There comes a time in every cook's life when he/she acquires a new kitchen tool or gadget, something that has the potential to change his/her cooking forever. For instance, one distinction I make in my cooking life is before-Wusthof vs. after-Wusthof. More recently, before-Zuni cookbook vs. after-Zuni cookbook.
After my 10 years of serious cooking and only getting fiercer w/ these boards, my darling husband suggested that we get me (us) a Le Creuset French oven, something I've been coveting for a long time, for our upcoming anniversary. Yeah, not a surprise, but the surprise French mandoline one year wasn't a big hit. :-)
So this will be my first (and only) Le Creuset item. I'm anti-clutter, so I only want ONE item that will prove to be the most versatile and functional. I know that I want a round French oven, not the oval. I know I want the bright flame color (pic below). My major dilemma is around the size: should I get the 5.5 or 7.25 qt.?? Am leaning towards the 7.25 since I've read that's the most popular size and erring on the bigger side seems smart (a chowhound tenet); however, I'm worried it will be really bulky, heavy, and cumbersome (I'm petite and a weakling) and that I won't really need the extra volume in the end.
It's just the two of us, but I generally make at least 4 servings of things and we do entertain regularly. Imagine myself using it more in the fall/winter for braises, roasts, cassoulet and such. Which size would you recommend if you could just get one? Pros? Cons?
So far we've found the best deal at Cutlery and More (see link). Around $140 for the 5.5 qt. and $170 for 7.25 qt. w/ a bonus grill pan; no tax and free shipping. Caplan Duval is about the same but charges for shipping, and we missed their big overstock sale earlier this year. Any major redflags or horror stories w/ C&M? Anyone know of a better online deal? Thanks for aiding in my culinary milestone...
PS. If you want to talk me out of it for reasons based on your experience or have a different brand rec, I'm open to that too.