The weather has been so wonderful here for the last couple of weeks. It really has felt like we’ve been on holiday in our own home – spoiled only by the annoying need to go into work. Even so, with beautifully warm and balmy evenings, I haven’t really felt like I’ve been missing out. Much.
Last weekend, it wasn’t too difficult to imagine ourselves on holiday on some stunning Greek island. There is something very special about being in the UK and being able to spend all day long outdoors, especially eating al fresco. OK, we had to make do with a paddling pool instead of clear turquoise seas and we drank Somerset cider in place of retsina. But at least the food was authentic. I was lucky enough to have been sent a delicious food box from Kitchen Nomad to review, full of carefully selected, speciality Greek products providing the basis for five inspiring recipes developed by Tonia Buxton of My Greek Kitchen.
Kitchen Nomad is a new subscription food box service offering the best in world cuisine delivered monthly. It’s the brain child of three friends, Clara, Fanny and Bryn. Each month, they select a different country of the world, carefully source authentic products and typical recipes of that country, pack it all up in a beautiful box and deliver it right to your door. It’s an ingenious way to discover world cuisine and cook new recipes in your own kitchen.
I was intrigued as to how the three of them came up with the concept of Kitchen Nomad and this is what Clara told me:
Fanny and I are really close friends. We met in Lille, France, seven years ago while studying at Business School. We travelled a lot together and were always excited about discovering new cultures and …. new food! After graduation, Fanny went to London and I went to Paris to start our careers. In London, Fanny met Bryn (they worked at the same place) and they quickly realised how much they had in common, especially food and travel!
Bryn and Fanny currently work as project managers in banking in London, and I live in Paris, working in marketing for a company dedicated to sustainable development services.
So here you have three young entrepreneurs, passionate about travelling the world and experiencing new culinary discoveries.
When returning home after travelling, we noticed how difficult it is to find all the products and recipes we need to cook some of the amazing meals ourselves that we tasted on our travels. Also we wanted to share all the delightful things we have experienced on our travels, and that’s how Kitchen Nomad was born!
So what did we receive in the first Kitchen Nomad food box?
- Dukkah spice mix – a tasty spice dip perfect with a little olive oil for dipping big chunks of bread. Originally from Egypt, this is the Greek version, as adapted by the Real Greek Restaurant.
- Kalamata extra virgin olive oil – an award-winning oil with a beautifully robust peppery flavour
- Vine leaves in brine – the must-have ingredient for making authentic dolmades from the Athenian Grocery
- Kalamata black olives – gorgeously dark, plump and juicy
- Pickled capers – intense and mustardy, I had to lay down the law with my oldest daughter Jessie to stop her from eating the whole lot straight from the jar!
- Orzo pasta – a short-cut macaroni, shaped like a large grain of rice, perfect in stews
- Organic pressed tomato sauce – produced on a family farm in central Greece
- Cassia bark – a lovely aromatic spice, like a subtler form of cinnamon stick
- Dried Greek figs – while I love fresh figs, I’ve never really been one for the dried variety, but I had to lay down the law with myself to stop me eating all of these sticky, chewy bad boys before they made it into pudding!
What makes the food box so special are the recipe cards to accompany the intriguing ingredients. And the recipes were all very easy to follow, although the preparations time given were slightly misleading – or perhaps I’m just a little slow in the kitchen? Over the course of the weekend, I cooked up most of the recipes provided:
While I know I love dolmades, I really wasn’t sure how the children would take to them. I was rather surprised to discover they loved them too. Perhaps it’s because they’re such neat little bite size parcels – perfect finger food for little ones. Admittedly they take a little time to prepare, but they’re not difficult and it’s really quite a tranquil, almost meditative activity, particularly since the children scarpered super quick from the kitchen when I suggested they lend a hand.
This one pot dish is something I’m going to cook again and again. And again. It’s just so good. The whole family wolfed down the slow cooked Youvetsi. The cassia bark gives it such a warm, slightly sweet and aromatic flavour, it’s really hard to say no to seconds. Or thirds.
Incredibly easy to make, my children took to calling this tart a “Greek pizza” but without the cheese. The Kalamata black olives really were the making of this tart. We’re enjoying working our way through the remainder of the tin.
And another ridiculously easy dish, this fig and walnut bake is perfumed with a light syrup flavoured again with cassia bark, and it is just downright gorgeous served with a big dollop of creamy Greek yoghurt. We’d have enjoyed the leftovers for breakfast the following morning, but there weren’t any.
So what’s my verdict on the Kitchen Nomad food box? Well, quite simply, I love it. At first I thought it might be a little on the expensive side, since you have to shop for all the additional fresh ingredients. But these dishes could easily have provided us with three or four days worth of meals – we were just greedy and went for it over one weekend. Each box costs £22 (plus delivery), but if you sign up for a minimum of six months it drops to £21 a month, and for a year it goes down to £20 a month.
It’s about more than the produce you actually receive. It’s about the thought that goes into the boxes, the recipes you’re supplied with and the knowledge and passion that goes into them, and the tips that are passed on. And it’s about the adventure and excitement and mystery too, because you have no idea where in the world you are going next. I’m sold and I’m signing up. Especially since I’ve seen the next box has a Vietnamese theme – a cuisine I’m not all that familiar with but am keen to try.
If you’d like to try a Kitchen Nomad food box yourself, here’s your chance. Clara at Kitchen Nomad has very kindly offered one Bangers & Mash reader the opportunity to win a box. Simply leave a comment below by Saturday 3 August letting me know why you’d like to receive a Kitchen Nomad box and you could be in with a chance of winning. Good luck!
Disclosure: Kitchen Nomad sent me a complimentary Greek food box for review purposes. No money exchanged hands and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.