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Fontignac: The enameled cast iron debate continues

I've read countless reviews and debates about Le Creuset v. Staub. v. Lodge v. Tramontina and I still haven't come to any conclusions. I'd like to replace a Batili that has chipped, rusted and generally not fared well in the whopping 5 times I've used it.

Has anyone had experience with Fontignac? I've found little discussion of it, and few reviews on the Bed Bath and Beyond website. I do know it's made by Staub, seems affordable and has a shape I like better than the curved sides of Lodge.

Any help? Or anyone with a less expensive brand like Tramontina or Lodge who can attest to its condition after further usage?

Thank you!!

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  1. Here's a discussion I found re: Le Creuset v. Fontignac. I have never used Fontignac, FWIW.

    http://www.seriouseats.com/talk/2010/...

    1. You have inflicted a lot of damage on your current DO in very little usage. Unless you mend your ways, you'd be wise to replace it from one of the economical lines. My enamed Dutchies are a Martha Stewart from her K-Mart days, and a larger Tramontina. They are about 20 and 10 yrs old, respectively. I also have a vintage naked cast iron one that was old when I got it 40 years ago. You don't drag a DO over the burner. You don't rap utensils on the edge of an enameled. one. If your sink does not have a mat, you lay a towel into it before hand-washing your DO. You take pains not to knock it into anything. You avoid thermal shock. If you treat it properly, even a lower priced DO will last indefinitely.

      3 Replies
      1. re: greygarious

        :::: You don't rap utensils on the edge of an enameled one. ::::

        :::: If your sink does not have a mat, you lay a towel into it before hand-washing your DO. ::::

        While I agree with everything else you said, I have not had a single problem in 32 years with rapping wooden utensils (I've never used metal) on the edge of anything by Le Creuset. And I've never even heard of the "put a towel in the sink" trick.

        1. re: greygarious

          Here is one review comparing conditions under normal use.

          http://localkitchenblog.com/2011/01/0...

          But then there is also this (although not long term

          )

          http://www.thehungrymouse.com/2011/06...

          I was at Bed Bath & Beyond today and noticed this line. Two colors were marked down to $80 (so with the coupon would be an even better deal).

          I do not have anything to compare to, since I only have a Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker I am using while saving up for a Dutch Oven.

        2. Agree with others comments re: usage. 5 uses shouldn't have damaged a pot, unless you were seriously abusing it. (Rust??)

          I have four Fontignac pieces and love them. Great stuff, IMO.

          1. greygarious is correct. Enameled cast iron cookware are fragile compared to other cookware. It is the nature of the beast. Now, as you probably know, Lodge Color and Tramontina enameled cast iron cookwares have good reputation and are highly rated by Cooks Illustrated and consumer reviews. So if you don't want to spend extra money, those are your best bet. The other one is Chefmate. I have a Lodge Color. It is pretty good stuff.

            Still, I won't somehow expect there will be some night and day huge difference between a Le Creuset or a Lodge Color or a Batili. If your pot get destroyed in 5 cooking session, then either you got unlucky and got a bad pot or you are not using the enameled cast iron cookware correctly.

            1. I'm not familiar with Battali cookware (meaning that I've never owned any) but at one time I had about a dozen pieces of Le Creuset of various types and used them on a semi-daily basis for about 10 years (before the wrist went bad 8 years ago and I had to give up the uber-heavy cookware for the most part, LOL). That said, I do still have 3 pieces of LC, including one of the almost-20-year-old DOs, that I use occasionally.

              A couple of the LC did get a chip or two but I knew that was my fault from careless handling such as dragging across a coil burner, but otherwise they all held up fine (including the interiors). On the other hand I never "babied" my cookware either (being young and stupid at the time, LOL) -- never used padding in the sink for instance, though I am sure I rapped more than my share of utensils on the edges from time to time.

              My first thought on reading the OP and the first link in 77Pat's post is that the Battali pieces may not have as "good" an enamelling process as LC does on theirs, or perhaps the Battali enamel layer is thinner than LC's, and thus it chips easily. I am sure that there are differences in the quality of the enamel and/or actual process, just as there are in many other things (plastic vs metal gears, rubber vs plastic gaskets, etc etc etc). I am sure there is a reason why the Battali is cheaper than LC or Staub (if that's the case generally) and perhaps their enameling process is it -- thus making their surface more fragile in what would be normal usage for other brands of this type. Seriously, in order to sell it for less they MUST be cutting corners somewhere along the line and it sounds it's in the quality of their enameling.