A microplane is one of my most used kitchen tools. Microplanes do a wide variety of jobs better than anything else, are not expensive and last a long time. They are easy to clean and come with a blade guard which keeps them sharp and working correctly.
Microplanes are essentially very sharp and very fine cheese graters on steroids. Think of the fine grating side of a box-grater but twice as sharp and even finer. This makes them suitable for many jobs that a cheese grater just does not do very well.
Nothing beats a microplane for zesting citrus fruits. This is especially true if the zest is destined for sauces or baked goods. The sharp teeth of the microplane remove only the zest, leaving the white(and bitter) pith unscathed. The zest produced is fine enough not to need further chopping or processing. This can be a frustrating job with a dedicated zester or cheese grater or knife but takes less than a minute for a whole lemon when using a microplane.
Grating fresh ginger or turmeric root is another task microplanes excell at. Unlike most common graters, microplanes are sharp enough to cleanly sever the fibers in these roots. This gives a nice, clean, finely grated product for use in any recipe.
When minced garlic is called for, use a microplane instead of a knife and save time and having to clean a cutting board. I like to microplane fresh raw garlic onto my green salads just before eating. Used in a sauce or dressing, the resulting garlic is fine enough to just disappear, contributing nothing but flavor.
Hard cheeses can also be grated with a microplane. This works very well when just a light topping for a casserole is needed or when grating onto plated pasta at the dining table. The finely grated cheese also melt quickly and smoothly into sauces and soups.
Microplanes also do a wonderful job of grating whole nutmeg and allspice. This is great when only a little is needed to top a dessert or add to a cup of tea.
If you have not tried a microplane before, I hope you will. They are a great kitchen tools with multiple uses and save a lot of time and effort.