The first cut is the deepest

da Niels KitchenwareKnife sharpening demo at d.a. Niels proves deadly dull.

When I learned kitchen supply outfitter d.a. Niels was hosting a series of live demonstrations at their 485 Berry Street store February through March I couldn’t wait to get down there.

My eagerness was only bolstered by Destination Winnipeg’s extensive, almost exhausting, 3-part account of Bistro 7 1/4 Chef Alex Svenne’s recent performance.

d.a. Niels’ non-existent website (c’mon guys…at least have an info page…I can help you with that if you like) told me nothing. Thankfully the DW bloggers had posted a pic of the event flyer.

“Join us and these exciting Culinary Guests for our Saturday Demos. Drop by between 11:00 and 3:00 to learn new techniques, get fabulous ideas and sample great food.”

The next session, I learned, was a Knife Sharpening Demo with J.A. Henckels. Screech! I LOVE my Henckels knives. For the price point they can’t be beat. I couldn’t wait to learn about caring for them and keeping them at their sharpest.

da Niels Kitchenware ShowroomI’d boned up on knife sharpening techniques in the Culinary Institute of America textbook, not to mention a detailed how-to in Jaques Pepin’s “Complete Techniques.” But to watch an expert might inspire enough confidence to buy that whetstone and actually try it out (on one of my older knives).

When my wife agreed to sidebar our Saturday errands, I frothed into a frenzy of anticipation. d.a. Niels boasts a bounty of kitchen tools and gadgets,  perennially featured in local food mags Ciao!, Flavours or Dish.

The store lived up to expectations. It’s a food geek’s paradise. The space is incredible. The selection…unmatched. Like a sugar addicted kid in a candy store, I swooped through the aisles, plunged into the warehouse, within minutes accumulating at least five new must-haves for my list of kitchen must-haves.

When I saw the stack of tiny paper cups beside an espresso machine I was propelled into a state of near peripatetic ecstasy. Complementary stimulants. Oh boy oh boy oh boy.

Yes, I’ve always been this easily amused but what I’ve learned about soaring to these superficially stimulated highs is the soul sucking lows that can result. Pouty, frowny lows that result from waiting behind someone at the espresso machine (I’m sure it was one of the staff) only to learn that he’d drained it to the “please replenish water…no spresso for you” point as indicated by the beautifully illuminated LCD screen. Harumph! Or the stompy, sweary impossible-to-live-with-for-the-rest-of-the-day lows that result from lame-ass demonstrations.

Sorry…”exciting” was the word used on the flyer. Hmmm…. If you consider loitering around a table while an apathetic product demonstrator runs your knives through an automatic honing machine exciting, you clearly wouldn’t need the espresso to get revved up.

What should have been an incredibly important culinary lesson proved deadly dull and would have stood as greatest waste of my weekend were it not for the fact that I discovered a treasure trove of culinary hardware just minutes from my house. Little consolation for my wife who suffered marriage to Mr. McPouterson for the rest of the day.

Check here for the next d.a. Niels demo.

d.a. Niels Kitchenware

485 Berry Street
St James, MB R3J 1N6
(204) 953-2345

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