by Chris Clemens
It’s not lost on me that Exploring Upstate has been covering a lot of food lately. Stumbling on to new places serving new things is always fun, and sharing that with you is also fun. And, that’s why there’s been so many recent food stories! I can’t be on the road all the time (unfortunately), which is why I was stoked to find the Empire Crate on Instagram a few months ago. They are now doing the food discovering for me and sending it right to my front doorstep.
The Empire Crate is a lot like the other subscription boxes that you’ve seen around the internet, but they exclusively curate culinary delights created in New York State. The month-to-month plan runs $40 each month, but prepaying will ensure that you save a few bucks. I did a subscription service a while back that cost less, but all I ever got were tiny samples. So, if the $40.00 sounds pricey for a monthly subscription box, keep in mind that most of the items included are full sizes.
While I’m doing the subscription (the next few months) I thought I’d share with you guys what shows up each month. This gives me the opportunity to take a weekend off from traveling and to tell you about other folks in the Empire State doing some great things! The February box just arrived and here’s what I discovered.
Susie’s Smart Breakfast Cookie
Thanks to Susan Allport who is in Bedford Hills, New York, Westchester County, you are now allowed to eat cookies for breakfast! The February crate has a full size 3.57 ounce Orange Cranberry Nut cookie. I hadn’t tried one of these before, which is precisely why the subscription boxes are fun–it’s a great way to find new things. And, it turns out, this new-to-me-item was a tasty way to start Monday morning.
Sfoglini Pasta Shop
Scott Ketchum and Steve Gonzalez are the masterminds behind this full 16 ounce bag of organic semolina pasta. In their Brooklyn based kitchen, they are producing traditional pastas and a few inventive signature items. This month, the Empire Crate featured a uniquely shaped Zucca, which has been reviewed and discussed by some of the biggest names in news that you can find. All the press they have received is warranted, both myself and the friend I shared this with agreed it was uniquely wonderful in both texture and flavor. And, it was perfect with the…
Pauly “Googs” Guglielmo is kind of a household name in Rochester, New York, Monroe County at this point. We’ve been listening to him on the radio for a while, but a few years ago he hit the city’s supermarket shelves with a long list of pasta sauces inspired by his grandfather’s traditional recipes. Though this isn’t the first time I’ve had Guglielmo’s pasta sauce, this was my first time with the marinara. The Empire Crate sent me a full jar, which was very needed with all that zucca.
Copper Horse Coffee
You’ve seen me write about coffee plenty, and I know I’ve mentioned these guys to you before. I’ve interacted a bunch now with the folks at Copper Horse Coffee Roasters in Ithaca, New York, Tompkins County and they’ve always been super cool to me. Plus, they roast a really great coffee bean! The Clocktower Blend came in a 4 ounce bag and pre-ground pretty fine. I brewed it up in my Moka Pot and got plenty of chocolatey notes that enhanced my breakfast cookie!
The Hunnybon confectionary out of New York City is the brainchild of Kim Silver who is a Certified Nutritional Counselor. I will fully admit that “organic” is not always my first priority with food, and “vegan” is a distinction I never require. However, if you put chocolate in my subscription box, I’m gonna eat it. This package was the Chocolate Quinoa Crunch. Again, one of the cool things about the subscription box model is getting to try things you wouldn’t normally be accustomed to, and that’s what happened here. I saved these for last in this list in part because they were my dessert, but also because they surprised me the most. The dark chocolate was great, but the quinoa added a texture that sort of felt like I was eating a super healthy Nestle Crunch bar. Hunnybon includes a TON of nutritional information on their website about their offerings, so if you have some kind of allergy or requirement regarding your sweet tooth cravings, I’d recommend you check them out.
Already stoked for my March box!
Chris Clemens is the Founder/Publisher of Exploring Upstate. From his hometown in Rochester, he spends as much time as possible connecting with the history, culture, and places that make Upstate New York a land of discovery. Follow him on Twitter at @cpclemens