Sam Hamilton's Aga cooker, installed in her San Francisco shop March, has us experiencing range envy.
Agas are made of cast-iron, and the thermal mass allows them to cook slowly and evenly; the heat comes from a single central gas burner, which supplies different levels of heat to different parts of the stove. Traditional Agas have two hot plates instead of burners—one for simmer and one for boiling—and multiple ovens. For more information on how they operate, here is a good description.
Above: March owner Sam Hamilton installed an Aga stove in anticipation of the occasional dinners she plans to host in the store; March is also a certified Aga dealer. (For more about the store, see Shopper's Diary: March in San Francisco Relaunches.)
Above: Traditional Agas have two hot plates and a warming plate.
Above: Aga also offers versions with standard gas burners and electric ovens like the Aga Six-Four Range; $9,249 at Vintage Tub or through an Aga dealer. Those of us lacking the roominess of an English country house can still capture the manor look with the smaller Companion Range (with four burners and two ovens); $5,749 at AJ Madison or through an Aga dealer.
Above: Another option with see-through oven doors: the Aga Legacy Dual-Fuel 44-inch Stove with six burners (four in the middle, and two deep burners on either side); $6,399 at AJ Madison or through an Aga dealer.
Above: Aspiring Aga owners can always start with an Aga cast-iron casserole. The Aga Oval Casserole (L) and the Aga Round Casserole (R) are currently available at March in black matte (white versions should be in stock shortly). Prices range from $120 (for the 1.3 liter size) to $268 (for the 4.5 liter size). Contact March to order.
N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on March 13, 2012.