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favourite mail-order food

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Call me a late bloomer, but at 43 years I just got my first credit card. Never really needed one before, but I had to get this one for professional reasons. Anyway, now that I have access to the wonderful world of internet mail order, I was hoping some of you hounds who've been at it a while could direct me to your favourite food mail-order sites. (I live in Toronto, so skip companies that have stores here.) I'm game for just about any kind of food. Quality is most important, and I'd love to hear about places that ship the unexpected.

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  1. For a huge range of excellent tea, try...

    www.uptontea.com

    www.specialteas.com

    www.harney.com

    I have ordered from all three many many times & always been very pleased. Plus...their
    websites are well organized & very interesting whether you're new to teas or an experienced tea drinker....

    1. Living in Berkeley we can get most things locally, but we get these things mail-order:

      spices from Penzey's
      http://www.penzeys.com

      Steen's cane syrup
      http://shop.chefpaul.com/index.asp?Pa...

      Pernigotti cocoa in bulk
      http://chefshop.com/Itemdesc.asp?Came...

      White Lily self-rising flour
      http://www.chefscatalog.com/catalog/p...

      Anson Mills red Trentino flint polenta
      http://ansonmills.com/page22/page34/p...

      3 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        If Penzey's doesn't have it, The Spice House in Chicago will. Related companies, by the way.
        Spice House also has stuff not listed on their site, so take the time to ask them if you need something hard to find (like organic white peppercorns, hurrah!) or otherwise unusual. Very nice folks.
        www.thespicehouse.com

        1. re: Bananna A.

          How are Penzey's and the Spice House related?

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            If I have the story right, Mom & Dad (Bill and Ruth) Penzey started the business in WI, then their daughter & her spouse (Patty & Tom Erd) created/expanded The Spice House in IL. Seems that they have very similar offerings for spice rubs, etc.

        1. I have a standing order for Bazzini mixed nuts without peanuts from NYC. They are very good. Very old company. You can get their nuts in a wonderful big vintage tin with an elephant holding a peanut in his trunk on it. Once you get the tin just buy the nuts bagged to refill it. There's a scene in the Sopranos where the guys are playing poker with a Bazzini tin on the table.
          I think it's about $30 for 5 pounds. Very fair price. Would make a great gift.
          Bazzininuts.com
          800 228 0172

          1. Has anyone ordered from omahasteaks.com? I'm intrigued, but haven't tried it myself.

            4 Replies
            1. re: wontonton

              We've received gifts of Omaha Steaks (a variety of cuts and burgers). I didn't care for them at all (flavor or texture). You may be able to do better locally (especially for the price).

              1. re: Saccade

                Consumer Reports reviewed them, and gave their Filet Mignon a "very good" and their strip "good" ratings. Lobel's got an "excellent" rating for their filet mignon.

              2. re: wontonton

                Pass on Omaha Steaks; texture is mushy and flavor isn't anywhere near beefy enough (I can get better at my local Wild Oats). Definitely go for Lobel's - prime dry-aged cuts vs. Omaha's regular old choice cuts (which is what is sold in supermarkets).

                1. re: wontonton

                  Very overrated. You'll do yourself a favor by trying to find good aged beef at a local butcher.

                2. I haven't actually ordered anything yet, but I'm interested in Mackenzie - has anyone ordered anything from them?What's the verdict?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: andlulu

                    Overpriced, you canfind most of their stuff for less elsewhere

                  2. The lobster pot pies from Hancock Lobster are simply wonderful (and expensive, but they're packed with big chunks of lobster). This is a favorite birthday entree at our house.

                    1. Wild mushrooms from Aux Delices, game from D'Artagnon.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: steinpilz

                        Aux Delices also has fiddleheads in season! I never have any luck finding them locally even though I'm in a metropolitan area.

                      2. Wolferman's - super-thick English muffins in amazing flavors. They taste a bit cakey, like soda bread. The fruit spreads are great too.

                        http://www.wolfermans.com/store/catal...

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: lvecch

                          Hey, cool. I think I'm going to order some of those English muffins to try in my new Egg McToaster!

                          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                          ~TDQ

                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            Wow, that toaster's really something. Should be perfect for the muffins.

                            1. re: lvecch

                              Yes, I've been experimenting with different cheeses and flavored spreads, meats, and steamed veggies, but I've not experimented with the muffins yet.

                              The toaster is a great little machine for what it does, although the construction is really cheap. Oh well. As long as it does what it's supposed to, I guess that's ok. I hope it lasts!

                              Have you never had an issue with the freshness of the muffins they ship? That's the one thing I worry about about buying them mail-order.

