FIFTY-EIGHT. Marley Spoon

So, I have been excited to try Marley Spoon since I did my last set of reviews!  I has just read about it as I finished the last one and really almost added it as a fourth vendor, but I decided to wait.  As I researched it this time around, I noticed that they had a new partnership with Martha Stewart, who I like.  Have you ever seen her on the Justin Bieber Roast?  Too funny!  Anyhow, Marley Spoon has nothing to do with comedy or Justin, but is definitely a booming recipe delivery box that has grown from its roots in Germany, setting up shop in the U.K., branching out to 5 other European nations while crossing the Atlantic into the U. S.  This all in only 2 years, less than.  The strategic partnerships and investments are spectacular and wisely used.  The brand itself basically says weeknight cooking, simplified.  With chef-designed recipes and sustainable farming practices, this company has definitely given the others a run for their money.

Ordering:

The ordering process is a little more streamlined here.  You basically choose your meal plan option; the only variant is the vegetarian option.  Then you are brought to the delivery page, this is where they differ.  Marley Spoon only offers Monday/Tuesday delivery times.  This goes with their whole mantra of “weeknight cooking”.  At first I was annoyed because I tend to like my deliveries on Thursdays.  Oh well, suck it up buttercup.  Monday it is!   There are no dietary questions until after you have signed up…kind of irritating as you just need to hope you can make adjustments after you have paid.  I chose the 2 people, 3 meals option.  Here are the other options and pricing below:

Weekly Meal Options (per person, per meal ranges between $8-12)

TWO-PERSON BOX (Vegetarian Only Box Available for 2 or 3 meals, not 4)

2 People,  2 Meals, $48.00 

2 People,  3 Meals, $61.50

2 People,  4 Meals, $76.00

FAMILY BOX (4ppl)

4 People, 2 Meals,  $76.00

4 People,  3 Meals, $106.80

4 People,  4 Meals, $139.20

Price per meal/per person reduces as quantities increase, which is nice as the costs are spread over usage and not just flat rate.

Delivery:

20170122_113823I got an email on Sunday, the day before, telling me my box was being put together to be delivered on Monday.  Ok, cool…except that I have no tracking number, no delivery information…basically a stork could be delivering my box for all I knew.  I figured that maybe I would get a tracking number later, sometimes the systems are different and a separate notification sends out the actual tracking information.
I actually forgot that I was getting a box as I had no reference point to track it anyhow.  I was getting ready to head to the gym and say that the box was sitting outside my mailbox.  So, I’d say about 1 pm it arrived.  I still have no idea how it got there or how long it’s been on the road.  Turns out, they guarantee that the boxes are assembled no more than 24 hours out to ensure the freshness of their ingredients.  I had to read that from the FAQ’s on the site as I had no idea.

Upon opening the box, the usual insulated packaging with the menu cards on top.  The meals were packaged in three brown paper bags sealed with a label.  It was basically the way Blue Apron did their boxes.  I’m not the biggest fan of the paper bags as I have to open them to just visually make sure that the ingredients are all accounted for and take out the stuff that doesn’t need to be refrigerated.  Having transparent plastic allows me to keep things more intact.  20170122_114032
At the bottom were the obligatory ice packs with the chicken and the cod…which I thought looked amazing right out of the gate.  Also, they weren’t frozen solid and I could use the cod that night.  That doesn’t mean that they weren’t chilled enough, just makes me feel better that they didn’t pull it out of a freezer straight into the box.  The other thing was that the other cold items were packed in with the ice packs…butter & yogurt.  As I skimmed through the bags, I could see the produce was fresh and I was honestly really excited to try these recipes out.  The three dinners I got were Pan-Roasted Cod & Potatoes, Roasted Mushroom Bolognese & Tandoori Spiced Chicken.   First up, Pan-Roasted Cod!

