The working dad whose turn it is to cook but whose time is at a premium. The dater who wants to impress her prospective girlfriend but who can’t peel garlic. The roommates who have already burned through their favorite cookbooks and are yearning for something different. What do these people have in common? They’re the target audience for local start-up Scratch DC.
When it comes to making dinner, everyone, from the culinary neophyte to the gastronomic elite, wants the comfort of a well-made and self-made meal. Unfortunately, this desire occasionally goes hand-in-hand with a temporary lack of creativity, talent or perhaps most importantly, time. Scratch DC seeks to fill that void by cutting out the most onerous parts of home cooking: decision making, shopping and prep work. For around $30, Scratch delivers a meal kit for two right to your door. Add-ons include chocolate fondue dessert, and roses and candles; a beer and wine license is also being pursued.
On the day our sample box came, the situation could not have been more perfect for Scratch’s ideal consumer. I had just returned from a two-week long work trip, and my fiancée and I were headed out on a week-long vacation the next day, leaving our fridge options limited. Around 6 pm, our meal arrived: a shoebox-like container with individually packed ingredients.
Each component came in its own condiment cup or Ziploc bag, pre-cut and mixed. Also inside was a long recipe card with step-by-step instructions that were straightforward, idiot-proof and still a little tongue-in-cheek (sample: To the bowl, add your container of cheesy goodness [goat cheese, Parmesan, nutmeg, salt, pepper] [marked with smiley]. Mix that sexiness up).
What We Had
Our meal was a spinach and goat cheese ravioli in a Portabella-Parmesan wine sauce, an entrée that seemed the right balance between readily accessible and foodie-friendly, with the added bonus of being asked to hand-make the ravioli yourselves (an ideal date situation if we’ve ever seen one). To that end, in place of pasta, Scratch had substituted wonton wrappers, which, as the recipe card put it, were “a little foodie secret.”
There was a lot to like about the set-up. For one, Scratch made no assumptions about what our kitchen would be stocked with: the box came with small containers of olive oil and salt and pepper. Its ingredient sourcing was solid, and at the least reflected a conscientiousness about their clientele. The meal also achieved the enviable success of having the final product seem much more impressive relative to the actual skill level and time needed to execute it.
For the budget conscious among us, the portion was more than ample for the two of us, a boon considering its price point. And, again perhaps most importantly, the dish itself was delicious: for cheese hounds like us, the thick more-parmesan-than-not sauce hit all the right spots and the added touch of bacon was a nice blast of salt (but was by no means a necessary ingredient, a plus for my pescetarian fiancée).
So if you find yourself caught in a dinner bind, Scratch DC is highly recommended.
Full Disclosure: I received a complementary package from ScratchDC.
ScratchDC — a local company that plans, measures and delivers organic and locally-sourced ingredients for a home cooked meal — is expanding its services to include Georgetown, Glover Park, Arlington and Alexandria starting Monday, April 15.
To celebrate the expansion, scratchDC is throwing a customer appreciation happy hour and celebration in Saturday, April 14, from 4 to 7 pm at Ulah Bistro (1214 U Street NW). The party will include appetizers, hors d’oeuvres and happy hour drink specials. There’s also talk of some free giveaways and other prizes.
For more information on the event, contact Ryan Hansan at hi[AT]scratchDC.com.
As a food writer, I make a lot more oatmeal and cereal dinners than you would think. That’s why I was pretty excited to try a meal from Scratch DC, “fresh, locally sourced, organic ingredients that are chopped, measured, marinated and packed with an easy-to-follow recipe and delivered right to your door.”
My Scratch order arrived at the door promptly at my desired delivery time of 6 pm, handled by the owner himself, Ryan Hansan. Ryan, a resident of Columbia Heights, told me he makes between 20 and 25 deliveries like these everyday, but the process of getting the meal to the door starts much earlier. Ryan and a prep chef meet at a commercial kitchen at National Harbor each morning to prepare the ingredients for that day’s dish.
That night my “bundle” held eight scallops, sliced chorizo and snap peas, in addition to measured oil, butter, salt and pepper. It also had mashed avocado, chopped tomatoes and onions, and half a lemon, plus two balls of cookie dough.
Hansan’s inspiration for creating Scratch aligns with most busy urbanites that want to cook amazing meals, but don’t have time for the many steps.
“There’s research, a trip to the grocery store, you buy all this stuff, but then it goes bad. Like parsley [or] spices you only use once. There has to be a better way to do that,” he says.
The ingredients in each bundle are locally sourced and organic when possible.
“We tell you where the stuff comes from,” says Hansan. “We work with Lancaster Farm Cooperative, Tuscarora Grower’s Cooperative; if it’s not in season or locally viable, we get it from Albert’s Organics. Our meats come from Fell’s Point Meats in Maryland and our chicken comes from Murray’s Chicken.”
The instructions for the meal were incredibly simple and so I decided to time how long it took me to make the dinner. From out of the box, to on the plate — 14 minutes, and it was delicious.
“I was confident that the recipes would be good, but people have been really, really enjoying it. 80% of people who have ordered once are ordering again,” says Hansan.
For two hearty servings, the meals range from $21 to $26. Each week Hansan tries to offer a pasta bundle and a vegetarian bundle, and proteins on the other nights. The recipes are inspired by his mom’s cookbooks and have been tested to perfection. Although he isn’t regularly repeating recipes, he says he’s been asked to bring back the Chicken Tiki Masala.
I asked Hansan about his business philosophy and he said, “Treat the customer right, give them a good meal, save time for them and they’ll come back and want to do it again.”
Sign me up.