For roughly 20+ years, I’ve had the biggest crush on Le Creuset cast iron cookware. Unfortunately, I’ve also spend the better part of that time in and out of school or moving from one contract and one country to the next. As a result, most of my earnings went towards tuition or making ends meet leaving my ‘kitchen crush’ unfulfilled.
Le Creuset is the best-of-the-best when it comes to cast iron cookware. But it’s also super heavy and crazy expensive which isn’t very practical for a traveling foodie on a budget like myself!
With most of my kitchen collection boxed up in storage – and ingredients often difficult to find – cooking what I like, when I like, and how I like is almost impossible. My diet is a never-ending roller coaster. I’m always struggling to stay healthy and make sure that I get all of the vitamins and nutrients that I need without compromising too much on flavour, taste and of course budget.
On the flip-side, traveling and working overseas has broadened my awareness of my own culinary background and traditions as well as that of other cultures. I’ve learned new techniques, discovered exotic cookware and experienced exciting tastes and flavour combinations from around the world. That’s pretty cool, if I do say so myself!
Nevertheless, every once in a while, I come across something familiar that’s too special to refuse. Such was the case during my time here in Austria. Half-way between Gols and Vienna – deep within the McArthur Glen Designer Outlet Center (Parndorf) – lies the holy grail of cookware at up to 70% off. That’s right fellow foodies and kitchenware fanatics – a Le Creuset outlet shop. Lord have mercy!
I was taken to Parndorf shortly after my arrival in Burgenland back in February of 2014. Having come straight from Thailand, I was in desperate need of warm clothing and this was a great place to start. Then it happened…
Snuggled between Marc O’Polo and Högl, was a gleaming white sign with ‘Le Creuset’ blazing out in that trademark flame orange I know so well. Shivering in my summer clothes under a borrowed winter coat, I stood in the parking lot with eyes wide, jaw dropped and a dribble of drool falling from the corner of my mouth. I thought I heard angels singing, although in hindsight it was probably the sound of my teeth clattering or church bells ringing in the distance.
I was first introduced to Le Creuset as a girl. My best friend’s mother was (and still is) an eclectic lady with a heart of gold and generous to a fault. I loved visiting their home nestled between farmer’s fields in the middle of nowhere. There were many adventures and much fun to be had for 2 young girls. There were dogs, chickens and sheep to play with, a babbling brook and so much to explore. The house was filled with books, curiosities and eccentric decor – plenty to peak the curiosity of an inquisitive young mind. The kitchen was the heart of the home. While vague, I remember my friend’s mother cooking with heavy fire orange pots and pans which were as warm and colourful as her personality. Perhaps those joyful childhood memories where what initially drew me to Le Creuset, although I didn’t make the connection until nearly 3 decades later.
But it’s not just fond memories that have me so enamored with Le Creuset. Renowned for both their durability and beauty, Le Creuset has been creating top-quality cast iron cookware since 1925. There is just so much to love about Le Creuset products – their flawless design, smooth surfaces, good-sized handles, thick enamel coating and bold colours. Each piece is inspected by hand and – if cared for properly – you can expect your Le Creuset cookware to last a lifetime and beyond. Proving how confident they are in the quality of their products, the company offers a lifetime guarantee on their entire cast iron collection.
I took my time in the brightly lit store, admiring the colourful enamels, stroking the perfectly smooth cast iron surfaces, pestering the staff with my broken German skills while imagining all of the amazing dishes I could create and how luxuriously beautiful my future ‘dream-kitchen’ would be. Although I wasn’t ready to make any purchases that day, I continued to pop by the shop on subsequent visits to check out the latest additions and watch for sales or clearance items.
Now that I have my work permits – and fed up with being patient – I was ready to take the plunge. On my visit this week, I was ecstatic to see a table full of ‘seconds’ at a further 20% off the outlet price. I splurged on a cherry red square grill, a 4.1L oval French oven and a gorgeous enamel coated cast iron terrine mold but I’ve got a mind to go back soon! All in all, each piece was about 1/3 to less than a 1/4 the price of what I would have paid in Canada. The grill has already been put into action. I was very impressed at the heat retention, ease of use and perfectly spaced grill marks. I’m so excited. I can’t wait to cook my next big meal once my classes are finished next week. I’m also super-stoked about the terrine. I’ve never made a terrine before but I can’t wait to give it a go. Feel free to send along your favourite recipe if you have one!
Now, back to my homework! Just 2 assignments left before I finish the requirements to achieve my Social Media Certificate with Algonquin College. Wish me luck! 🙂