So do you believe we're in a recession? Retailers sure seem to, especially specialty retailers. In the kitchenware store, the season's usual large bundles of roasting pans and pie plates, while still available, are being supplemented by smaller displays of beckoning trinkets for inexpensive shopping fixes. If one is a classic movie fan, one remembers Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard in Breakfast at Tiffanys -- wherein, broke but shopping, they consider a platinum dream from a CrackerJack box as well as a silver telephone dialer. More practical (and, at around thirteen bucks, more economical) is the Microplane Multi-Citrus Tool, and I have to admit that I have succumbed.
As most slashfoodies know, zest is the outer skin of a citrus fruit, used as a flavoring agent in everything from sauces to baked goods, as well as a garnish. The zest contains a high concentration of the oil of the citrus fruit, which contributes a highly concentrated burst of both flavor and aroma. As experienced eaters know, there is no substitute for fresh zest -- a lemon pound cake, for example, will simply taste better if you add fresh zest. As experienced zesters know, the challenge while zesting is to get just that outer layer of skin without getting any of the white pith that separates the flesh of the fruit from the skin.
Once you get the hang of using it, the MPMCT creates a snowy zest with no -- I swear it, no -- bitter pith. This is because the zesting plate is fitted with dozens of tiny razor-like ridges that actually shave the zest off of the skin. The tool works on lemons, oranges and limes equally well. I even tried it on the unwieldy skin of a grapefruit, where it still performed, though with a bit more labor. It is correctly designed for the hand and fits very comfortably therein, but as a rightie I wonder if lefties will find it equally so -- the zesting plate is one-sided, so lefties who've tried it, leave commentary below to let us know how it works.
That said, for me the tool works fast and well: I can do an entire lemon in less than a minute; an orange in just over. The result is a sheet of wax paper sparkling with perfect flakes of color, flavor and aroma, just waiting to be swirled into a batter, scattered over a tandoori, or adhered to the rim of a margarita. The tool also does other cuts: curls to perch atop your cupcake or to hang off of your sidecar, strips to lay across your salad greens or your chicken breast, even scores for whole fruit to adorn your mantle or your turkey platter.
In using the MPMCT, I was reminded of an acquaintance who, working in the pastry kitchen of a famous restaurant, regularly had her scraps bucket audited to be sure she was zesting citrus to the corporate standard. I love that there are kitchens that take their zest that seriously. And I can also advise that, if the work stations in that professional kitchen had been equipped with the Microplane Multi-Citrus Tool, however zestful the cooking was, there would have been no worries about the zest.