Friday, July 31, 2009

Splitting Nuts

I first caught sight of this gorgeous, heart-shaped nut splitter (designed by Jim Hannon-Tan in 2008) on the Alessi website. Usually put off by their more unusual and overly "cute" design objects, I thought this would be a great candidate for my very first Alessi purchase. Since I hadn't seen the tool in person, I held off on buying it until a few weeks ago when I happened across it at the Soho MoMA store in Manhattan... and it was on sale. I bought it without hesitation.

I was dying to try the splitter on some whole, unshelled walnuts, but there were none to be found at any of the nearby supermarkets. It was two weeks later that I finally discovered some in the produce section at Whole Foods. Beautiful and sensuous as the splitter is in appearance, its utility as a nutcracker is somewhat limited. While it will almost always split the walnut open in some fashion, it is all too easy to mangle the shell in the process and end up with too small an opening. Now we know why walnuts are usually sold pre-shelled!

Stylish Xylish

During a short trip to Japan this spring, I ate many delicious meals – the flavors of which would sometimes linger for hours after. In a search to remedy the problem, I came across this packet of gum, which looks pretty ordinary on the convenience store shelf. But peel off the outer wrapper and you're in for a treat: a stylishly embossed silver box forms a frame for a tiny "drawer" cradling individually wrapped, hard-coated pieces of gum (with a nice, mild grapefruit flavor). The foil wrappers are soft and flexible in texture, folded perfectly to hold each piece. This level of attention to detail was typical of packaging design in Japan, where they lavish creative ideas on even the most inexpensive and disposable of products. I only wish the outer wrapper were sleek enough to match its contents!