Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
It’s hardly humbug. There are those for whom the best Christmas present is a treat for the taste buds. There are also those whose best gift to themselves is avoiding the department store and post office gauntlet. For all these people, the way out is gift-shopping for seasonal delicacies by catalogue. Here’s a sampling of some established purveyors:
Some people would as soon send for a mail-order spouse as buy meat from a brochure. But if the Pfaelzer Gourmet Gift Catalogue offered mates, they would probably stock the likes of Jacqueline Bisset and Richard Gere. Pfaelzer’s Famous Steak Trio contains a dozen six-ounce filets mignons, six one-pound top butt sirloin steaks and six 10-ounce boneless rib eyes. You won’t want to drown these morsels in ketchup; the package, shipped in dry ice, costs $187.95 (4501 West District Boulevard, Chicago, Ill. 60632).
The Swiss Colony catalogue offers a Country Breakfast calculated to roust late sleepers no matter how full of St. Nick they were the night before. The contents include Swedish Pancake mix;½ pound of ham imported from Yugoslavia; small complements of Canadian-style and other varieties of bacon; Filbert Creme, a nutty, buttery spread; date nut bread; orange marmalade, strawberry preserves and orange blossom honey. The price: $19.95. For kiddies who bolt down Christmas breakfast while opening gifts, there is a toy that is edible too: a gingerbread house, right out of Hansel and Gretel, for $13.50. It stands approximately 8″ high on an 11″-by-8″ base and weighs 4½ pounds. The roof is blanketed with sugar snow. The icicles are frosting, and the trim and shrubbery are candy. There is no witch and no mortgage. A larger house, which is twice the weight, goes for $19.95 (11127th Ave., Monroe, Wis. 53566).
Figi’s Gifts in Good Taste features a Weekender hamper overflowing with delectables. It’s $39.95—but after the goodies are consumed, the basket lives on for further picnics. Less calorie-laden is Figi’s Fruit Trio: a crate of 27 Red Delicious apples, giant navel oranges and Cornice pears. This $21.95 gift is not available in Hawaii, where it is probably not needed, or Alaska, where it certainly is (Dairy Lane, Marshfield, Wis. 54404).
Neiman-Marcus, the store that made Dallas opulence famous long before the Ewings, offers foodstuffs as well as items such as his-and-her helicopters and raise-them-yourself ostriches. N-M will deliver, from the icy lochs of Scotland, a 2¼-pound side of smoked salmon, vacuum packed and ready to serve, for $100. Supply your own bagels (Box 2968, Dallas, Texas 75221).
Bloomingdale’s, known best for its clothes, house furnishings and singles-bar atmosphere, also offers yummies by mail. A Christmasy delight is a solid 12-ounce chocolate shaped like a split of champagne. The vintage milk or dark chocolate, which sells for $16, comes in a wooden box and is made by St. Moritz Chocolatier (Box 2052, F.D.R. Station, New York, N.Y. 10022).
Chocolate seems to be the flavor of the 1980 season. Adam York (340 Poplar St., Hanover, Pa. 17331) features a $25 gift certificate made of old-world-style milk chocolate. And Pennsylvania Station, at the same Hanover address, sells a gold-wrapped chocolate bone called the People Biscuit ($7). For serious chocoholics, Godiva, the Tiffany of chocolatiers, offers assortments that can be ordered direct. There’s the Scallop Shell, for instance, a praline center with hazelnuts and brittle surrounded by dark chocolate, or the Feather, a coffee-cognac cream center lurking amidst milk and dark chocolate coverings. Such imaginative creations don’t come cheap: $40 for the 1¼-pound gift box. Dear Boss: Godiva offers corporate discounts (701 Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y. 10022). For those interested in something to wash it all down, Marshall Field’s Gourmet Gifts offers a 26-ounce bottle of Bollinger Champagne, R.D. 1970, in a wooden gift box for $38.21 (Box 7199, Chicago, Ill. 60680). Cheers.
Houston’s Sakowitz department store features a $16.50 pecan cake made with dates, pineapple and cherries, plus a little batter to hold it all together (1111 Main St., Box 1431, Houston, Texas 77001).
Known for its Cheese Adventure—a cornucopia of 21 varieties, from American cheddar to Fromage de Coeur—the Wisconsin Cheeseman also stocks other comestibles. Below is a nine-pound smoked turkey which, with an assortment of 12 cheeses, runs $28.95 (Box 1, Madison, Wis. 53782).