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T. Chan (London)

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Minosharp Plus 3 Ceramic Water Sharpener 550 - Black/Red
Minosharp Plus 3 Ceramic Water Sharpener 550 - Black/Red
Offered by Harts Of Stur
Price: £46.21

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Sharpener for expensive knives, 6 Dec. 2010
I have two sets of knives at home - Wustof and Tojiro. I do alot of cooking at home and to be honest, I prefer to chop with my knives rather than at times, using a mini food processor or the like. Having attended cooking school in my spare time, I was told that if you have a blunt knifes, the best way to sharpen your knife is to use a water whetstone but to get the proper edge on a blade, this will mean you'll need at least 3 whetstones with a coarse, medium and fine grit in order to bring the "edge" back on a blunt blade. Once sharp, the idea then is to maintain the edge buy using a sharpening steel to hone the blades each time after use. 3 whetstones? What a palaver and I dont have room in my kitchen to store 3 whetstones. Maybe if i'm in a professional kitchen, but i'm not, I'm just a home cook.

Then I read about the Minosharp 3. It has 3 water whetstone rollers - coarse, medium and fine and the wheels are replaceable too! The device is simple to use on both my Wusthof and Tojiro knifes and they are now extremely sharp. I did have reservations at first that it is only for Global knives but it works just as well on my knives which have both European and Japanese blades.

How does it work? You lift up the clear plastic lid, fill it with cold water, close the lid and run your knife through it 8 or 9 times starting with the coarse wheel, then the medium wheel and finishing with the fine wheel. The wheels are colour coded and angled too so that it will give about a 12-15 degree angle on the edge. Brilliant!

The only downside I cant say about this device is that it does leave a little scratch on the side of your knife. This is a minor issue as your knife will still be super sharp. Also, it doesnt sharpen right to the tip, about 0.25cm is missed due to a lack of contact with the other side of the roller. This again is a minor issue as the rest of the blade is super sharp and unless you want to buy and store 3 whetstones in your kitchen, this is an acceptable compromise.

One final note, beware of the Minosharp 2 roller device. It only has coarse and medium wheels so unless you have a fine grit whetstone at home, spend the extra cash and get the 3 wheel one.

Overall, I cant recommend this item high enough for the home chef, indeed, I'm suggesting it to all my friends and family. It keeps your knives really sharp and is effectively a water whetstone in a pull through format. I guarantee you wont regret it and a great Christmas present too since a sharp knife is much more safer than a blunt one, provided one uses correct chopping technique.

Microplane Fine Grater Handle, Blue
Microplane Fine Grater Handle, Blue

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Expensive and not durable, 8 July 2010
Have owned one of these for about 3 years now and I reserve it exclusively for zesting, nutmeg and parmesan. Initially it was extremely sharp but I agree with another user's post that this item is not at all durable and this is not satisfactory for the price asked and paid.

The grating blade doesnt grate as well anymore and the plastic frame has stress cracks. The plastic cover that ships with the item has also deteriorated even though I'm always very careful to use the sponge side of my 3M non scratch scourer to clean it. (minus 3 stars)

Honestly, I've used this item less than 100 times in the 3 years i've owned it so not good enough. (minus one more star)

Comparatively, I now own a cuisinepro grater (bought it about 1 year ago) and find myself now reaching for that one instead which still grates really well one year on.

I don't recommend this product at all. Maybe the metal/professional ones by Microplane are better but with the blade issues i've had so far, I'm not going to spend my hard earned cash to find out.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 10, 2011 8:40 AM BST

Secrets of the Gem Trade: The Connoisseur's Guide to Precious Gemstones
Secrets of the Gem Trade: The Connoisseur's Guide to Precious Gemstones
by Richard W. Wise
Edition: Paperback

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buying jewellery? This book is for you., 24 May 2010
For nearly 6 months now, my fiancée and I have been searching for a ruby engagement ring. After visiting 10 or so jewellers one Saturday, things were fast becoming confusing and I was becoming increasingly sceptical because knowledge amongst jewellers differ and some of what we were being told made sense, whilst some things made no sense at all. As I began to contemplate the hard earned money I was about to spend versus my knowledge of gemstones (limited to a few printouts off Blue nile dot com), the words "caveat emptor" or "let the buyer beware" began to ring loudly in my mind.

Not wanting to be fleeced, I thought it would be a good idea to buy a book on gems and to learn the basics of gemstones and understand why the 4 C's (colour, clarity, cut, carat) are important and more importantly learn the principles behind them.

Since buying Secrets of the Gem trade 3 weeks ago, my knowledge has improved tenfold and aside from being a comfortable read, the book has proved to be an invaluable resource in our search for the perfect gemstone for the following reasons.

1) Clear and well written information on the 4 C's - The guiding principles behind gem selection, chapters are understandable and informative. Technical detail is included only where the author has deemed it appropriate for the understanding of a concept or principle. Unlike other books, you won't find scientific garb on mineral %'s/composition, rock type etc, but rather you will find an honest account. I personally found the chapter on "cut" and the discussion on light and refraction within a gemstone particularly useful when liaising with jewellers particularly on the subject of the brilliance (or lack of, in the case of rubies I was being shown). Additionally, the author provides his insights on what he considers to be the 5th C, being "Crystal".

2) Comprehensive listing of nearly all Gems you can think of and their various origins and permutations. After the part on the 4C's, the book is then divided into bite sized chapters, one on each different type of stone. eg: pink diamond, blue diamond, yellow diamond, ruby, sapphire, emerald, tourmaline, Tahitian pearls, opals, lapis lazuli etc.

3) History and travel stories - where appropriate, the author discusses the history of various gems, the terrain/hardships of the lands and the miners from which they come and anecdotes of his travels which make for a particularly interesting read.

