So the 7 Jan deadline for EBBP (hosted over at Johanna’s as a kind of free-form acronym title event… ) came and went and not a word about it appeared on Cooksister. Could it be that I didn’t take part this time? Not take part?? Me?? And pass up the opportunity of receiving a parcel full of lovely foodie goodies in the post? Not bloody likely! So what’s the reason then, you may well ask?
Well, the reason is twofold, actually. Firstly, Nick has been working in Madrid since 8 Jan and has taken the digital camera with him (see previous post) and I didn’t want to post about the parcel I received until I could put up a picture of it as well. And secondly, the recipient of my parcel was out of the country until Friday and Johanna specifically asked me to delay sending my parcel. So somehow I didn’t feel much of a sense of urgency to post. Until today, that is, because today I mailed off my parcel, plus Nick was home in London this past weekend, giving me a chance to photograph the parcel I had received. So… want to know what I got? Read on!
After all kinds of drama in the past with trying to retrieve parcels from Royal Mail depots, I asked for the parcel to be sent to my work address this time, and its arrival generated a lot of interest from workmates – I mean, who wouldn’t be interested in a box from France labelled “chocolates”? But I curbed my enthusiasm and curiosity until I got home where I could open it in private. As it turns out, my Secret Santa this time was the lovely Pascale from C’est moi qui l’ai Fait! And contrary to what the customs label said, this was no mere chocolate box. Apart from a lovely card that Pascale enclosed, she also filled the box with the following:
Starting in the centre of the picture, in a cheery yellow bag we have Le Penne Classiche dei Martelli – articanal pasta from Tuscany. And who can argue with pasta as a comfort food? But Pascale’s generosity didn’t stop there – the little jar at the top left contains home-made pesto rosso which looks chunky and delicious. I can only imagine how good it will taste stirred into the penne. Mmmm!
On the right we have not one but two slabs of chocolate from master chocolatier Stephane Bonnat. The first is a slab of 75% cocoa dark chocolate called Trinite and according to the the Bonnat website it’s made from stong, rich-tasting cocoa beans are “bursting with sunshine from the West Indies”. The other slab is 65% cocoa milk chocolate made from cocoa beans from Java. Haven’t tasted these yet but will get back to you with proper tasting notes when I do…
And last but not least, on the left below the pesto rosso, are two beautifully wrapped marrons glaces from Jeff de Bruges. Now I do have to say that I am not a huge fan of chestnuts. Growing up in the Southern hemisphere they weren’t something we were used to eating and my first experience of them was in a fancy French restaurant as a teenager, when I had roast pheasant with chestnuts. My second experience was eating them hot from a street vendor on a chilly London street corner – they had smelt soooo fantastic that I could not refuse. But both times I found myself really not liking them much. I finally put my finger on it this week when food critic Marina O’Loughlin wrote something about the “clagginess” of chestnuts – and I think that’s it. It’s a textural problem. I expect them to be nutty and crunchy, but instead they are… well, kind of mealy and mouth-sticklingly claggy. So It was with some trepidation that I tried one of these. And I have to say that they are a vast improvement on any chestnutty incarnation I have so far encountered! Yes, there is some of that mealy chestnut texture in the centre, but the outer 2/3 of the nut has a texture more akin to some sort of melon preserve and the whole thing is altogether nicer than its roast cousin.
So thanks, Pascale, for breaking my self-imposed chestnut exile and showing me that There Is Another Way And of course, thank you for all your other generous gifts. Can’t wait till next time I feel in need of comforting so I can try the pasta with maybe a little mini chocolate tasting for dessert…