THE GOCHISO GOURMET: Hook, line and sinker

columnist-logo_ryantatsumoto_FINALOK, I’ll admit it. I check Facebook at least once a day, probably for 30 to 60 minutes each day. And I’m sure there are more than half a billion other Facebook users that spend just as much time each day, if not more time than I do, on the site. And that doesn’t even account for the time people spend on the Internet each day. And while most of these social media sites are free, someone is paying the cost for your “wall.”

Advertisers, that’s who.

You’ve seen it: Those shoes you were browsing on the Nordstrom site, or that cocktail smoker from Williams Sonoma’s site miraculously appears right next to your Facebook feed. Or sometimes these sponsored links appear as part of your daily Facebook feed. And you know businesses won’t continue to pay for these ads unless they are generating sales. From the masses of daily Facebook addicts, or me.

Norlan Whisky Glass

The Norlan Whisk(e)y Glass
I first viewed this sponsored link as part of my Facebook news feed and initially didn’t think much of the ad. You see, I’m a hardcore Riedel junkie, with various Riedel glasses for different grape varieties, as well as what I originally thought was the best whiskey glass bar none. The Riedel Single Malt Whisky glass has an exaggerated curved lip that had sips of the “water of life,” which forced the elixir on to your tongue, versus sending them initially to the back of your throat with that inevitable alcohol cough/gag reflex. There’s no better whisky glass, or so I thought.

Then I invariably decided to visit the Norlan Website, which described why their glass was better than other whiskey glasses. For starters, their glass was composed of borosilicate glass, the same that’s found in laboratory glassware and Pyrex. It also had a double wall, meaning that colder whiskey wouldn’t cause condensation on the outer surface. Then they had this cool animation showing how aromatics and alcohol exited their glass with alcohol dispersing outwardly and aromatics being concentrated to your nose. Let’s see, $48 for a pair of glasses? I do have a friend who enjoys straight bourbon with her cigars. It would make the perfect Christmas present. Wait, I should also get a pair for me …

So when they arrived, I immediately washed the glass and poured exactly one ounce of Whistle Pig rye into the Norlan and the Riedel glasses. Both the Mrs. and I swirled and inhaled from each glass. It was a slam dunk! It wasn’t even close! The Norlan glass gave off a lot more aromatic notes than the Riedel. And since that day, the only glass I use for my Whistle Pig, High West, Basil Hayden or Masterson’s rye is the Norlan glass.

Misen Knives. photo by Ryan Tatsumoto

Misen Knives
Once again, I first viewed their ad as a sponsored link on my daily Facebook feed. Because those Kamikoto knife ads started appearing months ago — and I did initially view the Kamikoto Website — I initially ignored those Misen ads, partly because I have more kitchen cutlery than I really need, and partly because the main Misen knife advertised was a chef’s knife. I already have three all-purpose knives in my kitchen armamentarium, my Shun Dual-Core Kiritsuke, Global eight-inch chef’s knife and Bon Kramer Santoku. But one day, that sponsored link included a quotation from J. Kenji Alt-Lopez, the culinary guru from super Website Serious Eats. And he stated that while he often receives freebie knives and kitchen supplies from manufacturers hoping to get mentioned on Serious Eats, he felt that the Misen chef’s knife was the best knife for $65 or less. It even was on par with knives two to three times that price point.

Of course, I still didn’t need another multi-purpose blade, but I was looking for a replacement bread knife at the time. You see, my trusty Wusthof eight-inch bread knife purchased in San Francisco in 1990 for $42 was beginning to require a lot more sawing motion to slice baguettes. Both the eight and 10-inch current Wusthof versions were $139.95 at Williams Sonoma — which I was willing to pay since my current version lasted almost 30 years. Then I noticed that Misen also offered a three piece set with a eight inch chef’s knife, three inch paring knife and a 10-inch bread knife. And if you gave them your e-mail address, they took another 10 percent off the $130 listed price, and it included shipping to the 50th. Sold! Never mind that Misen uses AUS-8 Japanese stainless steel with 0.75 percent carbon content bolstered with vanadium sharpened to a 15 degree angle, this knife is as comfortable in the hand and slices like no-one’s business. If you don’t have a knife set that you like, I highly encourage you to order the three knife set from Misen!

Did I Bite Again?
Lastly, for the past several months another sponsored link has continually appeared on my Facebook feed — probably because I keep perpetuating the feed by continually visiting their Website. No, it doesn’t have to do with wine, kitchen implements or bar accoutrements. It’s something that would simply remain in my hurricane or disaster backpack: The GoSun solar cooker.

For starters, my hurricane backpack contains most of the necessities that Civil Defense recommends after any natural or manmade disaster, including several freeze dried meals packaged in Mylar with oxygen absorbers that supposedly can last over 20 years. All they need is boiling water to rehydrate and you have a complete meal. I also pack black CamelBak water bottles with the intention of leaving full water bottles in the direct sunlight to heat the water in the event that my gas powered cooking devices aren’t available. Of course, sunlight alone won’t heat water in those CamelBaks to the boiling point, and even if they did, the bottles probably would simply melt. Then I saw the GoSun ad …

It’s basically a dual walled borosilicate glass tube positioned between parabolic stainless panels to concentrate the sun’s rays centrally thus raising the temperature within the glass tube to boiling or even higher, with just the sun. They offer several different sizes of solar cookers and state that they can even bake within the glass tubes, though my main interest is in the GoSun Go model, which is designed to boil water mainly for my freeze dried post-apocalyptic meals. And since shipping won’t commence until May, the regular $139 price is currently available at $119 as a pre-pay bonus.

Of course, I’m still contemplating this purchase as it would simply be used for my disaster backpack. Nothing else. Or in the words of Alton Brown, a uni-tasker. And it got me thinking, if a hurricane directly hit the 50th with that much force, it probably would destroy not just my house but also my disaster backpack. If it simply cut off electricity island wide but spared the house or at least the disaster backpack, my gas and charcoal powered cooking vessels would also be available to boil water. And horror of all horrors, if the disaster were nuclear, I wouldn’t be able to go outside anyway (assuming I were still alive) since the atmosphere would be ripe with radioactive fall-out.

So while I did take the bait for the Norlan glass and Misen knives (which I still would purchase in retrospect,) I’ll continue contemplating that solar cooker … for now.

The Gochiso Gourmet is a column on food, wine and healthy eating. Ryan Tatsumoto is a graduate of both the University of Hawai‘i and UC San Francisco. He is a clinical pharmacist during the day and a budding chef/recipe developer/wine taster at night. He writes from Kane‘ohe, HI and can be reached at gochisogourmet@yahoo.com.

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