Online food shopping seems, to me, a difficult area to investigate. I was searching for Hungarian Paprika the week before last (thanks for the obsession, Diana Henry) and I was quite surprised to find that the results were mainly for small, amateur-looking spice sites and there wasn't one of the big-bucks, well-designed, user-friendly ecommerce sites that you'd usually get for every other kind of shopping. Perhaps online food shopping isn't such big business yet?
Of course, just so's you don't think I am an eco monster, I buy into the whole farm-shop-local-economy-food-miles-carbon-footprint-yada-yada message. I get it. I buy in. I'm tired of all the trendies talking about it. I'm just saying.
But you can't get Hungarian paprika at my local barn shop. (You can get ostrich feather dusters, but that's a whole nother story.) And I can't get special schnapps or coffee syrups or gold dust for fairy cakes. Or jam jars, baking tins or retriever-shaped cookie cutters. (I live in a village with two shops, you know.) Hence the occasional online forays.
The Spice Shop
This is one of those sites that came up in my search for Paprika. I dismissed it at first: poor design, no pictures, no supporting copy, and (later) nonexistent customer communications. However. This website is the online presence for The Spice Shop in Notting Hill, where renowned spicy lady Birgit blends and dispenses hundreds of interesting spices and mixtures for posh foofdies like Nigella and Jamie. Once I heard this, I had to give it a go. 15 days later, I'm still waiting for my parcel, but I'll keep you updated.
The Drink Shop
This is a more slick site with lovely moreish Monin syrups and a frighteningly enormous range of whisky (close eyes amd point at screen, best method). Delivery charges are a bit hefty (because they charge you what it costs, instead of a nice friendly flat rate) but service is personal and I've had a good experience with these guys. And I'm back for more Monin soon - our Toffee Nut has run out!
Very poor navigability on this site and small pictures, but once you get past the user issues, it's got an overwhelming stock of sugarcraft supplies. Actually though, since I only wanted the gold lustre, I wound up researching at Jane Asher and then ordering from eBay - kinder delivery rates for just the one little tube.
Think I'll bookmark this post and add to it in the future. If anyone has used any other food sites, and can recommend them, I'd really love to hear from you.