Here come the holidays. Do you really want to spend time wandering around malls, carrying packages, struggling with strapping tape and standing in line at the post office? Of course not. You could take the easy way out and do all your shopping by mail. Almost anything from the following catalogs would make a food fan very happy.
When ordering from a company for the first time:
--Make certain they will give a full refund or exchange if you're not happy. Remember: the shipper is responsible for lost or damaged items.
--Fill out order forms clearly and carefully, and keep a copy for your records. When placing a telephone order, get the name of the person taking the order. Many mail order companies accept credit cards, providing a little leverage if there is a dispute.
--Find out how long it will take for orders to reach their destination and if delivery dates are guaranteed. For perishables, ask that the packages be marked to ensure proper handling once they reach their destination.
Austin Street Market, 2296 Senter Road, P.O. Box 4758, San Jose, Calif. 95150-4758; (800) 527-7654--a cornucopia of foods from microwave meals to giant artcihokes, whole suckling pigs . . . and Spam.
Blue Crab Bay Company, Inc., 57 Market St., Onancock, Va. 23417; (804) 787-3602--specialty foods and gifts from the Chesapeake Bay including salt free seasonings, clams and condiments, available singly or in gift packs.
Catalog of Supplies for Cheese Making, 85 Main St., Ashfield, Md. 01330; (413) 628-4061--everything you need to make cheese at home, including hard-to-find cheeses such as mascarpone and chevres.
Desserts by David Glass, 140-150 Huyshope Avenue, Hartford, Conn. 06160; (800) DAVID-99--cakes and chocolate mousse balls for all occasion.
Grafton Village Apple Co., Inc., R.R. 3, Box 236D, Grafton, Vt. 05146-8905; (800) 843-4822. More than 100 locally produced Vermont foods such as maple syrup, Cheddar cheese and McIntosh apples.
The Great Southwest Cuisine Catalog, 630 W. San Francisco, Sante Fe, N.M. 87501; (800) 872-8787. Green chile bread, smoked jalapeno marinade and other hot stuff; delicacies such as apple-cinnamon tortillas; also mainstream Mexican foods.
Jyoti--Cuisine India, 816 Newtown Road, P.O. Box 516, Berwyn, Penn. 19312; (215) 296-4620--a complete line of prepared Indian style foods, sauces for fresh curries, basmati rice, and a nice selection of spices, grains, chutneys and cookbooks.
Kitchen Krafts, P.O. Box 805, Mt. Laurel, N.J. 08054-0805; (800) 776-0575--32 pages of food crafting equipment and supplies for home candy making, baking, cake decorating and food preservation.
Omaha Steaks International, 4400 S. 96th St., P.O. Box 3300, Omaha, Neb. 68103; (800) 228-9055--meat by mail includes finest cuts of corn-fed Midwestern beef along with lamb, veal seafood and poultry.
Martinez Fine Coffees, 3230A Peachtree Road, NE, Atlanta, Ga. 30305; (800) 642-5282--fancy packaged premium estate coffee, Melrose's teas and condiments.
Mission Orchards, 2296 Senter Road, P.O. Box 6947, San Jose, Calif. 95150-6947; (800) 526-0900--crown comice pears, fruit baskets, sacher torte, strudel and dried fruits.
Red Cooper, Route 3, Box 10, Alamo, Tex. 78516; (800) 876-4733--ruby red grapefruits, avocados, supersweet onions, Asian pears and monthly fruit clubs.
River Bend Organic Farm, 2363 Tucker Road, Hood River, Ore. 97031; (503) 386-8766--a variety of apples and pears from the Hood River Valley of Oregon.
Santa Barbara Olive Company, Inc., 1661 Mission Drive, Solvang, Calif. 93463; (805) 688-9917--these olive specialists carry more than 30 varieties--plain, herbed, spiced and stuffed, by the case or in gift packs.
S. E. Rykoff, P.O. Box 5038, San Jose, Calif. 95150; (800) 527-4720--gourmet goodies to stock your pantry including pasta samplers; picnic packs; sour dough bread; chiles and confections.
Smithfield Ham Catalog, P.O. Box 447, Smithfield, Va. 23430; (800) 444-9180--Smithfield hams, smoked turkeys, sausages and bacon.
Stone Hill Farm, P.O. Box 158, Schwenksville, Penn. 19473; (215) 287-7655--natural jams and fruit butters from Pennsylvania's Amish country.
Summerfield Farm, HCR 4, Box 195A, Brightwood, Va. 22715; (703) 948-3100--free-range milk-fed veal, spring lamb, fresh morels and shiitake mushrooms, and veal stock, from the farm to your home.
Timbercrest Farms, 4791 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, Calif. 95448; (707) 433-8251--specialists in organically growing, drying and packaging dried fruits and nuts . . . tomatoes, peaches, cherries . . . even star fruit.
Wylie Hill Farm, P.O. Box 35, Craftsbury Common, Vt. 05827; (802) 586-2887--free-range pheasant, quail and chukar partridge, quail eggs and pheasant pate.