Product Review: New West Knife Works Super Bread Knife.
Because he takes slicing bread very seriously...for reasons you'll soon learn..Matt has taken on this review
Growing up in a household where bread was baked up to three times a week, the bread knife was an important object. You used the bread knife to cut bread and nothing else. If you just cut bread, it remained fairly clean. If you got it dirty by cutting something else (say, cheese or roast beef), it had to go through a full cleaning cycle, during which there could be no bread. And not being able to slice bread properly was unacceptable. That's so deeply ingrained that, for me, the most disturbing scene in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill had nothing to do with blood, dismemberment, or even Uma Thurman. It was the scene towards the end of the second part where David Caradine sliced some bread and then stuck that same knife INTO A JAR OF MAYO! HOW'S HE GOING TO SLICE BREAD NOW? HE'LL CROSS-CONTAMINATE! MANIAC!
So I regard bread knives as serious business. For the past couple of years, we've alternated between a cheap, flimsy, and easily replaced nondescript bread knife and a bow-shaped knife (a left-handed version special-ordered for me years ago, as a gesture of resistance against the revanchist forces of the running-dog dextrist hegemony). The bow knife cuts well, but it cuts slices in a very narrow range of thickness. The cheap blade is more versatile, but doesn't cut nearly as well. So we had a strong interest in how the New West Knifeworks bread knife would do. The blades we got from them a few months ago have become my go-to knives (sharpness comparable to our ceramics but without the fear factor about dropping them), but that weird curvy blade...
Turns out it's absolutely brilliant. In fact, it cut so well that it took some getting used to. The blade bites very deeply with each stroke, practically sinking into the loaf. It gets through the bread with surprising, even alarming, speed, so it requires a touch which is different from any other knife we own. However, once you've adjusted to that, it's outstanding. I was able to cut through a baguette with a single pull of the blade, no back-and-forth sawing. I was able to cut nearly transparent, perfectly even slices from Pullman-style loaves without the slightest suggestion of a slant (and equally even thick slices). I sliced a fresh croissant in half the long way without crushing the outer layers or smashing the inside. Yes, it doesn't look like a standard bread knife, but it's much better than a standard bread knife. If you buy only one bread knife this year...well, you know the drill.