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CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

Posted by gooster (My Page) on
Tue, Feb 18, 14 at 15:59

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


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

Nice review gooster. Good to have an actual user experience for this range and not just hearsay or the usual straight-on bashing.

What's often overlooked, too, is that it's the machining and configuration of the burners that can matter more than whether they are open or sealed. The 25K cowboys will start screaming about that statement shortly LOL.

You were so helpful to me with the Nespresso purchase, I thought I might suggest that you try a Deyemere Atlantis pan. One of my friends raved about it and I bought one to see what the fuss was about. Now I have more and they are my go-tos. Best pan after French copper I have found and reliable for slow simmers even on electric radiant. Plus, they go into the DW.


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

That's Rococogirl, for the Demeyere Atlantis endorsement. I will check them out. I see they are silver wrapped copper -- yikes, will I have to keep my pots and pans under lock and key?


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

Thank you for the helpful review! As I shop for a new range of my own, and am considering La Cornue and Cornufe models among others, I really appreciate the time you took to share your real-time experience with the CF 90, You've given me valuable food for thought. And as rococogurl wrote, it is a treat to have someone share impressions after actually using the appliance over a significant period of time.


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

Thank you for the very comprehensive review! And especially after some time with it. Very detailed. I think the European ranges are so beautiful and have wondered about their performances. Thanks for including details of the oven door temps, the burners and the oven performance. And thoughtful details of cooking with different pans. I never knew the simmer performance would be difference for different pans or burner sizes.
I'll have to hunt up your reveal for pictures. Thanks again!!


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

LOL gooster. I had a set of All Clad but no comparison, for me at least, to the Deyemere performance and control.


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

You are all welcome. When I was researching, I found very few reviews by people who actually had used the range -- at least a newer model. If I see an issue come up, I'll update the review.

rococogurl: I will have to see if I can find one to try out, although replacing a bunch of pans will be like robbing Fort Knox -- btw, there is a new Nespresso design out! It does americanos as well, it appears, and the capsule design is slightly modified.

This post was edited by gooster on Thu, Feb 20, 14 at 11:50


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

Gooster: Thanks for the thorough review! I am a similar style cook as you describe and am currently assessing options. This appears to be a viable one. Combined with a second oven I think it could fit our needs well. How long does it take for your oven to heat up, say to 400? Do you ever wish you had more BTUs? Have those hot spots that have reared their head adversely affected your ability to cook anything as you would have liked, or did you just simply notice them?

BTW, I have several Demeyere pots and pans and LOVE them. The core varies depending on the pan but includes, I believe, 2mm copper (saute pain I think) or 3mm aluminum (conical saucepan). I've had them about 4 years and couldn't be happier - they are much, much more responsive to heat change than the old Calphalon I was using and cook as well as can be expected on my current very old electric coil range. I've also had a few near misses where I forgot about the pot on the stove until the fire alarm went off and the pot, surprisingly wasn't ruined. I was able to get the burned food off and it still functions perfectly and looks beautiful. Hmmm....I've ruined more than one Le Creuset pot being unaware - makes me think 22k btu burners might be dangerous for me!


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

ChristyMcK: I have not done any formal timing on my preheat cycle. I'll see about doing it the next time I use it --- in both regular and convection-assisted modes. The dual fans in the large oven seem to do a good job with moving the heat around evenly -- this is a big difference than the fans in my old Dacor wall oven.

Also, I edited my review because I didn't want to give the impression that hot spots are a problem. I was doing a fairly extreme test with the hot burner at the highest BTUs -- there was evidence of a the heating ring, but no burning. I haven't had an issue with unevenness of cooking with both delicate and high heat cooking (like searing off a tenderloin)..

I don't really miss the BTUs, but I suppose if I boiled large quantities of water daily I might be saving some time. I don't seem to need it with wok cooking and for most uses I don't need the full power of the range.

oh, and Demeyere is on OneKingsLane today.... must be fate.


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

gooster, you are a wicked person. It's a gorgeous machine. Will be interesting to see the reviews.

I got a very nice 3 qt demeyere (Apollo not Atlantis) on ebay. The other was from Zabar's. Prices can vary a bit.


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

Gooster,

Thanks for the clarification on the burners - that information is useful and reassuring. As a home, non-professional cook I have trouble envisioning that I really need 22-25k burners. We cook mostly french, american, italian, greek and middle eastern food and I don't wok cook much, maybe because my range is so terrible! Or maybe my DH is afraid I'll hurt myself, with me not being the most coordinated person!

