This has been an incredibly busy autumn. The relative indolence of August feels like ages ago, coming back from vacation and feeling the luxury of time stretching ahead of me. In a matter of days, we were off to the races and then the months flashed by in a moment. Now December is almost upon us and I'm barely coming up for air. All good things, of course, but with the specter of Christmas staring back at me balefully, I'm already dreading the mad rush of the next few weeks.
Like many of you, I guess, I plan on relying on the internet to help me find gifts in time. I'm thrilled to report that I have two new sources for delicious and useful presents (the best combo, wouldn't you say?).
The first is Just Spices, a new German spice company that sells a fantastic selection of pure spices and herbs and other flavorings, as well as spice mixes, and a gorgeous assortment of equipment. (Tell me this: have you ever seen such a beautiful Gewürzmühle?) I was particularly thrilled to see that they sell things like celery seed, sumac, and curry leaves, which aren't always easy to find here. The packaging is stellar (and 100% recyclable), but I'm happy to say the products are too - high-quality, fragrant, thoughtfully combined. Their sets would make for a pretty great gift for the cook or baker in your life, not to mention things like this and the aforementioned spice grinder (hint hint, anyone who loves me!)
The second is the oddly named Ufuud, which specializes in high-quality Italian products sourced from all over the country. From salumi and cheeses to excellent olive oils, bronze-extruded pasta, chocolate from Modica in Sicily, preserved tomatoes and vegetables, handmade torrone and even ground buckwheat and corn for pasta and polenta, it's a food lover's dream.
I'm particularly gaga for things like the anchovy colatura from Menaica, the oregano from Pantelleria, these half-dried cherry tomatoes, sun-dried cherries in syrup, stoneground cornmeal and buckwheat for polenta and pancakes, and cinnamon-flavored chocolate from Bonajuto in Modica, Sicily. It's hard to think of someone who wouldn't be thrilled to get a little Ufuud care package at Christmastime.
*Both companies provided me with samples of their products, but the decision to write about them is mine alone, as is my enthusiasm!*