100 Smackeroos to Give Away in the Latest Food Gal Contest

How'd you like to win a gift card worth $100? Yeah, that's what I'm talkin' about.

On the menu today, we’re serving up a tasty special of $100.

A deliciously satisfying $100 gift card from CSN to be exact.

Are you salivating yet?

The gift card is good at any CSN online store, where you can shop till you drop for everything from a glam new end table to an ice cream maker to a chic new purse to a super sharp chef’s knife.

How to win?

Just tell me about the best food-related gift you’ve ever received. The most memorable response will win the $100 CSN gift card.

Contest is open only to residents of the continental United States and Canada. Entries must be received by the end of Oct. 2. The winner will be announced on Oct. 4.

To get you started, here’s my own response to that query:

Best food-related gift received: It was in the parking lot of the French Laundry restaurant many years ago, when my then-boyfriend, Meat Boy, took my hand and asked, “So, we’re in the parking lot of the French Laundry, your favorite restaurant, right?” I looked around, then looked at him, and said the obvious, “Uh, duh, yes, we are.”

Then, he reached into his pocket, pulled out a precious tiny blue box, and mustered up the courage to say,  “That’s why I wanted to ask you this here….”

That, my friends, is how Meat Boy proposed to me at my favorite restaurant. Not inside the restaurant, amid fanfare and spectacle, but out back  in the small parking lot, where it was private, low-key and just us. It was so him, and that was the most wonderful part of all.

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  • The best food-related gift was the recipe binder that my paternal grandmother (may she rest in peace) kept since 1945. She created, documented, and filed recipes from that time up until 1988, which is when I was born and she became very ill. She was not expected to live much longer after I was born, but she ended up surviving until I was 6 years old – she said herself that I kept her alive for a while longer and she wanted me to have her recipe book to learn how to cook and bake. And I did – I hope she is watching over me and is proud of my newfound skills in the kitchen.

  • Well my greatest food story would be:
    Each year our church finds different ways to raise money for missionary wires. Mothers Memorial it’s called. A few years ago I was asked to create a themed dinner to be auctioned , decorate the auction spot and try to get the highest bid. My sweetie and I decided to do surf and turf… Teal blue and sand decor… Amazing menu and we raised well over 500 bucks for our dinner alone. We then prepared the fabulous meal for the highest bidder. What fun!! It’s better to give than to receive!

  • Well,My sister made me a cherry pie for my 16th birthday,she ate it in the middle of the night and felt bad so she bought me a whole bunch of Zero candy bars because they are my favorite,she ate all but one of them the next day so she gave me just ONE ZERO candy bar for my birthday! LOL!!!She is actually very thin even though she eats like a large man!Thanks so much,hope I win.I won’t buy my sister anything!

  • When my husband and I first met, I was a newbie cook in the restaurant world and would work long hours and not come home until 1 am. On my birthday, I came home to find that he had baked me a pear tatin- FROM SCRATCH! He had never baked before and the cooking that he had previously done always involved the grill. I was completely surprised and touched. I pretty much knew, at that moment, that he was a keeper.

  • That’s very sweet, Carolyn. I like the low-key aspect as well.

  • this is easy, the best food related gift i have ever recieved is my beautiful pink kitchen aid stand mixer! her name is darling, and i received her for my birthday 3 years ago. i love her and use her at least twice a week. but she is missing her dear sister the kitchen aid cook for the cure pink food processor.

  • Omg, how sweet of Meat Boy!! Very appropriate and uber romantic! 😀

  • Are the above-mentioned dates right, Carolyn? Looks like you posted this on the 27th but fine print says deadline to enter was 25th??? I’ve got a great story involving goat’s milk fudge, but not time to write it up until later today.

    Hopefully yours…

  • That story may have made me tear up in the high school library. Love it!

    On our second Christmas together, my boyfriend took me to Vegas. I had never been! He pulled out all of the stops, researching restaurants both on the Strip and off. I ate like a queen all week and Vegas has since been our annual vacation spot where we explore new food finds and revisit favorites. What happens in Vegas comes back with us in the form of full tummies and happy food memories 🙂

  • My beloved auntie and uncle were avid mushroom hunters–well into their 80s. While they picked a variety of mushrooms, the most coveted were wild porcinis, which they would slice, dry, and share with the (giant) extended family. These little ziploc bags were considered mushroom gold, and while I cannot say I miss the mushrooms more than my dearly departed aunt and uncle, I do miss them terribly. Anyway, a couple of years ago, my cousin, their son, came by our house during the holidays with all sorts of delicious goodies for us–including one of the last remaining bags of dried porcinis they had foraged. I still have them in my pantry. Maybe if I win the $100 I will think of something worthy of them!

