Try The World

Since IPSY, I have been on a look out for cool subscription boxes that I could try out and review for you guys. I found Try The World, a food subscription box that mails you a selection of about 7 – 8 gourmet snacks and food items from a particular country every 2 months. With my love for travel and learning about various cultures, this seemed right up my alley, so I gave it a go. I got the trial Paris box (you only pay US$5 for shipping), which you can get too, here!

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I was so excited to receive it in the mail, a nice brown package at my doorstep. In it, sat this beautiful Tiffany blue box! Isn’t it pretty? This is one of my favorite colors!

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Once opened, I found this glossy Culture Guide for the Paris Box, designed with France’s colors and looking oh so chic!

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The full color culture guide provided a helpful map of France and where all the items in the box came from, as well as little blurbs on each item. It even indicates with symbols if the item is from a family business, organic etc…

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On the other side of the Culture Guide are 2 Paris Experiences you could try out. They included a list of French movies, a curated French playlist (with a link you can use to access it) and some fun recipes you could experiment with, using ingredients found in the box they just sent you. Basically, all you need to have a mini French night in with your loved ones!

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Cute navy blue packing material aside, here are all the gourmet items I found in my little French box…. I’m sorry my keyboard doesn’t allow me to type in the accents to some words, so the names may not be fully accurate!

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1. Le Saunier De Camargue – Finishing Salt

Finishing salt from France, so you can feel slightly more fancy when cooking with it! 😀

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2. La Mere Poulard – Sables Cookies

Okay, I gave these a try and I love them! They are super crumbly, buttery cookies that melt in your mouth. They remind me of Scottish shortbread, which I also adore. They are very rich and yummy. There was only 4 cookies in the box, which was not nearly enough.

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3. Charles Antona – Clementine Jam

I simply spread this on some bread to try it, and it was pretty delicious. It was not too sweet but very tasty and I think could go with a variety of food items beyond bread.

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4. Domaine des Vignes – Dijon Mustard

I mean, we’ve all had mustard, but this is straight from Dijon (the mustard town), so it’s gotta be better right? 😛

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5. La Maison d’Armorine – Butter Caramels

These are amazingly good and without a doubt, my favorite item from the box. I had to restrain myself and not eat it all in one sitting. It is super rich, like the cookies, but soooo good!!!

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6. Un Brin Sauvage – Herb Blend

This herb blend supposedly works best with fish, but could also work pretty well with meat! I’m going to try it the next time I cook, as an herb rub.

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7. Palais Des Thes – Tea Bags

I can’t wait to take an afternoon with some French Tea and cookies!

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I enjoyed the little surprise in the mail very much, and while the full price tag to continue my subscription was a little too steep for me, the contents are definitely of greater value than the cost!

The full costs are as follows, depending on your subscription length. Clearly, the longer you commit to, the cheaper the boxes will be!

1 time subscription – US$39 for 1 box (billed every 2 months)

Half a year subcription – US$35 for 1 box (billed every 6 months)

1 year subscription – US$33 for 1 box (billed every 12 months)

I am a big lover for travel, and exploring new cultures. I have traveled to about 20 countries by now, and cannot wait to keep expanding that list. Food, really teaches you so much about each culture, their way of life, and that adventurous streak in me just loves trying new things.

When I was living abroad (and am still living abroad right now, technically), receiving care packages of food from friends and family in other countries was an amazing way to connect. I get so excited to see a nice brown package at my doorstep, it’s like Christmas! It was so much fun unboxing this Paris box and trying everything in it. I even made my husband sit with me while I opened the package, and showed him everything in it like a kid at Christmas. Our cats were also curious and sniffed around the box trying to figure out what the buzz was about. Haha!

For a little surprise every other month, and a unique insight into a new culture, the US$33-US$39 is well worth it.

I contacted Try The World and they kindly offered a coupon code for all my dear readers, simply quote TheDollhouseDiaries to received 15% off your first box!! You can also click on the link to view their website for more detailed information.

