Last week I got an email from the Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese company in California. I didn’t even know I was on their list. They were offering free shipping of their award-winning artisanal cheese made on the Northern California coast near Petaluma.
On a whim I sent their Farm Fresh gift box of cheese ($45) to both of our children and their families. We miss regular visits to our daughter and her family in Southington. They’re home, wrangling three little ones while keeping up with professional obligations. I thought some cheese might bring some cheer to the grownups. They’ll have to supply their own wine.
We don’t get to see our son and his family in suburban Los Angeles on a regular basis, but I knew that they’d get a kick out of the cheese too. It was an impulsive reaching out on my part in a time when we all feel a little confined, restricted and lonely for loved ones.
Some food producers are connecting directly with consumers as their orders through regular retail channels have slowed. With discounts, free shipping, or special packages, they’re all trying to drum up some business in these unprecedented times. The Point Reyes offer was the first to catch my attention, but there have been many since.
Sending some food or drink (more about drink in a minute) is a kind of long distance hug — a little bit of serendipity in an otherwise stressful world. The gift will be an unexpected and welcome treat.
Jasper Hill Farm makes and ages a wide range of award-winning cheeses while supporting the economy and traditional farms of Vermont’s northeast kingdom. They’re kicking in a half pound of their sought-after Cabot Clothbound Cheddar (normally $15) on gift box orders during the current food-chain disruption. With already reasonable shipping costs and lots of gift box choices you’ll find something that will please your loved ones. The Hunker Down ($84) includes three New England cheddars, brewers crackers, and a good book on cheddar for relaxing reading. It ships for free.
Not all California entrepreneurs are focused on high tech. Alejandro Velez and Nikhil Arora have dug into indoor organic gardening kits to grow mushrooms, herbs, and microgreens. Family friendly, the indoor gardening gear is both an educational experience for kids who learn how food is grown, and a taste sensation, when the family sits down to dinner. Back to the Roots is giving a 20% discount on home kits for now.
Easter will be an at-home holiday this year. Nodine’s Smokehouse in Goshen, Connecticut will be happy
to supply genuine hardwood-smoked hams, bacon and sausages for an Easter brunch or dinner at home. Send some to friends and family, order up some for home, and then share a meal by Zoom or Skype on the day.
The Bloom family at Copps Island Oysters is ready to stock you up on fresh, local oysters, clams, and lobsters. Call 203-866-7546 to order and then pick up curbside at their Norwalk dock. Or order online at coppsislandoysters.com to have a few bivalves or an entire shore dinner sent. On their website, there are step by step instructions for shucking. By the end of your first dozen, you’ll be in-the-know. Open a crisp white wine for a memorable meal.
Speaking of wine, now is a good time to order wine from small wineries not stocked in Connecticut. The west coast has loads of top-notch wineries that are not big enough to have national distribution and frequently skip our small state. The shipping cost of heavy bottles of wine from the west coast is normally pretty steep. But, for now, some wineries are offering free shipping and maybe even a discount on the wines.
With their Buellton, CA tasting room closed, Brian and Kimberly Loring of the Loring Wine Company are offering free shipping and a 30% discount on their highly-rated single-vineyard pinot noirs. You’ll need to sign up for their mailing list, but it’s worth it. To keep our spirits up, I picked up a few bottles of their Santa Barbara County, 90 point, Cooper Jaxon bottling. It arrived just in time last Saturday to accompany our paella for two from the Basso Cafe.
A word of warning: delivery companies and some shippers are unusually busy right now. Allow plenty of time for your order to arrive.
Zoom has become a popular tool for people working at home to meet with colleagues and keep the ball rolling, but it can keep us connected socially too. Last week we shared dinner with friends in Westchester. Normally we meet at a restaurant, but this time we each prepared our own dinner and then visited over the internet while we all ate at home. Socially distanced, but still connected. It was surprisingly satisfying. The only thing missing was a taste of their dinner.
We’re all exploring new ways to stay connected. Food is still the thing that can bring us together, just in new ways. Send a food hug, maybe a libation too, and then share the experience.
Frank Whitman can be reached at NotBreadAloneFW@gmail.com.