There’s something about receiving a box of goodies in the mail that is super exciting! Especially when the contents of the box are a big surprise! Last week, I was lucky enough to be sent an April Tasting Box for review from Gourmet Spotting — a monthly subscription service for foodies and wanna-be foodies like myself. Since I had browsed the site a bit before my order arrived, I knew that whatever my box held, it was going to be delicious. I love it when I’m right!
Gourmet Spotting opened it’s “doors” in November of 2012, so they are relatively new to the monthly subscription box scene. What I love about this service is that it includes products that will actually be used and enjoyed in my home, you can never go wrong with food and being able to try new products that we may have never known about, would be such a fun thing to look forward to each month!
The box ships as a plain postal box and the products inside are nestled in shredded paper and tissue paper. When I opened my box up, I was thrilled! Do you think the folks over at Gourmet Spotting are mind readers! They included three of my very favorite kitchen staples, plus something I’ve been wanting to try for a long time! Score!
I have a soft spot for Extra Virgin Olive Oil — I love buying pretty jars of it to keep next to the stove so I can drizzle it on everything and anything! The bottle of Romanico Extra Virgin Olive Oil that came in my box hails from Arbequina olives and is made near Arbeca, a very arid region of Catalunya, Spain. Fancy-Schmancy — woo! The oil tasted so lovely that I had to drizzle it on a bowl of leftover pasta. Along with a few grinds of sea salt, fresh pepper and a sprinkle of romano cheese and some roasted red peppers — it was an amazingly luxurious lunch!
Also in my kitchen is one cupboard devoted to tea of every kind. Chai tea happens to by my favorite bland and I was really excited to see a package of Yogic Chai’s Original Masala Chai nestled in the shredded paper of my Tasting Box. I love that this loose tea includes tea bags that you can fill as well. This Yogic Chai tea is made with fair trade Assam tea and 100% Organic ingredients. It is an aromatic blend of organic Assam tea, organic Green Cardamom tea, organic cinnamon, cloves and ginger and it smells just heavenly! I think it’s wonderful that there are no added sweeteners or sugars in this chai mix, just natural, wonderful flavors. I had no idea that chai tea helps with mental awareness, fatigue and energy levels! I do know that it tastes delicious and I wish this bag was never-ending!
Who doesn’t like cookies? I know I love them! These Goji Berry, Goji Cherry Cocao Cookies from New York are new to me and quickly becoming a favorite. The little morsels are from Goji Gourmet and I truly enjoy the rich taste, soft and chewy centers and the touch of sweetness when you bite into a goji berry. Made with organic goji berries that are high in antioxidants, these little cookies also include all natural ingredients such as buckwheat honey, dried cherries, cage-free eggs, pink Himalayan Sea Salt, turmeric and all sorts of other easy to pronounce goodies. Yum.
And, last but not least — the chocolate! I almost tossed this out with the box, it was nestled so deeply into the shredded paper. It would have been very sad indeed had I not been able to sample these delectable little squares! I can see why Bon Appetit magazine called Askinosie Chocolate “the best in the world.” These squares have that dark chocolate taste that I adore, along with a richness that leaves you closing your eyes in bliss. Founder, Shawn Askinosie, left his very successful 20-year career as a criminal defense attorney to follow his passion for chocolate and cupcakes in 1999! Today, along with his wife, daughter and son-in-law, Shawn enjoys his new career as a chocolate maker. It’s an interesting story and you can read all about it on the website. Anywho — the dark chocolate Itty Bars are amazing! I wish I could have the C-Ration Month Supply of Chocolate shipped to my door every month!
An Interview with co-founder Sandro
I asked Sandro a few questions about why he and his partner Aman founded Gourmet Spotting. I wanted to know the how and the why of it so here are his answers!
Question: How do you go about choosing the items that you include in your Tasting Boxes?
Sandro Says: The way we choose the products is by sampling and trying as many products as possible: we source them first hand by reaching out to artisans, importers, trade organizations, and by travelling to meet local companies. We are currently working with a company out of Brazil to help them in the export process, so that we can ship some of their products to our subscribers. We try products, and regularly host a close group of friends that test the products and rate them blindly (no packaging to distract). Based on the ratings and mine and Aman’s judgment, we choose the products.
Also, please remember that we do pay for the products that we include in our Tasting Box: most monthly subscription services receive their samples for free so they are obviously forced to choose between the available products. We buy and pay fairly our artisans and suppliers, and as you have seen, we include full sizes of products. We really want to give unique products.
Question: Do you have a favorite story about how you came across an unexpected item that you have included in a box?
Sandro Says: Let’s talk about a discovery experience :)
As me and Aman were travelling in Southern Italy, randomly selecting our next destination, we ran into a very old farm with farmhouse. We walked around, and as we stepped foot inside to greet the owners (people are very welcoming in Italy), our senses were thrown into a different world: the pungeant yet fantastic smell of truffles, olives, and a set of tools used to make real truffles extra virgin olive oil. We met the producers, who told us that making truffle oil has been his life, and his father, and grandfather. The passion in his words, the perfection in his final product which we tried on home cooked bread, the love in what some artisans do, it all made us see a world that we had long forgotten. We were both working corporate jobs, doing what normal people do, which is go to college, get a job, get promoted, make money, etc…no matter what you really want to do.
Meeting this old man who spoke about his oil for hours made us realize that life is nothing if you don’t follow your dreams (or mission, as he liked to call it). We bought some of his oil, brought some back for our friends, and they fell in love with it. The organic white truffle EVOO we tried has been sent to many of our subscribers even if the cost exceeds what is supposed to be our budget for the monhtly box. People must try it. It’s that good. I use it on everything, from eggs to steaks, even a few drops on vanilla gelato.
About, where to find, and how to stay in touch!
Gourmet Spotting is a curated monthly subscription service for foodies! Each month, members receive a curated box that includes 4 to 6 medium/full sized delicious gourmet products, all delivered to their front door. Tasting Boxes may be purchased for $29.99 + $7.95 shipping, on a month by month basis, at www.GourmetSpotting.com.
Give a meal to charity
Every time we ship out a Tasting Box, we donate a meal to charity. Thanks to you, together we are fighting hunger in America. We love you for this, and you should know that.
In your monthly box you might find gourmet treats such as prized tea from China, potato chips from El Salvador, fresh pastas from Italy and so much more. it’s a surprise each month! You may also purchase individual products in the site’s store, so you can get more of your favorites! To keep up with promotions and news, check out the Gourmet Spotting Facebook page, follow @gourmetspotting on Twitter and Pinterest.
Use coupon code HENS5OFF to receive $5 off your first month of Gourmet Spotting. Please note that the code is valid for new customers only and will expire on 5/11/13.
Win a delicious Tasting Box!
Thanks to Gourmet Spotting, one lucky reader is going to have the chance to sample their very own monthly subscription box! The winner will receive a Tasting Box full of 4 – 6 full size products, it’s sure to be just as good, if not better than the one I received!. WooHoo!
Entry is super easy using the Rafflecopter form below. Just complete as many entries as you would like, there are several daily entries so come back each day for those! Giveaway is open to U.S. residents ages 18+ only and will end on May 15, 2013 at 11:59pm est. Winner will be chosen randomly using the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted via email. Winner must respond to winner notification email within 48 hours or a new winner will be drawn. Sponsor will be responsible for shipping prize to winner.