Amazing handmade bonbons from one of the best chocolatiers in California. Three artisan cheeses at peak deliciousness delivered every month to your favorite fromage fan. A whole prosciutto made in Iowa from Kurobuta pigs raised there. These gifts would make any food lover swoon, but you won't find them in L.A.'s toniest gourmet shops -- they're only available online. We searched the Internet for the most enticing edible gifts around and turned up an irresistible selection.
We were surprised to find that e-commerce seems to have gotten stuck in the last century -- some of these sites require filling in forms and choosing passwords simply to begin shopping, or they're hard to navigate. (If you're looking for Floriano Turco chestnut honey from Italy on Formaggio Kitchen's site, don't try searching for "chestnut honey"; you'll have to enter "Floriano.") Still, everything arrived on time as promised, and as delectable as we hoped. And we didn't have to go to the Grove!
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday, November 29, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 27 words Type of Material: Correction
Gift guide: An article in Wednesday's Food section said a Murray's Cheese of the Month subscription included shipping. It does not; shipping costs depend on delivery location.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, December 05, 2007 Home Edition Food Part F Page 3 Features Desk 1 inches; 30 words Type of Material: Correction
Gift guide: An article in the Nov. 28 Food section said a Murray's Cheese of the Month subscription included shipping. It does not; shipping costs vary depending on delivery location.
How often does it pay to be lazy?
5-pound box of Medjool dates from Hadley Fruit Orchards. Who needs marrons glaces -- the French candied chestnuts, traditional for Christmas -- when you can get locally grown Medjool dates from Hadley? You know the place -- it's where you stop for date shakes on the way to Palm Springs. The crop this season is stellar, and these are plump, sweet, rich and velvety -- really like candy. And unlike marrons glaces, they don't cost an arm and a leg. $35.95 plus shipping for a 5-pound box at www.hadleyfruitorchards.com.
Murray's Cheese of the Month subscription. Cheesemonger Murray's Cheese in New York's Greenwich Village ships out three precisely handled half-pound cheeses on the second Wednesday of the month to cheese-of-the-month members (sometimes they're special selections not available to even the locals or chefs). January's shipment includes Petit Sorcier, a wheel of raw cow's milk cheese from producer-affineur Chaput, with a pungent rind and a line of ash running through the center; Jasper Hill Farm Constant Bliss, a raw Ayrshire cow's milk cheese; and "goaty gumdrops" of fresh Bijou from Vermont Butter & Cheese Co. Available at www.murrayscheese.com; four months, $200; six months, $300; 12 months, $550, includes shipping.
La Quercia Rossa prosciutto. Made by artisans Herb and Kathy Eckhouse in Norwalk, Iowa, this ham, made from Berkshire (also known as Kurobuta) pork has a wonderful, silky texture and a deep, rich flavor. Though you find it on the salumi platter at a few of L.A.'s top restaurants, you can't find it in stores (but you can find the company's prosciutto americano). The only way to get it is to order one from La Quercia's website. You have to buy a whole ham (6 to 8 pounds), but what a fantastic gift for someone who owns a meat slicer. $23.95 per pound, including two-day shipping within the continental United States; www.laquercia.us.
Frog Hollow Farms preserves. The tree-ripened fruit from Al Courchesne's 133 acres of peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, cherries, pluots and pears is turned into thick, luscious conserves, jellies, marmalades and chutneys. The apricot conserve is made from the Northern California farm's organic Goldensweet apricots. In the cherry conserve are whole pitted sweet cherries. The peach conserve is delicious smeared on a knob of bread, maybe with a little cultured butter, or even without it. Cherry, peach and apricot conserve three-pack, $22 plus shipping at www.froghollow.com.
Consorcio fish assortment. Darrell Corti, proprietor of Corti Bros. Grocers and Wine Merchants in Sacramento, has lately become the exclusive importer for Consorcio Espanol Conservo, producer of outstanding tuna conserves, such as ventresca de atun (tuna belly), entremes de bonito (a wonderful bonito pate) and bonito del norte (white tuna), as well as sardinillas (baby sardines) and terrific filetes de anchoa (anchovies). The website is fun to shop, offering an eclectic selection that includes guanciale (cured pork jowl), Oshima Island salt from Japan and Ting grapefruit soda. But it's pretty bare-bones. "If Darrell had his way, we'd be using abacuses here," says his personal assistant, Rick Mindermann. For instance, finding the way to order the Consorcio line is tricky: If you click on the home page box that says "tuna from Consorcio," you'll be led to believe you can't order it online. Instead, you have to click on the box on the left side of the home page that says "Corti Brothers Newsletter for September 2007 is now online." Scroll to the bit about Consorcio, and order from there. Ventresca de atun, $8.99 for a 112-gram tin, $24.95 for a 320-gram tin; entremes de bonito, $4.99 for a 115-gram tin; bonito del norte loins, $13.49 for an 8-ounce jar; sardinillas in olive oil, $2.99 for an 85-gram tin; filetes de anchoa, Seleccion Platino, $9.99 for a 50-gram tin. All plus shipping, at www.cortibros.biz.