There comes a time in every home cook’s life when you bid farewell to a favorite cutting board and replace it with something better. My cutting board, for the past five years (or longer), has been a neon green rubber affair, one that I purchased at Williams Sonoma after getting knife lessons at the Union Square Cafe for my first book. The advantages were pretty clear: you could scrub the hell out of it and it wouldn’t warp. You could even throw it in the dishwasher. It was big, sturdy, and, most importantly, didn’t damage your knife. I loved how versatile it was (oh no, I’m talking about it in the past tense). You could put raw chicken on it and you didn’t have to worry about salmonella seeping into the pores. You could put several vegetables on it at once and still have room to maneuver. It really was a thing of beauty.
Only: it had a secret, a dark ugly secret that I ignored for far too long. That secret was this:
A layer of black on the perimeter that was most likely some kind of mold. I didn’t worry about it because it was far from the surface where I cut our food but, still. That’s not a good thing to have black mold growing on your cutting board.
So I was in the market, you might say, for something new. And the vision I had in my head of what I wanted came directly from the home of one of my favorite chefs: Rebecca Charles of Pearl Oyster Bar. When I went to her apartment for my cookbook, she proudly showed off her enormous wooden cutting board–it may have been built into the counter–made, if I remember correctly, of walnut. It was epic, profound, the Platonic ideal of cutting boards. I always knew that if I graduated to a bigger and better cutting board, it would be something similar.
Pretty soon, I turned to Twitter and asked what kind of wooden cutting board I should get. Specifically: “Which brand? Which kind?” And funny enough another one of the cooks from my cookbook, the legendary New York Times recipe writer Melissa Clark, answered my query:
Soon, the smart people behind Ideas In Food, echoed the sentiment:
As these Tweets were coming in, I was eating soup dumplings at Din Tai Fung at the Americana Mall (a woman e-mailed me the last time I called the mall “The Americana” and asked me to call it “The Americana at the Brand” whatever that means) which is right next to a Sur La Table. I popped in and asked if they carried Boos cutting boards. “Do we ever!” said the woman who didn’t really say it like that but let’s pretend.
They came in all sizes, all shapes, all colors, all materials. Choosing one, I felt like Harry Potter choosing a wand. After lifting up a few, it was a walnut one that sang out to me and said, “I’m yours! Take me home.” I brought it to the cashier and forked up the $160-ish for it and the oil you’re supposed to get with it:
This was precisely the kind of cutting board I was hoping for, the most Rebecca Charles-ish thing I could find.
At home, I followed the instructions on the label: I washed it with soap and water.
Patted it very dry and then treated it with the oil:
I rubbed a good amount of it on both sides, allowed it to soak in for five minutes, then wiped off any excess with paper towels.
After that, my board was ready for action:
Isn’t that great-looking? Way more aesthetically pleasing than that old rubber green nonsense I used to mess around with. She was nothing to me. This board is everything. Let’s cut an onion on it:
There’s so much room to move around! And the surface is so smooth and strong and, also, higher up than my previous cutting board. It’s a dream cutting board, my new favorite item in my kitchen.
The only downside: you really can’t let stuff sit on it the way you might with a rubber cutting board. So if you cut an onion on it or a carrot or anything, really, you’d do well to rinse it off pretty soon after or the liquids will soak into the wood. And you have to immediately dry the cutting board after you wash it so it doesn’t warp. Those are the main differences.
Small prices to pay, though, for the best cutting board ever. I’m so happy now when I cut things on it, I can’t even tell you. In fact, if you have something you need cut up, let me know: I’ll do it. That’s how good this cutting board is. I’m never leaving its side.
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