UNICORN MAGNUM PLUS PEPPER GRINDER
This is an excellent peppercorn grinder. It has a precisely cut, extra large grinding mechanism with a wide range of adjustability and an easy-to-fill storage chamber (with a sliding loader) that holds a lot (almost 11/4 cups) of peppercorns.
HEDLEY & BENNETT APRON
Local apron maker Hedley & Bennett's stylish custom aprons are made with fabrics such as selvedge Japanese denim and Italian chambray. Designer Ellen Bennett offers lots of colors and styles; we're leaning toward an orange linen kitchen apron that reverses to a cotton stripe.
$45 to $75, http://www.hedleyandbennett.com
Why is bruschetta always perfect in Italy? Because they toast their bread on one of these, a thin, square sheet of perforated stainless steel, topped with a wire mesh screen. Pinpoints of flame work through the tiny holes, lightly charring the bread, crisping the surfaces without drying out the interior.
Nothing is quite as sophisticated as squirting your own pressurized soda water from a classic glass soda siphon into a rocks glass full of whiskey. It's how things were done in the 1920s and '30s in moody film noir movies, the kind where femmes fatale still shook up pitchers of martinis for afternoon picnics. Now that's living!
Prices vary. Bar Keeper, 3910 W. Sunset Blvd., L.A. (323) 669-1675, http://www.barkeepersilverlake.com
AQUA CHEF PROFESSIONAL WATER OVEN
Finally, a sous-vide cooker for the rest of us! The water oven from Aqua Chef looks like a small home fryer but is made for extended cooking at low temperatures in water.
About $160, http://www.aquachef.com
CLAY COYOTE COUSCOUS STEAMER
Properly made couscous is steamed, not boiled. And while it may take a little longer to cook, there's a night-and-day difference in texture. Clay Coyote offers a lidded steamer in an array of beautiful glazes that is perfect for steaming couscous, meats and vegetables.
MORTAR AND PESTLE
Smart cooks would choose a mortar and pestle any day over a spice grinder, or even a blender or food processor. Pounding with a pestle crushes and pulverizes spices, herbs and other ingredients to release more of the oils.