Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘shopping’ Category

Two posts in one week?  After weeks of nothing?  Yeah, I know.  My posting is inconsistent.  What can I say?  I need to feel inspired.

And inspired is definitely the right word here.  I hadn’t planned on doing another meal prep kit post so soon.  However, a new market opened in Davis Square/Somerville called bfresh last Friday.  There are bfresh stores in Allston and Brighton, which I’ve never been to, but I’ve heard that Somerville is their largest location to date.  I was unsure what to expect other than something that would fit the lifestyle of busy urban dwellers.

Quick review of the market – it’s smart looking.  The price tags on many of the shelves were digital.  It’s bright and small, but probably carries a little bit of everything.  Prices were average.  Some items were expensive.  For example, I saw a package of tempeh for about $5.  I usually pay just $3.  There was onigiri!  At $5 a pop.  But I bought a bottle of coconut aminos because it was a $1 less than what I saw while shopping recently.

They have an app to get coupons and I’m not impressed so far.  There were about 6 coupons available, and I only tried to use one.  My one coupon didn’t apply for some reason when I checked out.  Also, their website said something about getting free shopping bag when you download the app and I didn’t see any coupons in the app for said shopping bag.

I’m not sure if I missed something somewhere, or they just aren’t on top of their communications game.

I was also unimpressed that for a market that has literally only been open for a handful of days, there might be some mislabeled prices already.  My coconut aminos checked out fine, but the meal kit I bought was a $1 more than I thought it was.  I could have sworn that all meal kits were $13.  (Ok, technically $12.99 but I always round up that one silly penny.)

Having said all that, bfresh’s strongest points are their ready made items, their cheese selection, and their bulk selection.  And price annoyance aside, I was there primarily for their meal kits.

(Yeah, that price tag under gnocchi kit looks like it says $12.99.  My receipt, though, shows $13.99.  And I really wasn’t about to turn around and head back into a fairly bustling market to argue over my receipt.)

I didn’t even realize that they were selling ready to go meal kits until a friend of my commented on it recently.  There were about 6 different recipes to choose from – pizza, lemon cod, salmon, sweet potato gnocchi, steak tips, and I think one with turkey.  All of the kits are 2 servings.  These kits don’t claim to be 30 minutes of activity like many other meal kits out there, although most of them probably don’t take too long.

I’m masochistic and picked the sweet potato gnocchi to experiment.  This kit took me almost 2 hours to make, because roasting the gigantic sweet potato in my kit took about an hour in the oven.  I made the sauce easily enough, but the gnocchi making took me more  time than I had expected.  I’ve never made ricotta gnocchi before, and it was quite the sticky mess.

Overall impression of the kit?  Everything seemed pretty fresh.  The spinach in my kit hardly had any bad/slimy bits.  There was less packaging than the ready to go Purple Carrot kit I previously bought.  (Or at least that’s how it felt as I carried it home.)  The only potential downside is that you have to be somewhat comfortable with cooking and ingredients in general.  The recipe card isn’t full of photos.  The packaged ingredients had no labels.  But for me, I was still impressed.

Bfresh sweet potato gnocchi kit

A post shared by @awesomesauceeats on

Now, remember how I called the Purple Carrot recipe card mildly cheap in my previous post?  It’s because the bfresh recipe card is seems expensive by comparison.  It’s laminated and shows the full ingredient list up front.

Shiny laminated card is shiny

A post shared by @awesomesauceeats on

OH HEYYYYY!  I JUST REALIZED THAT THE ESTIMATED COOKING TIME IS UNDER THE INGREDIENT LIST!

Anyway.

The recipe came out fine.  I wish there were a bit more flavoring in it though.  But that might be because, after all these years, I’m still not fond of goat cheese.

Yes, you read that right.  The woman who’s not fond of goat cheese intentionally bought a meal kit with goat cheese in it.  I should have subbed it out, but I thought that if I just didn’t use the full amount that I’d be ok.  So, that’s just me being ridiculous and no fault of the meal kit.

I am sorely tempted to try every flavor of the meal kits.  And since it’s affordable compared to shipped meal kits, I may just do so.

(Here, have another badly lit photo.)

