After much ado, I have purchased a Bialetti Aeternum saute pan.
Three years ago, I received stainless steel cookware from my parents as a gift. I had debated whether I wanted non-stick cookware or stainless steel, and opted for the stainless primarily out of health concern about the materials used to create a non-stick coating. The stainless steel set is more difficult to use, and has required alot of adjustment to my cooking, but I love it. And they are so pretty.
I retained a small non-stick saute pan for grilled cheese sandwiches and omelets. The non-stick finish had begun to peel and I debated whether and how to replace it. About the same time, Food and Wine Magazine profiled the Aeternum line from Italian company Bialetti, with a ceramic non-stick finish. I was excited. Once I saw how affordable they were ($20 for the 8″ saute pan, $30 for the 10″, etc.), I was ecstatic. And then I realized that every outlet was sold out of the small saute pan. I guess all the other subscribers read their magazine and got online before I did, and I silently vowed to read each new issue at the mailbox. I ordered the pan from three different outlets and either had my order cancelled or delayed repeatedly. One order was delayed for four months and I finally gave up and cancelled it myself.
But the pans are now back in stock, and I found one at my local Bed, Bath, and Beyond. And being me, I used a $5 off coupon, making the pan $15.
After three uses, I think it’s totally worth the $20 (or $15). My first attempt was an omelet for Baby…and I actually even tossed it in the pan. I was so excited, I squealed and Emory clapped her hands and laughed. So much fun — assuming you’re into that type of thing. Yesterday for lunch, I made scrambled eggs for Baby yesterday and an Thyme and Mozzarella Omelet for myself and danced around all over again. And for dinner, we sauteed zucchini. Food cooks perfectly in it, and looks beautiful against its white ceramic coating. Like a non-stick pan, it needs seasoned (rubbed with an oiled paper towel) periodically when it is dry but warm, and it does require some oil or pan coat. It cleans very easily, particularly because the handle is attached without rivets inside the pan.
They certainly wouldn’t replace my stainless set for my other cooking needs, but I may purchase the larger Aeternum saute pans at some point. I love my new pan!
Update (August 2011): My cousin Tracy was debating purchasing the same pans, and read a review where the Pan Owner had experienced “pitting” in the ceramic non-stick coating of her pan. Tracy contacted me to see if I had experienced the same. I inspected both of my pans (I own the 10-inch pan now) and found some minor pitting (perfect, tiny circles) on the 8-inch saute. So for fun, I reached out to the company’s customer service department and indicated my pan appeared to have a manufacturing defect. (It isn’t chipping away or peeling or anything that appeared to be from use.) They asked for a picture of the defects (easy enough), and after I sent them, shipped me a free replacement within a few weeks. So the bad news, is there can be potential problems with these pans (although my 10-inch saute is still in perfect condition), but the good is that their customer service department is attentive and empowered to make things right.