Few surprises are as exciting as opening the door to an unexpected delivery. Even fewer surprises are as heart sinking as finding a Royal Mail ‘Sorry we missed you’ note on your doorstep. Collecting a missed parcel delivery requires patience and nerves of steel. The opening hours of a typical sorting office are picked at random by an employee with a sadistic sense of humour. The schedule of my not-so-local Royal Mail office looks like this:
Mon to Thu: 08:47 to 09:50
Thu mornings: closed
Tue and Wed afternoon: 12:00 to 14:13.
Wed: closed for lunch
Sat: 05:00 to 05:30.
I am, however, a determined person. And so, armed with 2 different forms of photo ID, several documents to confirm my address, and the promising Royal Mail note, I set off on Saturday very early, to claim my mysterious parcel . I am also an eternal optimistic. Not even the time when, having hurried under torrential rain and arrived drenched and out of breath at nearly closing time, to triumphally claim my missed delivery, only to find it was one of those Camorra-type threatening letters from the TV Licence people incorrectly addressed to me – no, not even that most infuriating episode managed to kill my faith in The Lure of The Missed Delivery. It takes me a good half hour walk to get there, and that stroll has produced some of the most elaborate fantasies I have been part of in my head. Has a long lost, secret millionaire auntie left me her fortune and derelict, yet full of potential house in the Alps? Do I have a discreet benefactor who, watching me from a distance, decided to reward the brilliance of my latest cake with a cheque to fund a bijou patisserie in the Marais?
And so, it was with grand ideas on how to best invest my million dollar cheque that I was greeted at the post office with not one, but three surprise parcels! Here’s what was waiting for me:
1. an iphone charger that was supposed to be delivered approximately 6 weeks ago with the actual phone. Bit disappointing.
2. warm feeling surprise: a beautiful pink summer top my Mum made with her own hands and posted with a lovely Thinking of You card. Thank you, mum!
3. and this is where it gets a little embarrassing: one kilo of parmesan.
Yes, a kilo of parmesan cheese, tightly vacuum packed for freshness. I had by now forgotten about this entirely. A few months ago, I came across this wonderful idea: the Save-a-Cheese campaign, in aid of cheese makers in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, left struggling after two devastating earthquakes in 2012.
How it works: you order your parmesan from a consortium of artisan cheesemakers. One kilo of parmesan costs £22, and it is delivered to your door – or nearest sorting office, if you’re away! What do they do with your money? As the Save-a-Cheese webiste explains:
The bulk of your money goes directly to the individual cheesemaker. A further 1 Euro /kg goes to the Parmigiano-Reggiano Consortium for further distribution to all the affected cheesmakers. The rest will be used to get the cheese from Italy to the UK, cutting, wrapping and postage & packaging to your home.
Was the cheese any good? Beautiful. Moist, tender, very tasty parmesan. You do not find anything of that quality and freshness in London.
What do you do with a kilo of parmesan? Well, that’s not a major issue in this house, but if you’re struggling to find other uses beside grating it on pasta, Save-a-Cheese helpfully publishes links with recipes. I’ve decided to try a delicious, yet rather controversial recipe of bombocado: a sweet muffin with… bear with me, coconut and parmesan … in the same recipe. I know this is not an appealing description, but trust me, I’ve been eating these since I was a kid, and they really are rather wonderful. Fluffy, delicate, moist, moreish. Perfect brunch food.
But my dairy packed week was not over. As I went back to work with my belly full of cheese, this is what I found on my desk:
Yes. Another very generous (640 grams) of parmesan, shared by an Italian colleague whose mamma got a bit carried away on her last visit from Genova.
I considered freezing some, or going on a parmesan cooking frenzy weekend. But in the spirit of Save-a-Cheese, I’ll spread the goodwill and share some of it with the neighbour. God knows he’d be here trying all the parmesan based dishes anyway.
If you’d like to help cheesemakers in Italy and eat some of the finest parmesan around, Save-a-Cheese are still taking orders. They do take a while, as they wait to ship enough orders at once. But the wait is well worth it, and with any luck, you get the warm glow of the suprise delivery when you’ve forgotten all about that order so long ago.
- 500g caster sugar
- 250ml water
- 5og grated parmesan
- 6 eggs
- 70g butter
- 5og all purpose flour
- 200g dessicated coconut
- 100ml coconut milk
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, boil the water with the sugar.
Remove from the heat and add the coconut and parmesan. Mix until incorporated.
Return to a medium-low heat and let it cook for just under 10 minutes, stirring regularly. You should end up with a fairly wet mix, the consistency of a thick porridge.
Turn the heat off, then add all the butter at once and mix until it’s all melted.
Gradually add the flour and mix well, making sure there are no lumps.
Let it cool a little before adding the eggs, to avoid scrambling them.
Beat the eggs for about 3 minutes, until it’s doubled in volume.
Add the beaten eggs to the coconut mixture. Mix well.
Bake the bombocados in muffin tins at 180C for 10 – 15 minutes. They should still be a bit gooey inside.