I hope you enjoy your little surprise soon! Share your thoughts and reviews of Try The World with me too. I will love to hear your experiences.

❤ Joy

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Korean Spicy (Fire) Noodle Challenge

The internet is a gloriously crazy place. Recently, countless of youtube videos have been posted about a “Spicy Noodle Challenge” aka Fire Noodles, and many online articles have been written about it. Koreans, other Asians, Americans and basically people from all around the world have jumped on this bandwagon. Just for some reference, you can read/watch some of them here:

http://iamkoream.com/korean-fire-noodle-challenge-spreads-online/

http://oogeewoogee.com/americans-try-the-super-spicy-korean-ramen-challenge/

So, being the crazy adventurous soul I am, I decided I had to give it a go to see what the fuss is about. I grew up in South East Asia, and our cuisine is largely spicy. Having moved to the United States, nothing is ever really spicy to me. I try to get restaurants to up their spice level by saying “please make it as spicy as you can” but never really get a satisfactory spice level.

My frustration has led to… well, this. I went on Amazon (gotta love the 2-day free shipping for Prime members) and in 2 days, this happy package arrived at our doorstep. I couldn’t wait to break into it, explaining disjointedly to S about the Spicy Noodle Challenging and getting a pot boiling at the same time. Here it is:

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Our curious kitten came to check out the commotion. Here is the famous Samyang Ramen. It is chicken flavored, and comes with a liquid sauce pack.

Cooking instructions are simple:

1) Boil 600ml of water

2) cook the noodles in boiling water for 5 mins,

3) Drain the excess water such that only about 8 tablespoons of water remain.

4) Add the super spicy sauce pack & garnish pack (sesame seeds & seaweed) to the noodles, and toss in pan till most of the liquid is gone.

5) Serve! (Prepare tissues for tears, sweat, and snot that follows)

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Ta-dah!! Here is the final product. I could not wait! The first bite told me that yes, this is definitely spicy. After half the bowl is gone, I start to feel the heat building. I tried sharing it with S, but he gave his unfinished portion back to me.

I finished the entire bowl of noodles in 1 sitting, and this is very important, because I did not dare to stop eating (the spice will build), drink anything (in fear that the spice will spread) or talk while eating (choking on this will not be fun). I only dared to start doing those things when I am well and done with the noodles, while I sip some water quietly with a flushed face.

The whole experience was pretty awesome. I got my spicy fix, and was so excited by it. The noodles were also pretty tasty and flavor packed, even without the jazz of the spice. I have since finished the entire packet of 5, and will be getting more soon. I have started eating it for a late night snack, or when I am too lazy to cook/get take out or just crave something really spicy (which happens very regularly).

This is NOT for anyone who finds the average spicy American food spicy. It is for spice junkies who cannot get enough of tongue numbing spiciness, and especially anyone like me who craves wayyyyy spicier food from places that really do spicy food well. S loves spicy food and he can handle a good heat from his dishes, for sure, but this was slightly too much for him still. It might be fun to get a couple bites here and there, but he was not interested in finishing even half of it. So, if you do not enjoy the (slightly painful) feeling that spicy foods give you, stay well away from the Samyang Ramen. If not, grab a pack from Amazon and try it for yourself!

Let me know in the comments if you have tried the Spicy Noodle Challenge too, and what you thought of it!

❤ Joy

The Spice Chambers – Keene, NH

Indian food is one of my all time favorite cuisines, and being able to find a good Indian restaurant was such a nice surprise around these parts. We have been frequenting this cute little place called The Spice Chambers in Keene, NH. It is right off the Main Street and super easy to find. There is parking on the street, so it’s fairly convenient too. Here’s are the contact details, for your information:

Address: 8 Winter St, Keene, NH 03431

We usually go for dinner there, but I heard that they have a good buffet lunch too (though I have not tried that). Here are some pictures from our time there

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The cute little restaurant, tucked in a corner. Great location, right downtown in Keene.

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The interior: classy, simple and chic. They have a mix of customers: college kids, couples, young professionals…

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The waiters are friendly! They have a bar in the restaurant too, though I have not ordered anything from there yet.

