Leite’s Loves…Laguiole Steak Knives

Leite's Loves Colored Knives

My husband E likes to give big gifts. Extravagant gifts. Thoughtful gifts. Like a patootie-kicking mountain bike. A week in Paris. A Macbook Air laptop tucked inside a vintage leather messenger bag so I can call the city’s endless park benches and sunny stoops my office.

I veer toward less pricey gifts. Practical gifts. Gifts inspired by a farmer’s daughter’s frugality. Like a virtual surprise birthday party with friends scattered across several continents. A private bourbon tasting of rare bottlings for him and a buddy so he knows exactly which brands are worth the splurge. And, this past Christmas, plastic utensils.

Uh, let me explain. Last December, the loss of a loved one left us thinking presents weren’t exactly a priority. Still, I thought coming home to a little something under the tree–left bare in our rush out of town—would perhaps create a moment of loveliness, something to help soothe our raw and frazzled edges. So I did what I, and every rational, rationalizing woman I know, instinctively do when circumstances scream for some measure of found happiness. I splurged at Anthropologie.

It was a modest extravagance, as extravagances go. A set of six steak knives. Steak knives that were swoon at first sight. Steak knives that flaunted stately blades of sturdy stainless steel and curvaceous handles fashioned from, of all crazy things, lollipop-colored PVC.

The knives are crafted by forge de Laguiole, the legendary French house whose artisanal craftsmanship can be traced back two centuries and whose unparalleled elegance I’d coveted the past two decades. Though the company tends toward more masculine designs drawing on wood handles, a nod to their beginnings as makers of pocket-knives for sheepherders, this psychedelic set was unlike any other Laguiole creations I’d seen. Yet I’d recognized that luxurious curve immediately.

Utensils, yes. Utilitarian, not so much.

At least not to me. E’s reaction as he unwrapped the box was one of…well, his response wasn’t exactly swooning. Let’s just say it was one of surprise. Bemused, eyebrow-raising surprise. Holding a slender knife—the magenta one–daintily in his rugged hand, his expression said everything. Flimsy. Silly. Girlie. “They’re not terrible,” he finally said halfheartedly.

I kept them anyways. Call it woman’s intuition, call it the lure of something unabashedly and irresistibly bohemian, call it me just knowing my man and his patience for what I find to be lovely. All it took for E to appreciate Laguiole’s stylish blade and its ability to slide through a single steak—ribeye, grass-fed, washed down with bubbly—as if it were silk. He’s since come to appreciate the knives more, having experienced how they work just as deftly on takeout chargrilled chicken from across the street and, quite frankly, how the colors on our wooden dining table please me. Now he finds any excuse to use them, such that I let our Lauguioles out on the counter, their jaunty handles jutting out of an antique canning jar, mostly because I like to watch E as he muses over which color he selects on a given night. Although as befits the thoughtful guy that he is, he always lets me select first. I have to say, I consider that moment to be a gift.

Laguiole steak knives are not currently available at Anthropologie, although the set of six knives in psychedelic colors is available elsewhere, including the very reasonably priced Whisk and, not surprisingly, at Amazon, albeit priced at a slightly more indulgent splurge. The knives can also be found in more muted colors at Wine Enthusiast. The full array of Laguiole steak knives, in traditional wood grain or crazy colors, can be found at the source, Laguiole.

Renee Schettler Rossi's signature
Comments
Comments
  1. Greg Bulmash says:

    The design makes me think of an unfolded pocket knife.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Exactly, Bulmash. Makes darn good sense given the knives’ provenance…

  2. April says:

    I did the same, buying my sweetheart the Dubost Cheese Knife Set for his birthday, it also received a lukewarm reception. However, it is used weekly. :) Lovely cheese knife set—one of my faves. http://www.surlatable.com/product/PRO-136098/Dubost-Cheese-Knife-Set

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Ah, these guys are lucky to have us and our sense of style, April. Almost as lucky as we are to have them…

  3. Beth Price, LC Director of Recipe Testing says:

    Oh dear, I’ve fallen in love. That blue knife has my name written all over it…

  4. Rick Casner says:

    If you think about it too much, a gift can become a sort of “test” questioning whether we really know and understand what our loved one might like. It’ll drive you nuts. If the gift is adopted, appreciated, or, better yet, falls into daily use, it is a hugely satisfying. It’s probably best not to overthink it. So relax, R. The knives are beautiful, E seems to like them, and they’ve found their place on your kitchen counter. I’d call it a win.

    Also, I’d pick the light green one…

  5. Allison Parker says:

    Renee, I see you’ve written a little ode to your Laguiole love. Nice to see it on the site. Many years ago, The Frenchman (you know who I mean) insisted on a set of six knives brought back from a trip home. However…they were most definitely not these beauties. They were Opinel. Classic folding camping knives with wood handles. Add a touch of rustic charm to the table, but they also rust like the dickens. Go figure, I’m now eyeballing this high-quality candy instead, and giving thanks for gifts big and small.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Guys certainly do have strong feelings about their knives, don’t they, Allison? I love rustic, but not when it means rust. Ugh. Fingers crossed my little Laguiole lovelies bear me no such ill will…

  6. Lindy says:

    I have a set of these and I can confirm that they are beauties! They cut through steak as if it was butter and they look fab. I actually have the full dinner set and love to mix and match—classic and whimsical at the same time. I have mine in a slightly different color range, but I think I’ve fallen in love with that blue.

    • Beth Price, LC Director of Recipe Testing says:

      Hi Lindy,

      Like you, I am head over heels for that shade of blue. I’m so envious that you have a full set. Wow~

      • lindy says:

        It took me a while to build up to a full set and there are still pieces (and colours) I want!

        • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

          That’s both the frustration and the satisfaction, yes, Lindy? The slow, occasional gratification?

          • Beth Price, LC Director of Recipe Testing says:

            R~ I’m afraid that I’m an instant gratification junkie. I want them (especially the blue one) now!

  7. Martha Libretti says:

    I have this set of knives, they are much more reasonably priced than the wood-handled classic Laguiole knives, and although the handles make them appear a less serious knife set, they are without doubt a Laguiole. Test-drive them through a steak or slice a tomato without so much as spilling a seed and you will adore them. They are very well-priced.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      I couldn’t agree more, Martha. And I definitely couldn’t have said it better myself.

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