Almost two weeks ago, I had dinner with the splendiferous, blogosphere-famous, and intrepid[-eater] Helen of Grab Your Fork. On that night, Helen brought me a gift bag brimming with edible delights. I still feel a bit giddy thinking about the moment when she handed me that bag. Because you know what Helen had done? She’d gone back through the myriad comments I’d left on her blog in recent months and had made a note of what I’d mentioned wanting to try/not being able to access in Canberra.
And then she did her best to track such items down for me.
I know, right? Crazy-amazing-kind-generous-amazing. And because I’m thrilled by what Helen so carefully picked out for me, I simply must share it with you all. Are you ready? I think you should probably be ready for some envy. See, if I were you, living out there in Internet-world, looking at what had been given to me… I’d be envious. Just sayin’.
And we’re off!
For years, I’ve wanted to try the sour-spicy-tamarind-pineapple Penang-style assam laksa which, unlike the more well-known Malaysian laksa, doesn’t use coconut milk. To start off with a really clear example of Helen’s amazingness of spirit, she mentioned in an email to me weeks ago that she wanted to bring me assam laksa paste. However, she couldn’t find any in Sydney, so you know what she did? She gave me one of the packets that she’d brought back for herself from Malaysia. I was/am speechless.
Also, she remembered that I’ve never tried dosai, so she gave me a packet mix for that, too. Even more excitingly, it’s gluten-free and vegan!
Every now and again in my life I go through a Pho phase, during which time the only thing I want to eat at restaurants are big steaming bowls of broth and noodles into which I merrily throw enormous handfuls of herbs, beansprouts, and chilli. Lots of chilli. Now I can have that complex broth at home without having to boil icky bones for a squillion hours first. Hooray!
However, I will have to boil icky bones – wait, no, I mean ribs – for authentic Bakuteh. Methinks this is Grab Your Fork trying to sneakily make me a fan of meat so that she can order crispy pork belly for me when we rendezvous in Sydney in the hopefully-not-too-distant future. She’s a wily one.
Vegan grass jelly mix! Super excited about this one. Helen recommends having it with ice cream, which I can definitely see being a winner. If only So Good hadn’t got rid of almost all its different “frozen dessert” flavours in recent years…
Next we have an awesome, authentic chai blend that you add to super strong black tea, and alongside that the guide to Sydney’s Chinatown and Haymarket areas that Helen wrote all the food reviews for. If you’re in Sydney, I recommend picking one of these free guides up. Helen’s got your food-lovin’ back.
Then, of course, there was chocolate. Japanese chocolate, which is always fun, and also Schoc chocolate! Helen said she didn’t know that I’d recently talked to Vaala on this blog about wanting to try Schoc chocolate, but I think she was simply trying to hide her geniusness.
The last thing I pulled out of the bag had me a hair’s breadth away from hyperventilating. Honestly, I think I blanked out for a second at the restaurant and went to a giggly-squealing happy place. All I can hope is that such a reaction gratified, rather than scared, Helen. Behold!
KAYA. Kaya kaya kaya. The coconut pandan custard spread that Malaysians eat for breakfast on toasted white bread with slabs of butter. Helen and I discussed this One True Way of eating kaya, but I’ve since admitted that I may well end up eating it on porridge, because that’s how I roll.
Thing is, I’m so excited by the kaya that I haven’t let myself open it. Mostly, I’m just doing this:
Y’know. Just staring at it lovingly. Sometimes stroking it. (Apologies for the crazy hair)
Oh, and before I go, there was one other AMAZING thing that Helen gave me, but it deserves a post of its own. Still, I can’t help teasing you with it…