Monday, October 1, 2012

September Pop-Up Pantry

Pop-Up Pantry is a monthly subscription club for food lovers.  I love to cook but I also love trying new food, restaurants etc.  I stumbled across this company either through an email or my ventures through the interwebs.  Pop-Up Pantry works like this; you sign up on their website and take a profile quiz.  My profile was "Rustic-Old World" - Whether it's a chic brasserie by the Seine or a charming osteria in Tuscany, you appreciate quality ingredients, classic technique and rich, developed flavors. Your tastes are sophisticated and refined, and you appreciate the good life. But you're just as comfortable eating off a while tablecloth for a special occasion as you are a weathered farm table with family and friends. You appreciate both extravagant delicacies, like truffles, and simple ones, like a perfectly roasted chicken.  Chefs: Julia Child, Mario Batali, Daniel Boulud, Giada DeLaurentis - Destinations: Paris, Buenos Aires, Sicily, New York, Barcelona. Istanbul - Design: a vineyard farmhouse, Alfa Romeo, Bauhaus, Cartier - Drinks: Red Burgandy, San Pellegrino, Chianti, Espresso, Rielsling. I would say this is about 95% accurate.  I can sit down and eat a home cooked southern meal of fried chicken, corn bread and greens in the backyard just as easily as I can get dressed up for a multi-coarse chef's choice meal at Morimoto's Napa or enjoy an aged porterhouse at Batali's Italian Steakhouse Carnevino in Las Vegas. I highly recommend both restaurant if you ever have the chance!  I am curious what the other profiles are but I couldn't find them on the website.  

The plan goes like this; each month you will get an email with meals recommended for you based on your profile.  You are not limited to the items recommended for you.  You can choose from their whole list of menus.  The pricing is as follows; Gourmand $90 a month, includes 2 dinners that serve 2 people (makes it $22.50 per person per dinner), Epicure $160 a month, includes 4 dinners that serve 2 people (makes it $20 per person per dinner) or Gastronome $280 a month, includes 8 dinners that serve 2 people (makes it $17.50 per person per dinner). Each meal is created by the chef listed and is shipped frozen.  It will stay fresh in the refrigerator for 3 days or transfer to your freezer.  Each meal has a package to table time of 30 minutes or less, perfect for those long work days.  

The good: 

Gourmet meals: You get a gourmet meal at a non-gourmet price

Shipping: My items were still frozen upon arrival so I just transferred them to the freezer

Information: The information card the provide is great.  It tells you what the menu consists of, what you'll need, directions on cooking and plating.  There is even tips from the chef about drink pairings.  

Complete meal: Each meal consists of an appetizer, main course and dessert.  

Customer Service: Their customer service is terrific.  I emailed them on a Sunday once to ask a question totally not expecting a reply until Monday or Tuesday and I got one back 10 minutes later.  

The not so good:

Risk: You get to pick the food you want sent but there's still a risk of not liking it.  If you're a foodie like me though then risk isn't a factor.  I'll try almost anything once.  I mean how else will I know if I like it or not?

This is the box it was shipped in.  When I opened the box I found the contents insulated and piece of dry ice underneath all the food packages.  

The first menu I chose was Shrimp & Grits by Chef Frank Fronda.  This says the appetizer is Oysters Rockefeller Dip which is one of the main reasons I ordered it (I love oysters!). What I received was Spinach Artichoke dip which I was kind of meh about.  I contacted the company and they explained there was an issue with the quality of the oysters so the made this substitution.  They said the always inform the customer of substitutions and were going to look into what I didn't get a notification.  The good news is they gave me a $10 credit towards my next order, which was nice.  

I know this picture is blurry, sorry.   This is the complete meal for the Shrimp & Grits.  

A better picture of the Spinach & Artichoke dip, grits and Shrimp. 

Here is my second menu.  Butternut Squash Lasagna Rolls by Beekman 1802.

This is all the packages for the Butternut Squash Lasagna Rolls.  

First Meal: Shrimp & Grits by Chef Frank Fronda

It took about 30 minutes to prepare and was pretty easy.  When I started plating the food I thought I'm not sure this is going to be enough for the boyfriend.  He's not a large man by any means but has a very healthy appetite, especially after a 12 hour work day. The drink pairing suggested a cold beer or sazerac. We opted to have Stella Artois with our meal.  

Spinach & Artichoke Dip - This was pretty good, not the best I've ever had but it was tasty.  I toasted the bread per the directions but the boyfriend said he would've preferred it soft.

Shrimp & Grits - This was just ok.  It didn't come out looking like the picture at all.  It was more of a soup consistency and a little spicy.  The shrimp were nice and plump and very good.  I wasn't a big fan of the broth either.  I don't know it was too much tomato flavor or the combination of spices used.  The boyfriend seemed to like it and went back for seconds - but sadly there were none.

Pear Almond Tartlet - I thought this was absolutely delicious.  I paired it with pineapple frozen Greek yogurt.  The size was perfect, the pears were large and I loved the almond flavor throughout.

I didn't think about taking a picture of the final product until after we ate.  I will try and remember to take a picture of the second meal when I make it.

Second Meal: Butternut Squash Lasagna Rolls by Beekman 1802

Onion Soup with Cheese Toasts - I liked this but felt it was missing just a little something.  I was pleasantly surprised the toast held up quite nicely and didn't get mushy.

Butternut Squash Lasagna Rolls - I really liked this.  I may try and duplicate this in the near future.  The only issue I had was it stuck to the paper container.

Spiced Carrot Cake - I adore carrot cake and this was a delicious carrot cake.  I thought it came with a ton of icing but the boyfriend didn't seem to mind and had me put the whole package of icing on the cake.

Verdict: I think this is a great idea for those who love to cook and those who don't. Makes a great gift too!

**I am not any type of sponsor paid or unpaid for Pop-Up Pantry.  I purchase these subscriptions myself.


  1. The food we got was horrible, the chicken was soggie and tastless, nothing tasted good in the order we got. Beeing a nice person I did not complain.. the sad thing is I didn't know I was signing for a subscription where they would charge me 90$ per month. So now I'm stuck with a 90$ credit in this sight and they won't refund me... their customer service was inhuman , they kept repeating the same answer, treating me like I wasn't a person. I explaind that I don't have much money in my account and that the money they chraged me was suppose to pay for my electricity bill. They wouldn't agree to reconcider. I've never got such bad service in my life and the food was not worth 90$! I could have gotten something better for 3$ at the Deli across the street

    1. You're experience with the customer service is really shocking to me. When I signed up initially I had a discount code for $5 and forgot to use it. I emailed the company and they offered to refund me the $5 or put a credit on my account. The shrimp and grits wasn't too impressive but I had BBQ pork shank tonight and it was great. I'm sorry you had such a terrible experience.

  2. Do not order anything from these people. They are awful and rude. The food was disgusting I wouldn't even give it to my dog. I too got stuck with $150 of terrible food and they wanted nothing to do with helping a customer. The rep I talked to was so rude, I finally got to talk to the "cofounder" of the company but I doubt that it was because he was of no interest in helping a dissatisfied customer. Then again he's laughing all the way to the bank because his policy is not to refund money. So he gets to keep your money for crappy service and even worse food. DO NOT BUY ANYTHING FROM POPUP PANTRY.

  3. You MUST tell them to skip you this month by the 7th of the month or you will be charged and they expect you will pick some food later in the month for the funds they took. You can also just cancel your subscription at any time, which is what I will be doing. I went for 3 months, 2 dinners per month. Mostly not very good or worse.