My gnocchi are… rustic

A post shared by @awesomesauceeats on

Reference Links:

http://www.cambridgeday.com/2017/02/06/davis-square-grocery-eyes-feb-24-opening-testing-bfresh-concept-for-regional-growth/

http://somerville.wickedlocal.com/news/20170227/ribbon-cut-for-bfresh-market-in-davis-square

http://bfresh.com/

Read Full Post »

I heard about Purple Carrot, the vegan meal prep kit, when Mark Bittman left the New York Times to work for them.

I kept my eye on their recipes, but I generally found that I was only interested in *maybe* one recipe a week.  But my interest in Purple Carrot rose when it was announced that they were partnering with Whole Foods in Massachusetts for meal prep kits available in stores.  It was rolled out in Dedham first (I think… or was it Danvers?) which was nowhere near me.  Then last week, a few more stores were announced including the Whole Foods at Alewife/Cambridge.  Finally!  A location that I could get to a little more easily.

So I went on Sunday.  My choices were:

  • a cauliflower/beets/green beans with orange sauce
  • a pesto pasta with brussels sprouts
  • a tofu dish that I would have gotten if I weren’t mildly allergic to soy (sadly, I don’t remember which tofu recipe it was exactly)

I decided on the cauliflower/beets/green beans recipe because it wasn’t something that I’d normally picked from a cookbook.

In hindsight, I wish I had picked the pesto pasta.

Now, some quick disclaimers:

  • I am specifically commenting on the in-store pick up kit.  I have no experience with the online, full-service meal kits.
  • I was not paid to do this.  I paid for this out of pocket because I was really curious.
  • I am not vegan.  However, I think one can never had enough vegetable recipes in their repertoire.  (Maybe because I know it’s something I need to work on?)

Got it?  Good.

The cost was $20 for the kit (which like many kits is only 2 servings).  This seemed a little high to me since there are no at-home delivery costs.  My only consolation was that there was a $2 Whole Foods coupon on the box to encourage the sale of a new product.

Ok let's try this

A post shared by @awesomesauceeats on

Unboxing

A post shared by @awesomesauceeats on

 

The kit I picked up had a moldy beet in it.  ONE MISERABLE MOLDY BEET.  The actual recipe on the website says 6oz of beets, and I’m pretty confident that one moldy beet (which was smaller than my fist) was not 6oz.  I tossed it.

Well… that's disappointing

A post shared by @awesomesauceeats on

Luckily, I had my own beets…

… which I proceeded to not even use out of laziness more than anything.

Then to add insult to injury, the mildly cheap looking instruction card mentioned parsley in the recipe.  There was no parsley in my kit, just a ton of thyme.  Said instruction card also did not have an ingredient list.  I was just smart enough to google it (which I will link to at the bottom on this post).

For the record there is no parsley in my box

A post shared by @awesomesauceeats on

Overall impression of the recipe?  Tasty but required too much equipment for a meal prep kit.  Technically, it needed a pan to roast the cauliflower, a pot to boil the beets, and a pan to cook the beans.  Oh, and a small pot for the sauce.

I liked the sauce better than I want to admit.  The sauce was just orange juice, water, cornstarch, brown sugar, and ketchup.  I think that it’s the addition of ketchup rubs me the wrong way.  At any rate, I have more sauce than I need for the cauliflower and the green beans so I’m going to serve with with some baked pieces of chicken.

I am aware that adding chicken will void the vegan-ness of the meal.

Maybe I’ll even throw in the beets by then.

Will I try this again?  Well, I’ll be open minded about it but it’s not the only game in town.**

Oh!  And, fair warning, you might want to measure the ingredients against the original published recipes.  The meal kit gave me almost twice the amount of apple cider vinegar than I needed.

Leftover apple cider vinegar that unfortunately looks like pee in this photo

A post shared by @awesomesauceeats on

Reference Links:

https://www.purplecarrot.com/plant-based-recipes/cauliflower-l-orange-with-beets-and-fresh-herbs

https://www.purplecarrot.com/plant-based-recipes/kale-pesto-cavatelli-with-crispy-brussels-and-sundried-tomatoes

** = hint, hint… I have another meal prep kit post coming.  Maybe as soon as tomorrow.

Read Full Post »

I went to Trader Joe’s yesterday.  I picked up a couple of things that I hadn’t seen before and so far like.

Tastes like taste no. 5 umami Bomba paste. I approve.

A post shared by @awesomesauceeats on

But much more affordable than buying Taste No. 5 Bomba paste… since that gets imported from England.  I’m tempted to stock up on this out of fear.  I hope TJs never stops making this!

