Sunday, 24 January 2010

Making a Miele of It

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When my husband and I moved into our marital home, some previous occupants had no intention of leaving. The intruders were welcome to stay though, as one was a man-sized freezer and the other a man-sized fridge.

I’ve no idea how old they are, but the make is Husqvarna who only seem to make lawnmowers these days so I’m guessing they’re pretty elderly.

I don’t think I could cope without my chocolatey twins. I know they’ll be past it one day, but I have cherished every moment with them, so much so that I recently removed all the rude magnetic poetry for fear of disrespect.

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Last weekend though, the unthinkable happened - I contemplated cheating on my gorgeous Husqvarnas. The new object of my desire? A Miele MasterCool fridge freezer - the size of a walk-in wardrobe and just as alluring.

And where did I find this eye candy? Abingdon, Oxfordshire - the home of the Miele Experience Centre where you can literally try before you buy, as they run MasterClasses (ie cookery courses) to demonstrate how to get the best out of their products.

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Miele (pronounced Mee-luh) was founded in Germany in 1899 - a family-owned and run company whose first products were a cream separator, a butter churn, and a tub washing machine.

Their motto is “Immer Besser” which is snappier than the English “Forever Better”, and to test this out, I was invited with a bunch of other bloggers to attend a “Let’s Do Lunch” day.

To get to Abingdon, you need to go to Didcot Parkway Station. I do believe that the most interesting thing in Didcot is this:

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The Didcot Totem

Although I may be wrong. I may have also dicked with the colours a bit.

We started the day with a talk about coffee from Kirsty, our friendly Miele demonstrator. I learnt two interesting things about the hallowed bean:
  1. Espresso isn't the most caffeinated coffee you can get. Caffeine levels get higher the longer the coffee is exposed to water. So when you leave it sitting in a cafetiere it reaches nuclear levels, whilst the posh Miele coffee machines force the water through thus making it less dangerous. Although maybe that's less fun.
  2. Coffee goes off really, really quickly. Which is why those sexy little pods peddled by George Clooney are actually quite useful and not just a fancy gimmick.
Then we had a go at making our own coffees to order. I especially liked the caffe latte machine which creates a beautiful, trippy, three-layered drink.

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After having fun with the swanky coffee machines, it was time for us to go to the kitchens to play with the bigger toys.

We split into teams (I was with BribedwithFood) and went to our workstations which each had various hobs and appliances and four different ovens. Of course, four ovens is nothing when you think that Dave, the speccy one from the Hairy Bikers, kitted his whole place out with Miele ware - basically his kitchen looks like this:

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Anyway, each team worked on different meals, following set instructions to test out the numerous functions of each Miele appliance.

I say "instructions" rather than recipes, because they seemed quite clinical to me (press "Automatic moisture mode", type in "200 degrees" etc), but it was still fun to fiddle with the knobs and, as it was all very straightforward and convenient, I can see how this particular workshop might appeal to those who aren't confident cooking or who simply don't have much time.

I loved most of the appliances though, especially the dinky steam oven which managed to boil 30 eggs at the same time.

And hey, I baked my first ever cake - look at the glossy peaks on that:

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My favourite gizmo by far was the cast-iron open grill - essentially a stovetop barbecue.

True, the smoke nearly choked us all to death (I'd recommend opening the windows), but ye gods, it was fun and just look at the stripes on that pineapple.

The salamander broiler which rose up from the worktop was also cool, steely and suitably James Bond-esque.

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After we'd finished cooking, we adjourned for a buffet lunch which comprised everything we'd just made. Thankfully, BribedwithFood and I didn't poison anyone with our offerings.

Another coffee and then time for a whistlestop tour of the other Miele appliances available.


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I was tickled that the Miele dishwashers have a cutlery shelf instead of a rack, which means more surface area is exposed for cleaning and also means you're less likely to jab yourself with a knife.

Mind you, when they told us that their washing machines have a handwash cycle so gentle you can wash fresh roses and have them come out intact, I thought "Chinny reckon". Well, apparently I was mistaken.

Anyway, we walked around the corner and then I saw it. My new love. The Miele MasterCool F1811. Although Chocolate Guide, that hussy, managed to get to it first:

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Apart from being enormous and beautiful, the MasterCool has four independent cooling zones which means fruit, veg, dairy and meat can be put in different sections optimized to keep each as fresh as possible.

There are also halogen lamps throughout the interior which illuminate every corner, so you'll no longer lose that bottle of ketchup.

The best thing though is an in-door ice cube dispenser. Crushed ice on tap!

I want one.

Eventually the Miele folk managed to drag us away for a briefing on the other MasterClasses available.

