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What is the most wonderful food gift you've been given?

cayjohan Apr 23, 2008 07:12 PM

So Curious.

Today, My Hub came home with some slabs of jamon iberico (iberica? correct me PLEASE, on which gender this takes!) from a Spanish friend at work. This fellow has relatives visiting, and bringing wonderful foodstuffs. We share a love of Spanish food, and I was gifted with this remarkable pork product as a result (and expensive, yikes!). I am humbled and grateful. The flavor, the experience, the gratitude....all wonderful. One of my favorite food gifts ever.

What are yours?


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  1. Vetter RE: cayjohan Apr 23, 2008 07:42 PM

    The box of Swiss milk chocolate (bars, truffles, funny little sticks) my friend sent my from Zurich. It was milk chocolate heaven in my house for weeks.

    1. OCEllen RE: cayjohan Apr 23, 2008 07:57 PM

      The ones that are homemade, cookies, candy, preserves, pickles! And I try to share, too.

      1 Reply
      1. re: OCEllen
        Val RE: OCEllen Apr 24, 2008 09:07 AM

        Yes, for us, too--anything homemade...my sister in law used to put up her own pickled veggies in NJ and send us some for Christmas gifts and we just loved them so much. Well, okay, we also love it when someone sends us smoked salmon, such a treat!

      2. s
        smartie RE: cayjohan Apr 23, 2008 08:32 PM

        a friend ordered a cheese selection for a birthday of mine some years ago. It was from the south west of England and included the most delicious choice of cheeses ever, all from independent producers. A wonderful gift.

        1. meatn3 RE: cayjohan Apr 23, 2008 08:38 PM

          A birthday gift of assorted smoked and cured fish plus extra goodies from Russ & Daughters! Living in an area without access to this type food made the gift even more appreciated.

          1. t
            Tay RE: cayjohan Apr 23, 2008 08:58 PM

            A letheally decadent wooden 'crate' of Kron. dark chocolate truffles. They were hand cut into irregularly, shaped squares and generously dusted with unsweetened cocoa.
            The initial bitterness of the cocoa followed by the sensual sweetness of the soft creamy truffles always created a pleasurable assault on the senses.

            1. c
              currymouth RE: cayjohan Apr 23, 2008 09:13 PM

              A whole 25 lb wheel of double creme herb brie on my 30'th birthday. It took me a whole year to eat the thing, but ask me anything about recipes containing brie....... I dare you.

              7 Replies
              1. re: currymouth
                yumcha RE: currymouth Apr 24, 2008 08:47 AM

                How did it last so long? I am guessing you froze it?

                That sounds so good too :)

                1. re: yumcha
                  currymouth RE: yumcha Apr 24, 2008 09:15 AM

                  Didn't freeze it, Just made sure that I always used a clean knife, and wrapped it tightly. Then kept it in the coolest part of the fridge.I was single back then so there not a lot in the fridge anyway.

                  1. re: yumcha
                    synergy RE: yumcha Apr 24, 2008 09:53 AM

                    You can freeze brie? I ask because I love cheese, brie in particular, and have never considered freezing it..though it would destroy or change the cheese.

                    1. re: synergy
                      currymouth RE: synergy Apr 24, 2008 11:46 AM

                      I don't know really, never considered it because it would seem to change maybe the taste or texture of the cheese, besides cheese don't last long enough in my house for it to make it to the freezer. May be our fellow CH would know the answer.

                      1. re: synergy
                        smartie RE: synergy Apr 24, 2008 07:46 PM

                        brie freezes fine. Make sure it is well wrapped and NOT in foil because that sticks to it I have found.

                        1. re: smartie
                          currymouth RE: smartie Apr 24, 2008 08:18 PM

                          Thanks smartie, good to know.

                        2. re: synergy
                          pepperqueen RE: synergy May 16, 2008 07:45 PM

                          I freeze brie and also other types of cheese. They all freeze well except cheddar (gets crumbly). Make sure to wrap each peice very tightly with Saran wrap and then put in heavy freezer bags.

                    2. choctastic RE: cayjohan Apr 23, 2008 09:50 PM

                      Really good chocolate from a really good friend...

                      1. AnneInMpls RE: cayjohan Apr 23, 2008 10:18 PM

                        Wow, cayjohan - what a wonderful gift! I tasted jamon iberico* for the first time ever last week (at a Chicago restaurant - Mercat a la Planxa). It was expensive - $23 for a plate of 10 paper-thin slices - but it was worth every penny for the amazing flavor.

