My old toaster finally died. This toaster has been something of a minor miracle in toaster-dom: I inherited it from the previous tenants when I sublet an apartment in the summer of (drum roll please) 1990. I have no idea how old it was then, but it survived some period of time in an apartment with 3 men in their 20s and then went on to have 23 years of toasting bliss with me.
Of course, it died the day I made 12 jars of strawberry jam. Which meant that I was thrust into a toasting emergency.
My first move was to see if I could find the same toaster. And apparently I'm not the only one who loved their Maxim one-slot toaster. It seems that they are now only available in Australia. The only American result for Maxim is the trashy men's magazine which is not what I want to look at when toast-deprived. Actually, even when toast-satiated, I could do without Maxim-the-magazine's images.
Then I spent way toooo much time researching toasters. I read reviews at Cook's Illustrated, Consumer Reports, BHG product reviews, Amazon reviews, etc. I complicated the matter by considering regular toasters and toaster ovens, particularly once I saw the price of new standard toasters that got good reviews. If I'm going to drop over $100 it would be nice if the thing did more than just toast. The kids are still kind of intimidated by the big oven and with a summer of lunches at home looming on the horizon, the idea of them making their own tuna melts was a big plus.
Finally I couldn't stand thinking about it any more and, after shoving some stuff around in the kitchen to figure out counter space, I bit the bullet and bought this baby:
Hello, I am the Breville Mini Smart Toaster Oven.
I bought it because it has the word "smart" in the title, because who wants a stupid toaster? No, seriously this is just about the only toaster OR toaster oven out there that gets pretty universal rave reviews. And it is Australian, too. (I must investigate this Australia/toast correlation further.)
It cost $149 at Bed Bath and Beyond and unfortunately, they don't let you use their 20% off coupons on Breville products. There are bigger versions of the oven too, but since I have no need to toast 6 pieces of bread at once or any inclination to shove a whole chicken in the thing, I figured the mini one would do me fine, and gobble up a few inches less of counter space.
So far, I've toasted three kinds of bread: sliced wheat, Zingerman's paesano bread and a half a frozen sesame bagel and I have to say, this baby makes damn good toast. The dark setting really is dark! The light setting really is light! And it has a little snowflake button to press for when you are toasting stuff straight from the freezer that produced a beautifully golden bagel. And I'm looking forward to trying out the oven-ish stuff soon.