Feeling Really Gassed with My New Cooktop

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Thermador top

I have gas!

OK, OK, get all your restaurant critic wisecracks out of your system.

I have for most of my adult life lived in houses that did not have access to natural gas. So that meant cooking on electric stovetops. For the past 14 years, my stovetop had the kind of electric coils that never seem to be seated properly. I don't think any of them were level. I hated them.

I also hated the unresponsiveness of electric. If a pot starts to boil over and you turn down the heat, it takes a while for the bubbling to subside. You usually have to lift the pot off the burner until it reaches the lower temperature.

With gas, the change is more responsive. What's more, you can see the flame under the pot to know just how much heat is being applied. So for most of my life I've lusted after friends who had natural gas to cook with. (I didn't envy the propaners I know, but that's another story.)

What was even more frustrating was that the neighborhood one block away had natural gas lines but my neighborhood did not.

Then a group of neighbors who shared my gaseous lust got together and petitioned the gas company to extend the pipes into our neighborhood. After much campaigning, not to mention considerable costs, mitigated somewhat by an improvement grant from the city, we had enough neighbors to make it worthwhile for the gas company to do the work.

So, I have gas!

The first thing I did was head to Southeast Steel, the appliance warehouse on Amelia Avenue in downtown Orlando. I've been buying my appliances from Southeast for years, which is one of the reasons I'm so thrilled to have them as a partner on my website.

I like the huge selection -- there are a lot of appliances stuffed into that place -- and I like the service. I'm always greeted by someone who takes the time to discuss my needs and to patiently answer my questions while I hem and haw over my choice.

I did no hemming and only a little hawing when I saw the Thermador five-burner cooktop. I loved it immediately. It's solidly built with three heavy cooking grates -- those suckers are never going to warp or become unlevel.

Thermador star

The burners are star shaped, which is sort of Thermador's logo, but the shape also distributes the flames more widely. (The stars lift off for easy cleaning, too.)

Thermador xlo

But here's what I love about this particular cooktop. A couple of the burners have a super low setting (or xlo in Thermadorian). I once cooked at a friend's house whose gas stove's flame would just go out whenever I tried to turn it to low heat. With my Thermador, when you set the dial to XLO, the flame is low, but after several seconds, the flame goes out. Then after several more seconds, you hear a click click click and poof, the burner relights in the low setting again. It's wonderful for keeping stocks on a low simmer. I've been making a lot of soups lately just so I can use that feature.

When I told my friends at SES that I planned to write about my cooktop, they told me the timing was perfect because they're offering a deal on Thermador products. It's called the "Ultimate Gift with Purchase" program and has a number of options. For example, if you buy my cooktop -- I don't mean mine because you can't have it, but one just like it -- plus a wall oven, you can get a free dishwasher. This offer is good through the end of the year, so if you're going to be hosting family and friends for dinner over the holidays you might want to check this out.

I've replace some other appliances, too, including a tankless gas water heater and a gas clothes dryer. I'm starting to look around the house to see what else I can replace.

I think I'll head down to Southeast Steel and see if they have a gas-powered refrigerator.

Southeast Steel is at 63 W. Amelia St., Orlando