Sunday, June 20, 2010

a temporary area of expertise

Ever since my wretched Magic Chef gas range expired, I have been spending the vast majority of my time researching stoves. Yesterday we drove down an hour down the peninsula, over the children's vociferous protests, to go to a large appliance store, because online I read that this store had the 44" Aga and La Cornue. It turned out that they did not have the promised ranges, but instead had a mislabeled larger, much more expensive La Cornue and the smaller La Cornues and Agas.

Rather than waste the trip, I pulled the Sober Husband over to the huge La Cornue and told him to investigate it thoroughly. "Poke around in it. Look under the burners. Pull on the doors. Do whatever you need to do." I signed up on the waiting sheet for a salesperson (evidently this particular store is the place to go for stoves in the South Bay; it was hopping with stove shoppers). The bored children invented a game where they acted out the solar system.

Finally I got a superior acting salesman. I briefed him on my way over to the Sober Husband, who was removing and examining whatever could be removed from the La Cornue floor model. "We're looking for a double oven, five or six burner gas or dual fuel range. We don't need a large oven because I'm a vegetarian and I don't cook turkeys. I've narrowed it down to the La Cornue Cornufe or the Aga Legacy, and what I want from you is to tell us if there is something I'm missing, something cheaper." He rolled his eyes at me and said, "I think you will find there is a lot out there. And the Cornufe doesn't have a double oven; it only has a single oven."

I picked up the La Cornue literature in front of me (well-thumbed copies of which I had already at home) and showed him the Cornufe 110's double ovens. "And it has to be under 45 inches, which rules out all the Wolf and Vikings," I said.

The man visibly crumpled under the weight of my superior knowledge. "I didn't know the Cornufe had two ovens. In all my years I've only sold the single oven La Cornue." He went off to consult with the most knowledgeable staff member and returned to say that no, they didn't think there was anything I was missing. The only other options wouldn't be good enough; they would just have one huge oven for turkeys-on-steroids and a little warming drawer oven.

After some quality time with the La Cornue, we walked around all the other ranges, all of which were completely unsuitable. Then the Sober Husband pointed to a stainless steel range. "What's wrong with that one?" I looked at it. It was a Heartland Paragon which looked a lot like the Aga Legacy. "I didn't know this existed. I know Aga bought Heartland." We looked at it very closely. It was obviously the Aga Legacy's cheaper cousin. It was thousands of dollars less, but it had the same double oven and five burners. "It's just flimsier," said the Sober Husband. "Feel the doors." I pointed out that the burners weren't copper.

"So why didn't the guy tell us about this? This is exactly what we're here for," he kvetched.

"It's gotta be from that same factory," I said (I'd learned earlier in my research that my two favorite ranges, one British and one French, are actually made at the very same factory). "After Aga bought Heartland from GE, they must have started this one up at a lower price point, under a different label." We stared at the cheaper, shinier stove. "I guess I just want anything from that factory. It's all about the factory."

At home, I learned that the Heartland Paragon range is only made in stainless steel and that no one distributes it in San Francisco. The Sober Husband, thoroughly sick of the subject, elusively slipped out of the room over and over again as I researched the Heartland and attempted to plan a trip to Oakland to a distributor. "Just buy the French one!" Lola shouted. "It's obvious! Don't make me go anywhere! Just buy the French one! In magenta!"

"Did you notice how I knew more about stoves than the salesman did?" I bragged. The beleaguered Sober Husband succeeded finally in leaving the room, abandoning me to my monomania.


Anonymous said...

Have you ruled out Capitol? The people who used to make DCS got pissed off after Fischer-Paykel bought DCS and it all went downhill, and started up their own company. We're very happy with ours. 30", very substantial, and not a huge oven. (Ours is a single oven, but I know they have several models.)
We got it from, which despite being an online company, has great service and cheap freight delivery. It's great for baking bread, and has never faltered.

hughman said...

"don't make me go anywhere!!"

HAHAHA! i can see that's really what this is all about to lola.

NonymousGoatsePants said...

Why the urkey hate?

My Word Verification is ovenscra.

It needs a P!

NonymousGoatsePants said...

And my urkey needs a T.


Silliyak said...

What's a" povenscra" anyway?

the Drunken Housewife said...

Thank you for that website & stove recommendation, Anon., I appreciate it.

The reason we weren't considering Capital (or Wolf or Thermidor or a number of others) is our weird space. We live in an old house, with a not-very-large kitchen. The existing 30" range is set between countertops & cabinetry. We can either put in another 30" stove (no! no!)... or we could rip out the small, largely ornamental cabinet, single drawer, and trash container on the left of the range. That would give us 45 inches of space total.

American ranges don't come in 45 inches. European makers do tend to make a 44 inch double oven range, but American manufacturers have settled upon 48 inches as the standard for a double oven range. We can't fit that in our kitchen. We just can't. It would protrude into the doorway.

We COULD more economically put in a 36 inch range, and there are some 36"American ranges, as well as the littlest Aga Legacy, which would have 2 ovens (usually one very small one next to a more normally sized one). Interestingly enough it's the Sober Husband who has vetoed that. I have said, sincerely, that I would be very happy with a more affordable 36" range because two little stoves are better than one big one and because I'd have six more inches to work with on the stovetop than I'm used to. The Sober Husband, on the other hand, says that if we're going to rip out that little 15" countertop, he wants to completely fill up the space up to the doorway. He thinks it will look wrong to have a gap there.

So from that you can see how our choices became so limited: must be very close to 45 inches wide but no wider, must have 2 ovens-- one of which is capable of operating NOT as a convection oven, must have at least 5 burners with good high and low performance. If we had 48 inches in our kitchen, our options would be dizzying, and we could do some serious bargain hunting at that.

On the website, you can't even search for a 44 inch range. Sigh.

Missy said...

You're making me remember all the horrid details of our kitchen remodel; one of the worst being trying to fit new appliances into existing spaces.