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CrateChef Review + Coupon: Chef Robbie Felice

A brown cardbord box with the CrateChef logo against a green background.

CrateChef is a bi-monthly food & cooking subscription box, curated by a different chef or food-related celebrity every other month. Each box includes artisanal foods sourced from around the globe, kitchen gadgets, plus cookbook or recipe cards from the featured chef to help you put your ingredients to good use. I always learn something new from these boxes and enjoy trying the different techniques and flavors that they introduce me to.

This box was sent to us at no cost for review. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)

About CrateChef

The Subscription Box: CrateChef

The Cost: $49 per box + $8 shipping. Save with longer subscriptions.

COUPON: Use code ADDICTION10 to save 10% off your first box!

The Products: Artisanal foods, recipes, and kitchen tools curated by a different chef each month.

Ships to: The US

CrateChef August 2020 Review, featuring Chef Robbie Felice

My first thought when this CrateChef box arrived was: already?! We’ve been running full speed in our household these past few months: squeezing in a week of staycation with a couple of quick day trips, finishing summertime projects around the house, starting remote kindergarten, and dealing with three of our major appliances breaking down at once… including our refrigerator. When this box arrived, my kitchen was essentially a disaster area and we were eating sandwiches and pasta for every meal while we waited for a new fridge to be delivered.

Robbie Felice isn’t a chef that I was already familiar with, but I was pretty intrigued looking through this box and glancing at the recipe cards. I love a good Italian meal even though I tend to do only the simplest of Italian recipes in my home kitchen. I’m not very versed in making homemade pasta, despite telling myself that I’m going to give it a shot one of these days.

Let’s see what we’ve got in store this month:

 

Gnocchi Board – Similar product available here for $9

Okay, actually, I have made gnocchi before. Or tried to, anyway… they were a terrible failure and sunk/dissolved into a goopy mess. (This was at least 10 years ago and I still think about it.) But this wooden contraption is new to me! I just used a fork to put the texture on my gnocchi last time I attempted it. This set is relatively small and can be used to make other textured pastas too, like cavatelli.

Felice’s quote on the info card is encouraging: “Making pasta is an ideal date night or the best time ever for fun and laughs.” Chef Felice, if you had seen my last attempt at gnocchi, I’m sure you would be laughing at me, too. I usually stick with cauliflower gnocchi from Trader Joe’s these days, but this could be a fun project to do with our 5-year-old. I have not been brave enough yet to try pasta again just yet, though.

 

Stroopies Authentic Dutch Stroopwafels, 6 Pack – Retail Value $8

I love stroopwafels! Who doesn’t love stroopwafels? I actually prefer them room temperature, instead of heating them up on the rim of my hot coffee or tea… but I’ll never turn one down either way. I was pleased to see these are actually made fairly close to me, in Lancaster, PA, and the company is a certified B Corp.

They were exactly what I expect from this thin Dutch treat: a bit crumbly, a bit cinnamon-y, with just the right amount of caramel. I am not ashamed to admit that I hid these from my family and enjoyed them every morning with my coffee until they were gone. The company also offers chocolate-dipped Stroopies which sound absolutely incredible! (If I have a Secret Santa out there reading this review at some point in the future, you know what to do.)

 

Fennel Pollen, 0.25 oz – Estimated Value $7.50

The prices for this spice seem to vary quite a bit. Another product listed as a product of Antica Drogheria like this tin lists 0.6 oz at just $7.99, but shipping was $12. One similar product from California in the same size can be found here for $15, while one Amazon seller has a 0.5 oz tin for $12.26.

I was so intrigued by this little spice tin! Every once in a while, I have the urge to pick up some fennel (a bit of it in a tomato sauce is surprisingly lovely), but I’ve never heard of fennel pollen before. It was definitely floral but still has a bit of that licorice-like anise bite, and made my tongue tingle just a bit. Chef Felice suggests a pork rub, but we don’t eat a lot of pork at home, so I think I’m going to try it with some roasted veggies instead.

 

Barilla Collezione Artisanal Collection Rigatoni, 12 oz – Retail Value $2.19

I was sort of surprised to pull this out of the box since boxed pasta is a pantry staple in so many homes– this just didn’t seem particularly unique. This product was donated to the box by Barilla, and the card notes that Chef Felice was supposed to compete in the World Pasta Competition, canceled this year due to the pandemic. The product itself is a step up from what I already have on hand, having been created with traditional copper plates that give the surface of the pasta a rougher surface to grab more sauce. Sounds good to me! After eating so many meals from the pantry after our fridge died, I have no immediate cravings for more pasta, but this will definitely get eaten sometime soon as the weather begins to cool.

 

Blazing Bella Barrel-Aged Balsamic Vinegar, 100 mL – Retail Value $12.99

Hey, another Pennsylvania product! I have been incorporating more vinegars into my cooking in recent years, and I do love a good balsamic. If you’ve tasted it before, then this brand seems like exactly what you’d expect. They do have several interesting looking varieties on their website (Smoky jalapeno balsamic? Chocolate orange balsamic?!) but this one is a good, solid traditional vinegar that you’ll be able to use in a number of different ways in the kitchen.