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As well as the Let's Do Lunch day which we'd just taken part in (and wasn't really appropriate for your average foodie), there are also full-day courses which sound a bit more interesting. These are:
  • Introduction to Italian Cooking (including pasta making and knife skills)
  • Fish School (scaling, gutting and filleting as well as making dishes such as Baked Sea Bass, Linguini Vongole and Tempura Prawns)
  • Men’s Cook School (for the reluctant male chef)
  • Bread Making (where apparently you leave with two big bags of bread you've made yourself).
You can book online for any of these Miele MasterClasses - and you wouldn't want to disappoint Mr Miele now, would you?

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Herr Miele


My blogging compadres for the day were:
Thank you to Claire, Roxy and Cherry from Forever Better and Kirsty, Alicia and Cass from Miele for hosting us.

18 comments:

  1. Love the phrase 'chocolatey
    twins' :o)

    I would have wet my pants with excitement if I'd visited Miele and seen all of that equipment.

    Loved your post - made me smile lots.

    ps My husband Tiny, informs me that Husqvarna also make motorcycles (which apparently he lusts after)

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  2. @The Ample Cook They are my bronzed loves.

    The equipment was all exceedingly cool and futuristic - I felt a bit like I'd gone to Willy Wonka's factory - but I looked up the price of the fridge when I got home and nearly had a heart attack.

    Motorcycles eh? I knew Husqvarna was sexy :)

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  3. Great post. I love Miele. My Mum used to have one of their dishwashers, she left it behind when she moved house (it was still going strong after 20 years) and she's had nowt but problems with other brands since. Its all frighteningly expensive tho. I've no idea how she convinced my Dad to but it all those years back....

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  4. @goodshoeday Thanks Linda! One of the demo ladies said the same about her mum's washing machine. I thought she was exaggerating, but it seems their stuff really is built to last. But yes, eyewateringly dear.

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  5. What a brilliant post, Mimi! It perfectly sums up the day. Ah, that totem pole. Though, quite clearly, my heart was also totally given to that fridge. :-) Thanks for making the day fun! Hope to see you again soon! X

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  6. so lucky you are, M, to have gone there. what a fun day it must have been. those egg whites look damn beautiful, if i may say!

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  7. @Jennifer - Aw, thank you - and I'm so glad you're not offended at being called a hussy x

    @Shayma - It was a good laugh. And I'm so proud of my egg whites, thanks - first time I used an electic whisk!

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  8. Ooh lot's of nifty gadgets and kitchen equipment, I'd love an open cast grill myself.

    Sounds like a great day out spent fiddling with lots of knobs.

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  9. You are so nice! I heard the day was crap!

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  10. @FoodUrchin - I love fiddling with knobs, me.

    @theundergroundrestaurant - It's true the course was for complete novices in the kitchen, so not appropriate for us foodie types, but it wasn't crap - nice people, nice machines - it was like being in a home ec class back at school but I like that :)

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  11. I'm old enough to remember motocross, which tended to feature the Husqvarna bikes rather strongly. They are still made, in fact and recently 3 out of 4 of the supermoto world championships were won on Husqvarnas, just not televised as much. But you need to see them at the start of the event, because by the end they are the same colour as your twins, but for different reasons!

    Great read MiMi and what is that top photo of?

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  12. Hello,


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    ReplyDelete
  13. I cannot, cannot resist wondering whether Ratatouille is hiding under someone's hat here?

    Nice to see some international recognition for you, but hope they get your name right, MiMi is so much nicer than YumYum!

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  14. @chumbles - Motocross? Was ist das? :p

    The top photo is a selection of sexy little coffee pods by Nespresso - you choose one rather like a box of chocolates and pop it in the coffee machine.

    Oh and I must heap lashings of praise on you for being one of very few people who have noticed that I have two capital M's in my name d=(^o^)=b

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  15. Thanks for the lashings (ooaargh, missus); I often wonder why people get the spelling of others' names wrong?

    Motocross is a way of making motorcycling even more uncomfortable. You get a motorbike, beef up it's suspension, raise the crankcase higher off the ground, lower the gear ratios and then race it across broken ground. They're sometimes called trail bikes. In this country, with our wonderful weather, after the first two or three have done the course, the remainder get to spray the mud over themselves, each other and the general countryside. Hence your Husquies being the right colour. However, I admit that I don't get the point of this 'sport' either - I once had a trail bike and to get to thirty miles an hour required 4 gear changes.

    Added to which the devotees then get home, and spend hours and hours cleaning and polishing every little part of the bike - my father gave me a kit for my trailbike that included a toothbrush for cleaning round the base of the spokes. I sold the bike after three weeks.

    I'd rather cook, so much more enjoyable!

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  16. Loved your write up, it was great to meet you as well!

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  17. I am happy that you had made first cake of your life. Though I did try 2-3 times, I was unsuccessful to make an eatable cake. So congrats for your cake from me.

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Thanks for taking the time to comment!