One of the (very) many events organised by fellow food bloggers is a series of regular parcel exchanges. Last year in New Zealand I thoroughly enjoyed participating in Blog By Mail 2 and now I’ve gotten involved in Euro Blogging By Post #5, this round of which is being run by Jeanne over at the London-based Cooksister blog. Jeanne picked “The Taste of Summer” as her theme so I’ve assembled a parcel along those lines with an emphasis on Irish products.
My digital camera is still flatlining (anyone with any ideas on how to get an Olympus Camedia digital camera C-370 Zoom to realise that it has fresh batteries in its belly please let me know!) so I can’t take any photos of the full haul. You’ll have to make do with a lovely photo from the Olivado Avocado Oil website instead.
A jar of Homemade Dukkah – an addictive Egyptian blend of spices and nuts, dukkah was everywhere in New Zealand. All the farmers’ markets had a stall – sometimes several – which offered samples of dukkah. You dipped a piece of bread into a little dish of olive oil and then into the dukkah before eating. The oil made the crumbly mixture stick to the bread so you got a flavoured mouthful of different textures. It’s very morish and was widely available in NZ but I haven’t come across it in this angle of the world yet so, with the help of Claudia Roden and her New Book of Middle Eastern Food I made my own. It was difficult but I managed to wrestle enough away to send off to my EBBP partner.
Does it Taste of Summer? Coming from Egypt, how could it taste otherwise? Useful for nibblish picnicing.
Olivado Avocado Oil – We eat the dukkah with Moroccan aragan oil which has a complimentary nutty flavour but it seems to be difficult to find outside Morocco so I picked this avocado oil in homage to where I first discovered dukkah. A glorious green colour, avocado oil tastes – funnily enough! – of rich, nutty avocados. It’s considered to be a very healthy oil and is also great as a moisturiser. There are some great uses for avocado oil on the Cuisine magazine website and I was delighted to recently discover NZ’s Olivado brand in my local supermarket.
Does it Taste of Summer? Yes, oh yes! Even without dukkah, it is a wonderful dipping oil. Cut some ciabatta or flatbread into chunks, you’re your avocado oil into a plain shallow white or cream bowl to show off the dramatic green colour and dip away. Better than butter for summertime suppers.
Ditty’s Irish Oatcakes – the nicest oatcakes I’ve ever come across are these handmade (they almost look homemade) version from County Armagh company Ditty’s Home Bakery. I first tasted them at a Dublin Slow Foods evening devoted to cheese, specifically unpasteurised Irish farmhouse cheeses from Sheridans Cheesemongers, and have bought them many times since.
Does it Taste of Summer? Perfect for picnic-based cheese moments.
Moutarde Verte a L’Estragon – because, even when camping or picnicking, you can’t part a girl and her mustard. Particularly when the mustard is such a glorious pale green colour as Edmund Fallot‘s tarragon-flavoured version. When I saw that it matched the avocado oil, I just couldn’t resist getting it!
Does it Taste of Summer? Summer is all about salads and the best salad dressings involve a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (De Cecco is my current brand of choice), a couple of teaspoons of balsamic vinegar and a dab of decent mustard. Good with anything from lentils to butterhead lettuce leaves.
Blakes Organic Milk Chocolate with Coconut Filling – both organic and Fairtrade, (as well as being wrapped in recycled paper!) this chocolate is made in Switzerland for Blakes, a new company in Galway, and I’m all for trying out new Irish products. I had to buy another bar for myself to do extra testing.
Does it Taste of Summer? The smell of coconut in food, drink (or even sunscreen) always makes me think of summertime heat. This is a Very Good Thing if you live somewhere that you don’t get much in the way of soaring temperatures, although I don’t think that’s a problem for my EBBP partner.
Bunalun Organic Caramel Wafers – I was introduced to these on a sun-drenched walk in the mountains surrounding Glendalough and they’re now a camping staple. Thick sweet caramel sandwiched between crisp wafers from impeccably designed organic producers Bunalun – what’s not to like?
Does it Taste of Summer? Take these with you on a summertime walk and tell me!
To finish off my package, I also included a copy of the July edition of Ireland’s Food & Wine Magazine with it’s glorious chilli-enhanced colourful cover and the Observer Food Magazine‘s Taste of summer special (Does it Taste of Summer? Yes it does!) – there’s a great article on Morgan Freeman’s restaurant in Clarksdale, Mississippi although author John Carlin does gush a bit. Some more bubble wrap and a quick trip down to the post office on Tuesday and my foodie package started winging its way to …? You can track the parcel progress and arrivals at Cooksister.
Update 27 August 2006: You can see a photo of the contents and read about Petula’s reactions to my parcel on her blog la cuoca petulante.