The world has gone salt mad. We flavor it with herbs, cook on pink Himalayan blocks of it, and use it to temper the sweetness of caramel ice cream and chocolate-chip cookies. But what of its piquant life partner? Where is Pepper Bae? Pepper just isn’t afforded the same attention. Except in my kitchen.
Until recently, my pepper mill was a battery-powered cylinder that deposited fresh grounds with a pleasing whir when turned upside down. After a few years of use, though, its unfortunate fate arrived, an event that luckily aligned with my wedding … and my registry. I knew it was time to return to basics, and inspired by a friend’s registry, I selected the Peugeot “cottage” pepper mill, attracted by its elegant hue and oversize proportions. I’m well-versed in the classic French brand, as my early childhood years were spent in the middle row of our 1988 seven-seater blue Peugeot sedan, and the first chef I ever worked for religiously used a square hand-crank Peugeot pepper mill.
Soon, I had created a pepper-mill fantasy, imagining my fiancé wielding it over my plate each night like a suit-wearing waiter in an old-school Italian restaurant. To date, this has not happened, but I am nonetheless thrilled with my pepper mill. The helix-shaped row of teeth crack each peppercorn before grinding, making for a spicy aroma and even texture. (Incidentally, I only use Tellicherry peppercorns.) The knob moves oh so smoothly when turned, and I love that the size of the grind can be adjusted from coarse to fine by swiveling the screw nob on top.
I’d be remiss not to address the elephant in the kitchen: the $50 price tag. It’s extraordinarily expensive for a pepper mill. But the best gifts are the ones you want but would never buy for yourself, and my Peugeot mill definitely fits the bill. Every time I add a little kick of pepper to a bubbling pot or fried egg, I think of my pal.
You can get it in other colors at Amazon, too.
More Strat-approved dining accessories
Writer Juliet Lapidos first told us about the vintage-looking pepper mill that’s always a dinner-party hit: “It’s neither restaurant-blah nor Sharper Image futuristic (like this Cuisinart mill that requires electricity). Brass-, copper-, or chrome-plated (I have the copper), with delicate floral reliefs, it looks like a tool you’d find at an archaeological dig and — for just that reason — always attracts attention at dinner parties. Once, a guest asked if it was a family heirloom. Another guest asked where I had found it — but in a tone suggesting, Where on earth did you find that? Like, maybe at a garage sale in a foreign country?”
Strategist deputy editor Jason Chen called these Bormioli tumblers the best things he bought in 2017: “They are just muah — perfect for an iced coffee or a limey vodka-soda or just cucumber water (designer Katrina Hernandez likes them, too). When I feel sick and need to pop a Berocca, there’s no glass that feels quite as clinically efficient in the hand. What’s truly great about the glasses, though, is how sturdy yet elegant they are. I broke all four of my thin-edged Alessi glasses over two years simply by tossing a dirty knife or spoon into a sink, but never worry about doing the same to the Bormiolis. (That the wide base makes them a cinch to clean is a bonus, too.)”
Writer Katie Arnold-Ratliff found the best steak knives: “There’s a curious delight in using these very, very sharp steak knives to bisect a morsel of beef (or pork, or chicken, or whatever flesh you have lying around). Its handle is made of a whorled, dirty-blonde Pakkawood (which turns out to be a man-made wood-plastic composite that is also sometimes called “Staminawood”; if that name doesn’t sound dirty to you, I’m afraid we can’t be friends), and it feels hefty and reassuring in the palm. The blade slices through the steak with tactile precision — a kind of buttery, slippery ease that makes me say every time my boyfriend and I use these knives, which is a lot, ‘Man, I love these knives.’”
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