Friday, October 03, 2014

Graze

I first heard about Graze, a custom snack delivery service, when a friend was advertising their promo code to try a free sample.  I was drawn in by the freebie, but then found myself quickly fascinated.  I love snack foods.  And they claim to tailor snacks to my preferences, and deliver them to my door? Um, yes?

I browsed through their offerings, which span a number of categories, both sweet and savory.  Some are simple, like assorted mixes of dried fruits, nuts, seeds, chocolate, rice crackers, etc with various coatings, ranging from savory Goan curry to spicy Thai yum yum.  Others have fantastic sounding names, like "Elenor's Apple Crumble", or "Hot Cross Yum".  And there are "flapjacks", which look like granola bars.  Another category is the "dips & dippers", which consists of things like dried apples slices to dip in sticky caramel sauce, shortbread cookies to dip in strawberry compote, or baked soy bites to dip in sweet chili sauce.

The idea is that you rate items as "trash", meaning that you never want them, "try", meaning that you'd be happy to try it, "like", meaning that that they should send it occasionally, and "love", meaning that they should send regularly.  You can rate individual offerings, or rate at the ingredient level, so if you hate raisins, you can "trash" all products with raisins.  Then you select your level of adventurousness - do you want mostly items you like and love?  Are you willing to try more new things?  And finally, you select your delivery frequency.  Pretty simple actually, and very customized quickly.

The company just launched in the US, but has been around in the UK for a few years.  I quickly realized that they were not a US based company when reading through the items available, so many familiar treats from my days in Australia - Banoffee!  Eton Mess!
Box #1: Herbas Tapas, Banofee Pie, Bonnie Wee Oatbakes, Tutti Frutti. (clockwise, from top left).  $5.
The boxes come nicely packaged and presented.  Each snack is labelled and there is a custom insert that tells you the nutrition and use-by dates for each item.

My selections were fairly varied.  In the first box, I received one savory mix, one sweet mix, one dippers, and one fruit mix.  Two were ones I had indicated that I'd "love", and the other two were "try".
Box #2: My Thai, Tropical Daiquiri, Marvelous Macaroon, Apple and Cinnamon Flapjacks.  $5.
 In my second box, I recieved one sweet mix, one dippers, one fruit mix, and a flapjack, two were "like" and two were "try".

I think the service has potential, but currently the pricing and value don't seem quite there.  Each box is only $5, including delivery, which seems great.  But the amount of food that arrives is pretty minimal, each item is only ~1 ounce, and you receive 4 selections per box.  They say that they want the boxes to be small enough to fit in a standard mailbox, which seems nice, but ... it just wasn't enough to really satisfy a craving.

Dips and Dippers

Since I love sauces and dipping things, this was the category I was most excited about, although the particular choices were not really exciting.  I rated all dips and dippers as try,  so I'm glad I got one in each box.

Bonnie Wee Oatbakes: "Red onion marmalade with cheese and chive oatbakes".

These, like most of the dippers, I had just rated as "try".  I was pleasantly surprised.  The cheese and chive oatbakes were sorta like savory graham crackers, softer and more crumbly than a cracker.  I didn't necessarily taste chives and cheese, but they were savory and not sweet.  The red onion marmalade was quite tasty.  Sorta sweet, sorta caramelized.

The dippers and dip combined nicely, and it was fun to have a snack that involved two components.  Think ... savory Dunkaroos (do those still exist?).  I liked these, but left my rating at "try", since I'd still rather try other new ones.

My Thai: "Sweet chili sauce with baked soy bites". 

I was so excited for these.  When I was in Syndey, I fell in love with eating potato wedges dipped in sweet chili sauce.  I hoped these would remind me of that.  They did, sorta, but they weren't good.

The problem was the sweet chili sauce.  It just wasn't good.  The soy bites were strange little crunchy rice snacks with a hint of soy sauce flavor.  They weren't bad, but on their own, they were a bit plain.  If the sweet chili sauce had been tasty, this would have been a fun combination.  Sadly, this quickly went into the "trash" category.  I do love the idea of the dippers still though!

Flapjacks

Lots of people rave about Graze's flapjacks, so I rated the most interesting sounding flavor (apple and cinnamon) "love", and I'm glad I got them.  (Since Graze is a British company, they use flapjack here to mean granola bar, not a pancake!)

