Two weeks to go 'til Christmas and, quite frankly, I've already had enough of the big crowds everywhere, the not-so-merry faces and the fact that you can't move an inch without being confronted with traffic jams, big queues at the tills and the inevitable grumpy faces... if that's the spirit of Christmas, then I can very well do without it! If you're fed up with it all, too, here's a unique way to part with your money, but rather than buy yet another thing nobody really needs in the first place, here you can actually make a difference.
Menu for Hope, brought to life by Chez Pim four years ago, is a yearly online charity event in which bloggers donate a prize that goes into a virtual raffle. Readers and others may then buy virtual raffle tickets for one or (hopefully) more prizes. The allocation of winners is completely automated.
Tickets are priced at $10 each, and bidders may buy multiple tickets per prize to increase chances of winning. Dozens of great food-related prizes are offered each year, with proceeds going to the U.N. World Food Programme, which seeks to fight hunger worldwide. Last year's Menu for Hope raised a staggering $62,925.
I am co-organising this year's donations with Jeanne of Cook Sister! - those prizes which are donated by bloggers are described in details on their respective blogs (an overview of ALL UK prizes can be found here from the start of the campaign tomorrow), below is a list of our own contributions and those prizes that have been donated by people who don't own a blog and rely on us to promote their generous donations.
Vouchers for Cooking Classes at Eat Drink Talk
This prize is from Jennifer for two £55 vouchers which can be redeemed for any cooking class(es) at Eat Drink Talk in London. The vouchers are valid to June 30th 2008 and can be redeemed for any class in the schedule. A class at Eat Drink Talk is sure to be a fun and delicious experience and you can choose from a huge range of classes covering everything from Vietnamese Cooking to Dim Sum to creating a Modern British feast.
Shipping anywhere in the world.
Prize codes: UK01 and UK02
Organic Chocolate Hamper from Natural Collection
You'll be in seventh heaven with this irresistible Deluxe Organic Chocolate Hamper from Natural Collection, the eco-friendly alternative to convenient online shopping! It’s packed with organic chocolate treats including (are you ready for this?) enrobed ginger in dark chocolate, milk chocolate peanutbutter truffle stars, dark chocolate peppermint fondant stars, white champagne truffle stars, a white chocolate with blueberry and blackcurrant chunky bar, a chunky dark chocolate bar studded with brazils and sultanas, and a bag of milk and white chocolate snowmen and trees. All organic, all made in the UK and all deeply moreish... Comes gift boxed in a beautiful red box, finished with a ribbon.
Shipping within the UK only.
Prize code: UK03
5-course Tasting Menu for Two at Les Trois Garcons restaurant in London, E1.
Les Trois Garçons has become legendary amongst food lovers in London. Inspired by luxury and executed with impeccable taste a place to marvel, a warm homely welcome to comfort with a hint of decadence. Baroque courtesan’s parlour meets Parisian antique market: stuffed monkeys, tigers, swans and giraffe swathed in necklaces. Gigantic wine glasses filled with bejeweled fruit, underneath an impressive collection of chandeliers.
Attention to detail is Les Trois Garçons’ motto, especially with regards to food.
Chef Jérôme Henry draws from his Swiss-French roots to create elaborate dishes packed with flavours, top ingredients juxta-posed to compliment each other without fuss. He will be devising a 5-course tasting menu for you and a companion and pair them with matching wines.
Say goodbye to the real world. True escapism awaits. Let Les Trois Garçons take you on a journey.
Voucher can be sent anywhere in the world.
Prize code: UK09
Thermomix Box of Tricks & Treats
I've written about the Thermomix and all the wonderful things it can do a lot on this blog - the ultimate kitchen gadget that professional chefs like Raymond Blanc, Heston BLumenthal and Adrian Ferra swear by. It never fails to impress whether it's whipping up a frothy hollandaise in 6 minutes flat, stirring the ultimate, smooth bechamel sauce without you getting into a sweat or making a creamy risotto from start to finish...
The prize donated by UK Thermomix is a box of wonderful goodies: 5 delicious home-made liqueurs plus two dozen chocolate biscuits plus two dozen parmesan shortbread biscuits. The biscuits will be made with all organic ingredients and the liqueurs will be made with organic fruits, organic sugar, organic coffee, organic eggs: Creamy Orange Liqueur, Limoncello, Coffee Liqueur, Cranberry Raspberry Cordial Liqueur (for grown-ups only!) and Egg Cognac Liqueur. All these goodies will be made using the Thermomix TM31, the food processor that weighs and cooks. They will be made fresh just before being sent out to the prize-winner.
Courier delivery within the UK only.