 

Also from TJs

A post shared by @awesomesauceeats on

It’s a smidge sweeter than I like.  Not really a surprise, since sugar is the first ingredient, but it’s much tastier than buying hot cocoa packets.

Read Full Post »

So, the story starts like this:  I had an idea for a friend’s bachelorette party in which we have a cocktail making class.

Originally, we thought we could hire a bartender we already knew but that never got off the ground.  Then I thought that maybe I could do a private event through a cocktail making school.  I could only find two in the area, but one was difficult to plan with, and the other lacked any customer response.

So, then I reached out to Boston Shaker.  Boston Shaker is a cocktail provisions store in Davis Square, Somerville that has received fairly glowing reviews ever since they opened.  Alas, the store did not do any private events… however, they did have a recommendation

And that’s when Booze Époque came in.

Over a month’s worth of emails, Meaghan and Harmony of Booze Époque, were wonderful and easy to deal with.  They offer cocktail catering and cocktail classes in the area.  For classes, you can go to their work space in Union Square, Somerville or they can also come out to your location if you have the space.

For the bachlorette, Meaghan and Harmony came out to our chosen location in Boston.  And they were armed with more than we were imagining.

DSC01048-1

DSC01046-1

They even provided some awesome eggplant spread, bread, and goat cheese that they picked up from a local shop.

If there are ingredients in particular that you want to work with, or have an end goal drink in mind, Booze Époque try their best to accommodate.  For example, one friend wanted to experiment with a boozy version of a mango lassi, while another friend want to try to re-create a ginger fig martini she had once.

The ladies of Booze Époque are very chill, friendly, and awesome in person.  The class deviated a bit halfway through, but Booze Époque were ok with it and had no problems shifting their presentations.

If I ever get a chance to coordinate an event with a liquor budget again, I’m contacting Booze Époque.  There’s no question about that.

 

Reference link:

http://www.boozeepoque.com/
(Their blog has some recipes, so I recommend taking a look!)

Read Full Post »

Bonus pictures!

I have a new favorite place.

DSC01033-1

and

DSC01036-1

came home with me.

The maple one is HOLY COW delicious.  It’s really maple-y.  I tasted this vinegar a couple of weeks ago, and tried to fake it with maple syrup and balsamic vinegar.  It’s not the same.  So, I made my sister come with me so that I could buy a bottle.

And the pumpkin spice one is not like pie in a bottle.  It’s much lighter with hints of pumpkin friendly spices.  It works better as an everyday vinegar for vinaigrettes and, as recommended, for baking with squash.  So, I’m definitely going to try that when September rolls in.  (I couldn’t resist buying it; the bottle was on sale.)

My sister also became a fan of the store.  She walked away with a mild extra virgin olive oil and the jalapeño balsamic vinegar.  The jalapeño balsamic vinegar?  I’m a fan of that one too.  It’s not spicy but there is a sort of kick to it and a very mild flavor.

The store also has some awesome flavored olive oils, and everyone who works there has been very friendly.

Not all of their products are listed on their website, so I highly recommend making a trip to the store if you’re in the neighborhood!

I really love this place right now.  (^_^)

Reference link:

http://bostonoliveoilcompany.com/

.

.

.

.

.

… And totally unrelated, but at my cousin’s request.  Pictures of sushi from our favorite sushi place (which I’m still not naming!)…

DSC00992-1

DSC00993-1

Read Full Post »

Note: I purchased the product out of my own pocket. No one paid me or asked me to write this.

I’m a fan of the Blue Apron food/recipe delivery service. Out of curiosity, I decided to try out another similar service called HelloFresh.

Pros: Prices are tailored a bit more to what you need. For a classic box of three meals which includes meat, a two person box is $69, a four person box is $129, and a six person box is $179. The vegetarian boxes are a little cheaper; a two person box is $59, a four person is $109, and a six person box is $149.

There’s also more flexibility in your food choices. One week, the classic box came with Moroccan-Style Chicken with Cumin Chickpea Pilaf, Beef Bulgogi with Brown Rice, and Grilled Shrimp Panzanella with Basil. However, if one or two of those meals were not to your liking, you could swap them for either Pork Burger with Caramelized Onions or Virtuous Vegetarian Curry with Zucchini and Cashews.

In comparison, Blue Apron is the same price with or without meat, and everything is based on feeding two people.

