RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review – July 2015
RawSpiceBar is a monthly subscription that sends freshly ground, small batch custom spice blends (and recipes that utilize them).
At first glance, it looks like RawSpiceBar has upgraded their paper materials. (Previously, the recipes and information card were black & white.)
My Subscription Addiction pays for this subscription. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)
The Subscription: RawSpiceBar
The Cost: $6 per month with free shipping
The Products: 3-4 freshly ground spice blends from one geography or region, enough to create 3 dishes serving 8-12 people.
Ships to: US and Canada.
Each month, RawSpiceBar sends spices from one region or geographical area. This shipment features spice blends from Memphis.
This month’s menu is: Memphis Dry Ribs, Bacon Potato Salad with Smoked Salt, and Triple Spice Strawberry Ice Cream.
I’m pleased to see that the recipes are now printed alongside full-color photos of the completed dishes. I think it’s so much easier to follow a recipe when you know what the dish is supposed to look like!
Memphis Dry Rib Rub- .4 oz
This Memphis-style dry rub is a beautiful brick red color. It’s a mix of oregano, garlic, paprika, chili powder, and thyme and draws inspiration from Greek and Cajun flavors.
Applewood Smoked Salt- .3 oz
As soon as I tore the edge of this packet, I could smell the sweet, smoky aroma of this salt. It’s smoked over aged applewood, and RawSpiceBar describes the flavor as smoky and fruity. It can be used on or off the grill, but RawSpiceBar recommends using it to make Bacon Potato Salad.
Triple Ice Cream Spice- .3 oz
Cinnamon, star anise, and cardamom come together in this blend that RawSpiceBar recommends using to make Triple Spice Strawberry Ice Cream.
Recipe #1- Memphis Dry Ribs
I’ve only made ribs a few times before, so this recipe for Memphis Dry Ribs was a welcome challenge! The recipe itself is pretty simple. You make a “mop” by mixing water, vinegar, and the dry rib rub and brush it over the ribs before, during, and after cooking. (The ingredient list for this recipe also listed salt and sugar; however, the recipe itself never mentioned them. I assumed this was an oversight, so I added them into the mop, too.)
I brushed the ribs with the mop and then roasted them in the oven at 325 degrees for approximately 2 hours. (Every 15-20 minutes, I re-applied the mop.)
The ribs were excellent, and I loved the spicy crust that formed on the top! I have a feeling my husband is going to insist that we make these again very soon.
Recipe #2- Bacon Potato Salad with Smoked Salt
I don’t make potato salad very often, but I was excited to see that it’s one of this month’s featured recipes. I think potato salad is a great accompaniment for ribs, and I love the idea of elevating the simple dish by adding smoked salt.
To begin, I boiled one pound of potatoes in lightly salted water. While the potatoes boiled, I mixed together the sauce (a combination of mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, vinegar, green onions, parsley, and Applewood Smoked Salt) and fried the bacon.
The recipe appeared to call for the entire packet of salt. Since this seemed like a lot for the size of the recipe, I added about a teaspoon to start (with the thought that I could add more at the end, if necessary).
When the potatoes were soft and cooled, I added them to the dressing along with the crumbled bacon.
This potato salad was excellent (the smoky salt added a lovely depth of flavor and perfectly complemented the ribs), but I’m really happy I didn’t add the entire packet of salt. I thought with 1 teaspoon, roughly ½ of the packet, it was very well seasoned. I think any more would have been too much, and I worry that adding the entire packet would have resulted in an inedible dish.
Recipe #3- Triple Spice Strawberry Ice Cream
(Note: the RawSpiceBar website and printed into sheet repeatedly call this month’s dessert “Triple Spice Strawberry Ice Cream,” but the recipe itself doesn’t mention strawberries and is titled “Triple Spice Ice Cream”- even though I can see bits of strawberry in the picture of the ice cream.)
This month’s dessert recipe is courtesy of Lindsay Clendaniel, author of ice cream recipe blog Scoop Adventures. I think ice cream is a perfect summer dessert, but, sadly, I don’t own an ice cream maker! (Living in the city means I have to cope with a tiny kitchen and limited storage space!) Still, I wasn’t going to let that deprive me of Triple Spice Strawberry Ice Cream.
Since I couldn’t make my own, I decided instead to serve store-bought vanilla ice cream with a triple-spiced strawberry compote.
I made the compote by combining fresh strawberries with a couple tablespoons of sugar, a splash of lemon juice, and about ½ of RawSpiceBar’s Ice Cream Spices.
I cooked this mixture over medium heat until the strawberries broke down, about 10-15 minutes.
I let the compote cool, and then spooned it over the vanilla ice cream. I finished each bowl with a sprinkle of the spices and a mint sprig.
Star anise and cardamom are two of my favorite spices, and they accompanied the strawberry compote beautifully. This was a perfect, light dessert to eat after a big meal of ribs, and I’m really pleased that I was able to use the Ice Cream Spices to create a dessert similar to the one recommended by RawSpiceBar.
Verdict: RawSpiceBar always provides high-quality spices and blends that I find creative and exciting. As usual, I love the spices that were selected for this month’s shipment, and I enjoyed the meal I created with them.
That said, I have to point out that every recipe this month contained a significant error. The Memphis Dry Rub recipe listed salt and brown sugar in the ingredient list, but the recipe itself never mentioned them or instructed when or how they should be added to the dish. The Bacon Potato Salad recipe seemed to call for the entire packet of Applewood Smoked Salt, which is FAR too much salt, in my opinion (and I’m heavy-handed with seasoning). And, lastly, RawSpiceBar makes multiple references to this month’s dessert as “Triple Spice Strawberry Ice Cream.” Despite this, the provided recipe is for “Triple Spice Ice Cream,” and there’s no mention of strawberries in the ingredient list or in the recipe (even though flecks of strawberry are visible in the accompanying picture of the ice cream). I can forgive the occasional mistake or typo, but I think it’s unacceptable that all three of this month’s recipes are flawed.
I look forward to this subscription every month, and I hate to be harsh, but I don’t feel that the required level of care was put into preparing this month’s recipes. The success of each dish depends on the recipe, and it’s essential that each one is accurate, tested, and proofread. Even though I’m happy with how my dishes turned out, I worry that not all subscribers will have the same luck. Minor recipe errors (like the omission of strawberries in the ice cream) might result in a dish that’s still tasty but that doesn’t showcase the spices quite as well. Major ones (like calling for too much or too little salt) have the potential to ruin a dish, and, perhaps even worse in this case, waste its spices. I really enjoy this subscription, and I think RawSpiceBar’s spices are fantastic. I only hope to see the quality of the recipes improve to meet the high bar set by the spice blends.
Do any RawSpiceBar subscribers out there own an ice cream maker? If so, I’d love to hear how your ice cream turned out.