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'Try The World' Subscription Review: Treats From Portugal

By Kristy Puchko | Miscellaneous | March 29, 2016 |


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A couple of months ago, my Stitch Fix review sparked an enthusiastic demand for more reviews of subscription services. So, I hung in to Stitch Fix to see if box two would be the let down so many predicted. (Yup.) And now, we’re moving on to my personal favorite subscription service: Try the World!

I’ve been meaning to write up this snack box service for awhile now. However, my husband’s and my ravenous interest in its contents means it’s rarely in one piece long enough for me to snag the required pictures. But this time I summoned inhuman inner strength to pause in my pawing to snap a couple of shots of the Portugal box (seen above).

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How It Works
Try The World is a snack box service that delivers a themed box once every two months. This month’s theme is Portugal. Past boxes I’ve enjoyed were, Japan, France, Spain, Thailand, and the special holiday box, which included holiday treats from all over the globe.

The contents of the box are often condiments, candies, and other edible delights that have been curated by a celebrity chef. From there, Try The World gathers products from “small, family-owned companies who follow artisanal methods of production.” So you get a bit of another nation’s culture from companies dedicated to quality. Each shipment comes with a booklet that runs down the contents and companies that contributed to this box, plus some serving suggestions.

Here’s Chef George Mendes introducing his Portugal box.

I did not get everything shown in this video. A lot of the times, it’s an either/or scenario. Like you get one of the canned fishes presented, or one of the specialty sauces. I got codfish, the caramelized onions in port wine, and the pumpkin jam. In the Japan box, gummy candies were included and different boxes offered different flavors. But worry not. If you feel like you missed out on a taste you demand, Try The World has an online store with plenty of sales post-delivery.

The prices of the boxes range from $33-$39 apiece, depending on the plan you choose. The longer you commit, the better the price.

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How It Went
Every Try The World package comes in a resplendent teal box, meant to recall the color of the ornate ceiling at Manhattan’s Grand Central Station. The pretty presentation makes the box’s arrival feel like an event. Though TtW’s Twitter account teases each bimonthly box’s contents, I purposely avoided spoilers, so they’d remain a mystery. No sooner had I opened the box than my husband proclaimed “dibs” on the Crunchy Apple Rings and Lemon Cookies. The desserts are always a big draw, and we have been known to bust out international Try The World cookies at get-togethers, scoring praise for how damned cultured we are. But my favorites are often the more unexpected bits of the box.

A few months back, I remember shrugging at the Spain box’s inclusion of “Hot Smoked Paprika,” though I did adore the charming vintage-style tin it came in. As someone who watches an unhealthy amount of Food Network, I already owned a big bulk shaker of paprika. But the next time I was cooking up some sauce (I don’t know what kind, I tend to throw stuff together and call it cuisine) I tossed in a healthy pinch of my Try The World paprika, and damn! HOT SMOKED PAPRIKA IS WHERE IT’S AT!

The powdered spice gives a heat and earthiness that helps develop even the most thrown together homemade meal. And I’ve since tossed it into everything from pasta sauces to dry rubs, soups and even omelettes. Similarly, Try The World France opened me up to the decadent joys of whole-grain mustard and “topping” sea salt. Sure, you can throw a bit of any of these into a dinner to make it fancier. But I found that even junk food can get elevated with a bit of Try The World topping.

So, with all this in mind, I cracked open the Sea Salt And Lemon, and yeah, it’s pretty much what you’d expect: sea salt and lemon. One of the serving suggestions is topping a recipe for “Codfish Toast” with it, but this would be an excellent garnish sprinkle for chicken, fish, or roasted veggie dishes. And Chef Mendes also recommends mixing it with butter—and then presumably putting that butter on another thing. But you do you.

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Now the “Pumpkin with Hazelnuts” jam sounded strange. Okay, gross. But I felt the same way when Fig Jam came my way a few boxes back, and then I started combining that with Wasabi Cheddar in some of the damned finest grilled cheese sandwiches I’ve ever divined.

Grilled Cheese with wasabi cheddar and fig jam. Tomato soup with fresh parsley. #nofilterneeded #madebyme

A photo posted by Kristy Puchko (@kristypuchko) on

Chef Mendes recommending Pumpkin Jam on toast. So breakfast.

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It’s sweeter and more jam-like in texture than I expected, and earthy like apple butter. The nuts are thinly chopped, so you get a crunch, which is unusual but pleasant. I’m not much for Pumpkin Spice pandemonium each fall, but this did go great with an iced coffee.

Olive oil has been a recurring facet of my Try The World deliveries, but it’s hard to complain when they are seriously luxurious versions full of flavor. Yet this Piri Piri sauce had me worried. I am not so much a fan of crazy spicy, and look at this packaging! Are these bombs or devils? Either way, WHY!?

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With great reluctance and brewing resentment toward all of you, I placed a drop of this scary red sauce on my finger tip, and mmm! It’s almost sweet at the start, but then you get some heat. And it doesn’t go away, it just rested on my tongue like warning: Tread lightly, Puchko. The accompanying booklet recommends popping a splash of Piri Piri in a vegetable dish or a marinade. Stay tuned to my Instagram. That’ll likely happen soon, along with codfish toast.

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Salted seafood has been another Try The World staple. Before Codfish, I got a tin of Spanish Mussels. And these I save for when I need an escape. They help me time travel, you see. When I was little, I was the only of my parents’ kids who liked seafood. So a special treat would be to leap up into my Dad’s recliner and share a tin of salted fish. While eating out of a tin may not seem fancy now, it felt like the height of sophistication then, because it was just my dad and his eldest. So, codfish toast might wait for a Father’s Day trip.

Anyhoo, last but not least is the Caramelized Onions In Port Wine Sauce. The suggested serving methods are as a spread for appetizers or a dip for a cheese board. My suggestion is spoon to jar, jar to mouth. Few things on this earth are as delicious as onion sauces. And this one is likely to be the first thing that disappears completely from Portugal’s box.

Conclusion
Try The World! I’ve dabbled in a lot of subscription services over the past year, but this one is by far my favorite, because of the quality and thought that clearly goes into every delivery. You might not like everything that comes in every box, but each box succeeds in feeling like a tasting tour of a far off land. Every other month, my husband and I are pumped to see what our new box will contain. And most of the boxes have offered up at least one ingredient that enhanced my own recipes and developed my tastes. It’s been a fun, easy, and relatively cheap way to explore my culinary interests and bring a bit of the broader world into my home.

If you’re interested, learn more at Try The World’s website. And keep a lookout for sales. There’s often a BOGO box deal for newcomers.

Kristy Puchko bleeds butter.


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