Monthly subscription meal services just got a whole lot spicier


Assorted spices

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Buying individual spices can be expensive. Sometimes, I dare to peruse the spice section of my grocery store, but ultimately I have to decide whether I’m going to break my food budget to buy a fancy spice or stick to my carefully planned list. Guess what? The list always wins, even though I love to cook and experiment with new flavors. So when I was asked to review RawSpiceBar, a subscription spice service, I was super excited to dive in.

With RawSpiceBar, a mere six dollars a month will garner a package of three to four toasted, freshly ground spice blends and recipes. It’s a way to get in on a bit of the luxury of subscription meal services at a much more affordable price point.

I received an envelope with three small sachets of spices, a welcome card and a recipe pamphlet with three recipes, one for each spice blend. Each month’s package is based on a specific location. My package was July’s Memphis Spice edition, which contained Applewood Smoked Salt, a Memphis Dry Rib Rub and — here’s where things get exciting — Triple Ice Cream Spices. For the purposes of this review, I decided to create the recipes using only the spices specifically sent. I wanted to see how well they worked on their own according to the recipes.

Photo by Jessica Mendez

I was captivated by Applewood Smoked Salt’s woodsy, comforting scent as soon as I opened the packet. My attempt at making Bacon Potato Salad morphed into mashed potatoes because I let my potatoes cook a bit too long, but the dressing recipe for the salad still worked well, and my potatoes were fantastic. I absolutely loved the way the flaky sea salt gave a distinct flavor to the dish without overpowering it. In fact, I didn’t even miss the bacon thanks to the smoky hit of flavor from the salt. The salt was the most versatile spice packet of the bunch. I sprinkled it on sautéed vegetables that had been seasoned with a bit of regular salt and pepper, and it gave a flavorful finish to an otherwise humble side dish.

I was less impressed by the recipe for the Memphis Dry Rib Rub. It was a wonderfully fragrant spice blend full of paprika, oregano and chili powder, but frankly, the basting liquid, or “mop,” I made from it for the Memphis Ribs just wasn’t enough to really give the ribs a distinct flavor I was hoping for. They weren’t bad, but I was expecting more. To be fair, I tried oven roasting my ribs, which wasn’t the way to go here. RawSpiceBar does offer some alternate recipes on their website and Instagram, including vegetarian options. I honestly wish I would have tried one of the recipes I found on RawSpiceBar’s Instagram, such as the Sweet and Smoky Dry Rub Tofu from food blog Wheat Free Meat Free, or used the rub to make a sauce for the ribs, which I suspect would have infused them with more flavor. My main takeaway from this is to experiment carefully with each spice blend before going all in and missing out on its full capabilities.

Photo by Jessica Mendez

After an excessive amount of ice cream consumption last week, I thought I would be over the stuff, but RawSpiceBar’s recipe for Triple Spice Ice Cream, which was created with Lindsay Clenandiel from the ice cream recipe blog Scoop Adventures, won me over. The classic treat gets a sophisticated spin with a blend of star anise, cardamom and cinnamon that made it taste startlingly similar to a root beer float. Apparently, the recipe on the card differs from the recipe on the website, which is for Triple Spice Strawberry Ice Cream. I’m a strawberry ice cream freak and would like to try making this version at another time. I don’t have an ice cream maker, so I headed over to Scoop Adventures for a tutorial that was easy to follow. The process is a little bit labor intensive, but I have a delicious homemade ice cream in my freezer, so my effort clearly paid off.

I found RawSpiceBar a good deal for the price and would recommend it to budget foodies who want to try new recipes and flavors without having to dip into their savings for a stocked spice pantry. I'd like to see the website offer more robust content, such as step-by-step tutorials like the one I found on Scoop Adventures. Overall, RawSpiceBar is an exciting and affordable culinary subscription option.