AndyTalk: Toaster Envy

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Is bigger better? Do all the bells and whistles really matter? Do technological nuances offer something more than bragging rights? In the world of toasters it seems so...

New neighbors invited us to dinner, but this isn't about the food, it's about the toaster. Until I walked into this kitchen that fateful Friday night we'd exchanged pleasantries, but I didn't really know Donna and Fred (their real names). I'd been in their house for two or three minutes and I saw the toaster. It captured my eye and I was smitten. Before they had an opportunity to offer me a drink I asked if they'd let me come back with bread and a camera so that I could blog about their toaster. They could have exchanged knowing glances, rushed dinner, and whisked me away thinking that the toaster thing was a little weird. Instead they embraced their inner very toast-forward selves and the rest is history.

Needless to say, toast was made.

Despite the post-it on my counter I didn't rush back with bread the next day. Weeks passed, I reciprocated the dinner invitation, and learned that Donna and Fred were leaving for the summer in a few days. Was I still interested in a photo op of their appliance? Yes. Next day I got a message that the toaster was ready and bread and a bagel were at hand just for me. They wanted to see their baby in the spotlight.

Their Breville toaster won me over and not because of its appearance - which is sleek and simple. I'm not impressed by sleek for sleek's sake. But this is a James Bond kind of toaster. It's sleek and functional - like a Beretta.

The slide for how dark you want your toast has little LED lights. My toaster has a black knob and it's hard to see the numbers. Each button on the Breville is circled in light when pushed. When you put a slice of bread in the slot and push the button the toast makes a gentle, mechanized descent. If you want to see how dark the toast has gotten you push the "lift and look button." The toast ascends so you can look and then it returns to continue cooking.

But, the feature that won my heart is the button for "a bit more." When the toast is a little less tan than you'd hoped simply press this button and the toast gets a bit toastier. Who doesn't like a little bit more of just about anything?

I waited until after I'd made my toast to check out the price on line. I can't say that I was surprised. In fact, I was pretty much expecting that this toaster, being the next great achievement after sliced bread was not going to be cheap. It sells for a very matter-of-fact $179. If toast is your cup of cappuccino then it's in the ballpark - and it's cheap when compared to nearly every espresso maker. Still, in much the way that that the sporty new-ish Bently Coupe seems to be the new Mercedes, this toaster is the new Cuisinart. This also means that "a bit more" is the new tan.

Thanks Donna and Fred for letting me take her for a spin...

Andy Broder is the chef/owner of AndyFood, A Culinary Studio.

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