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Hand Hammered Woks Comparison: Williams Sonoma and Wokshop.

I think the only place currently is Williams Sonoma. They sell it as their "Artisian Wok". I think they are up to $129.00 for it now...?

Jun 08, 2015
toddster63 in Cookware

Hand Hammered Wok from E-Wok Review

This is a hard one, as people see almost the same Chinese wok for as little as $14, and they wonder, Why Pay More...?

The Cen Broths wok performs WONDERFULLY, and people are catching on to it (discerning cooks anyway). It's just a matter of what you prefer and what you want to spend. For the fast and quick seasoning this wok takes, the quick non-stick performance (other woks can take years to get where this wok is at a few months), and even the wonderfully hand made rounded shape that makes the food literally dance more than other woks (I swear!)--for all of this I think even $129 is a decent price...

Apr 05, 2015
toddster63 in Cookware

Pepper Mill Recommendation Please

Yeah, it's true that unique mills are NOT around. A local gourmet kitchen supply store tells me that the public (and this from shoppers near San Francisco that are savvy and trendy oriented) want classic tall pepper mills with a turn-the-knob top for around or less than $50; and they want them made of metal or wood. She carries and sells the Japanese Kyocera ceramic mills too, but she says the classic Vic Firth and Peugeot mills outsell them at least 5 to 1. She also can't sell the Magnum well, as the customers complain of the plastic construction for the $40 retail. She says most buyers show little enthusiasm for the grinding mechanisms of various mills--even when she told them (she no longer carries Magnums) the Magnum produces big amounts of pepper fast, the response most often was lukewarm at best.

She notes that she can sometimes sell the shiny Atlas mills for around $80+, but only 20% of mill buyers are even interested. Ironically, if she can get a classic mill design in a more expensive WOODEN finish--teak or something unique--it will move fast, even at a $80+ price point.

After talking to her, I really have a better understanding of how the pepper grinder/mill market is propelled and why the selection is so limited.

Feb 27, 2015
toddster63 in Cookware

Pepper Mill Recommendation Please

Whatsup' with the private video...?

Feb 23, 2015
toddster63 in Cookware

Pepper Mill Recommendation Please

Yes, but the Atlas is notorious for not being able to be adjusted for a more coarse grind--really making it more of a table top pepper grinder, and not well suited for a lot of cook's kitchens.

They sure looks good, regardless...!

Feb 23, 2015
toddster63 in Cookware

Pepper Mill Recommendation Please

Yeah, I'm the only one I've heard with such miserable luck with the Magnum. Many remark that they go on and on...

But I've come to find it in my favor, as I am so fond of my new KR Vase grinder. It answers the few complaints I had with Magnum, and still delivers decent amount of pepper.

Feb 22, 2015
toddster63 in Cookware

Pepper Mill Recommendation Please

That's a good point, Francine, the longevity. My Magnum Pro was only $40 or so, and I only got about 5 years out of it until it just cracked into pieces.

I've forgotten--but how coarse of a grind can the Perfex give? I like the Greek made Atlas Mill too, I have always camped the Atlas together with the Perfex due to the same winding handle on top design. The Atlas is rather bad at attempting a coarse grind of pepper--mainly it excels at finer grinds.

What kind of grind size repertoire does the Perfex give?

Feb 20, 2015
toddster63 in Cookware

Pepper Mill Recommendation Please

Francine--Sur La Table professes to sell the authentic French made Perfex mills, and they are a merchant I trust very much.

But as I mentioned, they retail for $200, which might well be a plausible luxury purchase for many Chow-hounds. But for me, it would have to be a purely after-I-win-the-lottery purchase...! I have trouble stomaching $45 for a plastic Magnum Pro...!

If you do find a substantially cheaper source for these French mills please do post it--I'm sure many would be interested.

Feb 20, 2015
toddster63 in Cookware
1

Pepper Mill Recommendation Please

Like I've mentioned, Francine, pepper mills are like automobiles almost--they really are a personal fit item...

Biggest Perfex turn off to me: I was in a high end Williams Sonoma (Los Gatos, CA) right after a cooking class ended about a year ago; I noticed the cooking instructor was cleaning up and she had a (shiny) Perfex on the counter--the larger and taller eye popping model. And being the pepper nut I am--I asked her if I could try it, as it had been some years since I had used one. She said sure and I proceeded to grind about a tablespoon of pepper out.

I was surprised how hard and rough the mechanism was, and I suddenly said aloud as I thought it, "Wow, I don't remember them being this hard to operate....?"

