I’ve wanted a Le Creuset enameled cast iron dutch oven for a long time, but the $200+ price tag has given me sticker shock every time for the past 10 or so years. Today I was determined to just go get one of the damned things — there are a couple of places in town that sell them, so I figured I’d hit ’em all, find out which was least expensive (hoping for a sale, naturally), and get it (whatever colour). I make a lot of roasts and soups and stews and whatnot, so what the hell.
I went to Costco first, but they didn’t have any (didn’t really think they would, but it never hurts to check). Also Costco on a Sunday is just ridiculous. There were about eighty million people in there buying…a lot. I wandered around and saw a few things I’d have picked up if the lines weren’t four thousand miles long, but I wasn’t going to stand in line for 30 mins to save $4.00 on 3 litres of olive oil I don’t really need. So I left, confusing the receipt/cart checker person on my way out because I bought precisely nothing.
Next stop brought victory…but with an unexpected twist. Homesense often carries Le Creuset factory seconds. If you’re willing to compromise on colour (I am) and be maybe flexible in terms of exterior finish, you can sometimes find a deal. Today there were 2 yellow 6 qt Le Creuset dutch ovens in stock…both seemed fine, and they were a relative deal at $169.00. “Sold,” I thought to myself, and turned to go get a shopping cart.
And that’s when I noticed something new. Something different. Something not only that I had never seen before, but that I didn’t realize existed: Mario Batali-brand enameled cast iron cookware. There was a deep orange 6 qt dutch oven, a deep red 4 qt dutch oven, and a green 9×13 extra deep lasagna pan (which, oddly, is something I actually need), all in new-looking boxes. Prices: $80, $70, and $50 respectively. I paused. I paused for a long time. I became one of those people in stores who hunker down on the floor and take things out of boxes and examine them carefully and at length. I read the use and care manual. I did a side-by-side comparison between the Batali 6 qt and the Creuset 6 qt.
I bought all three Batali pieces. They may be factory seconds for all I know (I don’t think they are), but they look fantastic (save for the handles on the lids — I will probably replace those), and they come with a 1 yr warranty. So, that’s my little shopping revelation and victory for the day – Mario Batali (who I actually like rather a lot) apparently endorses a line of high-quality enameled cast iron cookware that you can pick up at a discount at Homesense.
I’ll post a review when I’ve actually cooked something with ’em. Not today — today is a BBQ day.