Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Chock and Awe!

Stephanie over at dispensing happiness has been truly dispensing happiness by busily organising a festive blogging by mail foodie event.

And an unbelievable happy Christmas to me as I received a fabulous parcel from my blogging by mail pal today. It was just chock full of a cornucopia of foodie delights from her 'homeland' New England and her home for the last ten years - wonderful NYC. I am just so blown away by the abundance and Josie's excellent festive wrapping made me wonder if my woeful wrapping of my BBM parcel has survived its transcontinental travels! I guess I'll find out soon!

So what did I get in my magnificent parcel? Firstly and very importantly there's chocolate. Josie mentions that when her brother moved to San Francisco in the 80's he introduced her to the joys of Ghiradelli's. It was probably around this time I also visited San Francisco and I do recall a real Charlie and the Chocolate factory moment when I saw their 'river' of pale chocolate. There's a ‘citrus sunset’ and ‘toffee interlude’ dark chocolate bar – mmmm. But Josie adds that even better than Ghiradelli's is the 'Scharffen Berger', which is definitely a new one on me. Fortunately to help my curious nature, Josie has kindly printed off informative fact sheets about my package contents. The lowdown on Scharffen Berger is that two friends Robert Steinberg and John Scharffenberger decided to venture forth into artisan chocolate in 1996 armed with nothing more than a coffee grinder, mortar and pestle, electric mixer and a hair dryer. I love chocolate and it should be fascinating to compare these bars to my more familiar brands.

Next I have a Skybar made by Necco (New England Confectionary Company), which has caramel, vanilla, peanut, and fudge sections and Josie has researched my likes and dislikes as she knows that I find peanut butter quite challenging. Actually reading Josie's accompanying note has really astonished me as she's really done her homework and read my blog, she knows exactly how I feel about tomatoes and mash potatoes! (evil and ambrosia in that order if you're not sure!)

Next is another new chocolate delight, the 100 GRAND bar. According to the blurb on Nestlé's website: "100 GRAND provides a richer, more rewarding snack experience because of its crunchy chocolate, abundance of soft, chewy caramel and inherent association with money". The latter statement is just classic marketing speak but it does seem that said bar has been used in radio pranks promoting the giving away of ‘100 grand’ and instead of the expected $100,000 the lucky winner gets a chocolate bar!

Then there’s a box of Josie’s favourite Jujyfruits. And these are indeed tasty and I can vouch for this as I checked them out first! What intrigued me most that the little sweets are either pineapple, raspberry, grapes, asparagus, banana, pea pod or TOMATO shaped. “What the?” as DD would say. What sort of crazy mind makes a sweet that looks like a tomato but is raspberry, liquorice, lime, orange or lemon flavoured? How very surreal. We have fruit gums which are similar-ish but harder, fruit pastilles that are similar flavour but covered in sugar, midget gems which are the same size but different flavour. After due consideration I think an English wine gum would be considered a giant version of a jujyfruit. Apparently it is very popular for jujyfruit eaters in a cinema to hold up each sweet in front of them so the light form the film illuminates what they are about to eat thus pre-determining the flavour and Josie corroborates that and she does this also.

I was also lucky enough to receive some Reisen – soft chewy chocolate covered caramel – very good and Jolly Ranchers (with a leaning to towards the water melon flavour), Smarties which are not remotely like our Smarties but like some other sweet that we had in pale pastel colours in tiny clear cellophane rolls. Someone help me out here, what were they called? And lastly in the confectionary line I have some day-glo candy buttons, which come attached to paper, and you bite each one off to eat.

And no I haven’t finished yet! There is some Buffalo Wing sauce so I can recreate a slice of stick-fingered American heaven – fabulous! There’s two kinds of Inglehoffer mustard, one with extra hot horseradish! There’s two festive coloured dried pastas from Piemonte Foods in Little Italy and Josie assures me I won’t be able to taste the tomato! I also have some fabulous Zhena’s red lavender gypsy tea, which encourages me on the box to ‘awaken the gypsy within’. I’ve only really started to drink tea with any regularity this year and this just sounds perfect!

And from Trader Joe’s in Union Square (a special place for me), Josie has sent me Parmesan Cheese sticks (some say Cheese straws), savoury thin crackers, dried cranberries (with a nod to her New England roots) and their advent calendar. I haven’t had an advent calendar for so many years so it’s going to be great to open the window each day. And I get a chocolate bonus as well!

And last but definitely not least Josie has sent some of her homemade goodies. I can see from her blog flavorjunkie that she is a consummate baker and there are many tasty recipes to try. I was lucky enough to receive her double chocolate walnut biscotti, cranberry cornmeal cookies and my favourite so far (but my research isn’t finished yet!) spicy nits – oooh I’m transported back to Union Square Café again – these are seriously good and spicy! They blow your head off, but in a good way! Josie has included the recipes as well so I can recreate them once they’ve all gone, which may just happen soon! And if all this bounty wasn’t enough Josie has also included some treats made by her sister ‘The Suz’ – Cranberry Apple Relish and Strawberry Rhubarb Jam and some festive wooden pins.

The final flourish was to include the food section of the New York Times. What more could a foodie desire?

I am so overwhelmed by my ever so generous parcel; these goodies will certainly come in use in the next couple of weeks. Along with Josie's really lovely letter, I also have a new very interesting and funny food blog to check out – flavorjunkie - okay maybe Josie likes tomatoes rather too much but many of my best friends favour the evil seeded thing (I did smile at her abhorrence of squeezing them and how they spread their fleshy innards all over the place! See, bad tomatoes!)

This is my first time having a go at one of these blogging by mail events and it really is great fun; the postage can be a bit of a shocker by hey, it's Christmas! I would definitely do it again, I wonder what my reciprient will think of their parcel?

Thank you again Josie and I hope your secret BBM parcel is as thoughtful, rich and fabulous as mine!


DD said...


What the...? Indeed!

Who in their right mind would ever shape anything like a rotten, evil tomato? Sin!


J said...

I wish you were here to help me eat it all... there's a lot! And those nuts! I am totally transported back to September 10th and drinking 'Kir-a Imperials' in honour of the special day!

Miss you!

DD said...

Miss you more!


Josie said...

I'm so glad it all arrived intact! Phew! I had such fun putting it all together for you--I'm happy you enjoyed opening it all up! Merry Christmas!