Nancy Pollard is all about having options. The owner of La Cuisine, 323 Cameron St, a cooking and chef gear emporium that’s been in Alexandria for close to 35 years, she offers her customers safe and effective utensils and an array of cookware on which to use them.
For the grill, La Cuisine offers several metal tongs from Messermeister, an innovative Germany cutlery company. The largest retails for $14, and Pollard said the line is much preferred to standard barbeque equipment because of the way the tongs can lock into place.
In preparing the meat for the grill, Pollard suggests using a Cajun Injector ($39.50) to infuse it with the marinade of your choice. The metal device “is a good one — there’s no plastic. That seemed to be the problem with some of the other ones,” she said.
If kabobs are on the menu, Pollard suggests using long, flat, oval-shaped skewers so that the cubed meat and veggies don’t spin around as much as on a circular skewer. The 12-inch skewers retail for $4.50, while the $16-inch ones are $7.
ON THE GRILL, La Cuisine has different cooking options. For fish, there are two wire racks: one that can cook an entire fish the size of a sea bass, and a smaller one for cooking fish as small as sardines. The larger rack retails for $65, and is versatile. “They way they designed it, you can use it over a direct flame or you can collapse it and use it on top of a grill,” said Pollard.
Another option is one gaining in popularity, especially for cooks who don’t have access to a large grill on the patio: smoking meat. This is a way to infuse the meat with flavor without having to add any fats, salts or oils to the mix.
The Cameron Stovetop Smoker ($53) can be used on top of the grill or, as the name states, on the stove. La Cuisine sells a variety of wood “chips” that can add flavors ranging from cherry to corn cob to pecan to oak. The wood chips are around $3.50 apiece.
The other smoking option is the Smoker Bag ($4). It’s a one-use method of smoking meat with alder wood chips, hardwood syrup and natural sugars, and can be used in the oven or on the grill. Two and a half pounds of spare ribs can be smoked in about an hour.
Like many items in La Cuisine, the Smoker Bags are imported. Pollard said the quality of the imported cookware can surpass what’s available domestically.
“Generally, we just pick it up because they’ve got the real stuff. You don’t want anything with Teflon — at a high heat, you’re breathing it,” she said.