole chicken or a tiny pan just for blinis. I'm doing pretty good on the saying no front. Mostly because i'd rather get rid of my debts before adding to them.
I got to exercise my restraint a couple of weeks ago when i was invited by Jill to the weekly meet-up at the Thermomix test kitchen in Alt Tegel. At the last Berlin Cooking Club, Jill brought her 'magic' machine. Magic in the sense that while the rest of us were furiously chopping and stirring and competing for time to cook on the two induction hobs, Jill quietly produced her two dishes -- sweet potato salad and veggie jambalaya with farro -- before any of us had finished. Both dishes were prepared in the Thermomix that she had brought with her.
The Thermomix kitchen sits on a quiet street right near an industrial park. When we arrived, the cooking was already underway. Each week a different sales group takes turns cooking for the team, with most of the dishes being prepared in the Thermomix machines.
Jill expertly took the machine apart to show me the parts -- a 2ltr stainless steel bowl, a removable 4 blade chopper (removeable makes it really easy to clean and the blades are staggered in height and position to ensure uniform consistency, a stirring attachment, a lid with a 100ml stopper for adding in ingredients while the machine is working, and a 2 tier steamer attachment which allows you to steam other things (veggie, fish) while you are using the main machine to cook. There is a temperature adjuster, a speed adjuster to control how fast the machine works, a reverse stir feature, and a pulse feature for extra strong bursts of chopping and a timer.
Jill has been using this machine as her primary cooking apparatus and these days rarely goes to the trouble of cooking things on the stove. She says that this machine has dramatically changed the way she cooks. She even prepared pizza dough in it the other day -- yes, it also does bread dough.
On this particular day the cooks were making a rocket risotto in the Thermomix. I watched the finishing stages where the pre-chopped rocket was added along with grated parmesan. The end result was a bit on the wet side of al dente for me, but certainly acceptable as a risotto. And i can attest to the nice consistency of the farro that Jill used in her jambalaya.
The Thermomix has been around for about 27 years. And there were a couple of older models on display at the test kitchen.
They also have a variety of different cookbooks at the test kitchen which are geared towards using the machines.
The price of the Thermomix is about 1,000 euros which isn't surprising given all the things it does. They have financing plans that help spread the payments out over several months.
For me, i'm going to wait to get one. It isn't just the price that is holding me back, or that I have been pining for one of those candy coloured kitchen aids. It's that I don't really need to worry about time-saving equipment. If i was cooking for large groups of people and had to get a lot of dishes out then I probably would consider it. But for now i actually enjoy the manual part of cooking. i like chopping and stirring and adjusting the temperature myself and kind of feel that the machine would take that away from me.
If you are in Berlin you can contact Jill to arrange a demo.