Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Bon Appetit Box (Cafe Gourmand) Review, May 2015

The most decadent food subscription I've run across is Bon Appetit Box.  They have a monthly service and you can also buy individual boxes curated around various themes.  At $75 per box, this is definitely one of the most expensive food subscriptions around.  That's why I pounced when Gilt City ran a promotion in April where a single box could be purchased for $52 or a two month subscription for $97. Not surprisingly, this deal sold out very quickly but there is a waitlist in case you're interested in lining up for the next (hopefully) Bon Appetit Box promotion.

Because of the financial commitment (which included a $13 shipping fee) and my lack of familiarity with this company, I decided to try the single box deal.  The nice thing about these is that you can see a list of every included item on their site. Unlike a subscription, there are no surprises.  After a careful study of the five available single boxes and their contents, I settled on the Cafe Gourmand Box which is full of French sweets and treats.  All of the items are comprised of miniature sweets with the idea being that you can enjoy several of them guilt-free after a meal.

I don't know how they did it, but my Bon Appetit Box arrived just four days after ordering! It was shipped by FedEx Ground and arrived in a satisfyingly large branded box.

Inside the lid of the cardboard box was a personal note from Zoe & Bertrand (the French epicurians who founded Bon Appetit Box) letting me know that the "Sarments du Medoc" have been discontinued.  They have been replaced in this box by two other items which I'll note below.  I was fine with this since the discontinued item was the least interesting to me and I am quite happy with the substitutions.

A beautiful 6" deep gift box with a quintessentially French red and white plaid interior was inside the outer box. This is a really nice sturdy box that can be used for storage later.  So far, so good!

A sea of brown crinkle shreds topped with a package containing a set of elegant information cards greeted me.

There are seven custom printed cards.  One introduces the Cafe Gourmand Box and lists all the items in the box. Five cards picture the items (one on the front and one on the back) and give plenty of information about each one ("What it is", "Who makes it", "Why you will love it" and an "Extra Morsel" of information). The seventh card is a postcard featuring the Eiffel Tower on one side.

This limited edition box is full of exquisite French treats and sweets!  (Do I have a tough job or what?)

First out is a 3.5 oz. box of Almond Macaroons from Maison Fossier.  The card mentions that they are the oldest French cookie factory, founded in 1756. These delicate little cookies are light and crunchy and made with finely ground almonds.

This very over exposed photo is of a really cute little tin of Berlingots from Kubli.  The lid of the tin has a window so you can see the colorful little candies inside.  These are fruit flavored and made from a sugar syrup.  "Berlingot" translates as "humbug" which, besides its more common definition, is also a term for little double pyramid shaped striped candies.  This was an additional item added to the box to make up for the missing Sarments du Medoc.  

This package contains ten individually wrapped Petit Oursons (little bears).  These are soft milk chocolate covered marshmallows in the shape of teddy bears.  This candy was introduced in 1962 and took the form of a teddy bear because of its cherished image to French children.

The replacement item for the discontinued chocolates is this cute little square containing nine Fleur de Sel Caramels. These come from Bretagne.  They have a delicate flavor and a fudge-like texture.

This is a box of Vanilla Flavored Wafers from Bouvard, a crispy cookie made with vanilla and butter. This light biscuit is a French staple, also historically referred to as "cat's tongue" (langue de chat) due to its shape. These are often doused in tea or coffee and served with dessert.

I would have no respect for a gourmet French box that did not include chocolate! This decadent looking dark chocolate bar from Flagrants Desirs ("Bite in case of craving") is called a Crispy Crepe Dentelle.  This is a 72% cacao chocolate with bits of buttery crisp crepe to offset the bitterness of the rich black chocolate. Delectable bliss indeed!

Thanks to subscription boxes (French Box, in particular), I have come to love calissons, which are a specialty of Provence.  This is a soft candy, somewhat like marzipan, made of sweet almond, orange peel and candied melon.  These are made into a paste which sits on a wafer bed and is coated with royal icing.  

French confectioners can be counted on to come up with the most adorable little candy tins.  Such is the case with this charming little tin containing Les Anis de Flavigny.  A mint flavored sugar syrup is poured over an anise seed to create a long-lasting hard candy.  I'm skeptical as to whether I'll enjoy these or not but there's no doubt about the tin....with the beautiful artwork on the lid, it's a keeper!

Last but certainly not least is this big package of Nougat de Montelimar from Chabert & Guillot.  Montelimar is a small village in southwest France that is considered the world's nougat capital.  These soft nougat bites are made with honey and almonds.  They are much more delicate in flavor and texture than the overly chewy and processed forms of nougat we have in the U.S.

What an absolutely luxurious delight it was to dig through this box!  The elegant presentation and impeccable curation put this ahead of pretty much any other food box that I've tried. While $75 (+ $13 for shipping) is quite steep for a monthly box, the option to purchase a single box is much more palatable, especially if you can locate a discount deal.

Besides the Cafe Gourmand box that I ordered, there are four other single purchase boxes. Click on any of the links to see exactly what to expect.

Amour Box - contains 8 full size items that will add a romantic touch to a special dinner night.

Paris Aperitif Box - relax, unwind and experience Paris with some delectable artisan goodies.

Provence Aperitif Box - experience an authentic taste of Provence, pure French Mediterranean bliss!

Gouter Box - take an afternoon break to enjoy time with friends and the savoring of gourmet delights

Bon Appetit is firmly planted on my radar now. I'll be watching for future deal site opportunities, so keep an eye on my Facebook page for any updates. For $75, you expect a great box and I have to say that Bon Appetit delivers! 
Au revoir,


P.S.  It's probably obvious but any of these boxes would make the ultimate personal or business gift.  Who wouldn't want to receive one of these?

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