A childhood sense of excitement has been reinjected into the postman¡¯s arrival ¨C a glimmer of normality when everything else is awry. And the greatest outcome of that familiar thud on the doormat is a parcel you can unwrap and devour in seconds: a blissful morsel of brownie made on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales, or a box of souffl¨¦-like marshmallows that first became a hit on Portobello Road in London. Transport yourself to a balmy terrace in southern Italy with a delivery of fresh pasta, or a hidden tapas restaurant on a Spanish side street, with salty slithers of jam¨®n. Once you¡¯ve decided on your favourite, direct a package to a friend in need of a pick-me-up.
SWEETS IN THE POST
Succumb to all-day grazing and hark back to a time when your biggest worry was how many sweets you could buy with your pocket money, with a delivery of old-school sweets. Self-confessed sweet-addict Zoe Monteith started stuffing these smart boxes with her favourite sugar hits in 2016 when she was on the hunt for the perfect present for a friend. For a medley of treats you¡¯d forgotten existed, go for the retro mix (Nerds, Whams, Black Jacks, Rainbow Drops¡). Or indulge a sleep-deprived new mother with a specially curated box: pink for a girl (rhubarb and custards, foam mushrooms and pear drops) and blue for a boy (blue raspberry cubes, jelly dolphins and after-dinner mints).
From ¡ê12, sweetsinthepost.com
THE COCKTAIL MAN
When days are beginning to merge, the swiftest reminder that the weekend has begun might be a Champagne Cosmopolitan or a dark-chocolate Martini. The Cocktail Man ¨C real name James Vyse ¨C is a mixologist who turned down a job at The Shard in London to create cocktails that can be delivered through your letterbox. Sign up for the blueberry-and-lavender Martini, and enough Beefeater London Dry Gin and blueberry-and-lavender liqueur for four will arrive, with lavender sprigs to garnish and a recipe card easy enough for the most apprehensive of mixologists to follow.
From ¡ê28.95, thecocktailman.co.uk
When Rupert Holloway quit his job in property to start Dorset¡¯s first gin distillery, it¡¯s unlikely he would have imagined that six years down the line he¡¯d have shifted the operation to the production of hand sanitiser, with 70cl bottles available from the website for ¡ê9 each. Thankfully, Conker¡¯s selection of spirits can still be delivered as well ¨C whether it¡¯s the Dorset Dry Gin, Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur or the RNLI Navy Strength Gin (not for the faint-hearted). There¡¯s a big emphasis on celebrating the surrounding countryside; when Dorset¡¯s clifftops are ablaze with yellow gorse bushes in spring, the team are out picking the flowers to be vacuum packed and used in the distillation process throughout the year.
From ¡ê21 for 35cl of gin, conkerspirit.co.uk
Bow out of the race to get your hands on the last bag of dry fusilli in the supermarket by signing up for a delivery from the Pasta Evangelists. Made with doppio zero flour from Italy, fresh pasta arrives with each delivery, along with a sauce and garnish using Italian ingredients for you to put together at home in under 10 minutes. Dive into the prawn and chilli tortelloni with samphire and sage butter or the sausage rag¨´ from Sardinia with conchiglie yourself, and get a pasta care package filled with three recipes in the post as a surprise for a hungry relation in isolation.
From ¡ê6.75 for a portion, pastaevangelists.com
A delivery from The Marshmallowist will make you rethink this underdog of the sweet world. Having trained as a chocolatier in Paris, Oonagh Simms set about making marshmallows with a souffl¨¦-like texture to sell on her Portobello Road market stall in London. Fruit, organic herbs and boutique alcohol are used to create a menu that would make putting them in hot chocolate feel like sacrilege; creations include passionfruit and ginger, toasted coconut or cannabis and pink grapefruit. When things get tough, make a beeline for the boozy collection: raspberry and Champagne, spiced tomato and vodka or blueberry and gin.
From ¡ê7.50, themarshmallowist.com
THE CHEESE GEEK
The Cheese Geek¡¯s app has made cobbling together your perfect cheese board dangerously easy. There are stats on each cheese (age, weight, milk and strength) and a lengthy description, plus the option to track the cheeses you¡¯ve previously tried and perhaps add a jar of truffle honey or plum jam to your order. If that all sounds a bit clinical, go for the wildcard box, where a selection of seasonal cheeses, from the Lincolnshire Poacher to the creamy Tunworth, is chosen for you. When the memory of a candlelit wine bar is fading fast, go for The Clint box, which includes four wines to go with the four cheeses, paired by The Cheese Geek¡¯s in-house experts.