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I completely forgot to take photos till we were halfway through the meal! It was so yummy!

S has ordered various menu items like the Mango Chicken, and Chicken Marsala which were both pretty good. I always go for the Chicken Tikka Marsala and it is buttery, creamy and oh so yummy! We always get our curries done super spicy, but you can request for any level of spice based on your preferences.

We get Naans to go with our curries, and both the Garlic Cilantro and Garlic Chive Naans are our favorites. For appetizers, I enjoyed the Chicken Pakoras, Samosa and Pappadums. If you enjoy spicy food, ask for their Chef’s spicy sauce. It goes great with everything!

The curries also come with plenty of fragrant Basmati Rice. I always get a refill because I can’t get enough of it.

So, if you are ever around the Keene area, do try out this cute Indian place if you are a fan of spice and ethnic foods!

*Again, I am not sponsored in any way by the restaurant, and it is a place we eat out at very regularly, so I thought they deserved a review*

❤ Joy

Yamato Japan

It’s the weekend and while running errands in Leominster this morning, S and I decided to pop by Yamato Japan for lunch. We’ve eaten here many times and their Saturday lunch is usually what we do because the prices are affordable and I never pass up a chance to get Asian food. I have tried so many Asian restaurants around the area and there simply aren’t many good ones, as there isn’t as big an Asian population around here like the big cities do. Yamato Japan, while not quite rivaling the Asian restaurants I am used to back home and in Japan by any means, does a good version of their Japanese dishes that gets me coming back time and again. I decided, thus, to do a full review of our dining experience there today. If any of you are in the area and craving something other than your usual American Japanese cuisine, or just looking for a nice place for a good meal with friends and family, I do recommend this place.

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It’s a nice little place tucked in the corner, in the plaza right opposite Hannaford Supermarket. The interior is simple but elegant, with soft music playing in the background (usually piano renditions of classic Asian pop songs I grew up with!).

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There is a cute sushi bar/reception area right at the front of the store. The Hibachi grill is round the back, but you could see the chef at work if you wanted to.

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We were there for the lunch special on Saturday (yay for weekend specials!), as can be seen in the photo of the menu. The lunch specials are 11am – 3pm, and are fairly affordable. The bento boxes are of good value, though I always end up getting the sushi/sashimi platters because I crave that all the time.

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We started with the appetizers. Most lunch specials come with soup or salad. I always go for the soup because they do yummy miso soup here! Plenty of kelp and tofu to keep me happy, and they don’t skimp on the miso paste either.

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We also love the gyoza here. It makes me sad when restaurants murder this awesome dish. Yamato does it well so far. The skin of the gyoza is gorgeously thin, the base of each dumpling gloriously pan-fried to be slightly crisp (not burnt) while the top of it still remains tender.

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Our main courses. This is what S usually gets, Hibachi chicken and steak (with a nice side of Hibachi rice). The meats are tender, never overcooked and the Hibachi rice is by far, my favorite.

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My main course – Sashimi Platter. Definitely instagram worthy. 😛 I also got a side of Hibachi rice (not part of the lunch special) because it is so delicious I could not resist. The sashimi is not cut super thin, which is a slight flaw, but for $11.95, I cannot really complain. It was also pretty fresh and yummy, and I was a happy camper.

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Finally, we got to the dessert! We really like the fried ice cream, which was novel to S, but also yummy in its own right. The warm fried exterior contrasts well with the deliciously cold vanilla ice cream on the inside, and it’s all topped with chocolate syrup and whipped cream. Not made for diets, but oh so good.

I hope you enjoyed this review of Yamato Japan. It is not a sponsored post or anything, but I just thought to share this place that we go to pretty regularly. I love dragging S with me to all the different restaurants in the area, and many times if we are in someplace new, we would Yelp recommendations and try out new places. I will try to do more reviews so you can also give the various places a try if you are in the area.

Hope your week ahead is awesome!

❤ Joy