                              ~TDQ

                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                No, they've always been fresh. Twice now during the spring sale I've ordered the Signature Muffin twelve-pack. I usually leave one or two packages out and throw the rest in the freezer. They keep well.

                          2. re: lvecch

                            Second wolfermans. Their english muffins are so good!

                              1. re: chickstein

                                They are. Thank you for reminding me, I must order before the spring sale is over!

                              2. re: lvecch

                                Wasn't impressed with Wolferman's. Just okay, wouldn't order them again.

                                1. re: rizzo0904

                                  That's too bad - sorry you didn't like them. I do think they're special, but they're a different taste from Thomas's, etc.

                              3. In England last week I bought some excellent cashews at Marks and Spencer. They were spiced with piri-piri. Anyone know a mail order source for a similar product?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Scruncheons

                                  You could order them directly from a British-food online store:

                                  http://www.britsuperstore.com/acatalo...

                                  Or for a U.S.-based company: http://www.shebafoods.com/detail.aspx...

                                2. Zingermans Deli

                                  For everything...olive oil, vinegar, cheese, everything is excellent. great for gift baskets with products that are all top quality.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. As an update, we ordered the Hancock Lobster Pot Pies this weekend to be shipped for a family celebration. The people at Hancock were very friendly and everything arrived as promised. We also ordered the Cream Cheese Bisquits and served both with a salad. It may seem that a 7oz pie is too small, but they are really rich and satisfying. The men in the family are big eaters and with a cheese and wine appetizer and cake for desert, everyone was almost too full. The pot pies had chunnks of claw meat. The sauce was really almost a lobster bisque rather that a pot pie gravy.. Also, there is just a bit of veggie, not large pieces like a pot pie. I would almost describe this as a soup with large pieces of lobster covered in pastry. The presentation is really nice. Ceremic ramekins and a lobster cutout on each pie. I would definitely order again. PS-I just got an email today with a gift certificate option

                                      1. Game birds from D'Artagnan. BBQ ribs from Interstate (and Corky's, and Rendezvous) in Memphis.

                                          1. re: MeowMixx

                                            Mmmm, my aunt sends my a selection for Christmas every year. LOVE the habenero jerky.

                                          2. I've ordered cuban pasteries(guava pastelitos)from this site before, because I've never seen them for sale in Oregon.
                                            http://www.cubanfoodmarket.com/mm5/me...

                                            1. Usinger's of Milwaukee is considered by many to be the country's premier sausage maker. I'm a hot dog fanatic and love their natural casing angus beef hot dogs. Everyone who has tried them has liked them very much. Out of the dozens of beef franks I've sampled, Usinger's is at the top of the list along with Best's (New Jersey, not Chicago) which I have access to here in N.J. I order from Usinger's once or twice a year. They also make a quality beef and pork dog which they actually sell more of. The Angus Beef dog was selected as the best in the country by the Olympic Comitee and the Certified Angus Beef Co. and was chosen as the official hot dog of the Winter Olympic Games when they were held in this country a few years back.

                                              Usinger's is also known for their fine brats and other sausages as well. http://www.usinger.com.

                                              1. Macaroni and cheese from beecherscheese.com
                                                AMAZING!

                                                1. On the dessert side of things, you can order Graeter's ice cream online - http://www.graeters.com/flavors.cfm

                                                  This ice cream has the most luscious chocolate chips in the world - melt in your mouth, and varied in shape - some huge! The ice cream is excellent and creamy - french pot style. Can't go wrong. Not cheap, but worth it, IMO.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: Seldomsated

                                                    Wow, do I miss that ice cream. I also love their smiley face cookies. Has some marzipan in it and I haven't ever found another cookie quite like it. (sigh)

                                                    1. re: Bananna A.

                                                      mmmmmmm Graeter's mint chocolate chip......Luckily, they opened up a shop in my hometown so I can get my fix when I visit my family. Can I also add See's Candies? Oh those toffee-ettes! http://www.sees.com/Prod.cfm?CatGroup...

                                                    2. re: Seldomsated

                                                      I grew up in Lexington KY and went to Graeter's when cutting class . . . great ice cream. I crave it often now that I'm pregnant but haven't been desperate enough to order online . . . yet.

                                                      Love the mocha chip!

                                                    3. For my taste, Omaha Steaks are nothing special. I can buy equal at a local market. Allen Brothers, onthe other hand, I found superb -- especially their rib-eyes. The bouillabaise is pretty good, too.

                                                      1. Cookies from Home and Greenberg's Smoked Turkeys

                                                        1. www.nueske.com -- Nueske's offers some of the best bacon and ham that I've ever tasted. You have to try their peppered bacon -- fantastic!