  • The best food-related gift? I’d have to say a free meal at wolfgang puck’s CUT in LA. Kind of boring yeah, but I don’t get too many food related gifts =(

  • PS: I just read the rest of your story. Brought tears to my eyes. So perfect. No staring strangers or hovering waiters who had somehow been clued in on your private moment, yet you got to enjoy the subsequent meal with all the radiant emotions you must have been feeling. Plus (hah!) if you had said no, he could just have cancelled the reservation and saved himself not only public humiliation, but the pricey (yet priceless!) meal 🙂 Clever guy, that Meat Boy of yours!

  • Carroll: Thank you for your sharp eyes. My problem is that I cannot believe it’s nearly the end of the year already. I have corrected the dates above. Deadline to enter is Oct. 2; winner will be announced Oct. 4. October?!? How can it be October already?!

  • Food memories, ahhh… they’re so grand. Who doesn’t associate food with love?

    We always got to help my grandparents in the garden. We would sit on the porch and shuck the peas with my grandmother in the afternoon. As a ‘treat’ she would put out a big roasting pan with a few peas in them and let us squish them in our toes. They felt cool and had a fresh smell.

  • Hey one time my mom made me an Italian cream cake for my birthday which was my favorite cake so she learned how to make it just for me.It was my 21st and I had a bad car accident the week before so it was really nice of her but I felt too sick to enjoy it.She has made me one every year since and its so good


  • Awww, what an amazingly sweet proposal! The best food-related gift I ever received is a little strange. Believe it or not I had never had a fig until about 5 years ago. The first time I had it was in Syria; my mother in law gave it to me and I actually had no idea what it was, lol! (Surprisingly, I do not live under a rock. 🙂 ) Anyway, I’ve loved figs since then and I consider her opening up my culinary world with that experience to be my best food-related gift.

  • Many years ago my husband and I were just starting our lives together and living in a small apartment where I was a teacher and he was in the military. I was an awful teacher…the kids were running all over me and I knew it. Every night I would come home and cry because I know that I was a total failure.

    One night I made it to dinner without breaking down. just as we sat down to a lovely salad our cat ran ACROSS MY PLATE and scattered lettuce, scallops, dressing…everything everywhere. That was enough to send me over the edge into yet another total melt-down.

    It was at this point that my darling husband took my hand and put a small blue box into it saying “You almost made it through the whole day.”

    That was how I got my first little blue box while covered in greens and seafood.

  • err… the best food-related gift i ever got was a cream pie in a face by a girl who had a crush on me. We were in 6th grade and she had original ways to show me her affection. We finally ended up going out together until the day she nearly broke my arm…

  • Oh dear, nobody ever bakes a cake for me. Not even my mom. Guess it is all in my family genes that we all don’t bake for each other. In our family, we celebrate birthdays and special occasions with FOOD but we don’t cook any particular dishes for one another though, as we all eat out. Dad will always insist on a round table and loves to see his children all around him. I guess in our family, food binds us together and such celebrations are always memories in my family.

  • What a cool competition! I’m out of the running but best of luck to everyone that enters! 😀

  • Can’t quite top a wedding proposal at the French Laundry’s parking lot. But I can come close – I did propose to Annie at Waiola Shave Ice in Honolulu – in front of a crowd of witnesses!

    One of my best food-related gifts would have to be the elbow-length leather gloves that Annie got for me from Williams-Sonoma for the barbecue. I have been using it for years and it is still comfortable and in good condition.

  • But I have a Momofuku story. OK first I have to say I hate presents. I don’t need anything and always ask for donations to my favorite nonprofit, Donorschoose.org. So my sisters were going to New York. When they went last year, they FAILED to go to a Momokuku resto. This year I researched all of the Momofuku restos, and forced them to commit to going. Yes, they went and yes, blogged about it, they went but did not try Crack Pie. ttp://ccatko.blogspot.com
    For my birthday, my sister MADE crack pie. Now that was a good gift!

