A visit to the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters Web site is a surefire way to acquire a new addiction. An encyclopedic resource with information on the history, literature, procurement, preparation and consumption of food, this site makes you never want to leave your computer again. The online forums can help you find the best muskox burger in the Canadian Arctic, or suggest which spice shops in central Sri Lanka carry the best local cinnamon. Members share stories of home projects undertaken with obsessive devotion, inquire about esoteric escapades in pastry and baking, and brainstorm in regional forums about food-related events. Play with intrepid home cooks, authors and celebrity chefs while discussing Top Chef, kitchen remodels and homebrewing. Membership is free—so join already!
Stop here for a treasure trove of peerless, individually sought-out imported foods, described in tempting detail. Find the world’s greatest olive oils and nut oils, aged vinegars in every price range, the incomparable RJ’s Natural Licorice (the be all and end all of black licorice, according to the converted) and just about everything else for the serious cook’s pantry. This is where to buy what you can’t get in stores: artisanal pastas, June Taylor preserves and hard-to-find spices like grains of paradise. When the new harvest olive oils are ready, get them here, at excellent prices; Pianogrillo is a perennial favorite.
Epicurious.com is indispensable to many home cooks; it contains a library of recipes from back issues of Bon Appetit and Gourmet. Saveur, however, is my preferred contender in that category of publication. An added perk to the superb recipes is that every time I look one up, I learn something new. The recipe index on the Web site provides endless inspiration, but don’t overlook saveur.com’s other offerings; the current issue, for example, features eight special recipes for margaritas—all are available online.