Still trying to find a little something to buy your Aunt Matilda in Florida and afraid it will arrive after Christmas?
No need to pout or shout. Why? These days sending a gift basket at the last minute is as easy as calling the florist to wire flowers.
The answer is Telefood, a Maine company that has set up a network of 932 retailers covering 1,300 cities in 44 states as well as Jamaica, Australia, Canada, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Depending on the retailer, the basket can include a variety of items -- from gourmet food and wine to flowers. Call or visit a participating retailer in your city and place your order, which will be delivered in as little as 24 hours. The minimum charge is listed by each retailer.
"It isn't like FTD where you can go into a catalog and select something from a picture," says Brian Perkins, Telefood director. "Instead, you can tell the retailer approximately what you want and how much you would like to pay."
In Maryland, 28 retailers are in the program, including: Executive Sweet; Fox Schwartz in Timonium; Gordon Florist and Gourmet; Morton's; and the Flower Cart. A directory of participating retailers is available for $49.95.
To order the directory or for more information, call (800) 441-6982.
What if your gift recipient loves gourmet food but is on a restricted diet?
A Rockville firm has the answer with Healthfully Yours, gourmet gift baskets geared for people who have to watch what they eat because of heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes.
The baskets include a select line of gourmet gifts featuring cholesterol-free culinary delights from around the world with little or no salt, sugar or fat. For example, the Brunch Bunch basket includes Belgian waffle mix, fruit syrup and French conserves, and the Dinner Set includes herb pastas, sun-dried tomatoes, sparkling apple cider and fudge sauce.
"We customize baskets to meet special dietary needs and individual tastes," according to co-founders Bonnie Belkin and Robin Brenner. "Our baskets are also ideal for anyone interested in good nutrition."
Healthfully Yours offers nationwide delivery. Baskets start at $32. Call (301) 340-7607.
Hersh's offers an Italian special
That's Italian! From minestrone to spumoni, Hersh's Orchard Inn is offering a new Sunday Night Italian Special -- a four-course meal for $17.95. After a first course of soup, followed by an Italian salad, diners can chose from a variety of specialties, ranging from Chicken Hunter (a breast of chicken sauteed with garlic, fresh diced tomatoes, sherry wine and a brown sauce) to old favorites like baked lasagna and shrimp parmigiana. Dessert is spumoni or tortoni ice cream and coffee or tea.
For more information, call (410) 823-0384.
Packet offers tips for reducing fat intake
If you are promising yourself you will reduce fat and fat intake despite the temptations of the holiday season, Harbor Hospital Center is offering some free help.
Call the Community Relations Department of the hospital at (410) 347-3445 for a packet of free holiday eating tips and recipes that have been recommended by the hospital nutritional and cardiac specialists.
The Tidbits column welcomes interesting nuggets of food news -- new products, food-related news events, local cookbooks, great mail order finds, openings and closings of restaurants and food shops. Please send press releases to Tidbits, Attn: Charlyne Varkonyi, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.