I've never really grown out of the excitement of things being delivered to my house, in a box. I order shameless amounts of cookbooks from online retailers, secure in the knowledge that they will be delivered to my house, in a box. It's only a matter of time before I subscribe to one of those monthly beauty boxes, and a monthly gin club delivery, and pretty much anything else that can be delivered to my house, in a box. It's no surprise, then, that over the years I have subscribed to several different vegetable box deliveries - but, whilst a box of kohlrabi and carrots is genuinely even more more exciting to me than a box of beauty samples, I have yet to settle down with the right one. Abel & Cole got a bit mean, and Riverford just got too muddy - I don't require my veg scrubbed to within an inch of their lives, but when the leek-to-dirt ratio tipped in favour of the mud, it was time to part company.
I was interested, then, to try a box of wholesome goodies from new kid on the block, Creamline Dairies. Well, I say new - this family-run, Stockport-based business was actually founded in 1945, and is one of the leading independent dairy companies in the UK, having recently acquired the North West local delivery business of Dairy Crest, and also delivers a whole range of storecupboard essentials for people like me who lack the organisational skills to visit a shop. What is new, however, is the Fruit & Veg Box delivery service - you order what you want from the website (which is attractively set out and easy to use), they procure it all for you from local farmers and suppliers, and then deliver it to your door for free. There are over 60 varieties of fruit and veg to choose from, with minimum order set at a tenner.
They sent me a mixed, mystery box to try, and thus my excitement was actually palpable as I lifted the lid (carefully heeding the warning on the box about the fresh, perky nature of the contents). Inside were lots of vegetably basics - a big bag of potatoes, carrots, a swede, a couple of enormous onions, lettuce, some cherry tomatoes, a head of broccoli the approximate size of my own, and NO MUD. Even better was the fruit selection: bananas, grapes, kiwi fruit, oranges, several different types of apple, plums and pears, each housed in a brown paper bag rather than yards of plastic and provided in the sort of sensible qualities that wouldn't overwhelm a girl who lives on her own.
I must admit, I do like the element of surprise in a random delivery of seasonal fruit and veg - it encourages me to try new things rather than just shove the same things in my basket every time (for example, I never normally buy lettuce but enjoyed the quick tea I was able to make with some elderly roast chicken thanks to its unwonted presence in my fridge). Creamline don't operate in this way - instead, you build your own box by just clicking on whatever you want, and you can either have a repeat order or place a completely new one each time. This is admittedly probably a better idea, although I do still applaud the sense of a box that simply makes the most of whatever is plentiful, fresh and available. Would I use the service again? Yes, most definitely - everything was of excellent quality (bar some plums that could have had a bit more flavour to them), and there really is no greater smugness than the health-giving presence of such a box in one's kitchen. Better for you than gin or lipsticks too (although I can't promise to give these up completely).
- order via the Creamline website here. I was sent this box for review purposes, but ate the lot (excluding the cardboard).