RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review – August 2015
RawSpiceBar is a monthly subscription that sends freshly ground, small batch custom spice blends (and recipes that utilize them).
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 country or region, enough to create 3 dishes serving 6-10 people.
Ships to: US and Canada.
Each month, RawSpiceBar sends spices from one region or geographical area. This shipment features spice blends from Baltimore.
This month’s recipes are: Grilled Shrimp with Chesapeake Bay Spices, Garlic & Lemon, Pickled Zucchinis, and Detox Green Smoothie.
Baltimore Bay Spices- .5 oz
This blend is RawSpiceBar’s take on Old Bay! It’s a blend of celery salt, bay leaves, black pepper, mustard seed, paprika, cayenne, mace, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, cloves, and ginger.
Vert Pickling Spice- .5 oz
Marissa McClellan of Food in Jars partnered with RawSpiceBar this month to create a classic pickling spice for green vegetables. This blend contains black peppercorns, yellow mustard seeds, coriander seeds, dill seed, allspice berries, red pepper flakes, and bay leaves.
Power Spice Blend- .5 oz
Ginger, black peppercorns, turmeric, cinnamon, maca, and cayenne pepper were selected for this blend because they all have known health benefits. RawSpiceBar recommends using this blend to make a Detox Green Smoothie.
Typically, the spices sent by RawSpiceBar can be utilized to create a multi-course meal, and I like to test all of the recipes, photograph them, and feature them in my review. This month, it seems each recipe is intended to stand alone. As a result, I decided to make Grilled Shrimp with Chesapeake Bay Spices, Garlic & Lemon and pair it with my own recipes for corn bread and a summer salad of peaches and heirloom tomatoes.
Grilled Shrimp with Chesapeake Bay Spices, Garlic & Lemon
Living in DC, I’m pretty familiar with Baltimore cooking. When it comes to seasoning shrimp and crab boils in Baltimore, Old Bay is king. I’m a fan of old bay, so I couldn’t wait to try RawSpiceBar’s take on the classic blend.
I began by creating a marinade for the shrimp from lemon juice, butter, olive oil, garlic, salt, and RawSpiceBar’s Bay Spices.
Last month, RawSpiceBar’s recipes were all flawed in some way, and I’m sad to say that this one is, too. The ingredient list calls for 1 tablespoon of the RawSpiceBar Bay Spices. The recipe instructs to “combine RawSpiceBar’s Bay Spices, oil, lemon juice…” but the end of the recipe calls for “remaining RawSpiceBar’s Bay Spices.” Typically, the quantity listed under “ingredients” is the total used in the recipe, so I’m assuming only a portion should be added at the start and that the measurement is missing. The same problem exists with butter. It’s added at two different points in the recipe, but there’s no indication of how much of the total should be added at each point. Without the specific measurements to guide me, I decided to use ½ of the butter and ½ of the spices at the beginning of the recipe for the marinade and the remaining ½ butter and ½ spices at the end to finish the dish.
It rained on the day I planned to make this meal, so, instead of cooking my shrimp outside on the grill, I decided to sautee them on the stovetop.
The shrimp turned out really well (despite the issues with the recipe), and I’m impressed by RawSpiceBar’s take on Old Bay. They two blends are similar enough to be related, but when the shrimp was cooking I could smell the cinnamon and cardamom, two flavors I don’t really associate with Old Bay. The aroma was incredible! Compared with Old Bay, the flavors in the RawSpiceBar blend are definitely more vibrant and complex, and the baking spices brought out the sweetness of the shrimp- delicious!
Verdict: This month’s shipment from RawSpiceBar feels like a bit of a departure from their previous boxes. Up until now, the spices and recipes have been organized so that subscribers can create an entire meal (typically a main course, a side dish, and a dessert). These shipments featured spice blends and recipes from countries with exotic cuisines that regularly pushed me out of my comfort zone. I tried spices and recipes from India, Japan, Jamaica, and Peru, and I always really enjoyed creating an entire meal that explored flavors from the month’s featured country. This and last month’s boxes have featured spices from closer to home (Memphis and Baltimore), and this month’s recipes do not make up a full meal. Furthermore, I don’t really think a breakfast smoothie is a great choice to represent Baltimore. I could see a smoothie recipe popping up in a Los Angles box, perhaps, but not a box inspired by the home of crab cakes and Natty Boh (i.e. National Bohemian Beer). To be fair, the spices I received this month were lovely (as always), and the shrimp recipe was really tasty. I’m just a little disappointed to see that RawSpiceBar is starting to veer away from the formula I’ve grown to love. It’s sad, too, to see more mistakes in their recipes this month. I hope they’re able to address this problem soon.
What do you think about this month’s Baltimore RawSpiceBar?