Okay, we realize that this isn't quite as crucial to the basics of a kitchen as either a sharp knife or a cast iron pan, but in our minds, it still ranks as a kitchen essential. Why? Because not only do we use our Microplane grater quite frequently, but it does what it is designed to do absolutely flawlessly.
The Microplane was originally a woodworking tool, but made the crossover into the kitchen. According to the company's website:
The big moment came in 1994, when Lorraine Lee, a homemaker in Ottawa, Canada, was making an Armenian orange cake. Out of frustration with her old grater, she picked up a new tool her husband, Leonard, had brought home from their hardware store, Lee Valley Tools. She slid the orange across its blades and was amazed. Lacy shards of zest fell from its surface like snowflakes. The Lees marveled at the tool, ate the cake, then promptly changed the product description in their catalogue.
Like Mrs. Lee, we use the Microplane for zesting, for fresh ginger, and sometimes for grating chocolate to garnish a dessert, but most often, we use it for grating parmesan or pecorino over pasta. The cheese grates effortlessly into light, fluffy bits with the traditional Microplane, or into larger shreds with their ribbon grater. This is one kitchen tool that definitely earns its space in the gadget drawer. The Microplane sells for $12.95 and is available at most kitchen stores.