Thursday, 30 August 2012

Flavrbox review


A few weeks ago, I saw a tweet go by from Flavrbox and just the name was enough to get me intrigued enough to go off investigating. They explain : "Flavrbox was started by a group of friends who wanted to do something about the food industry. We love discovering new things and we also love food. So we thought we'd combine these passions to create something that we can all enjoy together. [...] Armed with only our goodwill and passion for food and enterprise, we decided to create a Flavrbox; a community that exists to champion independent food and drink producers by making it easy for people to discover and buy their products. At a basic level it works a bit like a farmer’s market, but it’s online, runs all year round and is national! Our vision is to draw people away from supermarket shopping habits and big multinational brands and open up a world of culinary delight."


That sounds fabulous so when the opportunity arose to review a flavrbox, I jumped at the chance and was already salivating, imagining the little known brands and foodstuffs I'd soon be discovering. I wasn't disappointed. Soon this lovely selection was dropped off by the postie :

- Sharpham Park Speltotto Sundried Tomato & Chilli
- Sharpham Park Speltotto Courgette, Garlic & Thyme
- Amori pasta
- Olives et Al Red Pepper & Almond Pesto
- Forest Pig Rustic & Walnut Charcuterie
- Booja-Booja Organic Raspberry Truffles




The first thing that everybody was drooling over and wanted to eat before I'd even unpacked the rest was the Forest Pig Charcuterie, which looked like it belonged on a wooden trestle table at a farmers' market in France. Aside from the products themselves, I love the fact that Flavrbox tells you all about the producers so you can get a real feel for where your food is coming from. Forest Pig has an outstanding ethos. The write-up explains : "Forest Pig Charcuterie is a family run business producing charcuterie from dedicated premises on their smallholding. Using their own forest reared pigs they replicate systems that they learned in the mountains of Tuscany. Working in collaboration with the Forestry Commission, their home bred rare breed pigs are reared to over 12 months of age, spending at least the last 8 months foraging in the Wyre Forest. Together with strict adherence to slow artisan production methods that allow the full cured flavour to develop, their charcuterie is of distinction, as noted by Rose Prince in the Daily Telegraph. . “as good as any made in southern Europe”." The pack contains two varieties, Rustic and Walnut, which are both absolutely succulent and delicious. Even the Madhouse Mini-testers loved it, which isn't always the case when they find it too tough to chew and Pierre spits it out claiming it is chewing gum ! The whole pack disappeared in record time !


The Amori pasta reminded me very much of the authentic Italian pasta I was sent to review from Garofalo. The kids loved the unusual long spiral shapes and the pasta stays nice and firm with a slightly nutty flavour when cooked al dente. It is totally unlike the often bland, soggy pasta that you find on most supermarket shelves. It released less starch too so it didn't all stick together or to the pan. My only slight niggle is that the packet wasn't big enough for a family of five (so I had to throw in a few handfuls of regular pasta to pad it out a bit which was a shame). I love the fact that it is produced by Bookhams at Bates Green Farm in Arlington, East Sussex, just a stone's throw away from my hometown of Hastings !



The Sharpham Park Speltotto - a risotto dish made with spelt instead of rice - is actually a product that I wrote an in-depth review for quite some time ago so I'll let you read that instead of repeating myself. The Courgette, Garlic & Thyme flavour was a new one for us and everyone loved it.


Sadly, I had a bit of an issue with the Olives et Al Red Pepper & Almond Pesto. When I unpacked the Flavrbox, there was some oil that had leaked from somewhere all over the bottom of the box. Although I couldn't actually see it leaking anywhere, by deduction it had to be the jar of pesto because it was the only thing with an oil content.



When I opened the jar, it made a weird fizzy noise, exactly like when you open a bottle of lemonade ! Although it looked and smelt perfect, it had obviously fermented - you could actually see bubbles working their way up through the pesto. (There's one at the top of the jar (at 12 o' clock) if you look closely at the picture.) I wrote an Olives Et Al Putney Sauce and Chilli Billy Jelly review a while ago so I was actually quite gutted because I know how lovely their products are. This is obviously an issue with the individual product though and absolutely not the fault of Flavrbox. As this was a complimentary box for review purposes, I didn't complain but I'm sure they'd be happy to replace it on a paid order.


The final product - Organic fresh raspberry truffles from Booja-Booja - was delicious. The dairy-free truffles were quite melted when they come out of the box but, on reading the packaging, I noticed that you should keep them in the fridge and take them out 20 minutes before eating them to enjoy them at their best. Oops, I hadn't noticed that !


I popped them in the fridge for half an hour which firmed them up nicely, sliced them into small squares and - hmmmmm ! - they were divine. They're very rich so you only need a small amount (great news for the diet !) and, in fact, they were so rich that the Madhouse Mini-testers didn't like them - even better news  for me and Madhouse Daddy Mike! They're perfect as an indulgent grown-up treat for finishing off dinner or sharing on the sofa.

I loved all the products in the Flavrbox as well as the fact that they introduced me to some great companies that otherwise would have passed me by. I also love the totally random element - you have to trust them to pick the products for you so you never know what you'll get, which makes it as exciting as a Secret Santa !

*** STOP PRESS ! Just in case you missed it, Sebastien from Flavrbox has replied in the comments below about the pesto problem and confirmed that everyone concerned did get a full refund, as I suspected. He also mention a fabulous discount - you can use the code HALFPRICE2012 to get 50% off your first box (£10 instead of the usual £20) :) ***

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £20 a month (cheaper if you sign up for a longer subscription)

for more information : http://flavrbox.com/

Disclosure : I received a Flavrbox in order to write an honest review.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

6 comments:

  1. Lucky girl! sounds like a lovely selection, a shame about pesto! I must confess I never tried a speltotto, though I do buy spelt grains for soup (or the Italian version, to be precise, which is called farro).

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  2. Wow that sounds absolutely delicious!

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  3. Those truffles sound delicious!

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  4. Thanks for the review Cheryl :)

    Sincere apologies about the pesto - we've had a couple of other people emailing about the same issue, so it must have been a problem with that particular batch of jars we were sent by the supplier. I've emailed to let them know about it, so hopefully it won't happen again. And we've offered a full refund to all those who were affected.

    @Kate and @Megan - if despite the small issue in last month's box, you're tempted to sign up, you can use the code HALFPRICE2012 to get 50% off your first box (£10 instead of the usual £20) :)

    Any questions, please do send us an email at support@flavrbox.com.



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  5. Great review! sounds yummy! Shame about the pesto but it happens often with pesto jars, even the ones you buy at the supermarket

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  6. Thank you for your kind review of our Amori dry pasta - do also please try our Penne & Rigoletti dry pastas as well, & for family appetites we offer the larger 500gm bags, which you can find on http://www.bookhams.com/pasta.html.

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