Friday, 20 January 2012

A day of Shiny pans and Fine Dining

When an invite dropped into my inbox to spend a day with saucepans, my first thoughts were ooh saucepans, shiny, yey, so obviously it didn’t take long for me to say yes. Then I did a quick google and saw the price list and had to pick up my jaw from shock. These were very shiny, expensive shiny. Don’t get me wrong, I love my cookware as previous posts will tell and over the years have acquired some expensive toys but these were still a little on the eek side! However it did alert my curiosity that little bit further as to why these babies warrant a higher price tag..

And so a few days later, clutching my tickets like a lost tourist I boarded the early train out of Exeter with birdsong around me and made the pleasant but slow commute to Chippenham, somewhere deep in the wilds of Wiltshire. Those who know me will probably be wondering why I was getting the train at Exeter, rather than my usual haunt of Surrey/ Middlesex borders – I was actually on holiday in Devon but due to come back that day, so decided to extend my trip by a day and stay another night in Devon – no real hardship really – one day….sigh…! This was despite moving house that week and having a fair few bits to do inbetween – I’m never one to sit still long or make it easy on myself!

Upon arrival at Whatley Manor, the setting for the All-clad demo, it set my jaw slightly gaping and feelings of looking slightly like a raggy Anne doll set in. My oh my do I need to find myself a rich husband, and fast. I really could get used to living a life of luxury! The place was elegance in itself, everything was just perfect, from the warmth of the staff to the artwork in the toilets!

Also very welcome was a cup of fresh coffee with a delicious little biscuit – far nicer than the one I had purchased on the train!

First up, we got to see the All-clad pans in use under the guidance of Martin Burge, the head chef of their 2 star Michelin restaurant, and his team as they demonstrated a stunning looking Pear and Blackberry gratin.

After building up an appetite, we then had a lovely lunch of braised veal cheeks on a bed of spinach. Those bad boys ain’t the prettiest thing I’ve sat down to eat but the meat just melted in your mouth.

I’m gutted I didn’t photograph the rest of the meal, was too busy eating! Alongside the veal cheeks there was a creamy parmesan risotto, though in all honesty I just wanted to smuggle the pan out in my handbag – it was so weeny and cute! Pudding was also a triumph – a heavenly tiramisu, served in a generously sized martini glass, which rather upsettingly was so filling I let the side down and couldn’t finish it though I did try my best L one thing I do plan to steal is the idea of having layers of chocolate within all that lovely creaminess – it was a joy to crack through and I am looking forward to attempting to recreate this part!

Unfortunately the day wasn’t all about eating lovely food - we had to earn our keep and so trudged back into the very shiny kitchen, and then got set to recreating the earlier demonstrated pear and blackberry gratin, using the All-clad range of pans and bowls. I paired up with the rather charming Hugues, one of All-clad’s managers who was great to work with – we managed the dish in perfect harmony, with no problems encountered and my dish was first to finish! The dish was constructed of caramelised blackberries, pear sorbet, shortbreads, sabayon and poached pears. The pears were my personal favourite – I would happily eat them all, so perfectly flavoured and delicate!

Spot the difference - One of these dishes was mine, one was chef’s: (scroll down for the answer!)

Picture A:

Picture B:

How I don’t really know but am rather smugly pleased at myself and Hugues efforts! It was my first, and probably last time cooking in this kind of setting but it was a great experience!

To give you a little history, All Clad was born in 1971 in Pennsylvania, and the range is still made there to this day. The pans were originally developed between a metalworker and a chef, and each pan is hand finished, to provide you with the very best in cookware. They are durable, made of the finest materials available and are suitable for all hobs – including induction, which is handy if you move house in the future. Across the range there are a huge variety of sizes of pans, falling into three main styles – copper core, stainless d5 and stainless steel.

My favourite pan was the saucier, it just felt so right to use! The curved inner made the spatula dance with happy abandon around the pan and despite being slightly scared to make caramel, and then add liquid to it, in a shiny pan, it magically worked. No burned pan to scrub! No sticking either! It also was a great size, not too big, not to small, not too heavy, just right. This is a picture of my caramelised blackberries:

Think I will be sweet talking father Christmas next year! To show you in comparison why I was scared – this is what I recently did to another brand of pan whilst attempting popcorn!

What can I say. Are they worth it? I do think so. I currently use Meyer hard anodized pans, which I am rather fond of and for now will be sticking with – more so that I’ve just moved into a flatshare and wouldn’t want to use the beautiful All Clad pans or my er rather antique cooker but if I was in the market for new ones, then I think I could very happily find a home for these! They are aimed at the home gourmet and chef – both titles way over my station but I do appreciate good quality cookware and these were a joy to use. They come with a lifetime guarantee and I think would prove a worthwhile investment.

Many thanks to Live, Chloe, Hugues and everyone at All Clad for both the invite and experience, and also to everyone at Whatley Manor.

P.s. Did you guess right? Picture B was mine, A was chefs!


  1. Oh, wish I'd been invited to this one! I did some really nerdy research a couple of years back, when we decided to buy some new pans.

    We settled on Meyer Anolon Commercial Clad, but All Clad were on our radar.

    Would love to find out how they compare!

    Ha, and love that word verification gives me "swisho"!

  2. I loved your comment about the saucier. What a wonderful day! I'm very jealous.


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