The cooking instructor looked forlorn and said, "They aren't what they use to be. The mechanism is much cheaper and they cost triple what they did ten years ago. The school organizer here provides them, but Williams Sonoma won't even carry them anymore... " She then told me that the larger model I was holding was up to $200 retail!

We both shook our heads and Tsked, Tsked... Modern quality takes more and more hits, as--some would say--the Chinese invasion of so many goods continues. No, the Perfex is not yet made in China, but decent $20 pepper mills are, and Perfex has to compete, while cutting costs somewhere, and while increasing prices, as sales drop. Like so much that is Fran├žais: French Wine, EXPENSIVE! French clothes, EXPENSIVE! French pepper mills, EXPENSIVE!

Some one recently told me that you can't even find Perfex in brick and mortar stores anymore--at the company's current sky high prices, Perfex mills are pretty much specialized, internet/mail order only goods.

Maybe vintage Perfexs, back from the days of quality manufacturing, might be an option on avenues such as Ebay...?

Feb 19, 2015
toddster63 in Cookware

Pepper Mill Recommendation Please

The Perfexs made 8 years ago where much (much) better than what is being offered as "Perfex" these days. I have heard (and seen) that the extreme quality with these French mills has recently vanished, and the prices higher than ever (whats new...)

Personally, Perfex's small winding handle always drove my big manly man hands NUTS. Felt like I suddenly had arthritis every time I used it...! Again, pepper mills are all about personal fit (but Perfex is thumbs down for me...)

Feb 19, 2015
toddster63 in Cookware

Pepper Mill Recommendation Please

My first pepper mill came from Ikea, purchased for around $5 when I was 23 or so. It looked like a red Magnum, complete with the the little snap on tray to catch the pepper. It worked great for almost a decade, and then fell apart. It irritated me so much, I researched and found the Magnum...

Ikea really does makes some marvelous products at value prices.

Feb 19, 2015
toddster63 in Cookware

Pepper Mill Recommendation Please

I agree, josephni, the KR Vase has really enchanted me. Yes, I occasionally still notice it's output is less than the Magnum, but it offers so many other pluses on my list, it doesn't matter.

To me it's the best pepper mill (in terms of fitting me) I've ever used, and I would NOT go back to what was once my beloved Magnum. I'm still amazed about this--the Magnum held me in its spell for almost a decade afterall...!

Feb 18, 2015
toddster63 in Cookware

Pepper Mill Recommendation Please

That's the vein of thinking, alexrander, that got me launched into finding my first Magnum 8 years ago and then recently this same slipstream of common sense and pepper mill logic and fit and feel lead me to the KR Vase grinder...

Embrace that thinking and follow it, everyone! There are great products out there, and it's just a matter of finding the right fit! For us pepper aficionados, a grinder is something we use everyday, and it has to work and be just right for us, doesn't it?

It amazes me how many friends of mine have the same ol' wooden, round topped pepper mill that only puts out half a gram of fine pepper powder after 30 grinds, and all way going "RATCH,RATCH,RATCH!" --and they may complain, but they don't do much about it... And lets not even get into the yahoos that buy pre-ground pepper and then can't figure out why their cooking is so ho-hum...!

GASP! The horror....!

Feb 18, 2015
toddster63 in Cookware

Pepper Mill Recommendation Please

That's nice, I agree, very stylin'. Plus I found it on one UK site for $30! Amazon UK no longer has it available, but they will often ship for a reasonably cost to the US...

Feb 16, 2015
toddster63 in Cookware

Pepper Mill Recommendation Please

With my
KR Vse, I couldn't figure out how to do that...? There is no screw as with other mills I have seen/dismantled...?

Feb 16, 2015
toddster63 in Cookware

Pepper Mill Recommendation Please

Yeah, that is what is so revolutionary about these ceramic mills and why so many of us are now big fans. The grinder mechanism just screws on top of the reservoir/jar (and on the KR Vase grinder you have another piece that snaps into position over the grinder top that serves as a "slide" for the pepper and also serves to enlarge the mills footprint).

To refill, you just unscrew the grinder mechanism top and fill the jar with peppercorns.

Feb 16, 2015
toddster63 in Cookware

Pepper Mill Recommendation Please

That pic is of the top of your grinder--where the ground pepper exits and where you adjust the consistency of the grind. Same pic as I posted earlier this month...

