Web Resource: Zingerman's

Location: multiple locations and online

The images above are exactly why we love browsing the Zingerman's website. All of the products are illustrated in the store's characteristic, whimsical style. And aren't cheese illustrations so much cuter than actual cheese?

This online store (with an actual presence in Ann Arbor, Michigan) is a great resource for gourmet gifts, and with Father's Day around the corner, it's worth a look... Ordering food by mail is always iffy for us — especially when it comes to gifts. You never know if it actually tasted good, arrived intact, or was packaged nicely. We can recommend Zingerman's from firsthand experience (a certain father is a big fan of the coffee cake). It's not cheap, and you'll pay for quick shipping, but we trust the quality of the food.

The store has its own creamery, run by cheesemaker John Loomis, and Zingerman's label cheeses, but there are plenty of European cheeses for sale, too. You can also buy international cheese "passports," which include a sampling from one country.

The sweets section is full of interesting, off-the-beaten-path products (they sold Scharffen Berger cocoa long before the brand became so ubiquitous) like peanut butter chews and fleur de sel caramels from France.

If you have a little money to spend, Zingerman's excels at gift boxes. Right now, they are offering several Father's Day packages, including a Reuben Sandwich Kit and a Powered by Pork gift tote, which includes several varieties of bacon and a Mo's Bacon & Chocolate bar from Vosges.

One thing we're wary of is bread. Of course, we live near so many great bakeries and can also bake our own, so we're not exactly in the market for mail-order bread. But we still wonder how it would travel, even if shipped overnight. Anyone had experience buying Zingerman's bread by mail?

Related: Gift Idea: Bacon of the Month Club

(Images: Big Cheese, Strawberries with Balsamic, and Lemon Poppyseed Cake; all from Zingerman's)

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