the hinata diaries

Friday, November 04, 2005


So here we go, my first blog! Started with the best birthday present from Philippe, a bright red oval cocotte from Staub. As a quick intro, a cocotte is a heavy, cast-iron cooking pot that's great for stews and other hearty dishes. My mental image of a cocotte always has a full chicken (head, feet and other yucky bits removed) immersed in a liberal tossing of onions, carrots, celery and fresh herbs and looking very much like a little golden volcanic lake sitting in a lush crater. Cocotte 101! Will upload some pictures as well once I figure out how to do so.

Now a disclaimer - I am in no way being paid or otherwise incentivised by Staub to promote their product - but I have to announce that this is the coolest thing ever. For a start, it's heavy as ****, which meant that you really can't carry it (at least if you're my size) - you have to wrap your arms around it and hug it like a precious package to get it from point A to point B. Then when you put it down, you don't actually have to start cooking anything in it (although that is the plan for the near future). It provides for endless hours of daydreaming - what to cook in it, what to serve it with, who to eat it with - accompanied by eager cookbook flipping, calendar consulting and reminiscing over great meals of the past. Plus, cookbooks aside, it presents the possibility of inventing some fabulous concoction, a dally with culinary genius that sends your guests into throes of gastronomical ecstasy... Ok, so maybe the last bit is a little far fetched, but my 31cm cocotte is classified in the Staub catalogue under the very romantic-sounding heading 'Chef's Piano'. This is no mere 'Pieces de service' (the classification for smaller cocottes), no, this is an instrument that creates fantasies!

(Deep breath... calmer now)

The cocotte also comes with the loveliest details. The underside of the lid is dotted with 'picots', little rounded spikes pointing downwards, whose job it is to redirect the condensing juices back down to the meat, in effect basting it for you. Without these, the juices would run down to the sides of the lid and drip back down the inner edges of the pot, where they're not much use to anyone. Last but not least, the cocotte comes with a pseudo-handwritten note from Mr. Staub himself, reminding you that this pot is one-of-a-kind, as each mould is destroyed after one cocotte is made from it. How's that to make you feel special?

So there we go, an introduction to my new cocotte, and hopefully the start of many culinary adventures!