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Monday, January 11, 2010

Foodie Exchange - Degrassi style

"Everybody wants something, they'll never give up.
Everybody wants something, they'll take your money and never give up" (dun! dun! dun!)

If you're of my era and grew up in Australia (or Canada I assume), they lyrics will whisk you back to a time of big hair and big pants, and to TV shows that tackled the big issues - Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High (and also the lesser known The Kids of Degrassi Street and movie School's Out). These issues were so big that the ABC played a warning for parents before the show, in case they didn't want their kids to learn about teen pregnancy, suicide, eating disorders or Joey Jeremiah.

Degrassi's premier band Zit Remedy, fronted by Joey Jeremiah, presumably playing their one and only song

The Degrassi shows are set in and around De Grassi Street in Toronto, and as they was my only exposure to Canadian culture, I would immediately bring them up when introduced to a Canadian for the first time. I am sure this grew tiresome after a while - teen pregnancy, suicide and eating disorders aren't the most jolly subject matter, and talking about Joey Jeremiah can only sustain a conversation for so long - but happily my time spent living in Canada last year has given me new conversation material.

Despite having done my best to move on from my Degrassi loving days, with my bikepants forever banished and awful boofy bob long gone, I could not help but think fondly of them when I received my second Foodie Exchange parcel all the way from Toronto from the lovely Mardi from Eat, live travel, write. I first started reading Mardi's blog in July of last year when I stumbled across a post of hers discussing Haigh's Chocolates in Adelaide (where she is originally from). I had only very recently discovered Haigh's at that time, and after reading that Mardi's all-time favourite Haigh's chocolates are their Chocolate Speckles I instantly liked her. Since then we've discovered that we have many other things in common, and I am tempted to investigate if my father didn't have a jaunt in SA, or her father one in WA to see if we really are long lost sisters (I wonder if this sentence will be the catalyst to finally getting my mother to comment on my blog?).Suffice it to say, I am even morel a fan now of Eat, live, travel, write, and can heartily recommend you start reading Mardi's entertaining and educational writings if you are not already doing so.

I was quite excited when Mardi suggested we do a Foodie Exchange, given the treats I had already received from Montreal and Arizona in my previous two exchanges, though I admit to feeling a little apprehension at sending Aussie treats to an Aussie. Luckily her blog had given me many clues about what might put a smile on her face, and the goodies I sent seem to have gone down a treat.

Just as well, really, because what I received from Mardi was a box of awesome. Sadly it was a box of awesome subjected to handling by Australia Post in a particularly unforgiving Australian summer, but I'll get to that later. After excitedly opening the box, this is what I found inside...

My carefully packaged goodies

Admittedly, my first thought was
"Ziplock bags! How great are ziplock bags! How great is Mardi for putting these things in ziplock bags!" followed by
"Holy crap this is a box full of deliciousness" and then
"Bite-sized boys? That sounds a little naughty, I wonder what is inside the little tin" before
"Oooh I think maybe the summer heat has done a little damage here" and then back to

I quickly photographed the chocolates before getting them to the cold fridge, stat! (If only I had 50 ccs of liquid nitrogen.. if only).

Choctastic goodies - Lindt Fleur de Sel Dark Chocolate, Odile Chocolat Lavender Caramel Chocolate, Laura Secord santa mallow

Next I opened up the ziplock bags to investigate their protected maple treats. What really piqued my interest with these was the Vidal Maple Wine Vinegar, which I had not seen before. It smells lovely, and I'm looking forward to using it in a very tightarse fashion in the kitchen. I think it might just go very nicely with some lightly grilled asparagus. The maple butter put a big grin on my face, as I discovered this in Canada last year and somewhat wish that I didn't as it is so good. Great on toast, pancakes or pikelets, but I think it really shines on a steaming hot crumpet. And of course, the traditional pure Canadian maple syrup which I admittedly rarely have in the house as it costs quite a lot over here and I'm not sure I can be trusted with large quantities of it. I see a future of eating piles of pancakes and crumpets stretching ahead of me. Oh and possibly bacon. Yes.

