Because it probably won’t have a mandoline
If you’ve ever stayed in an extended-stay hotel or an Airbnb, you know not to expect much from the kitchen. Even if the decor is charming, the space probably won’t even have a full set of measuring cups, let alone a mandoline. And the knives? Don’t even try. Just a few months ago, I was in such a kitchen. It was equipped with such horribly dull knives I had to slice a lemon with a plastic butter knife. There were also no sheet pans. It was a whole thing. I ended up baking salmon in a stainless steel pan and all was fine, but I sure wished I’d brought some tools. So I devised a list of all the kitchen tools I wished the rental kitchen had.
Obviously, if you’re traveling by mass transit, you may not have enough room to pack everything you need to make a showstopping brunch, but this edited collection of tools is just right. Just be sure you label all your stuff so they don’t get sucked into the rental’s collection.
If you don’t already have a knife roll bag, I suggest getting one. You don’t have to spend $90 on a professional-quality one, this $20 version from Amazon will be just fine. Plus, they’re not just for knives—everything on this list should fit in the case.
It may seem wrong, but you are more likely give yourself a worse cut from a dull knife than a sharp one. Unfortunately, since purveyors of rentals are usually spending a lot of money and energy on larger goings-on, sharpening knives isn’t really high on their list of priorities. If you’ve ever tried to slice a bagel with a knife that probably hasn’t had any care since it was purchased 10 years ago you know what i’m talking about. Bringing your own is incredibly important.
Pack: 1 chef’s knife, 1 serrated knife, and 1 paring knife is ideal.
The Smaller tools
You don’t know you need them until you do, but small kitchen tools come in incredibly handy. Whether you’re zesting lemons or opening a bottle of Pinot Grigio, there are some tools you’re going to want on hand. Sure, the rental might have a rusty can opener and a churchkey, but you don’t play when it comes to vacation brunch. BYO.
Pack: 1 or 2 dish towels, a microplane, a flat mandoline, a peeler, a can opener, a corkscrew, a bottle opener, a set of measuring spoons and cups. Though you can probably buy them upon arrival, aluminum foil and plastic baggies or Tupperware are also going to make your life easier.
The Larger tools
As I mentioned, you can be OK with baking salmon in a saute pan or you can pack your own. If you have room for larger-scale kitchen items, I say why not bring them, you’ll thank yourself later.
Pack: a cutting board, a sheet pan, a fine mesh sieve (for draining beans and grains), a salad spinner (doubles as a colander).
Want to know which ingredients you should pack? Check back with me next week.