I've been a member of Food52 almost as long as I've been blogging. Its a vibrant online community of home cooks, bloggers -- regular 'Joes' like myself as well as some really well known star bloggers, professional culinary experts and its almost like a daily tonic for me to log in and get my daily dose of all things culinary.
Every year, there is a secret Santa swap organized by a member, ENBE who co-ordinates hundreds of members from all over the world for this event. we wait with bated breaths till the email arrives with the name of our mystery giftee around the end of November and then get about 10 - 12 days until we ship out a package consisting of home made food items and other small hand picked gifts.
My giftee this year is a F52 er from Minnesota, Amy Clemensen. Even before the event kicked off, I already had started mentally picking out gifts that I wanted to assemble together in the first week of December.
My box included a 3 pack sampler set of single estate coffees from Blue Tokai Coffee, a small online artisan coffee store that specializes in curating coffees from small organic coffee plantations in South India. I got hooked on the coffees when I tried out a sample pack that they had gifted the attendee of the first Indian Food bloggers Meet (IFBM 2014) in August 2014 at Bangalore. My home made food gift was a box of chick pea fudge (Maa ladoo) spiced with cardamom and saffron, a little bag of Annaparabrahma's 'Gondhavle' Goda Masala, a tube of hand cream, and a box of lemongrass scented votives.
My own gift was waiting for me yesterday evening and as much as I was resolute in holding off and opening my gift on Christmas morning, my brain issued a 'resistance is futile' command and I caved in today. And what a GLORIOUS package it was. My Secret Santa was a lovely lady named Sara Grimes from Portland, OR and she totally pampered me with the exquisite hand picked treats.
The first gift was a reusable market tote and below that the gifts kept unraveling beneat layers of carefully wrapped tissue,
- A Sack cloth Kitchen towel
- A tin of home made spiced hot chocolate (By the time I realized I needed to click a picture, I'd already finished most of the mug, it was divine!)
- A tin of Silent Night Herbal tea from Smith Teamaker
- A Weck jar of home made Chocolate Hazelnut spread, which really is 2 gifts, considering I have a weakness for Weck jars. Stay tuned for some more delicious pictures!
- A tube of Organic locally made lip balm from Portland Bee Balm.
Saving the best for last.. These wonderful caramels that she made in two flavors, Garam Masala with Pistachios and caramels studded with crunchy popcorn kernels. I kept popping one of each flavor in a sequence trying to decide which I liked better, 1/2 a dozen caramels later, I was nowhere near an answer. they were bot simply divine!
In India we have a saying, - 'Anna Daata Sukhi Bhava' (May the person who gives you food live well and prosper), Today I realized that the words need not be said aloud for the blessing to take effect. The sentiment wells up much before, a genuine gush of pure happiness in a non verbal thought at the first bite of such delicious food.
And this is my heartfelt expression of gratitude to you, Sara, and your family. Wishing you a wonderful prosperous year ahead. Thank you for your wonderful gift.