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Review: Try the World
Once in awhile, there is an idea that is so magnetic it turns heads and pulls the attention from all the other similar ideas. The luxury gourmet subscription box Try the World was one of those ideas.
In an ever expanding sea of subscription boxes for cosmetics, foods and other everyday products, Try the World has stood out among them as exceptional and has held us enthrall. Perhaps it was their clean and bright branding that stuck in our memory: a happy blue and white hot air balloon that beckoned adventure. Or perhaps it was the fact that the contents inside each Try the World box were collected by celebrity chefs from local communities, made by small family-owned businesses, and procured from authentic sustainable ingredients. Or maybe it was the idea of having a tiny adventure sent right to our door every two months. We would come home from a humdrum day of work and find a package sitting on our doorstep. That package would contain a handful of items that would surprise our senses, inspire us to try new recipes, teach us about other cultures, and tempt us to share our discoveries with friends and family. Whether it was one of these elements or all of them working together, we found ourselves ordering a subscription soon after visiting their website.
Within two weeks of ordering, a little brown box was set neatly on our welcome mat, waiting to be opened. Inside the brown box was a blue box with a hot air balloon printed on the top. Our Try the World experience was about to begin. Lifting off the lid, we first discovered a brochure and a card that listed all the items nestled below. The brochure featured France, and Paris in particular. It spoke of the Parisian culture that we were hoping to learn about.
Wanting to be surprised by our bounty, we set the product list aside without reading it and lifted a second sheet of thin cardboard from the box. Underneath was a treasure trove of treats. Soft salted butter caramels, butter cookies, locally procured sea salt, whole grain mustard, peach apricot jam, and lavender jelly. A sudden craving for fresh baked bread came over us. We couldn’t wait to start tasting these creations, but first, we picked up the product list and read the stories behind each item.
The caramels melted in our mouths and sent delightful chills down our spines as we were reminded of the handmade candies of our childhood. The butter cookies were gone in about a minute and a half. The salt was added to our spice collection, ready for our next pork chop dinner or vegetable saute. The jams melted perfectly with a little butter on toasted sourdough bread and made for a lovely breakfast treat. The whole grain mustard however, was the crowning jewel of the box. Never have we had a mustard that contained so many layers of flavors yet was delicate enough to not overpower the palate. For the next week, that mustard went on everything (except ice cream).
Over the next few months, we received three more boxes: treasures from Buenos Aires, Argentina and two boxes from Japan. The Argentina box revealed smoked chimichurri (which we used to flavor a steak), dulce de leche creme sauce (perfect for drizzling over French toast), sweet and salty Koo! cookies (also eaten within seconds), an assortment of teas, jam made with red fruits, malbec wine and honey, and a rather interesting jelly loaf called Dulce de Membrillo, which we still have yet to try.
The boxes from Japan had a few products that overlapped, but most of the contents in the two boxes differed enough to give us a grand sampling of the region. The treats that we found in both boxes were rice paper candies (a treat I remember from childhood when the local Japanese community would put together an annual culture festival), peach gummy candy, and matcha blueberry tea powder. We were delighted to find authentic umami ponzu sauce, ginger paste, an okonomiyaki kodawari packet (a package of dried powders to flavor an egg omelet), soba noodles, and seaweed sheets. A Japanese feast took place not long after we opened our second box.
With airfare prices increasing and growing work demands, it isn’t a simple feat to pack a set of eating utensils and travel to exotic culinary destinations. However, Try the World has done a surprisingly effective job of bringing various flavors and culinary adventures right to the homes of US citizens. Going on its third year, Try the World was created by food and travel lovers Kat Vorotova and David Foult in 2013. With the idea of bringing luxurious gourmet food from around the world to those who love trying new things and learning about culture, Kat and David designed a prototype box in New York that featured treats from Paris. It sold out in two days. Now, the company has shipped more than one million items across the country and has worked with renowned chefs, like Alex Atala, to curate boxes from Argentina, Brazil, France, Italy, Japan, Morocco, Spain, and Thailand. New boxes are being created all the time and more countries will be added to the list as popularity continues to grow.
Try the World’s website is also a treasure trove. Subscriptions come in different varieties and packages and your first box is free. If you find that you simply can’t live without an item that you discovered in a box, you can purchase it on Try the World’s online shop. The Try the World online magazine is packed with recipes, interviews with chefs, cultural snippets and other delightful bits of information that will inspire you to get creative in the kitchen.
One thing we were torn about was the packaging used to ship the products. While each box resembled a beautifully wrapped gift complete with crimped paper stuffing that made us feel warm and cozy, it was a lot of packaging to recycle. Granted, the packaging was recyclable and we saved the boxes for wrapping gifts of our own during the holidays. Perhaps there will be an option in the future to return the boxes to be reused over and over. Other requests that are being addressed are the option to customize boxes to fit dietary restrictions and the ability to receive boxes internationally.
All in all, if you are a culinary adventurer who yearns to travel to tasty destinations, we recommend that you take Try the World for a test drive. We are confident your tastebuds are going to be thrilled.