Monday, 30 April 2012

Foodie Penpals - random food love in the post

Last week, when feeling sad and lonely (get out the violins please) I got a wonderful package in the post - I'm not going to say it was a surprise, as I knew it was coming, but I had no clue as to what it contained - other than it would be something to do with food. Unwrapping a package, even if you know what's in it, it always gratifying - so this was made doubly amazing by the fact I had no clue as to what I find.

What is this you ask? Do randoms just send you packages from the good of their heart or have you paid for this lucky dip service? Well it's a bit of both really. Let's start at the beginning - the scheme is called Foodie Penpals and in the UK it's organised by a lovely lady called Carol Ann. I'd come across the scheme after some Twitter activity lead me to reading the Rock Salt blog and thought it sounded right up my street as a) I like food b) Like surprises and c) I love writing letters, I'm a bit old fashioned like that.

 The concept is thus: you sign up and each month Carol Ann does lots of jiggery pokery and emails out a spreadsheet. On this sheet you're assigned someone to send a package to (and someone is assigned you - this changes every month), then you send them a box of foodie treats by the 20th of the month. The idea was originally started in America by the Lean Green Bean and has been running in the UK for a couple of months now - some of our European cousins have joined in too, so there's a good chance you'll get paired with someone a little further afield that down' th road, opening up all sorts of adventurous foodie possibilities.

Simples? Yes it is. There are a few stipulations such as you must get in touch with your assigned person within 72 hours and ask them some basics eg. are you allergic to anything and where do I send your treats - then it's up to you to go find some scrummy surprises for about £10, box 'em up and send them off.

Enough of the background, you can find more out using the links littered about this blog - back to my package and me, me, me - so what did I get? A lovely lady called Helen Costello who runs Aardvark Cakes in St Helens was assigned me and sent me the inspired gift of Prestat dark chocolate buttons, some fruit and nuts and the most amazing mini tagines for sauces and dips and... well whatever other amazing things I put in them. And just the colour for me too. Brilliant. I opened the chocolate immediately and the taste is heavenly; really rich and fruity. As it's in the form of thin buttons it's just enough chocolate to deal with cravings without being too much of a naughty treat.

Helen also wrote me a lovely note explaining her love of the 'dip dishes,' saying that she was thinking about buying some herself - I wonder if she did? They're an ace addition to the kitchen and have already come in handy loads. I can't wait to have people over and make them the focus of a dish. Helen's choice of notelet was also pretty spot on for me and pretty apt seeing as she makes cakes for a living: I'm obsessed with anything floral flavoured - not only is the picture of lavender cakes, but there's a recipe on the back too - can't wait to get baking!

So did I send anything? I'm a good girl so I did indeed - I was paired with Emily, aka Bristol Bites, the don of knowing what's good to eat down Bristol way. As she was down South I decided I'd send her some great local produce from Cheshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester; basically where I live, work and play. So what did I send? Well why not check out her post and see if you think if it I did us Northerners proud.

Sounds fun? Well why not get in on the action? All you need to do is submit the Foodie Penpals form on the Rock Salt blog or press the Foodie Penpals button in my side bar (eyes right) and get yourself registered - you don't have to be a blogger either. Who knows what will be winging its way to you next month? Well, that's all part of the fun!

Ps you can see what everyone else got here and if you live across the pond, then you can sign up to Foodie Penpals here.

Pps Yes, I know the photos are back to front. I'm sans phone/camera and am using the web cam for these. Better photos next month, I promise!


  1. So pleased that you liked your parcel - I am due to go shopping for my tagine pots tomorrow! Glad that you spotted the foodie card too :-) Lovely to have 'met' you this month. Here's to many more successful Foodie penpal swaps.

  2. This is a brilliant post - it really made me laugh! I have to say, that spreadsheet is a bit of jiggery pokery but it's a labour of love ;) I always want to buy myself mini tagines like that but I tell myself I mustn't, because I have a small kitchen and a lot of things to fit in it... But they're so tiny I'm sure I could find them a corner... right...?