Artizone: Mail order food, a review

If Whole Foods and Peapod had a lively, eager-to-please baby, they would name it Artizone and it would toddle it's first steps to a computer, email this blog and send me free food. As it happens, Artizone does not have a parent company, so it's had to raise itself on (gourmet) TV dinners and Sesame Street. They asked me if I would try their service and since I'm a sucker for a latch-key kid, I obliged.

Artizone is an online grocer, offering several luxury culinary departments headed by "artisans" who hand pick and sometimes hand craft their wares. A first look at their website shows two ways to shop, by department or by specialty. The only way this is a wee problem is if you are looking for, say, dessert items, you need to peruse both "Katherine Anne Confections" and "Hendrix Belgian Breadcrafter" to see all your options. But hey, so you find chocolate in two places on a website. There are worse problems.

I ordered the supplies for the following meal: Portabella ravioli (frozen), Wild Mushroom Burgundy pasta sauce (jar, DELICIOUS, you will die), a loaf of round bread, Tuscan Bread Dipping Seasonings (to immerse in olive oil, I recommend adding a dash of sea salt and serving with the bread), fresh garlic which I put on a fresh salmon, and Dagoba organic chocodrops.

All of this was delicious. Niko is the one who eats salmon, but he said it was very fresh and I can tell you that if Vogue ever needed a model for a garlic cloves, they could take the ones delivered by Artizone. This food is like if you managed to get yourself to Whole Foods the very moment the delivery truck arrives at the store, instead of shopping amongst things that have been laying out for customers all day. No offense to a brick-and-mortar business, but it just can't be the same quality as a delivery-only grocer.

And in case you're worried about the big corporate interwebz boogie man pushing "real" businesses out I have two facts for you. 1. Artizone food is local to Chicago and 2. Real human hands craft the food, process the orders and arrive smiling at your house to set up the food. It's not like you've chosen to replace your neighborhood Jewel employees with a robot from space. And if I may add a third fact to the mix, Whole Foods is a national chain full of controversy. I actually feel better using these Artizone fellows.

Drawbacks of A-zone (we're homies like that) are that the prices are not competitive on some items. Salmon and the spices are reasonable, but they were offering organic strawberries at $9/pound. I understand that is off-season, but I did find the same item in my usual store for $3.99/pound. But all it takes is a bit of common sense to navigate to what you want, that is a reasonable deal. You're not a robot either. Just use your brain.

If I may make a suggestion to anyone considering a meal train for a new mom or bereaved family, do consider using Artizone. I have sent people Peapod gift certificates in the past so they don't have to run out to buy milk, but Artizone is the classy, more gift-appropropriate version of that gesture.

And we're vegan, but I hear the handcrafted marshmallows are sinful delight.


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