FEBRUARY 2014: NEW YORK
From the Escape Monthly New York travel brochure:
"Pack your bags...this month's destination is New York! From the City's amazing museums, artisan boutiques, and never-sleeping nightlife, to the tranquil lakes, forests, and farms Upstate...everyone loves New York!
We hope you love this unique collection of local artisan goods from all over the state...Happy Travels!"
I expect that the box will be very NYC-centric, since that is such a huge tourist attraction. Maybe they'll throw in a miniature Statue of Liberty or some other equally kitschy tchotchke. To be honest, I know absolutely nothing about New York outside NYC, so I hope that the guidebook will tell me more about the state.
Well, I see the Statue of Liberty on the travel brochure, at least! I'm pleased to see that Escape Monthly has started using bubble wrap - last month's loosely packed rock and a glass jar seemed like a disaster waiting to happen. I see plenty of food items in the box, so let's start unpacking and tasting.
Escape Monthly lists a retail price for each item in the box in the enclosed brochure, but when I look up the items online I often turn up very different numbers. To simplify things, I'm going to use the following system: Escape Monthly's price will be listed first, in italics, followed by my price in bold. My prices are usually whatever the going rate would be if purchased directly from the manufacturer’s website, so there will be some variation, too.
Better Brittle West African Style Peanut Brittle: I would not expect to find either peanuts or West African-style anything in a New York box! Why is this included? Better Brittle is located in Syracuse, NY, and this brittle is an example of the enterprising artisans found throughout the state. I'm usually not too keen on peanut brittle, but perhaps this variation inspired by Ghana's "nkati cake" will prove better than most. $4.75 / $5.00
The Peanut Principle Gourmet Maple Peanut Butter: Seriously, are peanuts like a big thing in New York? I always associate them with the South, but maybe I've been incorrect for all of these years. Seanie loves peanut butter on toast, so I'm sure he'll be taste-testing this with me - if he doesn't get turned off by the maple inclusion. (Seanie's a great husband but he isn't always adventurous in the kitchen.) Made in Albany, NY. $6.99 (16 oz) / $4.38 (10 oz)
Sundaes Best Hot Fudge Sauce: Yum. The website suggests just eating this up with a spoon, and after a test run I have to agree that ice cream isn't necessary to enjoy this. But then again, why wouldn't you want to savor the combination of hot chocolaty goodness and cold, creamy ice cream? Made in Saratoga Springs, NY. $6.50 / $6.50
Kanpekies PECKIgram Shortbread Cookies in "Cherry B Mine": This seems like a really cute idea. For maximum freshness, I imagine you'd be most likely to order these while living in NYC, but I believe the cookies can be mailed anywhere. Cherry-chocolate isn't one of my favorite flavor combinations, but I see that they also have green tea (yum!), espresso, and cranberry orange. Of course, for $8.00 I could get waaay more than four shortbread cookies at Satura, so I doubt I would ever actually order these. $8.00 / $8.00
Flint Creek Good Skin Blend Soap: Well, I guess this isn't for eating! This is fairly typical of handmade soaps - olive oil base, bentonite clay for detoxifying the skin, and a strong herbal scent thanks to the essential oils blended in. Rosemary, I'm guessing, and maybe a mint of some sort. Reminds me of Lush's Coalface, but without the black charcoal. $3.00 / $3.00
Brooklyn Candle Studio Green Tea Lemongrass Travel Candle: Very nice, clean fragrance. I have no idea why a candle needs a little muslin bag, but never mind that - I'll stash jewelry in it. I believe this is a 4 oz candle, but I'm not sure - for some curious reason, there's no company information printed anywhere on the candle's label. $9.00 / $9.00
Ah, here's the kitschy NYC-themed tourist stuff. I love it!
Moon New York City Metro Guide: Well, I did want a New York State travel guide, but this is pretty good, too. The first half the book is all maps of the City, which is quite useful, although the glossy-plasticky coating on the pages has a tendency to stick, which makes me nervous that I'll inadvertently tear it at some point. I wish that this went into greater depth about New York City's sights, but at least there's a subway map in here - last time I visited NYC it was rather frustrating to navigate the subways because there were never maps posted in the stations! 14.99 / 14.99
New York Taxi Treats Cookies: See, this is the random tourist junk that you would never buy unless you were in NYC. It almost makes this box seem like a real "virtual" trip to the city. Super cute. $2.99
I <3 NY Sticker: This is the monthly bonus item, and it's the classic NY logo. You see it everywhere in the City, on tote bags and t-shirts and trucker hats and fridge magnets. $1.49
So, in the end, I thought this was one of Escape Monthly's more successful boxes. It has a good mix of NYC tourist silliness and locally made artisan items. It's a bit food heavy, but then NYC is a very foodcentric culture so that makes perfect sense, too.
Next month: Ireland! I can't wait.
Escape Monthly is a vacation-themed subscription box. Each month, one subscriber is randomly chosen to "win" a trip to the themed location! The subscription rate is $49.95 a month, but if you use the coupon code "YOURESCAPE" your subscription will be 20% off each month. If you want to know more or wish to subscribe, please consider using my referral link: http://mbsy.co/hjDG