Pan-Roasted Cod & Potatoes with Herb Butter

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 Calories: 575kcals per serving, Fat: 29.5g, Protein: 41.3g, Carbs: 31.0g, Sodium: NO SODIUM INFORMATION PROVIDED

Process:  

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The menu card has pretty much the same set-up as the others.  This one has its own nuances as well as the basics of ingredients, equipment, instructions, process.  The obligatory wash all produce and allergy warnings are listed.  They also have a disclaimer about how they only give us one head of garlic for all the recipes.  I do like that.  It’s gives you a little give if you want more garlic in a recipe, or burn it and need to start over.  Aside from that, the garlic in its original state is much better in flavor than getting peeled cloves that are ready to use from a plastic bag.  Just my opinion. Something odd was this whole paragraph about herb butter and tip to soften the butter before mashing it was on the FRONT of the card, not mentioned again as a prep item as you get your ducks in a row.

On to the ingredients…the produce was indeed some of the best I have seen in a box.  The prep is weird to me, as I have been taught to do ALL your chopping done during prep, even herbs. I didn’t know why the recipe card said to EITHER half or quarter the potatoes…why?  I figured it depended on the size so that your pieces are even…but they could have just mentioned it.  Now on to the SHALLOTS.  They gave me 4 of them.  I have no idea why.  That is a whole crapload of shallot. The instructions are to peel and slice, then to only chop one tablespoon.  I have waaaay too much shallot still and won’t be using it all.  Which is slightly wasteful. unless I have another dish lined up that uses it.  The cooking process was easy though and worked perfectly.  I did finish the fish with a few minutes under the broiler to get more color on it.  Here is where I make mention of my issue with the butter.  I didn’t take it out to soften, just something I skipped over and wasn’t reminded to do again during prep.  Then I had prep part 2 to do, which was chop the herbs, zest the lemon and mash the butter.  It’s not a huge deal breaker, but if someone has no idea what is going on, that herb butter could be a disaster.  I did soften the butter by putting it near the oven in a glass bowl, so problem averted.  It was an easy process after that.

Taste and Presentation:

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I have an issue with fish and potatoes together in a dish, unless it’s Fish & Chips.  I was already a bit skeptical of the dish for that reason alone.  I LOVED this dish.  Every element tasted it good on its own and together as one bite.  The cod was fresh, the potatoes were roasted well and the herb butter was perfect.  It looked stunning on the plate with the colors and the textures.

Final Thoughts & Rating:

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I just loved the combination of the spinach with some butter and a mouthful of cod.  I am a firm believer in COD and only COD belongs with potatoes.  Only gripes, the potatoes could have bit a little crispier and the directions threw me off a bit.  Also, a spritz of lemon at the end would have totally taken it to a new level.    All in all, I give this dish a 4.5/5.  Next up, Roasted Mushroom Bolognese!

Roasted Mushroom Bolognese with Linguine

mush-front mush-back

Calories: 755kcal per serving, Fat: 22.4 Protein: 28.3 Carbs: 104.1  Sodium: N/A

Process:

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I have to start this by saying again that the produce was spot on!  I mean that celery was crisp, clean and green!  No weird spots.  They gave me nice big carrots, not tiny scrawny ones.  The mushrooms were perfect and firm.  I mean, I got all hot and bothered with this produce.  Here’s where the love affair ended…having to CHOP it all.  Prep for this dish was exhausting.  It took a while to chop the 6 celery stalks, 2 carrots, 2 onions, and the whole carton of mushrooms.  This time though, all the prep was done from the first moment on, so I didn’t have to worry about chopping the rosemary later, which I initially thought was too much for this dish.  Now the next 2 steps should have been written under one step so that you could simultaneously put the roasted veggie and tomato pans in the oven. The point is that they should cook together so that they can be done together and the next steps can happen without delay.  If you didn’t read the whole recipe, this could have hung you up a bit.  Other than that, the rest of the process was easy and made perfect sense.  I don’t understand why they gave up a pound of pasta and not just the half.  It’s not a prepackaged brand, it was self-packaged by Marley Spoon.  Why give us more?  I almost put the whole thing in there on accident!  The rosemary still seemed like a lot and I had to use my chef head to make that executive decision to not use as much as they asked for.  Time to eat!

Taste and Presentation:

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Plating pasta is always a challenge so it doesn’t turn out looking like a mess.  I am kind of getting sick of linguine.  It seems to be a staple pasta shape in meal boxes.  The pasta was a little under cooked by a min, I would have gone 8 minutes.  The sauce was delicious, I am glad I took down the rosemary, it was still a bit much.