The photograph I posted yesterday is of the INSIDE of the grinder, where the peppercorns actually enter to get chopped up. I know what david wanted was a pic of just the mechanism completely taken out of the mill body, but I can't see how to do that with the KR...?

Feb 16, 2015
toddster63 in Cookware

Pepper Mill Recommendation Please

Here you go--a close up of the grinder mechanism, along with a quarter to show size.. It does look like almost every other ceramic grinder I have seen...

However the BIG size of the Vase grinder seems to make it grind more, or make it easier to grind more, less effort. I don't know, maybe it's just an illusion...

Feb 16, 2015
toddster63 in Cookware

Pepper Mill Recommendation Please

Mmmm, yeah I see dealers in Parma, Milan, Modena, Turin, Foggia...

San Francisco? Portland? Nashville? Not so much... In fact, NONE....

Feb 16, 2015
toddster63 in Cookware

Pepper Mill Recommendation Please

The larger Magnum Pro does not come with a saucer--only the smaller Magnum does. I often wishes for one! I did sit my Pro in a dedicated ramekin, but inevitably pepper would get on the counter...!

Feb 16, 2015
toddster63 in Cookware

Pepper Mill Recommendation Please

Wow, thanks, David, that is great. I had forgotten that the Magnum grinders were Italian--they make no secrets about that. From their site:

"...Our grinding mechanisms are made for us by Tre Spade, an Italian company that has been manufacturing gears for over 100 years. We have worked with them for 25 years in a collaboration that allows us to produce great performing pepper grinders...?"

But as I remember, Tres Spade was never marketed in the USA...?

After living with the Kuhn Rikon Vase grinder for a week, I really am sold. YES, it is more grinding work than the Magnum. But again, it's smoother, and the turning grip (bottom of jar) is huge--ideal for my big manly man hands (some smaller women may find it TOO large!); and I adore the huge glass reservoir so that I know exactly how many peppercorns are left...! And it's such a joy not to have pepper on the counter as with my upright Magnum Pro...

Feb 15, 2015
toddster63 in Cookware

Pepper Mill Recommendation Please

Yeah, nothing more romantic than the Atlas mills. When I was researching the KR Vase grinders, I went down to my local gourmet shop as they were a KR dealer; they are no longer carrying KR, but they had a big display of Atlas mills, and I was SO tempted--the gleaming finishes and classic looks...!

Then I remember how finely they grind, and how quickly both the copper and brass finishes oxidize and tarnish. Yecch...

They sure are attractive, though... Sigh....

Feb 09, 2015
toddster63 in Cookware

Pepper Mill Recommendation Please

The KR grind is how I like it--some of it on the finer side and some small chunks, very similar to the Magnum. But this is at the medium setting. You can adjust to very fine, almost a powder (reminds me of the Atlas Greek grinders), that is consistently fine. But you do see a noticeable difference by adjusting the knob/burr. Much more so than with the Magnum.

I never could get the Magnum to grind very fine, but that's okay as I rarely need pepper this fine.

But if you goal is a very even and consistent grind size, my KR ceramic probably won't knock your socks off.

What do give VERY even and VERY consistent grind sizes are the Atlas Greek made mills. But their adjustment burrs pretty much create finer sizes only (even when fully opened for coarse), and it is a poor choice for coarser grinds. But the Atlas mills sure look awesome, particularly in the copper metal...!

Feb 08, 2015
toddster63 in Cookware

Pepper Mill Recommendation Please

I agree that this is all confounding...

Maybe I was being too generous regarding the output of the KR versus the Magnum--maybe it's more like 50% output of the Magnum; but the KR does grind easier and smoother, and it just seems like less effort, so I guess that translated into more pepper output for me. Or maybe my 4 year old Magnum had degraded a bit, I don't know...

Attached are two pics of my KR Vase grinder and my Kyocera grinder (used for white pepper) side by side. I've been using this Kyocera grinder for about 7 years, and every other ceramic grinder I have seen is about its diminutive size (which was always far too small for black pepper in my book).

I did compare the two grinding mechanisms of these two mills, and as josephni commented, and the mechanisms look very similarly sized, which surprised me--even though they are very differently sized overall. However, the larger KR does grind more--almost twice as much.

Regarding the 10 turn test of output--this is so variable based on the grind size! However I did this test on the two grinders pictured, with a medium grind size, and the output was 3/4 tsp for the little Kyocera and 1.5 tsp for the larger Kuhn Rikon. So I guess if as David posted, the Magnum can output one TBL in ten turns, then my KR Vase grinder is making 50% of that, which is what my eye is telling me--though it has been a month since the Magnum shattered and since I last used it.