Maple treats - Vidal Maple Wine Vinegar, Maple Butter and Maple Syrup

Finally, I let myself open the box of "bite-sized boys" and seven little gingerbread men were soon smiling up at me! Well, seven little gingerbread boys I guess. I'm not sure how to tell the difference between gingerbread men and gingerbread boys.

The Queen of Tarts "bite-sized boys"

After leaving the chocolate in the fridge for a while, I was confident that I could handle it without anything squirting on my clothing so I did some closer investigative work. The Lindt chocolate had melted in a really interesting manner, with the chocolate in the top half of the block having lost all its insides to the bottom half, leaving just a very thin double layer shell. In the photograph below, you can see pieces from the top half in the bottom right hand corner and middle, showing just the shell of the chocolate, whilst the bottom left hand corner shows a piece from the bottom half of the chocolate. As I pondered the physics behind this I fuelled my brain with the delicious combination of the dark, bitter chocolate with the sharp sea salt. It was actually really nice to have the contrast of the thin, crisp pieces from the top with the thick chunky pieces from the bottom.

Greedy bottom half of the block (bottom left hand piece) and the crisp shell left at the top of the block (middle and bottom right hand piece).

The mallow santa had fared a little better, though did not last long once I had discovered this.

As shown in a previous photograph, the lavender caramel chocolate had oozed over to one side of the bag, which I assume was not how it looked when it was carefully placed in the parcel by Mardi, and as I've not tried lavender caramel before it is difficult to say if the oozy process affected it at all. The texture of the caramel was quite grainy, and the taste was unsurprisingly incredibly floral with lavender. I've been reading a bit lately about baking with lavender, and after trying this caramel I can definitely see how it could work in a sweet dish. 

Chocolate? What chocolate?

The boys were still smiling until the very end, bless their gingerbread socks.

Well, now I definitely can't tell if this is a gingerbread man or boy

Mardi, you rock. Thanks so much for my goodies and apologies for the lateness of this post. I do have one small bone to pick with you though... I just checked on Google Maps and you live nowhere near De Grassi Street. How disappointing.


Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite January 12, 2010 at 3:07 AM  

AWESOME POST (well, that sounds a little biased, huh?) - I SO enjoy your writing Conor and this brought a huge smile to my face on a grey cold Monday when I am dreading the possibility of a winter camping trip with my Grades 3 and 4 later this week and am not in what you could call the best of moods. I am glad you were able to resuscitate the chocolates and that you enjoyed everything. You're a pleasure to buy for!

Evelyne@Cheap Ethnic Eatz January 12, 2010 at 3:12 AM  

Awesome exchange, love the boys hehe

Vegetable Matter January 12, 2010 at 4:11 AM  

Degrassi is way after my time, but this reminds me of the big thing when I was growing up -- pen pals. I used to have one in England (this was back in the day when people actually wrote things by hand) and I loved checking the mail every day for a new letter. And, trying to decipher her bizarre version of English (I know I sound like such an AMERICAN) was a blast. I had another pen pal in New Jersey who sent me salt water taffy -- it was the best. Fun post!

Simply Life January 12, 2010 at 4:19 AM  

wow looks like a fun exchange and great package to get!

Tasty Eats At Home January 12, 2010 at 5:02 AM  

Vegetable Matter - I remember pen pals too! I had one in Japan that I kept in touch with for MANY years. She sent me all these trinkets. I still have them. I love this exchange idea, what fun!

Anonymous January 12, 2010 at 8:23 AM  

I wonder if you can buy that seasalt chocolate here.It looks yum!

Betty @ The Hungry Girl January 12, 2010 at 8:30 AM  

Lol. Degrassi High - I was never allowed to watch that :( I was so bummed when girls at school would talk about it, and I'd have no idea. Perhaps I should rent it out and salavage some parts of my childhood?! MMm the treats look yummy, glad the chocolate was ok in the end and the bite-sized boys are so cute!! p.s. Love the new look :)

A cupcake or two January 12, 2010 at 9:37 AM  

Foodie Exchanges are so cool. I love doing it. Its a great way of getting to know your fellow food bloggers.