From ¡ê35 for a cheese box, thecheesegeek.com
Crosstown¡¯s savvy decision to deliver essential food boxes across the capital, with milk from The Estate Dairy, bread from Millers Bespoke Bakery and colourful arrays of fruit and veg, will ease any guilt at bagging yourself a tray of its doughnuts at the same time. Alternatively, cut to the chase and order a working from home box ¨C a selection of six handcrafted doughnuts to scoff at your desk. Since Crosstown launched on a market stall on Leather Lane in 2014, it has stopped Londoners in their tracks with its inventive flavours; try the camomile, pear and lemon olive oil creation, or perhaps the seasonal rhubarb, raspberry and ginger option.
From ¡ê49.95 for a collective food box, crosstowndoughnuts.com
ISLE OF SKYE FUDGE COMPANY
If a bite of Isle of Skye tablet can momentarily transport you to a windswept Hebridean beach, then every morsel should be treated like gold dust. Pans of the tablet first began bubbling on a domestic cooker in a utility room on the west coast of the island nearly 20 years ago, and each batch still uses lashings of Scottish butter, sugar and full-cream condensed milk. The result is that grainy kind of fudge, which is never quite the same when you head south of the border. If you can bear to part with it, it¡¯s the kind of present you wish someone had given you.
From ¡ê2.25 (¡ê15 minimum order), spanglefish.com/iosfudge
A Britain without a weakness for Spanish tapas is hard to imagine, but more than 30 years ago when Monika Linton launched Brindisa as a way of celebrating Spain¡¯s fare, she was something of a pioneer. With the help of its online shop, you can hunker down at home with a shoulder of Serrano ham to carve slithers off as you pass by, or fill your freezer with churros. Add Perell¨® gordal pitted olives, Gavi?o orange olive oil biscuits and La Chinata smoked paprika to your list and you¡¯ll put a whole different spin on ¡®store cupboard essentials¡¯.
From ¡ê91 for a Serrano ham leg, brindisa.com
THOMAS COOKIE CO
Thomas Redgrove was the kind of child who happily whiled away hours in the kitchen perfecting batches of brownies and biscuits, playing shops ¨C and flogging chocolate to his grandfather. So, deciding to make a living touring farmers¡¯ markets in Kent selling his artisan cookies (where on the first day of trading at Tonbridge Market six years ago he sold out in two hours) was no great departure. Now available online, the formula is simple with free range eggs, organic flour and British butter, plus all the best bits ¨C perhaps pistachios, dark chocolate and smoked sea salt, or just weighty slabs of white chocolate.
From ¡ê9.49 for a box of six, thomascookieco.co.uk
GOWER COTTAGE BROWNIES
Many people have strident opinions about what makes the perfect brownie, but you¡¯d be hard pressed to dispute mother of two Kate Jenkins¡¯s recipe. Her brownies first hit the shelves of her village shop in South Wales in 2007, and have since been boxed up and sent around the UK, racking up awards as they go. Jenkins has held firm to the same recipe for the past decade (which, like a form of wizardry, delivers that elusive crackly top). But there is a sufficient choice of different flavours ¨C from walnut to chocolate orange ¨C to legitimise multiple return visits.
From ¡ê17.99, gowercottagebrownies.co.uk
THE CORNISH FISHMONGER
Having grown up in the Cornish fishing village of St Mawes, for Rob Wing carving a niche as a fishmonger and merchant was inevitable. And thanks to a swift courier service and hardy packaging, fresh seafood can be delivered from his fishmonger to your door within 24 hours of ordering. Splash out on the fruits de mer selection ¨C with a whole cooked lobster, crab, steamed cockles or clams, cooked mussels, cooked king prawns and six live oysters. Or take a punt with a Cornish seafood selection box: a variety of 10 portions of fish and shellfish depending on what has landed that day.
From ¡ê38.95 for a fish box; cornishfishmonger.co.uk
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