Prize code: UK22
Meal for two at 1802 restaurant in the London Docklands
1802, named after the year the West India Quay rum and tea warehouse in which it is housed was built, provides the best in modern British food. Referred to as “… a menu that pushes all the right buttons” by The Square Meal Guide, the a la carte lunch menu always includes such favourites as the now famous 1802 lamb burger with tzatziki, while innovative seasonal dishes such as roast haddock with smoked pork belly or poached crayfish with samphire also feature. With South African chef Gustav Leipoldt at the helm in the kitchen, you may even find traditional tomato bredie or a traditional Cape Malay curry on the menu! Voucher is for £75, to be redeemed against any food or drink bill until 30 March 2008.
Prize code: UK17
Sourdough Bread Baking Starter Kit
My own contribution this year will be to spread the passion that is bread baking. Surely I am not alone in being appalled by the poor quality of bread available in this country (the few specialist or artisan bakeries we have are not only dying a slow death, we are also, lets face it, just too busy to be seeking out that special loaf every single day). I got very lucky last spring when a dear German blogger sent me two cultures of sourdough she has been using in her own baking for years and years... I have since not only been nurturing these cultures, but also experimenting with various recipes over the months, with the result that both myself and the rest of the family will now only reluctantly eat anything bought at the supermarket!
With your raffle ticket, you're buying a chance to win a sourdough baking starter kit containing the following:
- 1 jar wheat sourdough culture (100% hydration)
- 1 jar rye sourdough culture (100% hydration)
- some special ingredients (incl German rye flour and a traditional country bread spice mix)
- a selection of trusted recipes easy enough for a novice (incl. favourites like hazelnut rye sourdough bread, pictured, and a French country loaf with a wonderful crust and an amazingly fluffy crumb)
I never thought it would be so easy to produce consistently great bread that rivals the bakeries around me. The secret is not in the recipe or any miracle flour used, you don’t need a special oven to make it either: it’s all about the starter you use and the one that’s up for grabs will make you one very happy baker and very popular with the people surrounding you (if you decide to share your bread that is!)
Will send anywhere within Europe (the starters would probably not survive shipment anywhere else in the world).
Prize code: UK18
Choose 1 of 5 original food photographs
Ever looked at a picture on Cooksister and thought “man, that looks good enough to eat”? Well, the good news is that you can now win one of five pictures that have appeared on Cooksister over the past year. The picture will be printed on gloss paper in 8x12" format and will be matted. The prize can be shipped anywhere in the world and would make a perfect gift for a foodie friend - or yourself!
Prize Code: UK25
Heston Blumenthal's Menu for 2 at Hinds Head
A unique historic British menu for two at the Hinds Head from Heston Blumenthal. Heston will meet the winner and present autographed copies of all his three books. The more public side of Heston Blumenthal is the pre-eminent chef-scientist at the Michelin three-star restaurant The Fat Duck, while the side lesser known is the passionate researcher and restorer of historic British dishes. The lucky winner of this prize (and a guest) will dine on a menu that is literally a representation of British cuisine from the 17th and 18th century. Heston promise that they will be outstanding, and some of them will never have been tested before!
Prize code: UK33
A companion spot with Jay Rayner doing a restaurant review for the Observer
Jay said "This meal will be a London review. so no point bidding if they ain't nearby or planning to be there. (note from Pim: Menu for Hope won't fly you over either so you're on your own there.) And secondly, I do not guarantee that the cost of the meal I take them on will in any way match the amount they spent on raffle tickets. Somebody here in London recently bid £500 for my company which is a ludicrous sum. Do I now have to be £500 funny? Oh, and it will be at a time convenient to us both but within the next, say, six months. how does that sound?"
Prize code: UK34
San Lorenzo Hamper of Italian Delicacies worth £70
You are bidding for a hamper filled to the brim with the ultimate selection of Italian delicacies from San Lorenzo: Apricot Extra Jam, Rice biscuits, Organic Linguine, Organic Pesto alla Genovese, Organic Sun-Dried Tomatoes in Extra-virgin Olive Oil, Organic Black Ligurian Olives in Brine "Taggiasca Cultivar", Organic 100% Italian Extra-virgin Olive Oil, Italian Chestnut Honey, Organic Peeled Tomatoes, Alma Rosada Tuna in Olive Oil, Anchovy Fillets, Chianti Classico d.o.c.g. 2004, Moscato d'Asti d.o.c.g. 2007.
Shipped to: UK, Ireland, France, Luxemburg, Belgium, Austria, Germany and Italy
Prize code: UK35
Don't forget to come back tomorrow for a full list of UK prizes!!!