 

Vinaigre de Calamansi, 100 mL – Estimated Retail Value $12.99 (Available here in a 250 mL size for $24.99)

But this unassuming bottle of Vinaigre de Calamansi, the same size as the balsamic, a product of France? WOW. I have never tasted anything quite like this citrus vinegar, which is sweet and tart and bright all at once. After one small taste, I was already looking it up to see how I could order more!

While Chef Felice did include a recipe for a vinaigrette, I went the quick route and splashed it over a quick Caprese salad with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. It was so incredibly good! I have been adding a splash of this to everything I normally use lemon juice on and am also thinking it’d be a great cocktail ingredient since it seems almost like a shrub.

Caprese Salad

Tomato salads in early fall are always delicious, but again: the vinegar really made it next level. I may be a wee bit obsessed with this stuff.

Malt Vinegar Powder

Malt Vinegar Powder, 4 oz – Estimated Retail Value $6.99

One more vinegar to round out the box! Malt vinegar powder? Definitely something I’d never have tried normally. Chef Felice suggests that this is excellent for adding to fried foods without adding moisture, which is pretty genius: hot french fries with vinegar and salt are delicious, but typically a bit soggy. I haven’t had a chance to test this out yet since my kids are decidedly NOT as into vinegary foods as their mom. I may be the last person in America without an air fryer, but I think this will be fantastic on some oven-roasted fingerling potatoes, and possibly roasted brussels sprouts.

 

Cheese Board – Estimated Retail Value $20

I’m not sure how to value this piece, but I found several other nicer looking, smaller wooden boards like this one at Target for around $20.

Finally, the last item in the box: this lovely little cheese board! I’m not sure what wood it’s made from, but the grain is beautiful and it’s been nicely oiled, too. It feels special and has a nice thickness to it. It’s really hitting home that our holiday gatherings this year will be different and smaller. I’m not a huge party hostess, but I do host the Christmas Eve meal for extended family, and it’s the only meal of the year where I really go all out. I definitely plan on using this piece this year too, even if I’m in the only person snacking from it.

Verdict: This box had some real hits! While the Barilla pasta threw me off a bit, and I’m not sure if I’ll realistically use the gnocchi board, the Calamansi Vinegar is probably worth its weight in gold, and the cheese plate is a lovely little piece that I’m sure to use this holiday. I’m here for the inspiration, and from that perspective, this CrateChef box delivered in the form of a few really interesting ingredients that would never have crossed my palate otherwise.

To Wrap Up:

Can you still get this box if you sign up today? Unfortunately not; this box appears to be sold out. You can choose from other past boxes that are available, or sign up now to get October’s box (the chef curator is not yet announced).

COUPON: Use code ADDICTION10 to save 10% off your first box!

Value Breakdown: Food boxes, in general, don’t have sky-high retail values like beauty boxes can sometimes have; these boxes are more about curation in my experience. This box’s items totaled up to an estimated retail value of $66.67. CrateChef bi-monthly subscriptions cost $57 per box ($49 + $8 US shipping). This is generally around a typical value for this box: generally above $60, and a mix of products I’m very likely to use nearly every day, and some newer items to try for new inspiration in the kitchen.

Check out all of our CrateChef reviews and lots of food-related boxes in the Food Subscription Box Directory!

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Written by Lacey Volk

Lacey Volk

Lacey’s introduction to the world of subscription boxes was Julep Maven, but she quickly moved on once she discovered there were subscriptions for cooking, coffee, and art supplies. Current favorites include Crate Chef and Ecocentric Mom, and she’s looking forward to trying more.

Posted in CrateChef Reviews, Food & Drink Subscription Boxes, Subscription Box Reviews| Tags: cratechef | 12 comments

Comments (12)

  1. That caprese salad looks wonderful!

    I don’t have an air fryer, either. It just seems like another item that would clutter up the kitchen.

  2. My husband and I were really into making homemade sauce with all kinds of meats in it like pork cheeks. We learned how by watching Two Greedy Italian Guys Ragu Napoletana on You Tube. I highly recommend thier videos if you want to learn how to make homemade sauce or gravy.

    I am going to order that citrus vinegar. It sounds like a game changer for salads and all kinds of dishes. Thanks for the review!

  3. I loved the last box , but this was areal miss for me – no cookbook? rigatoni? nope!

    • The boxes with cookbooks are definitely my fave too!

  4. great review!

    btw – there’s also a “build a box” option on their website if you want to pick from a variety of things they’ve featured in their boxes, including the fennel pollen and malt vinegar powder.

    • Thanks, Beth. I ordered the build-a-box for Mother’s day and I loved it. I just ordered another with different items.

    • I don’t know how I missed that option! Super cool, thanks for the heads up!

    • Thanks for mentioning this! Just ordered a Build-a-Box. 🙂

  5. I love this box. I just wish it was little more practical. I know I will never make gnocchi. I would like to see gadgets that have more uses…like a zester or kitchen shears.

    • I have gotten a lot of really usable gadgets too! I regularly use tongs, a rubber spatula, a garlic press, and a wooden spatula that I have all gotten from this box 🙂

  6. GREAT REVIEW! This box is one of my favorites at the moment, and i really enjoyed the mix of products included in this one. The Stroopies were definitely the best version of this cookie I’ve ever had. And I can’t wait to try out the malt vinegar powder.

    • Yes, i’m so curious about that! The weather just turned more fall-like this week, so I’m hoping to give the malt vinegar powder a go this weekend on some home-made oven fries. 🙂

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