Online shopping for love and comfort

I know, I know it is not the holidays, yet, but I am collapsing, I tell you, from sheer exhaustion.

See, I’ve spent weeks scouring stores and buying goodies for everyone around here, but there are still people hundreds of miles away to find treats for. And time is running out.

So I’m getting the last of the shopping done by using the best time-saving (and, to be fair, time-sucking) device around: The Internet. Below, I’ve listed some of the sites I’m hitting to get those last-minute gifts (like the vegan truffles, left) for far-away friends and family.

Vegan truffles and more
Dean and Deluca have been one of my tried and true places to shop for more years than I care to tell you about. This year, they are my go-to place for yummy gifts. Now, of course, you can always go for one of their wonderful totes (heaven knows, I do), such as the elegant Black & White Tote which has everything from licorice and cookies to cool bean mints (my absolute favorite), dark chocolate almonds, and espresso. But, if totes are not your thing, than how about truffles for your vegan friends? Yep, one of their new products this year are dairy-free (they use olive oil, instead) vegan truffles. What a great find!

Gourmet treats from Italy and Spain
I come back to igourmet, too. And the reason I do is because they have the most amazing selection of cheese and ingredients and gift baskets anywhere. Today, I’m looking at some ingredients so I can make my own gift basket for a change.

Two that immediately catch my eye are the Italian Carnaroli Rice which makes amazing risotto (doesn’t the thought of having this on a blustery winter day sound ideal?) and the Organic Manzanilla Olives from the south of Spain (who doesn't like a nice olive, I ask you?). Perfect.

I'll add some cheese with that, such as . . . well, you know, I should just let you go exploring. And I am sure you’ll enjoy it because they have the most incredible selection of cheeses I have ever seen.

Zing for the taste buds
I tend to shop at Zingerman’s for their sea salts and coffeecakes. Right now, I’m loaded with the first, but I can’t get away without the last because it is, bar none, the best coffeecake I have ever eaten. These days, the flavor of choice is the hot cocoa coffeecake. This is how good this coffee cake is: I have never, ever bought one and managed to actually given it away. Because regardless of the reason why I bought it in the first place, the cake manages to fall into my and my husband’s mouths!

But while I am there, I find a real treat: Fennel pollen. From Tuscany, this stuff is like anise on steroids and it is incredible sprinkled on salads and potatoes and all sorts of vegetables. What an amazing gift this will make for a foodie!