                        My best food gift ever: Honey from my aunt's hives in Kentucky. Nothing beats honey harvested, by hand, by someone you know. I even met the queen bee, Queen Elizabeth II. She was lovely.

                        Second best food gift: 8+ ounces of quality saffron from a friend. I've made Persian-style pilaf, paella, and saffron vodka, and I still have tons left. I love saffron!

                        Third best food gift: Liqueur-filled chocolate bars from Switzerland. It was years ago, and at the time, I had no idea that chocolate bars could be filled with liqueur (alcoholic candy was - and maybe still kinda is? - illegal in Minnesota). It was a revelation. My favorate was some Gubor bars filled with a vodka ganache, but the cognac- and kirsch-filled bars were lovely, too.


                        * The "o" ending (iberico) is correct for the masculine noun ("jamon"). There are accents on the "o" in "jamon" and the "e" in "iberico", too, but I'm too lazy to add them. It's late...

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: AnneInMpls
                          cayjohan RE: AnneInMpls Apr 25, 2008 10:45 PM

                          Oh, Anne - a half pound of saffron? I want to be your, as the girls say, new BFF! :-)

                          Not to mention the honey, but I do tend more to savory.

                          You are definitely rich in food gifts.

                          Grinning in envy!


                        2. s
                          Soup RE: cayjohan Apr 24, 2008 10:19 AM

                          Interesting topic. I've gotten organic ground korean peppers and sun tried anchovies. They were outstanding. However the best has to be fresh picked barries from our neighbors yard.

                          Don't know why we don't give food as gifts. I think they make fantastic personal gifts.

                          1. Gio RE: cayjohan Apr 24, 2008 10:27 AM

                            This past Christmas I was gifted with a large terrine of the most delictable, creamy, buttery, fois gras I have ever tasted. It was made by the personal chef of a friend of mine. It was soooo rich, although a sneak to the fridge several times a day was not out of the question. Since DH wouldn't even look at it, It Was All Mine!

                            1. d
                              dolores RE: cayjohan Apr 24, 2008 10:35 AM

                              In recent memory, it was a sampler of Lake Champlain chocolates. I am now enjoying to excess a larger portion that I had to order for myself.

                              1. l
                                lattelover RE: cayjohan Apr 24, 2008 10:49 AM

                                A small bottle of balsamic vinegar (aged 30 yrs I think). I used drops at a time trying to make it last as long as I could. Yum, especially over ripe strawberries.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: lattelover
                                  dream_of_giusti RE: lattelover Apr 24, 2008 11:09 AM

                                  Latte, you experienced my dream come. As my name indicates I live for the day when I get a bottle of 30 yr old balsamic vinegar. My favorite is a simple salad of fresh greens drizzled lightly. Yum.

                                2. a
                                  anzu RE: cayjohan Apr 24, 2008 11:49 AM

                                  -homemade jam
                                  (actually, anything homemade)
                                  -pumpkin seed oil that a friend got as a gift, which she in turn, shared with me. It is sooooooooo yummy.
                                  -one time a friend of a friend invited me over for his birthday dinner, which consisted of him cooking the gourmet pasta that his sister sent him, along with prosciutto and some amazing truffled cheese. I wasn't the direct recipient of this gift, but gosh, it was such a wonderful meal that I'm thankful that he shared it with me, even though I barely knew him at the time.

                                  1. fromagina RE: cayjohan Apr 24, 2008 05:44 PM

                                    A huge box packed with homemade dark chocolate truffles (about a pound!), a big slab of dark chocolate fudge the way I love it (grainy! with toasted walnuts.. just like Ma used to make), and Mexican Wedding cookies made with rice flour (can't eat wheat) and gobs of pecans.. this from dearest friend to console me when my Ma died. sigh. Forget casseroles for the grieving.. give 'em sweets!

