Thursday, 2 February 2012

Larder Box - February

Today I woke up very very excited (and trust me, it was not for the Sociolinguistics lecture), because today is the first Thursday of the month, and I was going to receive my first Larder Box, full of goodies ready to try out. Fast forward a few hours, and I'm placing the box on the kitchen table ready to open it. And I do. At first there was an envelope with my name on (handwritten, how cute!), which included details about the products, as well as ideas on how to use them.

Next, there was a bag - not the Mulberry kind, don't get too excited - which is a reusable, eco-friendly bag to carry the shopping (well that's what I'll do with it!) in an effort to avoid plastic bags.

And now, cutting to the chase! There was a variety in products in the box, from honey to blackberry vinegar and pop corn. Starting with my favourite, the blackberry vinegar; the information inside the envelope said: 'The homegrown herbs and fruits are the key ingredients in their products and everything is still made by hand using a traditional process they perfected over the years', this got me even more excited since I love handmade/traditional products! I've never tried it but I have a feeling it will be perfect for dressings (particularly with goat-cheese salads), drizzling over chocolate desserts and with meaty dishes such as pork, as it will give a fruity undertone and give the flavours that extra oomph. The leaflet seems to agree: 'A mild spirit vinegar is infused with generous quantities of fruit to create a deep and intense flavour which is brilliant as a marinade, dressing, when used in a sauce or added to a cocktail' . The information leaflet seems to agree: Moreover, the one in the box, by Womersley, has won a Great Taste Gold Award in 2011!

Next, there is Joe & Seph's Gourmet Popcorn. According to the information, Joseph Sopher 'has been creating increasingly adventurous and unusual flavour combinations', hence the the Caramel & Sea Salt flavour, but the range of flavours also include cheese and walnut, as well as toffee apple and cinnamon, thanks to Sopher's unique method of layering flavours. Again, although I think this brand has been circulating for some time in Harrod's, I've never had the chance to try it, so I'm excited now that I have it!

Next up we have the Pukka Dukka blend by Taste Gourmet Spice Co., which is 'a fragrant blend of Middle Eastern spices, nuts and herbs which makes a brilliant accompaniment to many dishes'. Keywords: Middle East, spices, nuts, herbs. What's not to love?! The mixture is made up of hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, peanuts, cumin, coriander, fennel and sesame seeds, which are all already toasted and chopped by hand to 'wake up' all their lovely flavours. I thought of sprinkling it on salads to give a bit of crunch from the nuts , or make a rub for lamb probably by mixing it with oil. This blend seems to have so much attitude and offer so many punchy flavours, I can't wait to try it out!

The fourth ingredient was a classic one: blossom honey. This particular one is by The Sheffield Honey Company, who extract their honey from the hive with the minimum warming and filtration so it maintains the quality of honey direct from the comb. It also claims to be packed full of pollen so it has a unique flavour specific to the flowers and trees the bees have collected it from. Although up to this moment I didn't know that Sheffield produced honey, it seems quite high quality, plus I can see it now in my head, this honey drizzled on my morning toast!

The fifth product was a 70% cocoa West African Pure Dark Chocolate Powder by Mortimer Chocolate Company. Like in the case of Womersley, they are also Gold Award winners for their dark chocolate powder, so again I expect it to be a very high quality product as it uses a blend of cocoa liquors from Forastero-type cocoas from Ghana, the Ivory Coast and Nigeria to make rounded flavour with raisin and sultana notes that are typical of this region. I don't think I'll be using it for for hot chocolate, as I prefer my drinking chocolate a bit sweeter, but I think it will be great in chocolate desserts or sprinkled over a chilli.

Last but not least, there was also a small packet with thyme seeds in by Allotinabox. According to the information in the envelope, it is best planted at the beginning of March and requires minimum attention and only occasional watering. Personally, I don't think I will plant it, because I'm not really into gardening, but I am going to give it to someone who is a big fan of growing her own herbs (my mum that is).

Overall, I'm quite pleased. I'm sure I will have an exciting week (I'll be away over the weekend) using all these new products, and hopefully bringing my food to the next level!

If you are interested in subscribing as well to the Larder Box, you can do so here. It costs just under twenty pounds per month (including P&P), for receiving every first Thursday of the month a lovely box such as this one, but works out to be even less if you subscribe for a year.

Would you subscribe to a service like this one? What do you think? :)



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