Exploring New Subscription Boxes

Once you get past Chinese & Mexican the number of international restaurants is pretty slim in the immediate area. As I love my global goodies I decided to have some delivered to scratch that itch. I’ve done Universal Yums in the past which brought snacks from other countries to my door so this time I opted for Try Treats and Eat2Explore. The one I’m going to talk about now is Eat2Explore. Something different this time is trying out a video unboxing. We’ll see how this goes.

I’m clearly not ready to convert this to a video blog but it was something different. So was this whole experience. This box would be really great if you had kids and wanted to get them introduced to foods from other cultures and learning about other places. The two info cards are quick hits of information about the country, food & origins, social studies, math & art. Plus a QR code to take you to more online information. Kind of cool.

The next thing about this box is that it’s about making the dishes rather than dropping a ready made meal on your doorstep. If you enjoy cooking then this could be for you. I also appreciated the fact that each recipe was provided with both with a good version and a vegetarian option (I know my carnivore is showing). I do think it’s a nice touch for those who swing that way. The recipes are fairly straight forward and ingredients included in the box are highlighted in the finished dishes. The included shopping list is quite a nice touch too. That also explained the kitchen gadget I thought was a spoon holder was actually a lid prop to keep the lid open a crack so you can avoid boil overs.

The meals were all tasty and I wound up using them as meal prep for the week to save time and have a tasty homemade meal several more times. The first one I made was jerk chicken thighs with Caribbean rice and coleslaw.

The spicy peppers were evident in the jerk paste but not overly hot. The sweetness of the pineapple I think helped tamp it down. The coconut milk powder I said in the video was for the coconut shrimp was really for this rice recipe. I loved this rice. I did go off book and use some brown jasmine rice rather than white but that in no way detracted from my enjoyment. The slaw was a little juicy but had a nice flavor that went well with the rest of the meal. I looked forward to the left overs. Next up was the curry chicken stew.

Another relatively simple dish that had a ton of great flavor and the left overs were better than the first meal after cooking. I used chick breast in this one and stuck to my brown rice over the white. This was a fairly sweet curry stew and very aromatic. It was also very filling with both rice and potatoes in addition to the chicken. If you’re trying to cut carbs this is not the meal you are looking for. I like curry a lot so this was probably my favorite of the 3 recipes overall. Having said that the next one was an excellent contender.

It doesn’t look like much with only 4 jumbo shrimp but wow these were nice and the meal was sufficient to fill me up. I’ve had coconut shrimp before and they were ok. These were better than any I’ve had before. It wasn’t anything super special other than they had bigger flakes of coconut and they were baked rather than fried. The sauce was like a homemade yum yum sauce and the riced cauliflower with mixed vegetables was not bad at all. I did use the left over egg from the dredging of the shrimp in the cauliflower and vegetables like a stir fry. The shrimp was the single biggest surprise for me and was simple enough I’ll give them another go. They also reheated well in the oven.

I signed up for a few months so we’ll see what it brings. This one certainly was worthwhile.

Island In The Storm

Ok, it wasn’t that stormy and it was Caribbean Island food rather than an actual Island but that doesn’t change the fact that it brightend a dreary day.

A couple of weeks ago I saw the Caribbean Hut when I was out buying a gift and knew I had to check it out. It’s a good 25 minutes from the house but less than 10 from the office so I decided it would be a good weekday lunch spot.

As the title suggests it was a dreary day with the cold rain just starting to fall so called it in to get there and back relatively quickly. I got the chicken combo that let’s you choose chicken prepared 2 ways. I went curried and jersey.

I also got a couple of oxtail dinners for a coworker to take home. So when they double bagged it I assumed it was leak protection, and it was, but also because of the weight. Man that was a ton of food.

I easily made 2 meals out of this and could have really split it into 3 and still had a filling meal each time. So they were aces on the quantity. I actually dove on the vegetable first because they were 80% cabbage and I like cabbage a lot. Tasty and well seasoned. The rice and beans were ok on their own but really were a delivery system for the gravies.

I had the curry chicken the first day. Let me just say the cleaver weilder who chopped the chicken was not concerned with the niceties of butchering. The only concern was relative chunk size, consequently there were surprise bones in almost every bite. I chose to look at the positive outcomes which were it forced me to eat slower and chew more thoroughly than is my want, lest I get a jagged shard of chicken bone lodged someplace fatal. I don’t need to have that in my obit.

Interestingly the jerked chicken was much less a victim of hack-n-slash so the element of danger was gone but they did add a little bit of heat that was lacking in the curry for me. It did taste good and was a messy joy to eat.

Even though the early going was fraught with peril the flavors were good, the portions gracious and the employee I dealt with was grateful for my business so I’ll go back. But first I have try the sushi burrito from the place next door.

What a Jerk

Caribbean Food Truck

The evening for the October Food Truck Friday in Rock Hill was just about as good as you could ask for.  The weather was clear and cool, 64 degrees or 18 for the Celsius crowd.  The attire varied from shorts and t-shirt like myself to people wearing honest to God coats and beanies, not jackets mind you but full on coats.  To each their own but I thought it was great.

As per usual I grabbed a beverage, in this case a NoDa Brewing Premium Roasted Breakfast Coffee stout.  It was smooth and like a lot of breakfast blends a hint of coffee flavor.  I walked the area enjoying the weather and band looking for something that called to me.  I thought about the vegan burrito food truck because this is about trying new things but these folks always get started late so I passed them by without a tear.

After strolling and perusing I chose to go with Marlie Q’s caribbean food truck.  They had some decent looking options and while the stewed ox tail was tempting the jerk chicken with some beans & rice sounded like the way to go.

I’ll say up front the sign clearly said this was spicy and they were not lying.  It had a great jerked spice flavor and it was.  The rice and beans were scalp tingling, nose running, brow sweat producing hot as well.  One thing though was you could taste the pepper flavor and not just the heat so it was well done.  The chicken breast was good sized and cooked tender enough it came off the bone easily.

As this was not a meal that lent itself mobile dining I shared a table with a couple dining on something from another truck.  I didn’t pay much attention until the lady said, “Wow you left me a lot of mac & cheese” and the guy said “that’s because I’m a great boyfriend”.  I chuckled and they both took notice and the guy said, “I have to get points where I can since I’m usually called an a-hole” and the lady straight faced said “It’s true”.  We all laughed and I finished up before they wanted to be friends.

I swung by the beverage tent and since everyone else was doing it I got a Dogfish Head Punkin Ale to enjoy while I listened to the band.  Pumpkin ales I’ve tried in the past have been hit or miss and often cloying with the amount of pumpkin spice.  This one did it well.  There was enough pumpkin and pumpkin spice to make you reminiscent for that last slice of pumpkin pie you had rather than hitting you in the face with the pie.

The band was quite good, Chunky Daddy played a varied set list that included, rock, soul, country and ranged from 70s to more recent stuff like Wagon Wheel.  I also saw a guy who I think was unintentionally cosplaying David Tennant’s Dr Who.  Dude looked just like him from clothes to haircut to glasses.

Overall it was a good second to the last FTF of the year and the fountain was looking great in the evening light.