Maybe my perception of the high quality, beauty and finesse of french ranges and german ovens is swaying me to have the opinion that super high BTUs doesn't matter. I still don't feel final about that opinion - the 'what if's' creep in. In any event, I'll soldier on obsessing and research my dream cooking appliances. It's both fun and exhausting thinking about the options!

Hope you grabbed some of that Demeyere. Stuff goes fast on OneKingsLane!


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

ChristyMcK; I did some preheat timing this week: it took 22 minutes to get to 350 on either the convection assisted or regular heat mode. Not great, but not terrible relative to other 36" hidden element ranges/ovens.

I am still waffling on getting one Demeyere pan or getting a set


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

I'm sure if you try one Deyemere Atlantis, you'd want a set. But I would try one first to be sure. And I bet you can ebay the All Clad quite easily.

When we bought our house I got a set of All Clad. I used some pans all the time and never used others. So I'm off sets, I just buy the pieces I need most.

My favorite Demeyere is the 3-1/2 qt simmer saucepan with two handles. I use it every day as I find it better balanced than a single-handle saucepan.

The only better cookware I've found and, arguably the best of all, is tin-lined French copper . I will put the performance of one of these pans on a 12K burner against any 22K or 25K burner on any range. A French copper saute pan will give a perfect sear and is beyond any other pan for efficiency and control. These need a little babying and don't go in the dw but they are tops. These days, I'm not interested in cookware that doesnt go into the DW so I'm giving most of my copper to DD2. But I'd never give up my 10-inch copper saute pan and my small oval roasting pan. She won't get those until I'm gone LOL.

This post was edited by rococogurl on Sun, Feb 23, 14 at 12:14


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

Gooster: I didn't get a set but bought pieces that I knew that I wanted. I bought pieces each year at a great sale at my favorite kitchen store, the now defunct City Kitchens in Seattle while in grad school and on a budget.

If I were you I'd get a piece and see how well you like it. For me, it was a huge step up from Calphalon but I don't know how much improvement you'll see over whatever you are using now, so I'd make sure it's worth the cost of the upgrade first. But that's just my two cents.

At some point I may try tin-lined copper saute pan. I think when I was looking it seemed heavy, costly, a little high maintenance (or some combination I can't really recall), but the conductivity of it sounds dreamy.


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

@ChristyMK -- You nailed it. The copper is very heavy as it's heavy gauge + has iron handles. No biggie until you get to a certain age and the hands don't do what they once did. I had some super big pieces I just can't manage any more. I had a lot as I bought it all during the '70s when it was affordable. Sold some at a house sale in '01 -- those went really fast.

I regularly use the 10-inch sauteuse for all meat and poultry browning. It handles 3 pounds of beef stew meat in two batches. In this kitchen (reno'd pre affordable induction) I had to put in a radiant electric cooktop which offers the worst heat control possible. More can be done at once, of course, in a 12-14-inch saute but I think those require one of the jumbo burners to give the pan heat fully across the bottom.

Copper compensates well but browning is ideal in the 10-inch on most gas burners as the flame spread will reach the edge of the pan.

I use the 2-quart for reductions mainly. But for larger quantities I use the 3-1/2 quart Demeyere which is nearly as reliable.


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

Rococogirl: I think a 10-inch copper saute pan may be in order. I don't have a similar pan in Demeyere and it's something I've been thinking about getting - it sounds lovely.

Gooster: If your most interested in heat responsiveness, I'd probably recommend starting out with the multiclad Demeyere pans that have multilayers on the bottom with the 2mm copper with a single material (stainless?) on the sides, rather than those that have the same construction throughout the pan, which I think has aluminum (mine like this are conical bottomed). They are both great but do work slightly differently. The single material pots take a little more time (by design) to respond to changes in heat.

I'd also say I love the fact that the handles are welded on the exterior of the pan so the interior of them is completely smooth (makes for easier cleaning) and that the lip of the pan is fantastic for pouring. I make yogurt and there is very little spilling when pouring milk out of my 5.5qt into yogurt containers.


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

Thanks Rococogurl/ChristyMcK: I've taken the plunge and ordered the two handled 3.2qt model from OKL.


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

Christy-- We must be neighbors. I shed a little tear each time I walk by the old City Kitchens location-- I used to wander through there at least onece a week on my lunch break, and I miss it intensely! I was too upset to even shop at their closing sale, plus the line was ridiculous...

Off-topic, but can someone tell me how to pronounce "Demeyere"? I know it doesn't matter for online shopping, I just want to know!


