If you were to look in my spice cabinet right now, it would be a confusing labyrinth of various dried concoctions in small jars, balancing precariously on top of one another in the hopes that the next time I open the door, it will be their contents I will use next. Of my entire kitchen, my spice cabinet is one of my most prized possessions: a decade's worth of
I am not yet quite a Master of My Kitchen.
I am Italian to the core, so I make my own spaghetti sauce. Doesn't every Italian? Luckily, it calls for the most basic of spices, which I make sure to always have on hand. Yet, wouldn't you know that the last time I made sauce, I opened up my cabinet and the impossible happened. It went down a little like this:
Me (talking to myself): Where is the rosemary?
Hubby: Who is rosemary?
Me: NO. The spice. For the sauce.
Hubby: You put rosemary in your tomato sauce.
Me (::Blank Stare::): How are we married?
I've spent so long accumulating the every day spices, that I'm realizing I've taken my spice cabinet for granted. It's so full, I don't realize when I am out of essential necessities such as rosemary or ginger (hello, Ginger Carrot Soup!). But worst of all, I've stopped venturing out to try new spices. I'm overlooking new inspiration.
I'm in a spice rut.
So you might image what an oasis in the desert it was to learn about SpicePanda. Tony (aka "Mr. Spice Panda") contacted me recently and told me all about his ingenious idea: a quarterly subscription box service where every 3 months a subscriber gets a crate with new and exciting spices inside.
Fact: I've never met a spice I didn't like.
I loved the packaging, and every jar I pulled out was more intriguing than the next.
|It's practically screaming, "OPEN ME, STEPH."|
How can you not love this little mascot?
The Spice Panda team works hard to partner with different artisanal spice makers to provide customers with a subscription spice box that shows off great small batch spice blends. It's the perfect way to dip your toe into the spicy waters to try something new.
I was so stinkin' intrigued by this subscription box idea, I asked Tony if he'd let me do an impromptu little interview. He obliged. Here's some insight into the creative minds behind Spice Panda:
How did you come up with the idea of a Spice Subscription Box?Friends and family have always considered myself and Mrs. SpicePanda "obsessed" with good food. We actually both quit our corporate jobs to travel around the world for a year in 2012... entirely motivated by our desire to eat as many amazing and interesting meals as possible!
When we got back to the US, we wanted to keep up that sense of food discovery and started cooking our own meals based on cool recipes we discovered during our travels, on blogs, and on Pinterest. But keeping up that creativity and inspiration was hard! We knew there were other "food fanatics" out there just like us who couldn't resist discovering (and making) new meals - and we wanted to help support them. So we started finding cool artisanal spice blends that you wouldn't find in grocery stores and introducing them to home chef's for some flavor inspiration.
How do you decide which spices/spice brands are a good fit for a Spice Panda box?Our primary goal is delight fellow food fanatics like ourselves. A perfect "Panda Person" (aka one of our subscribers) already loves to cook new meals and discover new flavors. So every spice maker we work with must create spices that intrigue and that inspire the home chef to create totally new meals.
After that, we judge each spice maker by the quality of their customer reviews and by how unique their blend is. We really want each spice to not only be awesome, but something that you might not easily find at your local supermarket.
What are some tips for people timid about trying new flavors but want to try out new herbs and spices?Don't feature the new spice or herb as the main ingredient, but use it to complement a dish or flavor you already love. For example, one of the spices in this quarter's box is a seriously spicy salt. We already love cheesy popcorn with coconut oil and salt, so adding just a dash of the spicy salt was a great way to introduce something new to something we already loved. Once you get a feel for the new flavor, it's much easier to be a bit bolder and make meals that revolve around it as the main focus.
What are your top 3 favorite spices to use in the kitchen?If you couldn't tell from my popcorn answer above... we're obsessed with popcorn. We found this great Truffle salt at a market in NYC last year and sprinkle a bit on every batch we make. So that definitely has to be in our top 3!
I'll ignore blends for this question since it seems like being able to combine multiple spices into one answer is a cheat. So for the other two, I'll go with sage and lemongrass. Both were spices that we were introduced to during our travels and ones that made a big impression: the sage in a homemade dry rub in Croatia and the lemongrass in seemingly every great dish we ate in Thailand.
Who is a better cook: Mr. Spice Panda or Mrs. Spice Panda?A happy Panda wife is a happy Panda life... or so the saying goes. So Mr. SpicePanda will definitely have to go with Mrs. SpicePanda to keep the peace (and because it's accurate). But who enjoys eating food more? Now THAT question is one still up for some serious debate.
It's time to spice up our lives.
Check out SpicePanda online, on Facebook and Twitter.
And now for the best part:
Enter below to win a YEAR SUBSCRIPTION to SpicePanda!
That's, like, a $120 value. 4 boxes. Lots of spices.
Whoever wins, cook me something fun, ok?
If you don't win, don't worry. When I'll have a follow up post announcing the winner as well as a great gift for all of my readers!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: I was provided a box for review purposes. I was in no other way compensated. As always, all opinions are my own. I like to keep it realllll.