Sunday, November 1, 2015

Gourmet Subscription Box Service "Try the World"

Not long ago, I viewed a tweet from the Huffington Post touting a subscription service called "Try the World." My curiosity piqued, I investigated further and discovered that those who sign up receive a box of gourmet food items every two months from various parts of the world.

This certainly appealed to the foodie in me, so I gave it a shot, especially since the first "Paris" box was offered free of charge to start, with future boxes costing $39. Shortly after signing up, the first box arrived at my door and within two weeks, a second box appeared.

Let me first say that the boxes are sturdy, attractive and perfect for re-purposing. I intend to use mine for Christmas gift packaging in a the next several weeks.

Each shipment contains a "culture guide." The Paris booklet listed French movies, poetry, and links to French landmarks like the Louvre, along with a page describing several French places to enjoy food and drink. A Parisian playlist included classic and contemporary music. If you don't mind signing up for Spotify, you can listen here.

Now on to the food. The Paris box contained a variety of products curated by Chef Christophe Schmitt, from the Michelin-rated Le Diane.

The first three items could be considered Continental breakfast accoutrements.  They included a small selection of tea from Palace des Thes, buttery cookies known as "L Mere Poulard's Palets (touted as a French favorites since 1888), and a jar of fig jelly, which I imagine would top off a croissant quite nicely. .

"Try the World" Paris Box Items

Up next was a generous amount of finishing salt which can be used in many recipes. Harvested from the pink salt flats of the French Mediterranean coast, the product can be used to brighten the flavor of raw tomatoes, or add sizzle to the flavor of a steak. I will be using some of mine to top the homemade caramels that I make this time of year.

The Paris box also included a seven ounce jar of Domaines des Vignes mustard, crafted from seeds and vinegar distilled from Bordeaux and Charente wines. The product will pair nicely with the pork liver confit (seen below), to top toast points.

More items in the Paris Box

One item that left me scratching my head was the tube of chestnut spread, so I proceeded to search the "Try the World" website for suggestions on how to use the product. Turns out, it's often used in France as a topping for croissants, but can also be used in Greek yogurt, or on ice cream, as well. The delicate tasting, sweet spread is high in nutrition and low in calories.

Delving into the Spain Box
The Spain box hails from the imagination of Chef Jamie Bissonnette, a star tapas chef, James Beard award winner and owner of the acclaimed tapas restaurant Toro, with locations in Boston and New York.

The accompanying booklet contains tapas recipes, a party playlist including classics and contemporary music, directions on how to play a party card game called Siete Y Media and top sites in Spain to add to your travel list.

Canned white tuna, extra-virgin olive oil, salsa and smoked paprika were among the savory items.

Items in the "Spain" Box

The paprika tin with its vintage graphics was very cute and I found myself inspired to make chicken paprikash after receiving the ingredient.

Spanish Paprika

Here's the finished paprikash, which turned out well and had a nice depth of flavor. You too can make it by clicking on the recipe here, although you'll have to do a little work too, I suppose.

Chicken Paprikash

The sweet items included a jasmine petal jam, which I intend to save for visiting company this holiday season. A rather dry cortadillo, known aptly as a crumble cake, was also included and crafted with a recipe developed over 100 years ago, according to the enclosed card. Sometimes people take nostalgia a bit too far; I, for one, could have done without it.

Faring much better, in my opinion was the sweet confection called turron. Since 1883, El Almendro has been producing the crunchy, light holiday candy. The turron in my box was made with crushed almonds--too bad the box was a little crushed too when it arrived at my doorstep, not unlike the cookies in the Paris box.

I'm on the fence as to whether I will keep subscribing, but do like that you can pause your subscriptions and re-start them at a later date. All in all, I was pleased with the products and will likely order again.

My next two updates will have a Victorian theme since next week I will be dining at a decades-old restaurant called Alfred's Victorian, which is said, by the way, to be haunted.

Later on in the week, I will be staying overnight at a Victorian Bed and Breakfast in Bellfonte, Pa called "The Queen." I'm looking forward to seeing the proprietor's collection of antiques and poking around the town in the 70+degree weather they are predicting.