  • Gosh, I don’t think many of us can beat your story! How sweet was that?

    The nicest food-related story I have is a bridal shower someone gave me before I was married. Not only did they pool money and give me 3 electrical appliances for my kitchen, but they each gave me 4 of their very best family recipes. Each of those recipes were gems, many of them family secrets, and I have made them over and over for many years.

  • Hi, My favorite kitchen tool that I ever received was my Global 8 inch chef’s knife!! My friends all chipped in to buy it for me at the Chanukah party I was hosting. I always entertain them and they wanted to buy me a useful gift!!! BEST GIFT EVER!!!

  • For my 30th birthday my husband surprised me with a trip to Charleston, a luxurious stay at the Inn at the Woodlands with afternoon tea parties and all. But the best part was a dinner in their 5 star restaurant at the Chef’s table in the kitchen. That was one of the most amazing culinary experiences ever!

  • My dear husband took me, a recovering anorexic, on a trip to Paris. The food there was definitely therapeutic!

  • Butternut squash ravioli with fried sage leaves. Oh, it was delicious!!!

  • I don’t know if this is the kind of thing you are thinking of but it made me laugh (and cry)then and 19 years later I still giggle and get a stray tear or two.. My husband and I were a new couple and pretty broke (still are if that helps) and Christmas was going to be lean. We decided to just make stuff to take to the nieghbors on our floor. One very sweet neighbor, Opal, was quite forgetful and we were always re introducing ourselves. Anyway, a day or two after dropping off our little baskets of sweets, she somehow found our door and gave us a hanky wrapped bundle ,told us Merry Christmas and went down the hall to her door and waved.. Well, inside the hanky was a mushroom kitchen sponge holder with a sponge(used) still in it and five packets of tea, and I don’t who will remember these, but McD’s used to have actual boxes of cookies that came in their happy meals and one of those was in it, there was a little tiny sample tube of avon lipstick, and for my hubby she had a box of thumbtacks. She didn’t have much but gathered stuff from her cupboards to give us a gift. We ended up spending a lot of time with her for the next 6 months,she loved cards and liked to talk about books. We moved and wrote to her but never rec’d a reply. We stopped by about a year later when we were back home for a visit but someone else lived there. I will always remember Opal and what a sweet wonderful Lady she was and I wish I still had her gift.

  • awwww what a cute story!

    My favorite food related gift was a personalized cutting board with “Steamy Kitchen” engraved.

  • My fabulous kitchen aid mixer! I agree the best gift. Mine was a birthday gift from my 6 siblings. Most likely to ensure that I continue to cook and bake for them and send them care packages

  • My boyfriend’s parents bought us a wok for our anniversary. His mother is Chinese and we have been learning to cook authentic Chinese food ever since! Every time we use the wok I think of his wonderful family and being home…

    Best of luck to everyone!~

  • My 30th birthday surprised party that was set by my husband at a Thai restaurant. He had a hard time to set since I’m easy to find when he lies.

    For me, it was the best since his family is not very keen about other cultures’ food esp. the spicy foods. But I was shocked to see them agree to come down and taste the spicy foods.

    Not to mention, I got the best tiramisu cake from a local Italian bakery shop. His cousins, uncle and aunt were enjoying his mom’s face when she ate the Thai food for the first time. She is a person that thinks black pepper is spicy.

  • I was teaching abroad in another country, where I had no family and only a few new friends. As Thanksgiving Day approached, I felt overwhelmingly lonely and a bit weepy as I was living in a country that did not celebrate the holiday. I thought of family, friends, and good food, and all the traditions surrounding this special day. One day, I arrived from work to find a package sent by my sister. Inside was a homemade Halloween kit, complete with a very sweet note. I ended up organizing a Thanksgiving potluck with the other teachers. Although the meal wasn’t as tasty as past meals, my gratitude for my new friends and my loving sister made it a sweet holiday anyway.

  • I had just moved from interning at Citizen Cake bakery to chef Falkner’s Orson restaurant doing pastry and plating. It was my first time working in a professional kitchen and I was overwhelmed by the energy, coming home feeling high off that kitchen each night. I would come to work in black jeans, converse sneakers and roll up my chefs knife in newspapers and a rubber band. At first it was a struggle to keep up with the demands of the kitchen, but I started to get the routine down and eventually was able to flow with the kitchen team. But it was only until one day that I new I had earned my small ounce of respect, when my overbearing sous chef presented me with a pair of real chef’s pants. I was overjoyed, not because it was the greatest kitchen accessory, but it meant so much to me as a member of the team and for him to go out of his way to buy a little something for a humble intern. From then on I started wearing my mom’s old Jospeh Sieble clogs and she bought me a three dollar knife cover. That motivation has me dreaming big things for a career in the culinary arts!

  • Wow, I love your story! That’s definitely memorable. 🙂 One of my best food related stories was one of the first days I ever spent in NYC. Browsing Dean & DeLuca, I came upon these wonderful french macrons and some yummy looking handmade ice cream from a small ice cream company called Jeni’s. I didn’t have much money on me, so I ended up not buying any. When I got home back to the mid-west, a friend of mine went online and secretly ordered me the same treats that I was swooning over and had them delivered to my front door. They arrived as a surprise, and let’s just say, they were eaten up within the week. Some of the yummiest treats I’ve had in a long time, and I highly recommend both products. It’s one huge reason that I say that food makes a GREAT gift!

  • It was the winter and the flu was going around…
    My whole family was sick and coughing and we all wanted korean porridge.
    although my mom was deadly sick to, for her family, she gathered up the strength to make chicken stock and make the porridge.
    I think that was the best chicken porridge ever.

  • Is a 10:56 PM entry too late for “end of October 2nd”?

    First, a little necessary background. I have been ecstatically married for more than 42 years now to a man who is, shall we delicately put it, holiday-challenged. Our marriage has weathered many an IOU, many a sheepish last minute gift of money, and many a sincere “You know I love you anyway even though I’m really lousy at getting presents, right?” (And yes, of course I do!)
    Even further background must include the childhood memory of my almost equally gift-challenged father, triumphantly returning from a business trip one time bearing a most unbelievable delicacy – a pound of “Goat’s Milk Fudge”, acquired at a roadside stand, and destined to live on in my memory for decades as having been incomparably delicious in a way no other fudge before or since my taste of that one has ever rivaled.
    You know how certain memories have a way of becoming mysteriously “enhanced” over the years? And how something rare and difficult to obtain eventually becomes sort of a holy grail – something repeatedly looked for but never again found?
    My recollection of that fudge eventually involved ingredients like sugar that could only have been refined from stardust, and chocolate fit only for gods to have combined with mother’s milk from their most sacred animals.
    Oh how I pined for just one more chance in this lifetime to sample such perfection.
    Now my beloved husband has probably heard me mention this particular memory a time or two over the years, but it was not until just a few summers ago when we found ourselves on a road trip in the Eastern state where my father had found the original product.
    Oh how intently I craned my neck at every turn of the road to peer down lanes and driveways as we traversed the rural farm lands. At every roadside stand I scanned for signs promoting that specialty, but alas, there was none to be found.

    With resignation, I consigned that childhood experience to the “once in a lifetime” file, and truly gave no more thought to the matter.

    Imagine my surprise, months later on Christmas morning, to open one special present, saved for last, carefully wrapped, mysteriously heavy, and presented by my beloved with the biggest most expectant smile I had ever seen.

    Goat’s milk fudge – tracked down on the internet, by a man who I never noticed scribble a furtive note to himself on the back of a gas station receipt. He saved that note, and presented it to me along with the gift, and the admission that he had in fact forgotten all about the impulse until months later when he came across the receipt while cleaning out his wallet.

    But, once remembered, his fingers flew from page to page on the internet until lo, a package arrived at our house, hastily intercepted upon delivery with some ruse which I never questioned. It was a complete and incredible surprise!

    Was the fudge what I remembered from my childhood? Of course not. Did it cost a bundle to have sent from that Pennsylvania dairy farm to Cupertino? It did indeed. Was it worth the trouble and the investment? You bet it was!

    He modeled for our sons how even a confirmed holiday-phobic husband can come through big-time with a little thought and a lot of love. Diamonds may be some girls’ best friend, but a gift from the heart? Priceless!

  • Contest is now closed. Come back on Monday to find out who won. And Carroll, you just made it under the wire. 😉

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