Sunday, January 23, 2011

Crazy for AGA

Cast iron. Always on. Impeccable quality. I was first introduced to the AGA cooker while dining with friends Ted and Susie. Their weimaraner grey AGA is the stunning backdrop to a perfectly remodeled farmhouse kitchen. Sitting next to their AGA for drinks and appetizers I was able to get a closer look at this amazing stove. Susie admitted to the fact that cooking on an AGA is a bit different. She said that with a few lessons, (and added that she had a slight advantage because she grew up cooking on a wood stove) she was cooking everything on her AGA.

I found myself obsessed with the workings and pedigree of an AGA cooker.

I realized later that I had seen these stoves before. While touring Scotland I remember noting these quietly understated work horses that kept the tea pot always warm, cooked a tender super while the proprietors managed the estate and visited with guests, made delicious bread, provided a nice heat for the chilly Scotland weather (in the summer even), and worked as a drying room for linens.

Edinburgh Bed and Breakfast
The four-oven AGA has two stove-top cookers, one for boiling and toasting, another for simmering. On the left it warms, at the perfect temperature, to keep the contents of a teapot hot. Its four ovens range from roasting temperature down to warming. Everything that goes into an AGA comes out perfect. I can attest to this. Ted and Susie's dinner, while simple in ingredients, was sheer perfection in the melding of flavors.

This shockingly simple, but five star meal forced me to delve more into the AGA difference. Here's what I found from their website.

An AGA is made of cast iron - a dense, strong and stable metal with remarkable heat storage and transmission properties.  Conventional ovens have very little mass and cool rapidly, causing them to continuously cycle on and off in an attempt to maintain a steady temperature. As a result, oven temperatures can swing up to 75°F (24°C) and subject food to frequent high blasts of uneven heat.

An AGA, in contracts, generates heat through a single heat source which is then continually released by the cast iron through the ovens and hot plates - that's why an AGA is always ready to use. This 'radiant heat' is transmitted from all sides of the ovens and is 'less severe' than heat that would be created by a direct fuel flame or electric element. The result? All the moisture, flavor, texture and goodness of the food is preserved, producing the 'AGA taste' owners talk about so passionately!

I would love to own an AGA. The last room to be remodeled is my kitchen and in my dreams I see an AGA. Unfortunately, the AGA, with the always on feature (born from the always frigid Britain) would heat my little brick home to unpleasant levels in our Seattle summers. For Ted and Susie's old farmhouse, the AGA provides the perfect amount of heat (and charm) for their high ceilings, expansive rooms and open floor plan.

Perhaps when my dream of owning a stone cottage on the Isle of Skye becomes reality, I will be able to own my own simply fabulous AGA cooker.

Throughout Scotland, the stone cottages are left natural, but on the Isle of Skye they are painted a refreshing white 

This abandoned stone cottage is just begging for a re-do and new AGA, if I could only convince my husband
If I did take on a project like renovating that stone cottage, this is what the kitchen would look like

In all my postings, my goal is to provide inspiration and insight into home ownership, real estate and to provide valuable resources. 


Until next week,

la chasse au bonheur

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Darcy, for teaching me more about AGAs! I have loved their look for years, but didn't know they conducted heat so efficiently. It seems that every European design magazine I read features an AGA in the kitchen -- now I know why.
    I would love to have one, as well, although knowing me, I would likely choose a red one!
    Janet Walsh