From the very first time I used a microplane, I was hooked. In an instant, the grating process that I had already known to be simple became exponentially more so. The secret, I learned that day, is in the blade.
Before using my first microplane, I had only used the old-fashioned box graters that you can buy anywhere for 5 bucks. They certainly did the trick, but I dreaded being assigned the duty of shredding the cheese for taco night, because doing so would inevitably end up giving me a sore arm. One side of the grater was meant for making slices of food, but that side remained unused for as long as I could remember. It simply wasn't sharp enough to cut anything, let alone delicately thin slices of cheese or radishes.
Thankfully, times are changing. New takes on the tried and true gadgets like those box graters are making cooking easier without the need to develop anything completely new. The Microplane Better Box Grater is a (literally) shining example of this method of gadget refinement.
The grater obviously shreds, and also has four different blade sizes: "extra coarse for soft cheeses; medium ribbon for chocolate, cheeses, nuts, and more; slicer for cucumbers, carrots, and zucchini; and a removable zester for hard cheeses and citrus fruits," according to the Web site. It also comes with a hard plastic cover for protection. Its ergonomic handle and covered legs also offer a lot of gripping area and physical support, so the grater will stay in one spot while you're using it.
It's certainly not a brand-new concept, but seems like it should work a lot better (and looks a lot nicer, too). The Microplane Better Box Grater is available for $35 on Sur la Table's Web site.