- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 7, 2004

You can never give too many tempting sweets or savories during the holiday season. The treats you’d never buy for yourself because they’re an indulgence make perfect presents for the special people in your life.

When someone says, “Oh, you shouldn’t have,” they really mean, “I can’t wait to try it.”

Although you can find ample gift inspiration at your local gourmet shop, you’ll also enjoy unearthing a rare ingredient or luscious edible that’s seldom available on food shelves. Thanks to the Internet, the hunt for the appropriate morsel is easier than ever. Most purveyors have Web sites you can browse for the product of your choice.

Here are some of the gems I recommend for giving and for getting. Prices exclude tax and shipping costs and may change with availability.

Heavenly Toffee Cookies from Goodness Gracie Inc. are every bit as scrumptious as the name suggests. Imagine crisp roasted pecans run through an intense butter-cookie dough, and you begin to get the idea. The cookies, which are flat and rectangular like crackers, come in tins or stand-up bags. The Wilmington, N.C., company also sells salted pecans. A 24-ounce tin of toffee cookies sells for $29.75; a 6-ounce tin goes for $9.75. A 16-ounce tin of salted pecans is priced at $23.50. For information or to order, visit www.goodnessgracie.com or call 910/792-0800.

Ginger Wasabi Sauce from the Robert Rothschild Farm has been racking up awards in professional food competitions, and no wonder. The combination of hot and sweet flavors is irresistible served with smoked salmon or brushed on pork tenderloin. A 9.8-ounce jar sells for $6.89.

The Urbana, Ohio, company also offers a Favorites From the Farm basket assortment including Raspberry Honey Mustard Pretzel Dip, Red Raspberry Preserves, Hot Pepper Peach Preserves, Raspberry Salsa, Onion Blossom Horseradish Dip, Southwest Dip, Raspberry Wasabi Dipping Mustard, Raspberry Dressing, Roasted Portabella and Roma Tomato Spicy Pasta Sauce, Chocolate Mint Dessert Sauce and Dip, as well as one bag each of Gourmet Dipping Sticks, Chocolate Dipping Pretzels and Honey Cinnamon Dipping Pretzels. The price is $79.99. For information or to order, visit www.robertrothschild.com or call 937/653-7397 or 800/356-8933.

The line of Octavia Tea products, with such flavors as Pineapple Bliss and Tropical Garden, is so fragrant and enticing you’ll feel the tea’s soothing effects even before you brew a cup. The Jasmine Pearl flavor is perfumed with night-blooming jasmine and the Orange Flower with jasmine and lavender. The tea is packaged in attractive tins that yield about 50 servings and sell for about $10 to $13, depending on the variety. You can also buy a set of four small tins of varied teas for $25.50 from the Batavia, Ill., company. For information or to order, visit www.octaviatea.com or call 866/506-6387.

Terry’s Toffee may change the way you think about this old-fashioned confection. With such flavors as Peppermint Pistachio Crunch, Cran-Orange Passion and Lemon Paradise, this is not the toffee you had as a child. The sophisticated and delightful made-in-Chicago candy is available starting at $12.95 for an 8-ounce package. Prices vary according to packaging options, as well. For more information or to order, visit www.terrystoffee.com or call 773/728-5228.

Fran’s Shaved Chocolate, from the famous Seattle chocolatier, is a rich combination of dark chocolate, sugar and vanilla. An 8.5-ounce container sells for $12.99. For more information or to order, visit www.franschocolates.com or call 800/422-FRAN.

Eric Girerd, a chocolate maker in New York City, is renowned for his boxed chocolates, which Chefshop.com sells. But Mr. Girerd also makes an exquisite drinking chocolate. It comes in a 16-ounce bag for $19.99. For more information or to order, visit www.chefshop.com or call 877/337-2491.

American Kobe Beef, as tender and succulent as you might imagine, is available from Snake River Farms in Boise, Idaho. The cattle are fed a diet of barley, alfalfa and Idaho potatoes. Cuts include American Kobe Beef filet mignon at 4 6-ounce portions for $199.98 or American Kobe Beef rib-eye steaks at 4 10-ounce portions for $134.98. For more information or to order, visit www.snakeriverfarms.com or call 800/657-6305.

Perini Ranch Mesquite Peppered Beef Tenderloin is just the thing for food-loving friends who don’t cook. The meat is fully cooked, vacuum-sealed and flash frozen before sending. The Texas beef sells through Sally’s Place, an online food community, for $88 for a 2- to 21/2-pound portion. Visit www.sallys-place.com/food.htm. Click on Chef’s Corner Menu and follow the link to Products Sally Recommends for more information. The beef can also be purchased through the Perini Ranch Web site, www.periniranch.com, or by calling 325/572-3339.

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