The good folks at Mantry sent me a manly crate full of manly foods guaranteed to put hair on your chest. Since I don’t have a fine, strokeable beard, I recruited two gentlemen from FanboyTV to witness and comment as I opened the box.
Within, we found:
- $15 Pok Pok Thai Basil Drinking Vinegar
- $10 Gordy’s Thai Basil Jalapenos
- $8 Dried and True Sriracha Lime Beef Jerky
- $7 Apinya Thai Chili Sauce
- $5.50 Lord Nut Levington Thai Dyed Peanuts
- $4.50 Dang Coconut Chips
$50 Total Retail Value
I freely admit that services like LootCrate have me biased in favor of subscription services that send me boxes worth more than I would’ve paid retail. However, I’m willing to forgive Mantry for two reasons. 1) Excellent curation. 2) The crate. It’s freaking adorable. The two FanboyTV manly men I roped into joining me for our video review agreed that the crate had value all by itself. I might’ve had an epic boffer sword battle with them after opening the crate for, well, ownership of the crate. Luckily for you all, our editor stopped recording and grabbed his own sword to join in.
Mantry’s curation is some of the best I’ve seen in the business. I get a crazy volume of subscription boxes each month, and other than the aforementioned LootCrate, not one of them has delivered such a strong theme. (Although, for the last three months, ALL of them have delivered a bag Dang coconut chips. I have to wonder if Dang is giving them away for free just for the exposure. It’s crazy.)
You can easily use the contents of this box to make one hell of a tasty theme night. I know, because I gave myself a challenge of making a main dish, side dish, and cocktail featuring this month’s Mantry. The end result was even better than I imagined.
For the main course, I whipped up some Thai Basil Chicken using a generous dollop of the Apinya Thai Chili Sauce, a few diced Thai Basil Jalapenos, and a couple shots of the drinking vinegar. To give it an extra kick, I mixed a teaspoon of the Jalapeno juice into the peanut sauce. It was topped off with some crumbled Thai Dyed Peanuts. There were no leftovers.
I added a quarter cup of the Dang coconut chips to the rice cooker (along with some coconut milk and a couple tablespoons of sugar) then topped the deliciously sticky rice with even more coconut chips. The coconut flavor and crispy texture were a perfect compliment to the main dish.
I rehydrated some of the incredibly moist and tasty beef jerky in a mix of the Pok Pok drinking vinegar and home made beef broth. After 24 hours, I shredded it with two forks then mixed it into a long bean dish with more of the vinegar and chili sauce (plus garlic, ginger, and soy, of course.) The bits of beef added a nice texture to the vegetable dish without overpowering the green beans. I’ll be honest – the lads and I ate more than half the beef jerkey before I had a chance to cook with it. No regrets. That stuff was awesome.
While my guests waited, I served the brave men (and a few women) a Thai Basil Drinking Vinegar Cocktail. Everyone wanted a hearty sniff of the mysterious bottle, but they weren’t all confident enough to try a savory cocktail. I love this stuff so much I really wanted them all to try it, so on the fly, I mixed up some simple basil vinegar and white wine spritzers. Some were a little dubious at the idea of a savory wine spritzer, but one taste and they were convinced.
As you can tell, the bottle of Pok Pok was my favorite thing in the box. I’m almost out, which means it’s time to not only get another bottle, but also try some new flavors. If you cringe every time a health nut says you should drinks some Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar every day, give this stuff a try instead. It’ll make you see vinegar in a whole new light.
Unlike the manly men in our unboxing video, I understand why a Mantry crate costs so much more than retail. The crate itself is heavy, durable, and will last you a good long while. I freely admit I’d love to arrange four of these as bookshelf drawers intead of boring wicker or cloth baskets.
In addition, the contents are picked based on quality rather than weight. This is rare in the subscription box biz, because you end up with some heavy boxes which are expensive to ship.
Most of all, though, I was genuinely impressed with the work that went into curating this box. I can honestly say it’s been years since I last received a subscription box so well curated I was able to use every single item in one meal.
The FanboyTV lads and I agree that Mantry is a perfect gift for any manly male foodies in your life. You can get one box for $80 (including shipping) or sign up for a 3 month subscription for $225. That may seem like a lot, but unlike most subscription services, this box came with six full sized products which should last you months. (Unless you find a product like Pok Pok’s Thai Basil Drinking Vinegar, which I used up in two weeks. That stuff is freaking amazing.)
The good folks from Mantry love creative cooks as much as we do. To win a crate of your very own, post a recipe using any of this month’s Mantry ingredients, listed above. The most creative, manliest recipe wins a future crate that will put chest on your hair.
To help inspire you, I’m sharing both of my Pok Pok Drinking Vinegar recipes. Get out your Dapper Dan mustache wax and prepare to enjoy a retrofuturistic cocktail. Rick Deckard would approve.
Thai Basil Drinking Vinegar Cocktail
- 1 shot Thai Basil Drinking Vinegar
- 1 shot Gin
- 1/2 shot Simple Syrup
- 2 inches Cucumber, sliced and muddled
- 2 large Lemon Wedges
- 4 shots Soda Water
Quarter the cucumber wedge and aggressively muddle it in a cocktail shaker. Add the Thai Basil Drinking Vinegar, Gin, Simple Syrup, and a handful of ice. Give it a manly shake. Drain the contents into a lowball glass and immediately squeeze one of the lemon wedges on top. Add a couple of ice cubes and top with soda water. Run the remaining lemon wedge along the rim of your glass before hanging it there as a garnish.
Savory Rosemary and Thai Basil Drinking Vinegar Spritzer
- 1 cup Dry White Wine
- 1 cup Soda Water
- 1 shot Thai Basil Drinking Vinegar
- 1 small sprig fresh Rosemary (optional)
If your manly man friends aren’t up for a cucumber infused gin and tonic spiked with drinking vinegar, you can still give them a nice taste by mixing up a savory white wine spritzer.
Simply mix the dry white wine, drinking vinegar, and soda water in a glass. If you happen to have any rosemary around, bruise the leaves of a stem, run it along the rim, and drop it into the glass before serving.