Maria@TheGourmetChallenge January 12, 2010 at 9:41 AM  

great post!! I was addicted to Degrassi high too.

You've been scoring some really interesting treats. Too bad the heat had other ideas for them!

Karine January 12, 2010 at 9:46 AM  

Oh Maple syrup!!! I am very spoiled when it comes to it. My granddad used to make some :) and I grew up and the region in Quebec considered as the biggest producer of maple syrup in Qc. So, every spring, I would fulled my stomach with maple syrup.

Even now, I get maple syrup for free. My mom buys it from one of her friend who has a sugar camp in the forest behind where she lives. Because it is quite cheap to buy for her, she gives me the maple syrup as a gift:)

Belle@Ooh, Look January 12, 2010 at 10:03 AM  

Strangely, I stumbled across EatLiveTravelWrite just a week ago! Nice blog. And what a nice girl Mardi is to send you those goodies (oh, the Lindt fleur de sel chocolate....)

Conor @ HoldtheBeef January 12, 2010 at 11:56 AM  

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite - ah nice to have you as the first commenter! Thanks mate!! Winter camping? Grades 3 and 4? Uhh... can't possibly imagine why you weren't in the best of moods. Yeesh. Oh and you're a pleasure to eat for :D

Evelyne@Cheap Ethnic Eatz - poor little boys, too tasty for their own good.

Vegetable Matter - Oh yes, I had pen pals too! Easy to forget these things. I had one guy send me a Twinky from the US, and I was SO EXCITED to finally try one, and I hated it. I wish I had been sent salt water taffy.

Simply Life - yes I'm a lucky girl!

Tasty Eats At Home - ooh Japanese trinkets are the best type! You should get involved in the foodie exchange, it's heaps of fun.

Anonymous - I'm not sure if I've seen it, will be keeping my eyes peeled for it now after tasting it.

Betty @ The Hungry Girl - Oh no, your parents actually listened to the warning! I'm sure you've turned out less morally corrupt than I because of it :D And thanks very much!

A cupcake or two - They rock. What can be better than getting a parcel in the mail? Getting a FOOD parcel in the mail!

Maria@TheGourmetChallenge - thanks! Hooray, another addict! I certainly have. Damn heat, though it seemed to work out well in the end.

Karine - Oh wow you are lucky. I would also like to fill my entire stomach with maple syrup every spring, it sounds cleansing ;)

Belle@Ooh, Look - Oh cool, glad to know I'm at the cutting edge of what is fashionable in food blogs :D Yes she's a super nice girl, that chocolate is so great. I still have some left, I'm eking it out as slowly as I can let myself.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella January 12, 2010 at 2:58 PM  

LOL you had me at the title. I too was a Degrassi fanatic. In fact I used to write Television Without Pity type review written out in a book (yes pre computer!). I remember Lucy was the style Queen and Joey was the "stud".

Mardi is such a gem and what gorgeous maple treats! :D

Stacy January 12, 2010 at 3:56 PM  

This is so great! What a wonderful post--and a yummy box of deliciousness!

Trissa January 12, 2010 at 6:11 PM  

What a fantastic idea - and definitely a great trade! You're so lucky - must have felt like Christmas all over again!

mademoiselle délicieuse January 12, 2010 at 8:28 PM  

Oh, I'm forecasting not only pancakes and crumpets but maybe French toast and crepes as well? Cupcakes??

Panamahat January 12, 2010 at 9:05 PM  

I wish I could remember where I saw that sea salt Lindt recently. Whether it was somewhere here or in South Africa. All I know is I didn't buy it and now I really regret that!

Pam January 13, 2010 at 1:09 AM  

What an awesome gift package - great post.