Final Thoughts & Rating:

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I liked the oven roasting process to make the bolognese versus the traditional stove top way.  I think the flavors were melded well and in a short amount of time.  The red pepper flakes in the tomatoes was a bit strong even for me, and I’d suggest to use that with caution, it was exceptionally fresh so it was potent!  Tone down the rosemary and cook the pasta a little longer.  I would make this again on my own using variation in veggies!  Great process!  All in all, I give this dish a 3.5/5. Final dinner…Tandoori Spiced Chicken!

Tandoori Spiced Chicken with Coconut Green Beans & Rice

chicken-front chicken-back

Calories: 760kcals per serving, Fat: 19.5g, Protein: 52.2g, Carbs: 89.2g, Sodium: N/A

Process:

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This one I could not wait for…it’s the closest thing to Indian food I have seen!  So, I know just how critical I would be on this one.  I think just reading through the recipe, I altered my expectation.  I realized it was more “inspired” not so much Indian food…duh Monica.  So, my produce run came to a weird halt, the green beans were slimy!  It was easily rectified with some trimming and good rinse.  I just was a little taken aback that of all things, the green beans were the ones to be the one imperfection.  The chicken was to be pounded out a bit to keep the breasts from drying out and to ensure even cooking time.  Garlic and ginger was easy enough…funny thing, I actually weighed the piece of ginger they gave me, it was at .75 oz….I was supposed to get a 1 oz. piece.  I thought I’d spot check if I’m getting what I paid for 😉 They owe me for the .25 oz.  LOL!  Anyhow, the chicken didn’t really need a pounding, they were even but I think it was more to loosed the muscle than anything else.  There are no salt and pepper instructions for the chicken, only the tandoori spice mix, garlic, garlic, ginger and yogurt.  My first thought is that there may be salt in the seasoning…nope. (NOTE, try all your ingredients, especially sauces and seasonings before using salt).  I decided to not salt the chicken and see if somehow the seasoning makes up for it somehow.  The rice instructions were spot on and the currants, nice touch…never seen that before.  Green beans were easy enough and the process itself was quick and perfect without the whole mess of blanching!   The chicken made me a little nervous, so I cooked it an extra minute.  The meal looked great as I started plating it!

Taste and Presentation:

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I have never had so much fun plating a meal box dish before!  I totally went a whole new route.  I loved the communal connotation of the dish.  Also for those that like to eat their food separately and don’t want their components to touch, it’s really a perfect set up.  The dish was bright, rustic and refined.  Taste…together, a bite with some chicken, rice, green beans and a smear of yogurt was the perfect forkful.  The elements alone…not so much. The chicken needed salt…that spice rub wasn’t enough.  The beans were perfect, the touch of toasted coconut was perfect.  The rice with the currants, best rice I have ever made…ever.  I know…!  I liked seasoning the yogurt with the jus from the chicken while it was resting.  It brought together the flavors and was the only salty element that the chicken came in contact with.

Final Thoughts & Rating:

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I can harp on the issue with the salt and pick on the .25 oz. of ginger they owe me.  I would make this combination of flavors anytime.  I would use my own seasoning, but because I’m Indian…sure I have a higher expectation.  The flavors, textures and colors were perfectly balanced and each bite were a new combination, which made me keep going back for another bite.    I give this dish a 4.5/5.

Conclusion/Wrap-Up:

Marley Spoon gets some major kudos from me! Because this is a review, I had to be extra critical and pick out issues in the recipes, so I did.  On a whole, I applaud the use of Indian spices and subtle Asian profiles.  Infusing flavors in less than 30 minutes is hard for anyone, but these guys make it possible and the dishes are all successful!  I loved how each recipe was HEALTHY!  The balance of carbs and proteins was great for someone like me that works out like crazy but doesn’t taste like cardboard.  They found a great way to incorporate nutrition, flavor and ease.  They didn’t just simplify weekday cooking, they redefined it.    Marley Spoon gets a 4.75/5.

NEXT UP….Green Chef Review!

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