You’d think that by now, we food bloggers would be all evented out. Is My Blog Burning? Sugar High Friday. Wine Blogging Wednesday. End of Month Egg on Toast Extravaganza. The Paper Chef. Does My Blog Look Good in This? Dine and Dish. Omnivoribus Australis. Lasang Pinoy. That’s already a pretty full calendar. But then someone comes up with another idea and you make space for it because it just sounda like so much fun. I mean, seriously, who is going to turn down the opportunity to receive a little foodie care package in the post from a food blogging Secret Santa?? A parcel? For me? And it’s not even my birthday! Why thank you! So when Andrew of Spittoon decided to follow in the footsteps of Nic’s US Food Blogging by Mail and asked me if I’d be willing to sign up for the first edition of European Blogging by Post (EBBP), of course I took to the whole idea like a duck to water!!
I’m afraid I was rather late in sending my own parcel out – I had houseguests that week (just for a change… hahahaha!) and I was just never home long (or early!) enough to bake or give much thought to what to put in the box. Andrew’s stipulation was that the goodies had to be home-made or use local ingredients/be local specialities. However, I figured there are plenty of food bloggers who live in England but very few from South Africa – so why not a South African parcel?! I did manage to whip up a batch of peppadew & pecorino mini muffins (same amounts of ingredients as for the normal recipe but use a mini-mufin pan instead), but the rest was an eclectic mix from African Enterprises, the South African shop near Embankment Station, and some bits from my personal collection of goodies. Pop over to Taina’s at Something’s Cooking and see what I sent!
But what about my parcel? It’s a good thing that my friend Catherine was staying over and having a lazy morning at home on the day my parcel arrived – there is no way that enormous box could have been squeezed through any mail slot!! When I got home I was like a kid at Christmas – a box! For me!! Who could it be from? What would be in it?? Nick had been home for a while and had already inspected the outside of the box – and made an odd remark: “It must have been hard work for Andrew to repackage and send out all those parcels”. I asked what he meant, knowing that this was not how the game actually worked. He pointed out that Andrew’s name and address was in fact on the parcel as sender – and I instantly realised that my parcel was from Andrew! As soon as I realised that, I just knew that there would be bread inside – Andrew is always teasing me about my yeast phobia and I knew that he wouldn’t resist a chance to show off his own skills in the bread-making department! So of course the life expectancy of the parcel was about 10 seconds after that!
First up, totally unsurprisingly, was this utterly impressive prosciutto and artichoke schiacciata – a round Italian loaf topped with very good artichokes, slices of prosciutto and feta cheese, lovingly baked by Andrew just to taunt me 😉 Squeals of delight from yours truly! It took about an hour before I cracked and decided that we needed to sample this right away as opposed to waiting for breakfast, so I cut myself, Nick and Bron each a slice and poured a little bowl of EVOO for dipping. Oh my oh my. The happy surprise was that the bread was actualyl baked in two layers and in between then was yet another layer of prosciutto and artichokes. The crust was crispy while the centre of the loaf had an indulgent, cake-like texture – and of course the artichokes and prosciutto added just enough flavour. It was at this point that I texted Andrew to say we were absolutely Hoovering up his fabulous creation!!
After the happy discovery of the bread, the next carefully wrapped parcel I opened was another creation lovingly baked by Andrew – honey and ginger cookies. They smelt absolutely heavenly but I managed to wait till the following day to try them. Mmmmm. Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, with a taste like old-fashioned gingerbread men. Another hit!
Digging a little deeper into the box produced a little brown paper bag. Nestling inside was a little cellophane packet containing some deilciously hand-made-looking chocolate, made in Andrew’s home town of Henley-on-Thames. But this is no ordinary chocolate – it’s white chocolate poured over freeze-dried summer berries. The freeze-drying means the berries keep their vivid colours and look like jewels suspended in the chocolate – beautiful. And the taste? Fab! The sweetness of the chocolate is balanced by the tart berries – very very moreish!
And last but not least, at the bottom of the box, was a bottle of Benenden sauce. I’d never heard of it before, but according to the label it’s a sweet garlic sauce containing to preservatives or additives and can be used as a salad dressing, a pasta sauce or on anything you like, really. It’s made in Kent, so Andrew’s parcel really had a low, low food mileage! This is the only part of the parcel that I haven’t tried yet, but I’ll get back to you when I do!
Big thank you to Andrew, both for organising the event and for my fab parcel! I seem to recall that the next EBBP will take place at the end of September – so do get in touch with Andrew and sign up NOW!