If you've had a hankering for some good old Southern cooking or crave a seafood dish from New England and want the real thing, there is good news. Now all kinds of Web sites offer regional favorites to whet your appetite. Authors Michael and Jane Stern of Eat Your Way Across the U.S.A. guide you to some of these epicurean delights.
Mid-Atlantic: New York
New York Breakfast: H&H Bagels in New York City. One dozen assorted bagels with a choice of two cream cheeses and Nova Scotia salmon (lox). Serves four to six.
Taste: It's a classic New York breakfast, authentic and fresh - in fact, as close to hot as you can get for overnight shipping. Even the FedEx driver inquired about the wonderful smell, saying it was driving her crazy. Also the proportion of cream cheese and lox to bagels was nearly perfect.
Preparation: None. You only need a knife to cut the bagels and spread the cream cheese.
Delivery: Overnight via FedEx, arriving between 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m.
Price: $34 plus $21 for shipping and handling, for a total cost of $55.
Web Site: www.hheastbagels.com
New England: Maine
Lobster Bake (Down East Feast): The Lobster Net Co. Two hard-shell Maine lobsters (1 1/4 - 1 1/2 lbs.), clam chowder, steamers, corn on the cob or Maine potatoes with butter and lemon. Also includes pot, shell crackers, forks, bibs and place mats. Serves two.
Taste: This is a true Yankee shore dinner so fresh they send live lobsters. It's like going to the seafood market.
Preparation: Twenty to 30 minutes to cook. All you need to do is boil water. Includes exact and specific directions, even how to crack the shells.
Delivery: Overnight. Must cook and eat the day of delivery.
Price: At $95, this is expensive, but the cost includes shipping. It's crazy to spend the money if you live in New England. But if you're in Omaha or Nebraska, you might want to splurge.
Web Ste: www.thelobsternet.com
www.fultonstreet.com is a similar service in New York City.
Deep South: Louisiana
Cajun: Deanie's Seafood in Metarie, La. Seafood gumbo with marinated crab salad and marinated olive salad. Serves two.
Taste: Very exotic Cajun/Creole cooking. This is something you can't get outside of southern Louisiana. It's so authentic that it might be more enjoyable for those already very familiar with this kind of cuisine. The olive salad is very strong and luscious with a powerful garlic taste. The crab paws in the crab salad are bit hard to open and no cracking utensils are included.
Preparation: Heat the gumbo.
Delivery: Overnight delivery via FedEx is extremely expensive. Also leakage occurred from all the plastic containers.
Price: Shipping and handling cost almost three times as much as the food. $21 plus $59, for a cost of $80.
Web Site: www.deanies.com
Southern Barbecue: New Braunfels Smokehouse of Texas. This Texas fixing's meal includes smoked beef brisket, four pork and beef sausages, two sides of baby back ribs and barbecue sauce.
Preparation: Fully cooked vacuum-packed and shipped frozen. But usually the meat arrives thawed. If there's no defrosting required, just heat up.
Delivery: Two days via UPS, or overnight. (It did not arrive for a scheduled Tuesday delivery.)
Price: $37 plus $7, for a total cost of $42.
Web Site: www.nbsmokehouse.com
Deep-dish pizza: Edwardo's of Chicago, Ill. Nine-inch stuffed spinach pizza. Serves two.
Taste: It has a creamy richness unlike flat pizzas. Franchises or chains have tried to recreate this pizza, without netting the Chicago character. And don't let the small size deceive you; it's very rich and substantial.
Preparation: Heat frozen pizza for 40 to 45 minutes. (Fortunately pizza freezes well.)
Delivery: Two- to three-day standard delivery with A.I.T. or overnight.
Price: $20 plus $15 for shipping, for a total of $35.
Web Site: www.featuredfoods.com
West Coast: California
Contemporary California Cuisine: Cook Express of San Francisco, Calif. Offers five different meal-kit entrees such as Asian salmon, filet mignon, mustard-glazed chicken, pan-roasted halibut, and roasted duck. The menu changes every month. Serves two and up.
Taste: Ready-to-go delicious sophisticated meals that you would expect to get at a high-priced restaurant. Includes saucs and garnishes. (Steak and halibut were the ones we ordered.)
Preparation: This is cooking for dummies. All the hard work has already been done as if you had your own prep chef. It takes 30 minutes to cook and heat up. Assumes nothing and includes very-detailed instructions.
Delivery: Overnight via FedEx. Orders are taken Monday through Thursday by 12 p.m. EST for next-day delivery. Includes a time/temperature gauge to ensure your meal kit is safe to cook and eat.
Price: Very reasonable. Entrees for two run $19 to $30 plus $12.95 for shipping. The average entree for two costs $25 plus $13, for a total of $38.
Web Site: www.cookexpress.com
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