                                    1. d
                                      Dash RE: cayjohan Apr 24, 2008 06:06 PM

                                      The question was "What is the most wonderful food gift you've been given?" but I'm going to answer it both ways, gifts I've received and given. I've received food gifts over the years; jam that was moldy upon opening, "friendship" type breads that were inedible, etc. One of the best food gifts I've received is one I use every day, and have ordered and given as gifts since: a peppercorn blend that includes coriander that every single guest at table has raved about and begged to take home "just a small amount". The gifts I've given that have been enthusiastically received (and not-so-subtle hints given for "more please!"): Alderspring Ranch beef, Fran's Chocolates, Graycee's toffee (no longer in business, a cracker based toffee), my homemade stollen and my homemade plum/apricot jam, and Scharffen Berger's hot cocoa recipe that I made into a mix. It is amazing how grateful people are for these simple, thoughtful gifts.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Dash
                                        Tay RE: Dash Apr 25, 2008 09:50 AM

                                        What a nice post...:-}

                                        1. re: Dash
                                          JasmineG RE: Dash Apr 26, 2008 01:04 PM

                                          Dash, we need more details about this peppercorn blend!

                                        2. beelzebozo RE: cayjohan Apr 24, 2008 06:53 PM

                                          pate de speculoos from belgium. unbelievable.

                                          1. n
                                            normalheightsfoodie RE: cayjohan Apr 25, 2008 10:02 AM

                                            Rub with Love her rubs for Chicken, Fish and Beef, and my mandolin.

                                            1. p
                                              pellegrino31 RE: cayjohan Apr 25, 2008 01:35 PM

                                              A bottle of extra virgin olive oil from my SO when we first started dating. We started dating in early December, two years ago, so the "what to do for Xmas" was a little uncertain - do we buy gifts or not, what's the appropriate gift for only being together a few weeks, etc. When I opened the package, I just thought it was very thoughtful and sweet.

                                              1. m
                                                moh RE: cayjohan Apr 25, 2008 02:08 PM

                                                Such a nice thread! I have spent the last few days thinking about all the wonderful food gifts I have received in the last year, and throughout my life. I would think "Oh it's gotta be the time that..." then I would go "but what about the ...?" Cay, thanks so much for making me think about all the wonderful people in my life! I can't tell you what a lift it has been! I count your lovely thread as a wonderful food gift.

                                                It is very hard for me to chose just one gift. But I think I will have to go with this one. I have posted this before, sorry for the repetition.

                                                When my hubbie and I got married, we had a BIG wedding, 250 + guests (it is a Korean thing). We did not have a lot of money, and neither did my parents. There is no way we could have had the quality of food I would have wanted if we had it catered. My mother and my late cousin decided to make a gigantic Korean buffet (17 different dishes). My dad was conscripted to help with food prep. The ladies in the church helped as well. My sisters-in-law made a lovely fruit tower, very popular with the many Koreans. The Koreans liked the fact that there was good kimchi, and the non-Koreans had a chance to try a new cuisine, and they seemed to genuinely enjoy the food and the experience. When I think about the amount and quality of the food, I'd have to say this was certainly one of the most generous food gifts my husband and I have ever received.

                                                I consider myself a very lucky lucky person.

                                                8 Replies
                                                1. re: moh
                                                  Gio RE: moh Apr 25, 2008 05:34 PM

                                                  I so loved reading that Moh.... what a very sweet memory that is!

                                                  1. re: moh
                                                    cayjohan RE: moh Apr 25, 2008 10:50 PM

                                                    I love the wedding story. Despite food being essentially ephemeral, the memories of food last and last, don't they? That's why we give gifts of food, I guess.


                                                    1. re: moh
                                                      Tay RE: moh Apr 26, 2008 12:19 PM

                                                      That is a wonderful story. .
                                                      Since deserving usually begets deserving, I doubt "Luck" had anything to do with it and the closeness,generosity, and loving spirits of your family and friends, everything to do with it. Luck implies a random occurance, like winning the lottery.
                                                      You are fortunate.
                                                      Thank you for sharing this lovely story with your fellow 'hounds :-}

                                                      1. re: moh
                                                        moh RE: moh Apr 26, 2008 02:51 PM

                                                        Thanks for the lovely comments!

                                                        I have been using this thread as Prozac. If I'm feeling blue, I come and read all these lovely posts about fabulous food gifts and it cheers me up instantly :) So many thoughtful people out there, all who care about all of us!

                                                        Keep the posts coming! I raise a glass to all of you. Sante!

                                                        1. re: moh
                                                          Tay RE: moh Apr 26, 2008 06:40 PM

                                                          And I'm raising my grilled jarlsberg and tomato on pita, to you :-}

                                                        2. re: moh
                                                          Sam Fujisaka RE: moh Apr 26, 2008 08:53 PM

                                                          Oh, moh! Life is so filled with deep happiness and daunting challenges. In my case I've brought the best and worst of imaginable times on myself. In your case in terms of the bad, you've just been a participant in the hands we're dealt. For all I've learned (and obviously heven't) my hand is gently on your shoulder whenever needed.