Forager January 13, 2010 at 8:04 AM  

What a great foodie exchange idea! I'll have to find as blogger in a country with bizarre and exotic goodies I'd like to try! And Degrassi - would you believe they used to make us watch that at school during strike periods?

Rilsta @ My Food Trail January 13, 2010 at 8:41 AM  

I remember Degrassi Junior High vaguely - gee I must be old! That and I have a shoddy memory! :)

What a wonderful surprise package to receive in the mail! You are a lucky girl! All I get in the mail are bills hehe!

Mr. P January 13, 2010 at 8:49 AM  

My friend Ken got me real maple syrup, and it was so good I nearly cried when it finished. I loved how the bottle had French translation too - lest we forget our French Canadian cousins.

I am super psyched that you're doing the lamington challenge! How's the flavour thinking going?

Ellie January 13, 2010 at 11:41 AM  

Lucky you! What a great package you have received. Great post as always!

penny aka jeroxie January 13, 2010 at 1:33 PM  

AR.. foodie exchange? This is the first i've heard of it? We can receive chocolates and food stuff from overseas? OMG!
Mardi - You are fabulous such a great package.

Iron Chef Shellie January 13, 2010 at 7:22 PM  

bite-sized boys sounds so wrong ... but i love it :P

Conor @ HoldtheBeef January 13, 2010 at 10:41 PM  

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella - oh wow you take the cake, Lorraine! Yes Lucy totally was, but wasn't she also a kleptomaniac? Makes being stylish a little easy if you ask me.

Stacy - I agree, and thank you!

Trissa - I'm in love with this idea, and really need to pull my finger out and get started planning another exchange.

mademoiselle délicieuse - I like the cut of your jib.

Panamahat - think, girl, think! I shall let you know if I find some, surely I can get my hands on some in cosmopolitan Northbridge.

Pam - thank you!

Forager - Yes yes you should! Do it! Wow, they made us watch Round the Twist and Mr Bean.

Rilsta @ My Food Trail - eat more tuna ;) yep, it was a nice change from the letters of impending rent inspections and junk from local politicians.

Mr. P - Ken sounds like a swell guy. Is he in need of any more friends? Lamingtons, woo! I gotta get cracking on that, time is a-ticking! I'm still planning it out (a meeting at work today proved to be very useful for this task).

Ellie - cheers!! Lucky me indeed :D

penny aka jeroxie - ooh yeah you gotta get involved!

Iron Chef Shellie - I know, but then you look at their little innocent faces and feel like a harlot for having such thoughts. And then you eat them.

Devan January 14, 2010 at 12:39 AM  

Hi Conor, about the Foodie Exchange...what a great idea! And your dego experience at Jackson's was very similar to mine - the greek salad ice cream was different wasn't it? :)

BB January 14, 2010 at 1:10 AM  

quem sabe, sabe... parabéns.

Kitchen Butterfly January 15, 2010 at 5:05 AM  

I love food bloggers....we rock, don;t we!! Fantastic to connect with someone on something as yummy as food!

Krissy @ The Food Addicts January 15, 2010 at 7:05 AM  

what a great idea to have a foodie exchange! i never thought of doing that before. looks like you got some fabulous treats in the mail. how fun!

Bromography January 20, 2010 at 4:10 AM  

I love the exchange concept! Looks like a lot of fun.

Conor @ HoldtheBeef January 22, 2010 at 8:32 AM  

Devan - it's such a good idea, you should get involved! Yes, that little cornet was intriguing. It's not the same without a big glug of chocolate in the bottom of one though ;)

BB - obrigado!

Kitchen Butterfly - We rock so hard it hurts. It's the best way to connect, methinks :D

Krissy @ The Food Addicts - You should do it too, it's like Christmas :) I have been pretty lucky with my loot so far..

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About Me

My love of cooking is surpassed only by my love of eating, though I never quite recovered from the beef I was served at college. I'll try almost anything once, but it takes a very special piece of offal or beef to get me to try it again.

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