                                                          www.chefpaul.com -- If you like Paul Prudhomme's seasoning mixtures -- they're really good -- and buy them in the tiny jars in the supermarket, then you'll love this site. You can buy 24 oz. cans of his seasonings at a fraction of the per ounce price of the little jars.

                                                          http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/l... -- The Baker's Catalogue is a wonderful place to shop for baking ingredients and baked goods and for baking tools.

                                                          1. www.justtomatoes.com -- they have the most wonderful selection of dried fruits and veggies. I use the dried tomatoes instead of potato chips.

                                                            www.southavenfarm.com -- the Southaven Farm baking mixes are my newest favorite thing. I make muffins, cupcakes, quick breads, pancakes, etc., and they all are excellent. Very healthy without sacrificing flavor.

                                                            www.cappuccinoconnection.com -- the best selection of flavored syrups

                                                            1. We used to live in Chicago and found that we can order the all-veal bratwurst and knockwurst on line from Kuhn's Delicatessen. Everything is excellent. Here is the link.
                                                              http://www.kuhnsdeli.com/

                                                              1. Smoked salmon from Gerard & Dominique Seafood in Seattle (http://www.gourmetseafoods.com/xcart/... stuff....

                                                                1. Tea samplers from www.enjoyingtea.com

                                                                  Chocolate-dipped strawberries from Shari's Berries at www.berries.com

                                                                  1. Beyond a shadow of a doubt the single best thing for food you can do with a credit card is order unpasteurized cheese from www.fromages.com.

                                                                    We order and the cheese arrives perfectly ripened (hand selected), well packaged and oh so delicious. You can't buy unpasteurized imports in the United States and if you haven't been to France, you won't know what you're missing.

                                                                    If you buy cheese for a business or your home, you'll find that local gourmet cheese shops often carry some of the same cheese (cooked) that you can buy uncooked from fromages.com. I've priced cheese extensively and I've never paid more for cheese, even after shipping from France from Fromages.com than I did locally.

                                                                    I recommend the Epoisses, Brin d'Amour, Pont l'Eveque or any of their seasonal "cheese boards" they ship. Great value and perfectly selected.

                                                                    Erik

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: ejengstrom

                                                                      Erik, I'm a bit confused by your post. Are you saying you can in fact get the good unpasteurized stuff shipped to the US from fromages, or is it the "extra aged" unpasteurized? Does the extra aging completely ruin the charm of the cheese? I'm assuming it's still better than pasteurized yes?
                                                                      I think I'll do a little shopping either way.

                                                                    2. ditalia.com
                                                                      they sell VERY good salami.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: ceejoi

                                                                        martinrice.com

                                                                        Who knew that fabulous rice grows right here in Missouri. They have a nice sampler package so you can try they all.

                                                                      2. For magnificant Missouri country hams, go to

                                                                        http://management.semo.edu/schfa04/jm...

                                                                        be sure you understand what you're getting and be sure to have them cook the ham before shipping. They charge $2, and you will need a bathtub-sized boiler to do it yourself. You can order a half ham to work your way into this delicacy gradually.

                                                                        My 16-pound Christmas ham, cooked and shipped, was $54. Wonderful deal.

                                                                        1. If you like wild rice, treat yourself to the traditionally harvested wild rice from the White Earth Land Recovery Project. This stuff is amazing! I can buy it locally (I'm in the same state), but I would mail-order it if I moved away.

                                                                          http://www.nativeharvest.com/scripts/...

                                                                          Anne

                                                                          1. the smoked turkey from www.smokehouse.com is frackin fantastic. me and my girl each gave one to our mother's for mother's day and got raves.

                                                                            i've ordered several times for myself. it's just so easy and so delicious

                                                                            they also have my favorite country bacon

                                                                            1. I've only tried a few mail order items. I've order Omaha steaks which were okay. I also had a pizza sent to me from a friend in Chicago which was great! You can find just about any food in America that you want shipped to you at www.eatyourmailbox.com .

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: SDMonkey

                                                                                Does anyone know a good source for grains (millet, quinoa, buckwheat, rice, corn, etc.)?

                                                                                1. re: allieinbklyn

                                                                                  anson mills and blue bird farm -- google turns them both up

                                                                              2. Allen Brothers out of Chicago. Great prime meat!

                                                                                1. Wild salmon from seabear.com. (My dad sends me a bunch of fillets for Christmas and they are great. They come individually vaccum packed and frozen and are very easy to defrost and cook. I like the sockeye and King salmon best.)

                                                                                  Also, chocolate truffles from DeBrand's. I'm not obsessed with chocolate but the texture, flavor, and whole experience of these are swoon-inducing. Especially the macadamia nut.

                                                                                  http://www.debrand.com/chocolate_guid...