Hey, Mr. Postman

Where to shop for food gifts online

By Roxanne Webber

Dean & Deluca
Dean & DeLuca
The Grateful Palate
The Grateful Palate
Murray's Cheese
Murray’s Cheese
Archie McPhee
Archie McPhee

Two pieces of gift-giving advice: You can’t go wrong with something delicious. And shipping and handling are best done by professional shippers and handlers. Here are 10 online sources—along with specific suggestions from each—for extra-good mail-order delights. And don’t forget to dip into CHOW’s 2007 Holiday Gift Guide.

1. Dean & DeLuca. The high-end grocer vends fancy foods such as an artisan salt collection, Wagyu beef fillets, and a “perfect risotto” gift basket, but the wine gifts offer something harder to find: limited-production bottles in packs of three, six, and ten. If your giftee is in a state where you can’t send wine, the store also stocks pretty corkscrews, wine carriers, and other nonalcoholic accessories.

Shop For: Your wine-snob uncle who’s spending the holidays in Napa.

2. Zingerman’s. This Michigan-based deli ships peasant-bread gift boxes for crust-lovers, a four-pack “tour de oil,” and a “Rockin’ Reuben” sandwich kit, not to mention epic gift baskets for the office. Reasonable two-day shipping rates, an arrival date guarantee, and funny/goofy product illustrations should help de-stress panic-stricken shoppers.

Shop For: Your auntie who swears by Zingerman’s famous sour cream coffee cake.

3. The Grateful Palate. If nothing else, browsing products like ham dust, BLT-scented votive candles, and the bacon-of-the-month club will break up the drudgery of shopping. For the non-pork-lover on your list, there’s a “Pie-Tini” club offering a monthly pie delivery with a cocktail recipe to go along with it, and another club featuring custom-roasted coffee blends by winemakers and chefs.

Shop For: Your brother-in-law who is curing salumi in his basement.

4. Murray’s Cheese. New York’s beloved cheese shop has taken most of the work out of shopping by grouping the cheeses into interesting gift boxes, such as American cheeses, sparkling wine–friendly cheeses, and a fondue-for-four set. Don’t forget the free personalized note.

Shop For: Your dad, who throws around the term turophile freely.

5. Solomon’s Gourmet Cookies. Order these cookies, bars, and brownies in traditional flavors like pecan chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin, or go full throttle with a “Cookie Chic” holiday gift pack.

Shop For: Your office, so you’re not stuck slaving over the oven all night.

6. WillPowder. Chef Will Goldfarb’s web store sells everything a budding molecular gastronomist needs for emulsifying, foaming, and spherification. The package offers (like “Balls of Fury”) take the confusion out of shopping for products such as calcium lactate gluconate.

Shop For: Your little cousin—these are more fun than a chemistry set (look out for spherification tricks with the gravy).

7. Citarella. This NYC fine-foods store offers white and black truffles, foie gras, and caviar, as well as a wide selection of charcuterie and smoked fish. For lighter options (both wallet and waistline), there’s always a fruit basket.

Shop For: The gourmand giftee on your list.

8. Chelsea Market Baskets. Chelsea Market’s gourmet gift basket shop has a huge selection and an easy shopping interface that sorts baskets by price, occasion, recipient, and category. If you’re sick of sending edibles, it also has spa baskets and baby baskets for the kiddies.

Shop For: Your grandma, who will enjoy the afternoon tea basket long after everyone’s gone home.

9. Penzeys Spices. More than 250 different spices, herbs, and seasonings are available from this online store. The four- and eight-jar gift boxes in assortments like “Indian Curries,” “Grill & Broil,” and “Pepper Lover’s” are good any time, but the “Baker’s Assortment” and the “Hot Chocolate Set” are especially holidayish.

Shop For: Your mom—ship them to her quick-delivery so she can finish making all those damn cookies.

10. Archie McPhee. When you need to send someone a sushi trash can or an electronic yodeling pickle, turn to these Seattle pranksters. Somebody you love is sure to need bacon-strip bandages or Sparkle Ninja gum.

Shop For: Your little sister, who will gross out the relatives with her gummy tapeworm.

Roxanne Webber is an associate editor at CHOW.

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