Food & Drink Magazine


By Noblenourishment @NobleNourish

Last week I was tweeted by a writer friend, Paul Forrester, who asked if I’d ever heard of Flavrbox (I hadn’t!). He’d been given a three-month subscription as a birthday gift and was so impressed, he offered to do a wee write-up for Noble Nourishment.

Some of you lovely readers are quite the foodies, so I knew it’d be right up your street!

Thus, delight in this exquisitely written piece by Paul.

Packing in Flavr

For foodies everywhere, whether wannabe Masterchef contestants or not, a dinner party doesn’t just provide the company of friends. It’s an opportunity to show off culinary skill at a time when recreating restaurant-standard quality has never been easier. Innumerable recipe books promise to bring a taste of all corners of the world into the home.

New and unusual ingredients are no longer difficult to find either, thanks to specialist importers, well-stocked foreign supermarkets and larger homegrown supermarkets. But you need to know what you’re looking for, so a little inspiration can go a long way. I need that inspiration more than ever – celebrating my thirtieth birthday recently marks the onset of middle age and a contractual obligation to start hosting said parties!

Except, I’m no stranger to acting as host and finding new dishes with which to impress. I’ve had the mental age of a man in his thirties for well over a decade now, and taken great delight in cooking for friends and family ever since I began living on my own. It’s just been a case of waiting for the numbers to catch up! So it’s not hard to understand why one of my presents was a three-month subscription to the website Flavrbox.

Flavrbox promise to help customers “discover unique, award-winning products to enjoy straight out of the box, as part of your daily routine or to spice up your home cooking.” In fact, my enjoyment of food is so well suited to the concept that the biggest mystery is how I hadn’t heard of it before!

The first of my three deliveries arrived a matter of days after my birthday (new selections comes into effect from the 25th, so I received the one that started at the end of the previous month). Opening the small shoebox-sized parcel revealed a simple-but-informative leaflet about the contents … and a box full of paper ‘bits’.

01 - opening the box!

The temptation to rummage through all that packaging rather than read the leaflet was too great, and I set about uncovering the treasures hidden beneath. First out was a bag of ‘Fire Cracker’ rice puffs made by the wonderfully named Captain Tiptoes, a company who clearly possess a sense of humor. Next came a jar of wild sumac (no, me neither), a packet of Turkish Delight, a jar of garlic mayonnaise and, last but not least, a date and almond ‘wedge’.

02 - Flavrbox contents

I dove straight into the Fire Crackers. Apparently they go well with a cold beer, though I never made it to beer o’clock in order to check! I started by eating them one at a time, and the level of chilli heat was perfect for my over-sensitive taste buds. With the reassuring warmth of paprika in there too, the rice puffs were soon finding their way out in twos and threes. The heat lingered a little longer, but never unpleasantly so.

Next up was the Turkish Delight – pistachio cocoa flavor – produced by a London food company called Arabica. As well as being lower in sugar, it is made without gelatine. There was still a firmness when biting into it, but without the odd chewiness that normally follows, making it much more pleasant to eat. A creamy texture combined with subtle sweetness meant it practically melted in the mouth. Happily, I had nobody around to share it with, and the five pieces were a delight (or Delight, if you prefer) to savour.

My evening meal that day featured good old chips, so the multiple award-winning garlic mayonnaise was soon called into action. Being made with purple garlic so as to avoid a bitter aftertaste certainly worked to the product’s advantage. It had a thin consistency, which was favourable compared to the typical ‘gloopiness’ of mass-produced sauces, but was no less creamy and much more flavoursome. I can’t wait to try it with other dishes.

The Spanish date and almond wedge comprised just those two ingredients (90% of the former, 10% of the latter), and came in a wedge shape. No misleading marketing there! The recommendation was to enjoy it as an afternoon treat, or after dinner with cheese. Dates rarely feature in my diet, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Certainly, I imagined it being sweeter, but the natural flavours complemented one another and didn’t need to shout to be heard.

03 - date and almond wedge

All of which left the sumac: a Middle Eastern spice from the berries of the sumac shrub. Being a red-coloured powder it was hard to imagine it giving the promised citrus tang, so I indulged in a little trial and error cooking. A chicken breast rubbed with olive oil and plenty of sumac, left to marinade for six hours and then given twenty-five minutes in the oven, produced wonderfully tender meat with an unmistakable note of lemon.

04 - sumac chicken, sweet potato chips and garlic mayo

Should it have been a more powerful note? Hard to say, though the Flavrbox leaflet suggested using lemon juice in the marinade and letting it work its magic overnight. Which means I’ve got something to try another time, especially when I next dig out the barbecue from under all the junk in the garden shed.

Because of how the calendar has worked out, I’ll receive my second delivery only a couple of weeks after getting the first. It’s exciting to see what comes next, and if everything I’ve described is typical of the variety in each new selection then there’ll be plenty more fresh ideas – enough, perhaps, to host a fully Flavrbox-inspired dinner party.

I know how to round it off, at least. I’m no connoisseur of cheese, but I tried the date and almond wedge as an accompaniment to some bog-standard supermarket Double Gloucester. It was an excellent suggestion: the savoury of the cheese brought alive the sweetness that had previously only whispered, both tastes dancing in unison around my tongue.

Getting older I might be, but that’s no reason to stop experiencing new things. When there are new food discoveries like this to be made, who cares about age?

Amazon author photo 02

Well, I am just salivating at those descriptions!

If you enjoyed Paul’s writing style, be sure to visit his website The Writing Man.

Or follow him on Twitter, if that’s more your bag!


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