However, I really stress that the KR Vase with the ceramic grinder is smoother and easier to use, and it really has converted me over. With it's large reservoir for peppercorns and it upside down-turn over to grind design, I whole heartedly prefer it over my former beloved Magnum, even if it is only putting out half as much pepper. It just doesn't seem that much slower to me, but I guess the science proves otherwise...!

Feb 08, 2015
toddster63 in Cookware

Pepper Mill Recommendation Please

I remember that Spice Boy from some threads around here a few years back. I think it came in wood, and looked great...!

How does the Spice Bot work--is the wider bowl section where you fill it, and also turn to grind? Does the ground spice come out at the "bottom"--the narrow and straighter part?

Feb 07, 2015
toddster63 in Cookware

Pepper Mill Recommendation Please

Is the WMF grinder mechanism as large as the one in the KR Vase grinders? This is the largest ceramic grinder I have seen--and I thought its decent ouput was probably merely due to it's larger size...? I've never seen or used a WMF--they just look smaller...

Feb 07, 2015
toddster63 in Cookware

Pepper Mill Recommendation Please

Okay, I'm a convert. I've given up on the Unicorn Magnum and have converted to a ceramic grinder...

The grinder is the Kuhn Rikon Vase grinder. I decided to try this grinder after reading all of the raves for it on Amazon. This KR grinder is HUGE (I can't stress that enough). It is by far the largest ceramic grinder I have ever seen--and it grinds at a speed about 2/3 of what the Magnum can. BUT, it's grinding mechanism is smoother and quieter than the Magnum. It also far easier to adjust the grind size via a knob on the top of the grinder, and the size you select stays put (I had it change every so often on the Magnum); and the KR can grind MUCH finer than either the Magnum or any other ceramic grinder I have used (small Kuhn Rikon high output ratchet grinder, small Kyocera grinder). You can get almost a fine pepper powder with the KR. The Magnum got no where near this fine.

As I said this grinder is HUGE--the reservoir holds a full cup of peppercorns, the same as my former beloved Magnum Plus. A full cup! Will last a long, long time. And filling it up is easy and a breeze. Much faster and easier than on the Magnum. No longer a patient Zen process as with the Magnum--with the KR I can now easily whip the top off, and fill it up while I am actually cooking and not get a single peppercorn on the counter top.

Plus it sits upright, and like most other ceramic grinders, you turn it over to grind out your spice. So no more pepper on the counters as with the Magnum...!

I am thrilled to have found a grinder/mill that meets all my needs--the only drawback is that the output is about a third less than the Magnum, but since the movement is smoother and easier and quieter, to me the less output is a null point. The output of the Kuhn Rikon Vase grinder is none the less hefty, and far and away enough for almost all users. Okay, if you were cooking for a few hundred every night, in a restaurant or commercial kitchen, yes, the Magnum's higher output could be a time saver.

I got mine on Amazon for less than half the cost of the Magnum --$22 with tax and free shipping. I had it shipped along side a new Magnum Pro, with the intention that the loser would be returned. So I have printed out the return label and back the Magnum Pro is going.

Happy to post this rave for the KR Vase grinder--this former Magnum fan is happily converted. If this mill is half as durable as my Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker, I'll continue to be thrilled.

Plus it comes in a few colors so you can use them to grind everything from pepper to flax to whatever pleases you...

And here's a YouTube video of the grinder:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5yPQ...

And some pics:

Feb 07, 2015
toddster63 in Cookware

Pepper Mill Recommendation Please

I agree--that top grinder is great. The darn Magnum sits in a ceramic ramekin here, and it still manages to get pepper on the counter. It's dirty for sure...

Feb 06, 2015
toddster63 in Cookware

Pepper Mill Recommendation Please

That's about how much every other pepper mill I have ever used puts out (and some even less than that!) Except for the Magnum.

Feb 06, 2015
toddster63 in Cookware
1

Pepper Mill Recommendation Please

After so many years of living with the Magnum, I just have learned to fill it up at a slow and steady rate, using my hand as a make-shift funnel, then I STOP and lift the mill upright to allow the peppercorns to fall down to the bottom of the mill, then I start the filling process over again, etc.. Afterwards I may have 10 peppercorns on the counter, so I just pick them up. It has become a slow and "zen" like process...

It's a little more effort than filling the Kuhn Rikon, but not much (and it happens much less often)...

Feb 06, 2015
toddster63 in Cookware
1