Saturday, May 17, 2014

Munchies by Mail Review: Graze Box #3

Another two weeks, another pretty Graze Box in my mailbox, a few flowers blooming on the sunny back porch... it's the small pleasures, my friends. A refresher: Graze is a snack subscription... for $6 a box (weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly), subscribers receive four individually-packaged and customized snacks in a lovely box. It's honestly kind of ridiculous how much I enjoy Graze's presentation and the images they choose for the inside of their lids.

 Let's get down to business, shall we? This month's offerings:

  •  Wholegrain Banana Caramel Dippers: These are unbelievably delicious. The dippers are tender little shortbread bites with a strong banana flavor. The caramel is a pretty standard creamy caramel dip, nothing out of the ordinary. Combine the two, however, and you have sheer, unadulterated perfection. It actually provoked a really strong sense of deja vu for me, and it took me a while to place the flavor, but finally I recognized it as being very similar to a super-decadent layered dessert my sister makes called "Banana Split Cake." (It's basically this Kraft recipe, but her version involves more butter, powdered sugar, and a crap-load of maraschino cherries.) Since this snack is a very similar taste experience without the extra gazillion calories and grams of fat, it's rocketing straight to the top of my favorite-Graze-snacks list. My only complaint is that I can't get a Graze box just full of these. This garnered a hearty "LOVE" rating from me, which tells Graze that I would like to receive this snack often. Did you hear that, Graze? OFTEN. AS OFTEN AS YOUR KITCHEN PRODUCES THEM. SEND ME ALL OF THEM.
  • Bonnie Wee Oatbakes: So, we're going from the best to the worst here. Just to tell you how utterly appalling I found these, I actually had to fish them out of the trash can to take a picture because I threw them away so quickly that I neglected to even document their existence. The things I do for you (non-existent) readers. The oatbakes were the real problem with this snack; apparently they are meant to be "cheese and chive" flavored, but hand to God they taste exactly like what I imagine the flavor of dry cat food to be. They taste like my cats' Purina smells, the texture is horribly dry and hard, and they actually even kind of look like oversized cat food nuggets. (Or Scooby Snacks, which amused me for a hot minute once I realized it.) The red onion marmalade was better, an interesting blend of sweet, tart, and savory with a strong onion kick... too strong, I think, for me to eat as a dip, even if I scrounged up a more palatable dipper to use. I think this particular iteration of onion marmalade would have been good thinned out a bit and used to glaze some chicken, and I wish I would have thought of that before chucking this snack into the trash (both literally and figuratively in Graze-rating-speak).
  • Garden of England: From the good, to the bad, to the meh. This snack is a blend of dried apple pieces, strawberries, and blackcurrants. Nothing wrong here... just nothing to write home about, and nothing much left to say here. If you've eaten dried fruit, you get the idea. I hadn't tried blackcurrants before, as far as I know, but didn't find anything particularly unique about them, and I was unimpressed by the relatively small size of this snack as well. This one got a "trash" rating for sheer mediocrity.
  • Lightly Toasted Pistachios: another meh here. As with the Garden of England, these are just mundane. Pistachios are among my favorite nuts... and there's absolutely nothing to distinguish these lightly-salted nuts from the Wonderful brand of pistachios that I usually purchase. They are so similar, in fact, that after tasting a couple for reviewing purposes, I went ahead and dumped the package into my jar full of Wonderful pistachios. Hence, the following picture may be misleading, because I again forgot to take a picture of the Graze snack in its entirety, so instead I fished out a handful of nuts from the jar for a photo op. In theory, at least some of those pistachios should be the Graze ones. If not, sue me. Oh, and I "trashed" this snack too. Ain't nobody got time for the same ol' same ol' nuts.

So. Three boxes into this whole Graze thing, I'm finding that while I really enjoy the subscription as a whole, some of the individual snacks leave a lot to be desired. As I mentioned in my previous Graze review, one of the things I really like about Graze is the ability to "trash" snacks that you don't like. When I first signed up, I went through the entire range of Graze snacks and "trashed" all the ones that I knew wouldn't suit me, like BBQ-flavored things. Now that I know that Graze's all-fruit and all-nut offerings are perfectly adequate but bore me, I've gone through the range again and trashed most of those. In theory, this should mean that I will start getting more of the unique and interesting snacks that Graze offers, and even if they turn out to be failures for me like the Bonnie Wee Oatbakes were, at least I won't be bored! I also upped my subscription to arrive weekly, because I've found that these snacks are nice little surprises to toss into my lunch bag for work.

As always, if my ramblings about Graze have tempted you to want to try it, please feel free to clicky-clicky here to use my friend code to sign up. You will get your first and fifth boxes free, and I will get to either take $1 off a box or donate $1 to the Graze School of Farming.

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