My Favorite Mail Order Websites for Food
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:
www.murrayscheese.com: 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.
My 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 www.amazon.com or at a local Whole Foods store).
www.meduriworlddelights.com: 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.
www.nutsonline.com 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.
http://www.koeze.com: 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.
www.elenis.com: 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.
www.kingarthurflour.com: 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.
I 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.
www.lamaisonduchocolat.com: 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.
www.chocolopolis.com: 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” (www.marieandfreres.com) 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.
http://www.chocosphere.com: 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.
www.fionassweetshoppe.com: 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.
The candy is wrapped beautifully and looks as good as the sweets.
I 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.
Rounder 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.
www.spanishtable.com: 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.
www.laquercia.us: 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.
www.allenbrothers.com: 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.
www.lobels.com: 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.
www.galaxydesserts.com: 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.
www.peppermints.com: 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 www.amazon.com 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.
www.teaforte.com: 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.
Years 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.