Sunday, November 29, 2009

Kenmore Elite Model #77563

Well, anyone that has been to our house, or knows us well knows how much we love to cook. Since we moved into our house, we have been looking for a new stove, but I've never pulled the trigger. It's been several years in the making, and after doing serious research for the last year, it's happened. We finally picked up the Kenmore Elite Model #77563 on sale on "Black Friday 2009," and had it delivered and installed today, 29 NOV 2009! I have been researching a new range for the longest time, and functionally and aesthetically, I kept coming back to this one. As of 8 hours after it's arrival, I have ZERO regrets. This was purchased from a local Sears in NJ, and I was given a 2 hour window for the delivery, and they showed up right within the window as specified. Robert, the driver / installer was very professional, and was just a darn nice guy to boot, as was his nephew that worked with him. Getting it in the house was no easy task. It was too big to get in the front door, so they had to bring i through our side gate, then lift it up over the house reel mounted to the house, and in through the side door. They pulled the old stove out for me, and brought in this hot new baby! Once they got it in, they hooked up the gas line, got the stove level, plugged in, removed all the packing, plastic, etc, and did a function check. Everything worked just as planned, and I couldn't be happier! "Please sign here" he said! After they left, I set the oven to 400 degrees as the manual states to burn off anything that might be inside. The oven warms up fast compared to our old one, and the temperature was less than 10 degrees off from the oven thermometer that I use (which could be off). I let it run for 60 minutes, and any funk that was in there was burned away. So what do I think of it you ask? Let me say that this is a beauty to look at! The stainless with the stainless steel top is absolutely gorgeous, and a feature that I really wanted. There is nothing at all wrong with the black top, but I find the stainless very sharp, and yes, I know it is going to be very difficult to keep clean. A sacrifice that we are willing to make! The control center is also a nice, sleek, black design, and seems to be very high tech. I am sure that it is going to take me some time to figure it all out, but I look forward to taking the time to do so. Tons of settings, from convection, to non-convection, broil, etc, etc. And I love the fact that it is touch screen! One of the most important features that made me choose this stove is because of the 5 burners. Is this a must? No, but it sure is nice to have. Let me first however say that the grates over the cooktop are very nice. They are quality made, and they definitely serve a purpose. More than anything, it is very nice to have a flat surface to work on if need be, and is perfect for cookie sheets, large cutting boards, etc. Much better than your standard round rings found on your typical stove, so you are not doing a balancing act while working on a cutting board on the stove top.
So back to the burners, here is what we have: Low output: one 5,000 BTU Precise Simmer burner. High output: one 12,000 BTU. All-purpose: four 9,500 BTU, and a High output: dual ring 18,000 BTU. Note that the stove and burners are all natural gas, not electric, and not dual fuel. Gas is a must for us! The center oval burner, along with the dual ring burner are what had me sold on this model. The dual ring burner is great for boiling water, as I experimented with just minutes after the install. This burner also works nice for simmering, with just the center ring lit, although, there is a simmer burner directly behind this one. The center oval shaped burner is the one that I really wanted, and one of the most important. If I am going to invest thousands of dollars on a standard 30 inch cooktop, I want to have that 5th burner. This will be great to add a griddle, or a ridged grill of sorts. I really look forward to making pancakes, eggs, hashbrowns, cheesesteaks, etc on the grill plate once we get one. There is actually a white page that came with the stove where you can order and accessory pack direct from Kenmore for $19.95. It comes with the griddle and some great other accessories. Unfortunately, you cannot order it online, but I do plan on putting a check in the mail tomorrow! Another great use for the large center burner I think will be for making gravy in your large roasting pan after baking your bird. It will sit perfect right on top of there. Is the 5th burner a necessity? Absolutely not, but it sure is great, and I am glad to have it. We'll see just how much use it'll get in the future! MUCH MORE TO COME, so stay tuned!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Coltello - Crosswicks, NJ

