Saturday, 5 June 2010

Box of Delights from Natoora

I was very surprised to be contacted by a marketing company, telling me that they were looking for food bloggers to review the latest Spring Taster Box* from Natoora. Knowing about Natoora's reputation for their online top quality food store, I was very pleased to accept.

Delivery was easy to arrange, I agreed a specific day with Natoora and it arrived in the morning. The website had listed the ingredients as follows, British asparagus, fresh peas, basil, strawberries from Marsala, Jersey Royal new potatoes, Camone tomatoes and loquats.
I don't think I had Camone tomatoes in my box, as they didn't look like the picture on the website, my ones were much smaller, plum shaped and very red. They looked more like Datterinis.

According to Natoora, I would be getting the same luxury food that is supplied to some of Britain's top chefs. It certainly all looked fresh, although the strawberries had suffered a little bashing in transit, but no great damage done.

Knowing that peas are best when absolutely freash, I used those first. The pods were nice and fat and full of peas, except for one where they had failed to develop.
I haven't podded peas for a while, it was lovely to hear the pop and satisfyingly remove the peas by running my thumb through the pod. No grubs either, which was a pleasant experience – when I used to shell peas as a child, with my Grandma, there was often something lurking inside!

I made a simple pea risotto topped with king prawns and a mint and parsley olive oil drizzle

The tomatoes were the most delicious and sweet of any cherry tomato I have tasted. To enjoy them, simple was the best approach, so I put together a salad by slicing the tomatoes in half and mixing with finely diced red onion and some capers. I dressed the salad with a little red wine vinegar and a good glug of extra virgin olive oil.

The basil was put to good use as the perfect accompaniment to the tomatoes. I just love the smell of basil and when I initially opened the bag, a full fragrant burst wafted out. The leaves were a good mature size and had the most amazing sweet peppery tatse.

As with all things in this box, I chose to adopt the most basic approaches to allow the flavours to remain true and the way I treated the asparagus was no exception (no photo, I'm afraid, it got eaten in a flash!)
After lighly coating in olive oil, salt and pepper, I chargrilled it and served with a squeeze of lemon juice alongside some parma ham.
The stems were very tender with no hint of woodiness, so very little wastage.

If you struggle to remember what strawberries used to tasted like, then these are sure to jog your memory.
They were exceptionally sweet and gloriously fragrant and for that reason are best served naked. (No not you, the strawberries!) I sliced some over my morning muesli and ate them in the garden as the sun shone through the trees – bliss.

Potoatoes are possibly one of the most versatile vegetables, and in my opinion can not be substituted with anything else. They're just lovely with their jackets on and new poatoes have the most forgiving and scrumptious skins. Just simmer them gently for five minutes and either toss in butter, or as I did, dress them with watercress pesto.

I haven't eaten the loquats yet. They look a lot like a quinces or a medlars so I'm intrigued to find out what they taste like.

Retailing at £15 for the box,* it may seem rather pricey, but to get particularly special, quality produce in its prime one should expect to pay likewise.

To find out more about Natoora and to buy online, visit their website: www.natoora.co.uk

* No longer available, but look out for other taster box offers on their website


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