Cons: HelloFresh uses more packaging than Blue Apron… like way more.  All of the seasonings I got from HelloFresh were in disposable packets. Blue Apron uses bottles and plastic cups that can be recycled. Then, HelloFresh also packs all the ingredients for a dish into a clear plastic bag for easy grab. That’s nice but I don’t need the double packaging.  I really don’t need all those plastic bags.*

I also like the the format of the HelloFresh recipe cards less than Blue Apron. They’re a little smaller which means the font and pictures are smaller.  As for the recipes themselves, I feel conflicted.

With my first box, one of the recipes was scallops with brussel sprouts, oranges, and quinoa.  It was really good even though I didn’t get a sear of my scallops.

DSC00867

DSC00879

And in second box, I got a recipe for 1) cod with ramps, tomatoes, and potatoes, and 2) linguini with tomato garlic ragu.  I didn’t make the cod as directed at all.  And I tinkered with the linguini a bit, enough so that it doesn’t really look like the picture on the recipe card.

That’s not to say that I love all of Blue Apron’s recipe.  I feel like with a box that there’s always one recipe that’s more mundane, but so far I haven’t bothered to adjust any of their recipes.

Overall, as someone who likes to cook and experiment, I am less enthusiastic about HelloFresh than Blue Apron.  I think it’s a better service for someone who wants something less exotic.  I could be wrong – I only have two boxes to base my conclusion on.  Unfortunately, you can’t preview their recipes which would be nice to have.  Blue Apron has their cookbook public and free, but Hello Fresh doesn’t seem to electronically publish their recipes.  Or at least, not that I could find.

* = I wrote a note to HelloFresh when I closed my account and mentioned my concern for all the packaging.  Their customer service support is pretty good, and they wrote back to me expressing that they are trying to figure out some sort of recycling program.  I hope they can make it work out.

Reference links:
http://www.hellofresh.com/
http://www.blueapron.com/pages/cookbook

(Sorry for the ill-lit photos.  Food was cooked after sun had set.  And I didn’t take photos of my other meals either because it wasn’t much to look at or because I diverted from the HelloFresh recipe completely.)

Read Full Post »

Disclaimer:  I’m not getting anything for this post.  I bought this for myself.

First things first, I had never heard of Graze until a friend of mine sent me an invite code.  (Yes, an invite code is currently required.)  Originally from the UK, Graze is a healthy snacking company.  You get a small box filled with four different goodies.  It’s a subscription service in that way, like Blue Apron.  If you don’t want any boxes, then you have to cancel or hold your shipments.  A nice feature is that you can change the frequency of deliveries.  It’s $5 per box and that’s with USPS shipping included.

The one gripe I have?  USPS can be really slow.  The company FAQs state that it can take up to 10 business days to receive a box, and they weren’t kidding.  I got my first box in exactly ten business days… which felt even longer than normal because February 18th was a national holiday.  So it was shipped on February 15th but I didn’t receive it until the 28th.

DSC00840
This box is the size a thick graphic novel.  Or, you can say that it’s pretty small since it’s designed to fit in your mailbox with your normal mail.  It’s 9 1/2 inches by 6 1/2 inches by 1 inch.  I took a picture of my box opened with a fork inside it just so that it gives a better visual impression of size.

DSC00845

Short reaction?  I kind of love it.  The snacks are small portions, but they are pretty tasty.   I’ve eaten the el picante, the summer berry compote with shortbread, and the hot cross yum.  The summer berry compote with shortbread felt like it was too small of a portion, but those were some buttery shortbreads!  So, I’m not surprised it’s on the smaller side of things to save calories.  (Note to self – must try all the flavors!)

My box also came with a little card of nutrition facts, which also contains allergy warnings, and “best by” dates.

I’m going to continue with my nibble box for a little bit.  It’s not the cheaper option (you’re better off price-wise buying trail mix from Trader Joe’s, yadda yadda yadda, or making your own), but I’m kind of tired of the snacks that I tend to have on hand.  I’m looking forward to the change of pace.

Here’s a link to the site, and if you want an invite code, drop me a comment.  I only get four invite codes at a time, just to forewarn you.   (Invite codes are also packaged into the box.)  (All gone.  I hope that everyone who got my email gets to enroll.  Graze was giving me conflicting information about the number of invites I had.)

https://www.graze.com/us/

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »