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June 15, 2011

My Favorite Mail Order Websites for Food

by Anne Paddock

The growth in internet sites has brought the world of food into homes.  Years ago, new and unusual foods were acquired by traveling to faraway places. Today, people still travel to eat but with the world becoming global, international and national foods can be ordered on-line and delivered to our doorstep within days. Special ingredients not readily available at the local grocery store can also be obtained at various websites.  The choices are unlimited but here are a few favorite sources:

CHEESE  Murray’s Cheese is based out of New York City and offers awide variety of American and European cheeses along with dried and cured meats, crackers, breads, and jams.  Cheese can be selected in quarter pound increments with your selections packed in an insulated container on ice and mailed overnight. Shipping charges are very reasonable.

canstockphoto3223138My personal favorites are Parmesan from Italy, Comte from France, Gruyere from Switzerland, and Drunken Goat and Manchego from Spain. When I feel adventurous or have guests coming to dinner, I select a variety of soft and hard cheeses, which make for a great dessert with sliced pears, grapes, and hazelnut cranberry studded “Raincoast Crisps” (available through or at a local Whole Foods store).

DRIED FRUITS AND NUTS  If you’re a fan of dried fruits without sulfates, this is the website for you. The selection includes dried cherries, blueberries, apricots, peaches, grapefruit, apples, and more. Instead of using sulfur to preserve the fruit, the company relies on sugar, citric acid, and in some fruits, sunflower oil. Put the fruits on oatmeal, in granola or carry them in a bag for a sweet snack on a hike.DSC_0005 Nuts on Line is my go to site when I need nuts for baking.  The company typically ships the day I place the order and the nuts are delivered within two days.  I rely on this website for walnuts, pecans, chia seeds, pine nuts, and extra large golden raisins, which are my husband’s favorite.  Based out of New York City and run by the same family for three generations, their prices and quick service are hard to beat.

feature-103-cashews2-pop_310 Koeze has the most delicious roasted cashews, pecans, pistachios, and mixed nuts.  These nuts are for snacking, not baking. Perfectly roasted and not overly salted, these outsized nuts don’t last long in a serving bowl.

COOKIES I discovered Amy’s Cookies when I was visiting New York City a few years ago. Based out of Brooklyn, Amy sells her cookies in a variety of gourmet shops in NYC and on-line for fans like me who don’t have a Dean & Deluca around the corner.  Her Viennese Crescents are my favorite: rich buttery almond cookies that melt in your mouth.  She also sells a variety of other cookies including chocolate chip, sandwich, and tea cookies.

254576_445804722123364_1805885220_nThe cookies arrive in perfect condition and are beautifully wrapped in a colorful box with a grosgrain ribbon. Great for gifts.  Decorated cookies generally don’t taste as good as they look but Eleni’s Cookies taste even better than they look. I discovered the themed sugar cookies in a small gift store in Palm Beach several years ago. I bought several beautifully decorated Easter cookies in the shape of bunnies and eggs to put in my daughter’s Easter basket.  When my daughter opened one, I took a bite and couldn’t believe how good the cookie tasted and I’ve been a committed fan ever since.

Eleni's cookies_allmadeupEleni’s has a variety of theme cookie (flowers, animals, toys, sports, etc) gift boxes  which are always a nice gift for birthdays and other special occasions.

ICE CREAM  Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream (and yogurt) is handmade ice cream made with the finest ingredients:  local Snowville milk and cream from cows that eat grass, fresh fruit, nuts, grains, liquors, chocolate, real vanilla, herbs, spices and more. Based out of Columbus, Ohio and available nationwide through her free-standing store, the Fresh Market and other grocery stores, Jeni’s ice cream has no emulsifiers, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
734465_426818877410178_1553474134_nThe company ships nationwide (and is extremely efficient and organized in this effort with ice cream guaranteed to be delivered rock hard within 48 hours of shipment – usually Mondays or Tuesdays) through the website. Each pint is about $12 and there is a minimum order of 4 pints.


BAKING SUPPLIES  King Arthur Flour is based out of Norwich, Vermont and is a destination spot for the baker.  The company has a store dedicated to baking with a small restaurant and a separate building for baking classes.

The website is for the baker that can’t get to the store but wants top quality baking ingredients, appliances, and gadgets.  Famous for their flour, the company has established distribution to most grocery stores so I don’t rely on the website for flour so much as all the other special ingredients to make cookies, breads, pizza, cakes, and pies.  They have a product called “Pie Enhancer” which is a blend of sugar, modified food starch and a few other ingredients that keep summer fruit pies from turning into soupy desserts.

king-arthur-048I am a huge fan of their colorful sugar sprinkles and hard-to-find products like almond flour and whole dried milk for making bread. I rely on several King Arthur mixes when in a hurry:  pizza crust, lemon bundt cake, scones, and lava cakes – all of which are simply delicious.  King Arthur also has a great selection of unique baking appliances and utensils.

CHOCOLATE AND CANDY  Nantucket Chocolatier is known for their chocolate covered cranberries. Order during the non-summer months to avoid the high shipping costs or better yet, visit Nantucket in the summer where you can eat them fresh and save the ordering for the other three seasons.CranberriesBosunDuoWEB-1  Chocolate covered almonds – dark and milk – are my favorite product from this French chocolatier that has several stores in New York City. Beautifully packaged but even better tasting, I keep a bowl of these on my desk and eat them by the handful. The assorted chocolates are excellent and are packed in a beautiful brown box with a ribbon.img10o  If you are looking for really good dark chocolate, this site offers a variety of choices from North and South America, Africa, and Asia.  My favorites are the dark chocolate bars made by Claudio Coello, which are not always available. If in stock, order promptly.

When out of stock, there is a store in Seattle, Washington called “Marie and Freres” ( who always has the bars (as pictured in the feature photo at the top of the page) in stock. Unfortunately, the website isn’t set up to take internet sales so call the store (206-859-3534) to place an order.

vermicelles-fins-chocolat  Chocosphere sells a wide variety of European chocolates including Valrhona, Callebaut, and Michel Cluizel.  This website carries hard to find small individually wrapped chocolate bars that can be served after dinner with coffee or when you just want a small piece of chocolate. In addition, they carry the best chocolate sprinkles made from real cocoa with no artificial additives. Made by Cacao-Berry (a French company owned by Callebaut), the chocolate “vermicelles” are sold in a kilogram (2.2 pounds or 35 ounces) box for $17.95 plus shipping.  Fiona’s Sweet Shoppe is a tiny little store in San Francisco that was opened by a doctor who missed her favorite European candies.  I love sending “flying saucers” or assorted jellies to children for birthday presents.canstockphoto1707200-1

The candy is wrapped beautifully and looks as good as the sweets.

CROISSANTS  After tasting a real butter croissant in Paris, I could never eat a supermarket or local bakery’s attempt at reproducing such a marvel of perfection.  Then along came Galaxy Desserts and their croissant which they sell only through Williams-Sonoma. 

img20oI keep a box of the plain and the chocolate croissants in my freezer always.  The plain croissants come in two sizes and I order the small size (that actually bakes up quite large) which come 24 to a box for $39 plus shipping (but if you join Williams-Sonoma Reserve Club for approximately $30 a year, shipping is free on almost all of the products sold on line).  The chocolate croissants come in only one size – 15 to a box – and are a decadent treat for breakfast.

The croissants arrive frozen and should be placed in the freezer promptly. The night before serving them, take the croissants out of the freezer and place them on a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper over them.  Nine hours later the croissants have thawed and risen. Remove the parchment paper and bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes and enjoy with butter, jam and a good cup of coffee.

SPANISH FOODS  Four years of living in Madrid, Spain consummated my love of Spanish foods and this website has a very good selection.  Raw blanched marcona almonds are a staple in my pantry as I prefer to saute these precious nuts in olive oil and then lightly salt them before serving them to guests, who never fail to devour them and ask what they are (as they don’t look like California grown almonds).

iStock_000005463045SmallRounder and flatter than almonds grown in California, marcona almonds are grown in the south of Spain. Recently, I have found marcona almonds in grocery stores but I have always put them back on the shelf after reading the label and discovering they were fried or baked in a canola, vegetable or sunflower oil.  The combination of marcona almonds, olive oil, and salt is one of those Spanish creations that shouldn’t be tweaked.  I also use this website to buy olives, potato chips, and polverones (a shortbread cookie popular around the holidays) imported from Spain.  The Spanish Table has stores in New Mexico, Washington, and California.  They carry a full line of imported Spanish foods and cookware. I rely on them for “Ortiz Bonito Del Norte Bonito” tuna (which will forever turn you away from supermarket cans of tuna) and Jamon Iberico de Bellota – Spanish ham   – which is shaved and vacuum packed.  This website is also a great source for cazuelas – the shallow stone bakeware often used in Spanish cooking.

MEATS  La Quercia is an Iowa based pig farm that produces delicious pancetta, which I use to add flavor to homemade hearty winter soups. I used to call them directly because they are just so nice and accommodating when I want to place an order.  I always revel in the fact that I am speaking to a real live person who makes me feel that I am the most important customer they have.  Allen Brothers is a Chicago based butcher and is one of 3 websites I use to order meat. I rely on this website for extra thick lamb chops that my husband loves. In addition, I buy their bison burgers, regular hamburgers, chicken breasts, and turkeys.  Lobels is a small butcher shop on the upper east side in New York City that provides excellent cuts of meat either on site, by delivery, or through on-line sales.  Their prices are high but you are guaranteed the most tender cuts of meat and great customer service. Their pork chops are so tender, you can almost forgo a knife.

DESSERTS:  Galaxy Desserts makes beautiful and elegant desserts that are typically found in a restaurant that doesn’t employ a pastry chef.  I keep a variety of their products in my freezer for those times when something special is needed. Their tart selection, lava cakes, and small cheesecakes are delicious and simply need a sauce or fresh berries before serving. But the pineapple upside down cake is my favorite.galaxy-deserts

OLIVE OIL  This is one website where you would never expect to find an award-winning olive oil – Columela olive oil.  Years ago, “Cooks Illustrated” introduced me to Columela olive oil and I’ve been a devoted consumer ever since.  At times difficult to find, I would often go to  and be “sent” to this supplier to purchase the olive oil. More recently, I have started to see Columela olive oil in some grocery stores in the northeast but I still rely on this website to make sure I always have adequate supplies on hand.

TEA I discovered tea while living in Madrid, Spain about 10 years ago.  Down the block from our apartment was a tiny, tiny store that had floor to ceiling canisters of tea that reminded me of the wand store in a Harry Potter movie with the special ladders for the hard to reach canisters.  Every few weeks I would go to the tea store and invariably wait outside as no more than 3 people could fit in the store at a time.  When it was my turn, I would purchase my favorite chamomile and ask the tea master to pick a new tea for me to try. I became so spoiled that when I returned to the US, I could never buy a box of tea bags again.

tea_forte_01Years went by and then I received a gift of tea bags that were made by a company called “Tea Forte.” The tin contained Egyptian like pyramid cones that enclose individual tea bags.   Someone with a great sense of design came up with this unique packaging. The big surprise was the taste. These teas are as smooth as they are beautiful in presentation and that satisfies my sense of aesthetics. The company also sells cookies and their orange spice tea cookies are delicious and remind me of British tea biscuits.

I was never a pulled pork fan but my husband loves pulled pork with fresh cole slaw on a potato roll.  One day while in Williams-Sonoma I noticed a 26 ounce jar of “Pulled Pork Starter” under the company name and decided to try it in my slow cooker. I don’t normally buy pre-made sauces but something compelled me to buy this jar. The product is excellent and one jar makes 4-7 pounds of pulled pork depending on how saucy you want the meat.

Years ago while visiting New York City, I had breakfast at a wonderful restaurant called Sarabeth’s on the upper east side.  Sarabeth’s has 8 locations now and sell their incredible jams in their stores, on their website: and at Williams-Sonoma and Stew Leonards in the northeast.  The jams are wonderful – Strawberry Raspberry and Peach Apricot are my family’s favorite. 01 

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