Smart Home Gadgets: I’m not much of a chef. Sure, I can push chicken and veggies about a pan, but don’t expect dazzling skills, melt-in-your-mouth textures, or seasoning when I don the apron. However, owing to a smart-looking black box, I improved my cookery skills over the weekend.
Smart Home Gadgets: Kakugama
The Kakugama, created in collaboration with famed Japanese chef Hirohisa Koyama, looks like a cross between a traditional Japanese hagama rice cooker and something from outer space. Anaori has rounded the cooking surface of the pot by scooping it out of a solid carbon cube. It includes a hinoki wood inner lid and a carbon top that also serves as a grill pan.
Rafael Cagali, chef the Kakugama
It’s not easy to move around the benchtop, weighing in at 6kg for a smaller model and 8kg for a bigger choice. When you consider what carbon can do to foods, its heaviness is excused. According to Rafael Cagali, chef of London’s two Michelin-starred Da Terra, “it keeps a stable temperature over a long period of time, so food is cooked uniformly, textures are delicate, and there’s no chance of burning anything.” (I’ve taken Cagali’s personal Kakugama and dialled his number for advice.) He’s enthused by its possibilities, as are other chefs, and suggests it for slow-cooked foods like stews and ragus, as well as rice and entire vegetables.
It’s a really nice cooking companion: it doesn’t spit, hiss, or smoke, and the hinoki lid permeates the food, as well as the entire kitchen, with a wonderful sauna aroma. The Kakugama is also great for simple, healthy cooking: I put a full butternut squash and sweet potato in there with no oil or other ingredients, and they come out perfectly cooked. This lump of granite holds enticing possibilities.
Smart Home Gadgets: Wake up and hear the coffee
Alexa was only a matter of time until she began working as a barista. The Voicy from Lavazza is the first espresso machine with Amazon Alexa built-in. Despite the fact that you must physically place a cup beneath its spout and insert pods, you can tell this elegant machine to make you a cup of coffee as you read the news, or to order pods when supply is low. You can even personalise your order by synchronising it with an app, which allows you to decide how long and hot the shot should be. (My new morning refrain is “Alexa, please make me a Jamie.”) It’s a little off, but…)
The espresso machine makes a gentle hum instead of the din I’ve heard from other machines, and it makes excellent coffee. Plus, the speakers are good, and it can play bangers on order, just like a conventional Alexa, while your hands are full cleaning the dishes. It would be great if Alexa could manage the entire process without any manual steps (surely that will happen in the near future), but it’s still a cool way to bring a smart speaker into your kitchen while making a nice brew.
Smart Home Gadgets: The best kind of invisible charge
This ingenious piece of technological wizardry from Humanscale in New York functions as an unseen charger. It allows you to charge your phone (or most AirPods) by just setting it on a table, eliminating the need to plug in a charger or deal with tangled connections. Unlike other disc-shaped chargers, which typically come in the form of bulky charging pads, this one leaves no trace — at least on the surface. The wireless charger is easily attached to the underside of your table or desk with screws or double-sided glue (a sticker marks the corresponding spot on the top side, should you need it).The sole stipulation is that the table must be reasonably thin – no more than 3.4cm (2.9cm for an iPhone 12) – for the charger to operate.
Smart Home Gadgets: The ultimate kitchen garden
If Apple went into the vegetable patch, the end outcome may look like this. With a clinically sophisticated, rather than wildly rustic, vision of house greenery, this smart garden has a minimalist white metal frame, subtle branding, and the cool glow of LED lights. It’s designed to make plants hard to destroy, so it’ll appeal to anyone who doesn’t want to spend their weekends tending to diva-like fiddle-leaf figs.
You keep an eye on the nursery, which may be home to herbs, veggies, and flowers, using a smartphone app that allows you to turn on the lights and control the water pump from afar. The LEDs not only provide a surprisingly relaxing presence, but they also allow you to retain the garden in an area with minimal sunshine. Meanwhile, following the arugula’s quick development on the app becomes addicting (a horticultural Tamagotchi?). With the exception of manually adding nutrients on occasion, this allows you to be a green thumb with only a sweep of your finger. It’s available in three sizes for families (single, double, or triple shelf), as well as a smaller tabletop. Version for personal use