CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review
Since these are so rarely reviewed, I thought I'd collect my thoughts nine months into my ownership of the La Cornue CornuFe Albertine, now simply marketed in the US as the La Cornue CornuFe 90. This unit is derisively known here at GW as the "CornuFake". I did choose a bit of form over function, and I'm all-in-all quite pleased with the tradeoff. Among the vintage/European look ranges, it seems like it comes down to this one and the Lacanche. Since I'm in Northern California, I felt like the service and support network was stronger for La Cornue. (I've yet to test that out, fortunately). I also got my unit at a substantial discount, which made any decision easier.
I'm a moderate cook with limited exposure to higher end machinery. While I cook all types of food and bake from scratch, I don't do it multiple times a day. Thus, take everything I write in context. I thought that some review, with full disclosure, was better than none.
Build: While not the tank that the La Cornue is, this unit is relatively solidly build and compares favorably in build quality to other similar priced competitors, based on my limited showroom inspections. Some people earlier reported the doors would get hot during baking. Mine remains cool, even after roasting a turkey. This likely was an early issue that has been corrected. Similarly, the knobs are very stable and don't wobble. Some people complained that the knobs felt loose on floor models. Mine are stable and I like the feel of metal vs. plastic knobs. I think they will wear better as well. There are no nicks or chipping on any surface (including grates), nine months in. Like other similar ovens, there obviously is no digital readouts of temperature, other than the indicator light. The heating elements, of course, are below the oven floor, which is on the thin side (probably for heat conduction, I am guessing).
Cleaning: The sealed burners and top wipe down easily after use. The porcelain clad interior similarly wipes down quite easily -- and since this is a manual clean oven, it is important. The sides remove (if needed) and of course this is a hidden heating element, so it is a very smooth surface to wipe down. I've yet to heavily scour any surface, even after T-day. There literally is very little to clean on the top -- even removing the grates is sometimes unnecessary to do a quick wipedown with a scrub sponge.
Oven Size: The single oven is working for for me (I didn't have room for a second wall oven -- but I have a warming drawer that does get used). I was able to fit a 20lb turkey (pan fit 25lbs) and half a ham in the oven, side by side, for T-day. A 16" pizza fits in just fine, although I have to turn around the raised lip of the baking sheet. All of my baking sheets and pans fit just fine.
Burner Performance: I was concerned that the three 12K burners would not be enough, and that the 17.5K would be weak. And of course, these are sealed burners. The 17.5K has proven more than adequate for high heat searing and stir frying; the 12K are generally the workhorse burners. Although the main burner is used to boil large loads of pasta, the smaller burners work just fine for smaller servings. The low end control and performance is excellent. For example, when heating something simple like a quesadilla, the tortilla shows even heating on the lowest heat settings -- no hot spots. When repeating this test at the hottest temps, there is some evidence of hotter spots -- perhaps this is the curse of the sealed burners. (FWIW, I'm using All Clad d5 pans -- although I may try the copper core). Note that this was an extreme test using high heat and a delicate item: in regular usage there are no hotspots, even when doing things like crepes and omelettes. And even in higher heat mode, searing off something like a large tenderloin comes out perfectly. The simmer burner performance is great as long as your pan is the right size. I can set my Le Creuset on the burners for a ragu or ratatouille and let it simmer all afternoon. But a very small pan, like my All Clad saucier will get too hot. I thought about getting the French Plaque accessory to address this issue and provide more flexibility -- but at over $1K I don't think I'll try (yikes!).
Oven Performance: I've managed now to try all the modes. Heating, as you might expect, is even and appears to be consistent. Trays of cookies, sheet cakes, and puff pastry all show even heating. Preheating can take a while in the larger oven. There are several convection modes: I find the convection assisted mode to be a go-to mode for roasting, especially vegetables, where the browning and crisping are even and excellent. The dual fans do a great job in moving the air around evenly. The convection broiling does a good job, but is perhaps less powerful than I would like. The browning mode, however, does a great job in finishing dishes. The least useful mode is thaw and serve (basically a heatless convection). It takes 22 minutes to preheat to 350 degrees in either traditional or convection assisted mode.
There is one telescoping rack and a bunch of accessories (integral broiling rack, pastry rack, etc) that come with the oven. The regular wire racks do not make loud sounds when being moved on my unit and the telescoping tray is smooth.
Pictures are in my reveal (linked in my profile).
This post was edited by gooster on Sat, Feb 22, 14 at 13:20