Monday, July 15, 2013

The French connection - Europe in a Box

I've always had an affection for all things French: champagne, perfume, Monet and the other Impressionists, croissants, crepes, cassoulet... or hell, just about any French food. You name it; if it's French, I probably love it. I learned the French language in years seven and eight (or form one and two as we used to call them back in the Dark Ages), most of which I've long since forgotten. But my love for the country has never faded.

So I'm having a ball planning our long-awaited first ever European holiday. Details are still being nutted out, but the vague plan is to head off mid-next year and visit France, Spain, England and Scotland. And possibly Switzerland. And maybe Singapore on the way home. I'm sure we'll figure out the finer details by the time airfares are on sale.

Anyway, I'm reading Lonely Planet guides, haunting Trip Adviser and other travel sites and obsessively trawling Pinterest for yet more gorgeous places we MUST visit. Bike Boy has his must-see list for the Spanish leg of our trip while I'm dreaming of Paris, Provence, Champagne, Alsace, Languedoc...

Lucky for me, I have a handy contact who can help me to narrow down the choices to a manageable itinerary. I met Cyndie, a.k.a. Mademoiselle Slimalicious, in person at Problogger last year. She's a French expat living in Sydney and is more than happy to share local knowledge of her part of the world. As luck would have it, her part of the world just happens to be Carcassonne - check this out:

Image source:

Breathtaking, non? (I'm going to annoy the crap out of everyone for the next twelve months by throwing French words and phrases into my conversation. Hehe). UNESCO thought the town important enough to add it to their World Heritage listing. I'm pretty sure we can fit in a visit to Carcassonne between Paris and Barcelona...

As well as writing her blog, Cyndie is the brains behind Europe in a box. It's a subscription service that delivers a monthly box of European goodies to your door. I've been intrigued by the concept since it was launched, but you know how it is - you mean to do that thing, but somehow you just don't get around to it... Then last month I saw in my Facebook feed that Europe in a Box had a one-off special edition Bastille Day box available. I jumped on it and ordered mine, tout-suite!

So, what would I get in my box? Here's what the website says:

"Each tasting box contains four gourmet treats, each originating from a different country in Europe, including one authentic imported drink. We also include a few samples, a free gift in your first box and an information card with educational, cultural and culinary information in every box. Free shipping Australia wide."

I waited impatiently for my treats to arrive. Last Thursday, three days before Bastille Day, my box turned up - yay! I ripped open the post pack and eagerly raised the lid. The packaging was gorgeous....

...And the contents did not disappoint. (There was also a miniature (200ml) bottle of sparkling peach wine, but I forgot that I'd popped it in the fridge when I finally got around to taking photos.)

The products are all items that I haven't seen before and are not things that I'd be likely to find at my local supermarket, that's for sure. So what did I get? My box contained:

JP Chenet Fashion Peach Piccolo 
Bonne Maman fruit conserve - currant jelly 
Pascal Esquines Pate de Foie 
La Tisanerie herbal tea bag
Rendez-Vous violet bonbons
Lutti Arlequin candies
Espelette chilli jelly

Included was a sheet describing each item: where it came from, a few facts about the town or the company and some information about the product - which is very handy with something like the chilli jelly, which the average Australian may not know is intended to be paired with sheep cheese, such as Manchengo. Coincidentally, we just happen to have some in the fridge, left over from last night's tapas feast. :) I guess though, it would go well with crackers and many different cheeses.

There were little extra touches too - some additional sweets, another variety of tea, and the cutest Eiffel tower keyring...

A handwritten note from Cyndie added a personal touch - and she had included a gorgeous dark Belgian chocolate, flavoured with lavender, saying that she thought I'd enjoy it. Is my love of chocolate that obvious? Don't bother answering that...

I haven't worked my way through the contents as yet. The box's arrival coincided with a busy time as well as our planned Spanish feast, so I'm saving most of my treats and will sample them over the next week or two. I did try the violet bonbons - which are sugar-free, by the way. I wasn't quite sure at first taste, so I had to try one more...and then another, just to be certain they were OK. And hey - I like them! :D

Europe in a Box: gets the thumbs-up from moi!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I purchased my Special Edition Europe in a Box with my own funds and this post represents my honest opinion.



Pip said...

Awww, Europe! That is on my 'to do' list so I'm feeling a little envious haha! Wanna jump in your suitcase! I've 'planned' a trip to Europe many a time, but break the savings I start with other things that come up! If I live more cheaply for a few years, I will eventually get there! :-) The box looks great, think I will just click on the link so I can have a 'look', - lol! Well done!

Pip said...

I see they don't deliver to NZ, - that saves me some temptation ;-)

Cyndie @ Mademoiselle Slimalicious said...

I'm so excited about your trip to Europe Kerryn, you're going to love it! Enjoy the goodies in the meantime :) PS: I recommend you eat the pate with sourdough bread.

Kek said...

Thanks, Cyndie - I will definitely be hitting you up with a million questions before we make concrete plans. :)

Sara said...

Wow, that's one delicious box of Frenchiness! You should start revising your French. The French are kind of weird. In nearly every other country, they indulge you and think it's cute when you speak their language badly. In France, you may be refused service for butchering their beloved native tongue. You're going to have such fun!

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