I'm trying to decide between some cookware options, and I was hoping you guys could give me some advice. I have a reasonably budget for kitchen equipment, and I don't mind spending money on expensive items if they are really nice.
What I'm primarily interested in is a nice set of All-Clad stainless or something similar. I'd been planning to buy some seconds from Cookware & More and supplement them with a few other pieces, but the rising US dollar has really put a damper on ordering stuff from the States. However, I was browsing around the other night and found an All-Clad set that has pretty much everything I'm looking for, at about the same price as the seconds, and it is quite tempting. I know buying sets is generally frowned upon, but picking up individual pieces over time would cost me a fortune. All-Clad and other high-end brands are VERY expensive in Canada, and shipping multiple heavy pieces from the US would end up costing quite a lot. This is the set I'm interested in. It has the major items I'm looking for -- two sauce pans, 10/12" fry pans, a reasonably-sized saute pan, and an 8qt stock pot. I'd supplement it with a cheap 16qt stock pot. After shipping, tax, and the piss poor exchange rate right now, it would come out to something like C$1100.
On the other end of the scale, there is this Cuisinart MultiClad Pro set. At this price, it's not worth NOT buying the set. I would supplement it with one or two open stock pieces (like a 12" fry pan). Other than that, it is a reasonably solid line-up for my needs. However, Cook's Illustrated reviewed one of their pieces (a fry pan) and rated it as "recommended with reservations": "A respectable performer with ample space for large batches, but required some attention to control the sautspeed. Plenty of space and a helper handle, but you have to watch the heat and take care with the handle, which ran hot in some tests." This set would cost C$339 with tax.
Somewhere in the middle is a Canadian brand called Cuisinox. It's a fully clad stainless range like the other two, and appears to be somewhat more high-end than the MultiClad set. They like to tout how a kitchen magazine rated their 3.5qt sauce pan over the equivalent All-Clad, but I cannot find much in the way of actual reviews of any of their stuff. They have a good selection of open stock pieces, and I can order from Quebec and pay less sales tax. Some nice features over the All-Clad are a rolled rim, pouring lip, internal volume markings, and that sort of thing. Here are some representative prices. 2/4qt sauce pans, 4.5qt saute pan, 9.5/11" fry pans, and an 8qt Dutch oven comes out to something like C$720 with tax. I'd also have the option of substituting one or two pieces of something really nice like Falk if I found myself in a moment of insanity... I'm just concerned about the lack of real reviews out there, given the price. Here is the article I mentioned, not that is is a lot of help.
Really, the only other option I've been considering is buying some Falk pieces. Considering the C$1800 cost for a couple of sauce pans, a fry pan, and a saute pan, that seems like a fairly stupid idea for someone like me. They sure are pretty, though :)