                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                            moh RE: Sam Fujisaka Apr 26, 2008 09:24 PM

                                                            Thank you Sam. Your hand is very welcome and greatly appreciated.

                                                          2. re: moh
                                                            bkhuna RE: moh May 16, 2008 04:33 PM

                                                            Never underestimate the power of church ladies. It doesn't seem to matter what race, denomination, etc., they always seem to be able to muster up a great spread.

                                                            Just a couple of months ago, my wife and I had the pleasure to eat here:

                                                            I highly recommend it to anyone traveling to Savannah.

                                                          3. c
                                                            chazzerking RE: cayjohan Apr 25, 2008 02:26 PM

                                                            a basket full of freshly picked morels, if you can even imagine it. My sister nad BIL had gone walking in some woods near their home and came over later and surprised us. I sauteed them with shallots in a sauce of heavy cream with just a little madeira and fond de veau. I garnished it with s few of the smaller ones that I floured and fried, and served the whole thing with some veal chops that we grilled. phenomenal!

                                                            1. a
                                                              AndyP RE: cayjohan Apr 25, 2008 10:27 PM

                                                              Hey cayjohan,

                                                              I moved to Tokyo in May of 1999. Was fortunate to get an apartment in a six unit building where foreigners weren't shunned, but I was the only one in the six apartments of the building. My 75'ish landlords, (Suda-san was supposed to be a kamikazi pilot, but the war ended before he take off) lived in the BIG house next door.

                                                              While I was doing my seven years in Tokyo, every Christmas Eve, without fail, the other tenants recieved baskets of sake. I found on my doorstep a Smithfield Ham.

                                                              I could get sake anywhere. But the ham: that took a lot of planning, and a considerable amount of thought by my landlords to get it ordered via Japan, and have it on my doorstep for Christmas Eve.

                                                              Smithfield hams for seven years, cool
                                                              Smithfield hams for seven years from a Nippon family living next door that that you care about, and respect...priceless.


                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: AndyP
                                                                Sam Fujisaka RE: AndyP Apr 26, 2008 09:07 PM

                                                                Yoro shiku, can you email me--another lapsed flyer--more about Suda?

                                                              2. septocaine_queen RE: cayjohan Apr 25, 2008 10:46 PM

                                                                My dear friend Lori bakes me a birthday cake every year that would rival most bakeries. One year she actually made and hand rolled pastillage flowers from scratch to decorate. Another year it was a chocolate cake decorated with homemade chocolate frosting and decorated with kisses. I feel so special to receive such wonderful presents.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: septocaine_queen
                                                                  Tay RE: septocaine_queen Apr 26, 2008 12:21 PM

                                                                  You would't have such a special friend if you weren't one yourself...:-}

                                                                  1. re: Tay
                                                                    septocaine_queen RE: Tay Apr 26, 2008 09:30 PM

                                                                    I try. Thank you for the nice compliment. I choose not to have too many friends, but the ones I have I hold very dear to me.

                                                                2. Veggo RE: cayjohan Apr 26, 2008 06:54 PM

                                                                  The good news is that my college ladyfriend gave me a jar of genuine, Caspian Sea Iranian Romanoff Beluga caviar in my Christmas stocking.
                                                                  The bad news is that she gave it to me in 1974, and I still have it.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Veggo
                                                                    Tay RE: Veggo Apr 27, 2008 01:50 AM

                                                                    Veggo... lol! At this piont I think it has to be used as a don't-dare-drop-this, paperweight.

                                                                  2. Passadumkeg RE: cayjohan Apr 27, 2008 03:53 AM

                                                                    When I return home, my good ol' ma has some-made Russian kolbasi, some for dinner w/ kapusta, mashed potatoes and horseradish; some to take back frozen to Maine. A lobsterman buddy used to leave 5 gal bucket of live lobsters on my portch when we lived on North Haven, an off shore Maine Island. My brother sends yearly cases of Hatch chiles, our son send gift boxes of food and drink from Korea and this past summer an old Norwegian friend smuggled in a sampler of 10, yes ten different varieties of Akovit! My brother and I have a reciprocal gift agreement. We have some of the cardboard cases for mailing wine; I send him 22 oz. bottles of Maine beers (Longfellow and Joshua Chamberlain Ales going out tomorrow.) and he sends me some of his favorite fine wines that, at this point in time, we cannot afford. We are both happy. It is still very common here in small town America, than when a neighbor of friend has personal problems, death, birth, illness, etc. to organize meal deliveries to help ease the stress. Not having TV cable has it's benefits.