After a quick visit to the Trenton City Museum for two openings tonight, Zelda and I headed over to Coltello in Crosswicks, NJ to visit Chef Dominic’s new venture. Coltello is located in the heart of Crosswicks on Main Street, in the location that used to be home to Café Giangella. The restaurant is set up the same way as the prior establishment, but it has a much warmer feel. You walk in the door and see the glass sign adorning the name Coltello, and are greeted by a small table, nicely dressed with tulips, candles, and a great picture of Chef Dominic and some family. The walls have been painted a nice dark green evergreen color, with gorgeous white trim and dark green curtains. The tables are topped with nice tablecloths, and finished off with place settings, a vase of tulips, and a candle. They did a great job decorating, and the place looks truly elegant. Shortly upon entering, we were greeted and asked if we had a reservation. Of course we didn’t but thankfully they squeezed us in. Needless to say we took the last 2 top, but there were still a few open tables, that had all been reserved. We pulled out the Riedel’s and a bottle of 2001 Ruffino Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale Oro, and it was immediately opened by the gracious host Richard Sr. Upon looking over the menu, the first thing that I notice is the pricing. For the area, I have to say that this is the most reasonably priced, value priced menu for an Italian restaurant in the area. I won’t name other establishments, but I thought the pricing was better than most. Our bus boy came over shortly after, offering us tap or bottled water, and he was very friendly. The appetizers ranged anywhere from soups and salads, to stuffed breads, and many others. Unfortunately, they do not have the menu online yet, but I am sure it will be in just a matter of time. Our server came over shortly after, and she was very friendly. We ordered the Spedini to start, which is a stuffed bread appetizer, and continued to look over the menu. They also had a few nice specials tonight, ranging from an appetizer to entrees. Out came a nice basket of bread, as well as a gorgeous plate of olive oil infused with garlic, and topped with several whole cloves of garlic. This tasted as though the garlic had been soaking in there for years. It was awesome. Shortly after a bowl filled with sautéed onion, mushroom, some sort of Italian herb, and parmesan cheese came out, and this was to die for. I am not a big mushroom fan, but the way that these were cooked made it impossible not to shovel these onto my bread. It had a great crispness to it, and was just so flavorful. Zelda mentioned that it almost tasted as though this was baked. Absolute deliciousness! Our server came back and took our order. Zelda opted for the Tortolini with grilled chicken, and I went out of my norm and ordered Lobster Francaise. Shortly after ordering, our Spedini came out, and this was a gorgeous, large serving of skewered bread, stuffed with a ton of mozzarella cheese, then dipped in batter and friend to a golden brown. It was then topped with a nice marinara sauce, and garnished with just a few anchovies. The crispiness of the batter was very nice, and the red sauce was homemade and delicious! The anchovy added just the right amount of salt and flavor to the dish, and I think that this was a winner. Out came our salads after this, and we had both opted for the Caesar. This was a nice, light dressing, with very subtle flavors over a bed of fancy greens with cucumber and tomato. Perfect size portion as to not ruin our dinner after a heavy appetizer. By this time, the entire restaurant was filled with a few two tops, many 4 tops, and quite a few larger round tables. It was great to see the place packed, and great to see many familiar faces from The Little Flower, where Chef Dominic worked a few years ago on Farnsworth Avenue in Bordentown. It was like seeing the old gang hanging out, and it just screamed family. Out came our entrees, and they were both nicely sized. Zelda’s pasta came out in a giant bowl, and tasted as fresh as can be. I don’t know if they are making their pasta on premise, but it sure tasted like it. The flavors in the pasta were very nice, along with a great sauce, and very nicely cooked chicken. They chicken had a great grilled flavor, and a nice browned crisp to it. It was delicious, and I would definitely order this for myself sometime. My lobster came out with 2 nicely sized medallions, breaded and fried, served with a nice, rich sauce. The lobster was very tender, and cooked perfectly. There was no toughness to it in the least, and I couldn’t have cooked this any better. It was garnished with nice, fresh green beans, and a citrus sauce. Unfortunately, we were both stuffed, so we skipped coffee and desserts. By this time, we also saw some customers waiting, so we finished our glasses of wine, corked the ½ bottle we had remaining, paid our tab, and headed for home. On our way out, we popped our heads in the kitchen to congratulate Chef Dominic. Let me say that the kitchen was hoppin’, and absolutely immaculate. The grill in the back had all kind of things fired, and the stove had all the burners full with entrees cooking away. To the right side of the kitchen was a large salad station, where the servers were working away getting soups and salads ready to go out. It was great to see them working hard, and working as a team. All in all, this is a great place, and an up and coming new Italian restaurant that is going to thrive. Coltello has great ambiance, first class service with a smile, a great family feel, and most importantly, incredible Italian food with a personal flair. Crosswicks might be off the beaten path for some, but it is just a 7 minute drive off of Route 130, and absolutely worth the trip. This is definitely the best Italian BYO in the area, and it is just a matter of time before their name is on the map. Kudos to Richard Sr., Richard Jr., and Chef Dominic for putting family back in their food. This is just what the area needs, and I look forward to hearing experiences from others who frequent this great new restaurant. Chef Dominic has always been one of the most talented young chefs in the area, and I look forward to trying many more of his creations! Hopefully he’ll put his Chicken Oscar back on his new menu, or as one of his specials. This has always been one of my favorite dishes that he creates. Keep up the great work! Coltello 460 Main Street Crosswicks, NJ 08515 Phone: (609)298-6128