4) Clear photographs of museum quality gem pieces - particularly useful as it enables those with little or no experience to see and understand what actually is a top quality gem there by making your comparison during gem shopping alot easier. Its natural afterall for a jeweller to "talk up" their stock they're running a business afterall so its up to you to point out the flaws.

All in all, this a book which is well written and is in layman's terms - perfect for a novice like me. It has allowed me to not just speak the language, but also has helped with negotiation with the jewellers and has improved my general knowledge on the subject matter of rubies and diamonds (the book of course will help on any gemstone you are interested in, such is its versatility).

Highly recommended considering that the majority of your budget will be spent on the gemstone itself and so it makes sense to learn as much as reasonably possible.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 19, 2011 8:45 PM GMT

Kenwood CH180 Mini Chopper, 300 Watt - White
Kenwood CH180 Mini Chopper, 300 Watt - White
Price: £14.99

20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bowl too small (150ml) - buy a Stick Blender with attachments instead for a real mini chopper, 19 May 2010
As a keen home chef I like to think that technology can help us in the kitchen and save time in our ever busy lives. I also like to think that when I buy a kitchen item, it will earn its plot of kitchen real estate.

When I noticed that the mini chopper attachment that came with my Braun Professional Hand/Stick blender was on its last legs, I bought this mini chopper as it was cheap, compact and reviewed highly by others.

As a piece of machinery, it might work well but my issue is that the bowl/capacity is way too small to be of any real practical use. Although the bowl capacity is 350ml the instructions clearly state you can only fill it with 150 ml - ie: less than 1 measuring cup.

So, unless you eat alone, this little machine is unlikely to help you since you'll have to things in multiple batches which neither saves time or effort.

There is a definite need for a mini/compact chopper on the market, just not one restricted to 150ml. My chopper is going back and the search will continue.

POST REVIEW COMMENT - Obviously some people think that my comment that the bowl is too small is silly as this item is afterall a mini chopper. If you're just cooking for one or two people or just going to puree a small amount of food for your baby/elderly relative this will do and certainly earns its 5 star rating from most people.

I should mention at this point that I own a Magimix 5200XL, a Braun Professional stick Blender, and ordinary jug blender, a mini spice grinder and a great set of chefs knives. My motivation to buy this product was to replace the mini chopper attachment that came with my Braun Pro Hand Blender which I use all the time to make mayonnaise, guacamole, chop a few large onions for a curry, blitz ground almond & icing sugar to make macarons, make spice rubs and marinades, etc

So when I look at this device with its 150ml capacity bowl, my need for convenience plus taking into account what I like to cook, this item fails on several counts. Additionally, when compared to the features of the chopper that came with my hand/stick blender which has done a great job pretty much weekly over the past 5 years, and that I have in the end, bought a replacement Mini Chopper for my Stick Blender. This only gets one star.

So yes this is mini chopper might be a few pounds more than a tenner, but my recommendation is that if you want a versatile mini chopper, pay a bit more and get a Hand/Stick blender with attachments which will do loads more, you wont be disappointed.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 29, 2011 12:20 PM GMT

Sennheiser MM50iP Stereo Headset with integrated microphone - tailormade for the iPhone - Black
Sennheiser MM50iP Stereo Headset with integrated microphone - tailormade for the iPhone - Black
Offered by magicdiscounts
Price: £29.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bad sound & does not work with iPhone 3GS, 25 Aug. 2009
I've owned a pair of Sennheiser in-ear phones (similar to CX500) for about the past 4 years since i've had my iPod Nano (1st Edition). They still sound great and after the years there is still no kinking in the cord.

I bought these MM50ip headphones because of the mic function and because I thought they would be the same as my other Sennheiser earphones for my new iPhone 3GS - DO NOT make this mistake, these are absolutely TERRIBLE.

I'm not a soundophile or anything but when I do spend more than £20 on a pair of earphones, I expect to plug them in and they should work. Reasons why this product is poor are as follows.

- Sounds reproduction has been awful : I agree with another review that you can hear sound transmission when the cord rubs against clothing.

- The insulation seems to be rather thin (compared to my other Sennheiser Earphones).

- The mic does not work with the iPhone 3GS - this was not specified anywhere in the product description.

- The 3.5mm headphone jack is a straight, not an L-shaped plug.

My recommendation => DO NOT BUY : you would be better off with the standard issue apple earphones that come with the iphone rather than these as at least the mic on that works with the 3GS.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 17, 2010 8:25 AM GMT

Hama Lens Cleaning Pen
Hama Lens Cleaning Pen
Price: £8.88

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Happy snaps with a Hama pen, 11 Feb. 2009
This review is from: Hama Lens Cleaning Pen (Camera)
Having read the other reviews, I purchased this to accompany my first SLR (Canon EOS 50D). The pen is the size of a permanent marker and has done a fantastic job with both my EOS SLR and my IXUS pocket camera.

I've had this about two months now and the felt tip effortlessly cleans my lens filter surface with out smearing and the retractable brush head is soft and a great tool for cleaning dust away. The pen was particularly handy on a recent trip to Cuba where it was quite dusty and the circular head of the felt tip meant I could clean precisely around the lens circumference and viewfinder.

For anyone reading this I would recommend you buy this for 3 reasons

1) compact - fits neatly into my camera bag (crumpler) along side a spare battery and memory card with no extra bulk
2) protected - brush retracts and felt tip has a lid (unlike a cloth)
3) pen is a tried and tested item in my view.

My only complaint is that it would have been nice if Hama could have provided an additional felt tip for a few extra £s to save having to buy a whole new pen.

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