                                                                    1. p
                                                                      polecat2663 RE: cayjohan Apr 29, 2008 06:10 AM

                                                                      On their last trip to Italy my parents brought me 2 litres of just pressed olive oil. It was wonderful, fruity and peppery. They had about 5 litres of the stuff in their suitcase and were praying that nothing would leak. All of it arrived safely, and was gone in a flash.

                                                                      1. cmoniker RE: cayjohan May 15, 2008 11:45 AM

                                                                        What a brilliant thread.

                                                                        It's tough to chose the best food gift I've ever received as my friends and are scattered all over the world and almost always arrive bearing tasty things when we get together. I got some wonderful Oriol Balaguer chocolates for my birthday a few weeks back which were absolutely divine. (Almost as excitingly, I got a card with the address for his Madrid shop in the bag too.) I also got a few litres of deep green extra virgin olive oil from a friend's family's olivares. And the amazingly gooey aged balsamic aceto de Modena that my dear old mum got me for Christmas and which was gone far too quickly was pretty special too. Once way back in my student days, one of my flatmates' dad showed up with a sack of lentils from his land for us. We were wide eyed with gratitude.

                                                                        In England it's considered a bit odd to give food as gifts, but in Spain everyone does it. If you go on holiday it's way better to bring back yummy stuff than some other weird memento for your friends. I always take some Ibérico de Bellota (the stuff that spends its life foraging on acorns and practically disolves on the tongue) when I go over to the UK, and more recently, chorizo from my local butcher since my best friend fell in love with patatas a la Riojana when he was here a few months ago.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: cmoniker
                                                                          Thefoodczar RE: cmoniker May 15, 2008 12:53 PM

                                                                          These are such wonderfully heartwarming stories, but I feel like adding a little humor. OK, it wasn't a gift and wasn't strictly food, but once I won a $50 gift certificate to Whole Foods. Excited, I jumped in my car and sped right over there and spent the entire $50 on------beer! And this was 20 years ago, when $50 worth of beer was A LOT OF BEER!!!

                                                                          1. re: Thefoodczar
                                                                            Catskillgirl RE: Thefoodczar May 17, 2008 12:36 PM

                                                                            That is really funny. In my student days I'm quite sure I would have done the exact same thing, even though food would have been a more prudent thing to stock up on!

                                                                        2. Richard 16 RE: cayjohan May 15, 2008 10:20 PM

                                                                          Having been a chef I think some people are reluctant to give me food gifts, which is just silly... although once I made the mistake of mentioning that I like hot sauce, and for a couple of years I got a *lot* of hot sauces...

                                                                          However, three gifts that come to mind are:
                                                                          A quart of homemade grade B maple syrup from a friend, made by her dad.
                                                                          One year my favorite itamae made an amazing, well - presentation - that included many off-menu items. Wow. (Yoshi's in Chesterfield.)
                                                                          My wife always ask what I want for gifts, and I always say (to which she replies - OK, *besides* that...) is live lobster to cook at home.

                                                                          As gifts to give I often give personally selected food baskets. Last year I gave my brother in MA a surprise gift certificate to his favorite sushi bar.

                                                                          I finally got some live wasabi rhizomes and gave some to several local itamaes. To Yoshi I also gave a rice bran pickled daikon pickle, some sweet brown rice and some Hato Mugi vinegars, and some amazing mirin. (All Mitoku brand.) I finally found a source for some katsuo (blocks of unshaved dried bonito, to be shaved as needed), and I am waiting with baited breath (hoping to attract the fish) to get them and give a block to Yoshi.

                                                                          1. bkhuna RE: cayjohan May 16, 2008 04:26 PM

                                                                            An entire Jamon de Serrano for Father's Day last year. I've been slowly eating my way through it ever since.

                                                                            My daughter lived in Andalucia for a few years and I fell in love with Spanish quisine (and culture) on my trips to visit her.

                                                                            1. h
                                                                              HillJ RE: cayjohan May 17, 2008 08:01 AM


                                                                              tea sweets from Amai NYC

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