Apple and Cinnamon Flapjack: "Rustic rolled oat flapjack with apple and cinnamon". 

The flapjacks were unlike any granola bar I'd ever had, not at all crisp, fairly soft.  More like an oatmeal cookie, but in bar form.  I almost liked them, but there wasn't much flavor.  I really did like the texture, but it was mostly just oats.  I didn't detect the apple or cinnamon.  I guess I give them credit for being a healthy, whole food version of a cookie, with a very short ingredient list, but these moved onto my "trash" list after my first try.

Then, I tried them again.  This time, I paired one with tea, and my expectations were more set, so it really did just seem like a healthy version of an oatmeal cookie, and I liked it more.  I still wanted more flavor though.

Savory Snacks

Next, I got to try a savory snack.

Herbas Tapas: "Roasted corn, chili broad beans and jumbo chili corn". 

This was a fairly fun mix, one that I had expected to like, and thus had rated "love" before trying it, sine I love corn nuts.  It had a nice amount of kick to it, and both types of corn were super crunchy.  Very fun to munch on.  The jumbo corn were my favorite.  The chili broad beans I didn't care for; they tasted a little too much like beans (yes, I know that is a ridiculous statement, but I don't like beans), and weren't as crunchy as the others.

After trying, I downgraded my rating to "try".  As much as I liked the spicy corn, I'd rather try new things.

A Touch Of Chocolate

Obviously, the most fun category for me, and a subject I review often: chocolate!

Marvelous Macaroon: "Amaretti drops, almond slices, coconut flakes and white chocolate buttons". 

 YUM!  This was, hands down, the best snack I tried from Graze.  The amaretti drops were tiny, but somehow packed a ton of flavor, and there were plenty of them.  The sliced almonds and coconuts added to the sense of eating a macaroon, while also giving crunch.  And the white chocolate buttons added pleasant sweetness.

Overall, this just all came together perfectly, in terms of flavors and textures.  Would totally get again.

Healthy Treats

Banoffee Pie: "Fudge pieces, almond slices, pecan nuts and banana coins".

How often do you get to consider banoffee pie a "healthy treat"? :)

The banana coins were not like standard banana chips, they were more moist and not entirely dried out, and were not glazed and sweetened like most banana chips.  They didn't have a whole lot of flavor however, so I wouldn't go for them again.  The almond slices were slightly bitter, just slices of almond.  The pecans were good, I always like pecans.  The fudge pieces were not at all what I was expecting, as they weren't chocolate fudge, but instead just sugar.  I liked the flavor.

I'm not sure how this all was really supposed to be banoffee though.  When I was in Sydney, I fell in love with banoffee, and this did have the banana component, and the fudge was sorta like toffee, but I don't really understand where the almonds and pecans were coming from, and it was lacking anything to simulate the biscuit crust.

Would not get again, moved to "trash" list.

Pure Fruits

Tuttie Frutti: "Blueberry infused cranberries, pineapple, cherry infused raisins and green raisins". 

Much like the banana slices in the Banoffee Pie, the pineapples were not as dehydrated as I'm used to.  They were fairly juicy and had really intense pineapple flavor.  They were great, but small, I would have loved them even more if they were full size rings.  There were also only 4 small chunks in the entire mix.  More pineapple please!

The green raisins were just raisins, fairly plump, but unremarkable.  The blueberry infused cranberries just tasted like cranberries to me, maybe a bit sweeter than normal, but I couldn't pull out any blueberry flavor.  The cherry infused raisins were the most interesting, as they really messed with my head.  They looked like slightly strange colored golden raisins, but then tasted like cherry.  Intriguing!

But since I don't really like raisins or cranberries, this mix didn't offer much for me, and I wouldn't get again.  "trash" for sure.

Tropical Daiquiri: "Pineapple, lime infused raisins and green mango." 

Like the Tutti Fruitti, the pineapples were decent, but there were again only 3 of them.  There were also only 3 of the mango, which were really delicious

The majority of the mix was the raisins, lime infused. These were my favorite of all the infused fruits I tried, the lime flavor really came through, but I still don't really like raisins.

Overall, this was a pretty tasty combination, screaming TROPICAL for sure.  I wouldn't get it again, since it was at least 75% raisins.  "trash"!
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