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

lori_inthenw: Sounds like it. City Kitchens was hands down THE best kitchen store ever IMHO. Their coupon sale in August (with any item 40% off) was how spent my birthday money for a decade. They are so missed. Fortunately because of them I have a well-stocked kitchen and don't need much anymore. I just don't feel the same love for Sur la Table, even though they are local. I was shocked and saddened when they closed and still miss them too!

I'm not sure if it's right but I say 'Duh-meyer'.


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

Yay, Gooster. Let us know how you like.


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

I've been to City Kitchens as well; it was a great store (I used to live up there before I saw the (sun)light)

The link below has Mr. Demeyere (grandson) himself saying the company name.

Here is a link that might be useful: Demeyere


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

Thanks for the link, Gooster! Sounds pretty much like "duh-myer" to me, too. Great, I can sound informed when I go to Sur le Table to admire it. Yeah, I miss those City Kitchen sales, too! I have everything I need except that our new kitchen will have induction and the stainless Cuisinart I bought one piece at a time from CK will not work on it. One of the kids is gonna get lucky in a few years...


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

I tested a Lacanche today and used my 5.5 qt demeyere. I forgot my wok (duh!) so I was testing out high heat stirfrying on the demeyere and lost track of pan heating up while talking to the rep and got a burned hot spot from the smoking, very, very hot peanut oil left on the demeyere pan (it was on the 15k burner). (curse word.) Not surprisingly based on passed experience the demeyere with a little bar keepers friend is now good as new! I really can't believe how forgiving and responsive Demeyere cookware can be. I also realize I am perhaps not a cook to be trusted with 25k burners when I can't manage a 15k burner!

Anyway, Gooster, let us know what you think. I really like that 3.5qt double-handled pot - hopefully you will too.


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

I'm so glad we had this conversation this week! I went down to Sur le Table to measure a few of the DeMeyere Atlantis pieces because we are specifying all our drawer heights and dividers. Their open stock is 30% off because they are only going to carry sets in the future.

Not sure if this is for all stores, or just the one in PPlace Market because they have such limited storage space. But I walked out of there with 4 pieces, 2 big bags and a smile. And a lighter wallet, though not as light as it would have been! I would probably have been buying a piece a year for the next 4 years instead...

PS Walked by the old City Kitchens locations this morning. It has taken them a long time to get a new tenant. It is being turned into a Doc Martens store!


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

Thanks for the heads up, lori_inthenw! My new pan is supposed to arrive soon, but I may have to stop by SLT to see if my local store(s) have a sale. I see they only carry their own version of Demeyere (Industry5) on the website, so perhaps they are phasing out of the Atlantis in the local stores.


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

Lori, Enjoy it! I'm sure you will. That's a GREAT sale. I find it so depression that CK is being replaced by a Doc Martens store. Oh well, things change.


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

Just wanted to followup here with thanks for the recommendation on the pan. I just got my Demeyere today and gave it a short, limited trial run. Water came to a boil super fast and shut off almost instantly when the heat was removed! Cooked on cheese practically wiped off clean. The size was a pretty good fit for the 17.5K burner, as well. I thank you but my bank account blames you for the future damage this may lead to.... I'm eyeing that 9.4" or 11" fry pan next.

(Oh, and sadly, my local SLT didn't have a similar sale. They did have their Demeyere Industry5 line, but it seems like a step or two down in heft)


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

I shopped around and got a couple of pieces at better prices than SLT. But your lovely range needs it. Such a pleasure to cook when the cookware and the range really play so nicely together. And it comes out of the dw spotless.


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

I bought my first piece from OKL; and now I just bought the 2.6 qt saute pan with a copper core. Two items have moved over to the "downstairs" section and are even better deals, plus it was free shipping.


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

OKL?


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

RoccocoGirl: OneKingsLane. They had DeMeyere last week with "ok" to "very good" prices. The clearance section right now on the remaining pans is about 35 to 45% off the other online prices and below last week's prices.


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

Got it. Thx. Braising some shortribs for pasta sauce in my 3.5 q just now. Usually I use copper for browning meat but this pan did a super job.

This post was edited by rococogurl on Thu, Mar 6, 14 at 8:42


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RE: CornuFe Albertine / CornuFe 90 Review

I though I would post a long term update: The igniter on the left rear burner went out. The local service affiliate replaced the part -- all covered under warranty but still a bit worrying. Otherwise, things are going well.

And, our collection of Demeyere Atlantis continues to grow as the All-Clad d5 gets kicked to the curb (we curse how much harder to clean the AC pans are)


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