I love online shopping. It has saved my life. I order my shoes from Zappos and Endless, gleefully trying them on and returning them. I live for subscribe and save at Amazon and Toys ‘R’ Us for birthdays and I get my groceries delivered from Peapod, a newly acquired passion. (I spent the last 7 years as a FreshDirect groupie, but recently discovered that Peapod takes coupons and get this, they even double them. Heaven.) Yes, I love my online shopping. I can have three pairs of boots and a case of coconut water on its way before my household has even gotten out of bed. So of course I had to try Gilt Taste, the new online shopping site for foodies.
Gilt Taste was introduced a few months back as the place to shop for all your fantastical foodie needs. It’s headed up with an amazing team including Ruth Reichl and has contributors the likes of Melissa Clark, Francis Lam, John Besh, Laurent Gras and Michael Laiskonis. A lot of care seems to have been taken in acquiring a selection of extremely high quality products. There are Liddabit Sweets caramels, Lady M cakes, John and Kira chocolates and Payard Macarons, just to name a few items available. I have been scanning the site since it launched, anxiously waiting for something that even a jaded, New York, food snob such as me would be taken with and finally it appeared about two weeks ago. The Emporio Rulli, Galla Rulli line, Chocolate Panettone with Orange Peel. One look at the photo and I couldn’t resist, it was a beauty of the traditional Christmas delight filled with Domori chocolate, Italian candied orange and California’s Petaluma Creamery butter. According to the site it was developed in partnership with an AMPI (Accademia Maestri Pasticceri Italiani) member, Fabrizio Galla, a world champion chocolate master from Torino, Italy. I love panettone. Sorry, because I mean, I looooooooove it. I wait patiently for the holiday season to approach each year so I can go out and buy as many different kinds as I can find and taste test them all. Yes I know I seem to love lots of things but heck, I’ve definitely picked the right career — one that I have definite passion for: culinary.
Anyway, I would like to take a moment to comment on Gilt Taste itself and its customer service. As Gilt Taste clearly states on their website they are still in Beta testing and let me just say, they definitely are. Before placing my order I called to inquire about the ingredients because I have a few allergies. They could not help me other than to give me the phone number to Rulli and suggest I call them. I have a real issue with a website specifically designed to sell food, not being able to provide a list of ingredients if not on the site itself then at least available by inquiry. I did call Rulli and all was well, so off I went and placed my order. As I clicked through the invoice specifically stated that my order would be delivered between September 13 and 14 with two-day shipping. It also stated that my item was highly perishable and should be eaten or frozen within two days. So behold my surprise when a few days later I received a shipping notice stating my item was shipped and would arrive on September 9. Now, luckily I was in town and this didn’t present any sort of issue for me but I can’t believe they would ship highly perishable food regardless of their given timelines. So I contacted their customer service department to let them know that although I was fine with the delivery I was surprised by both of these issues given the nature of their business. I received a pleasant and prompt response agreeing with my complaints but nothing more.
In their defense, I read a few reviews stating that their prices were higher than buying directly. I did a little research, and yes their base prices were higher by a few dollars, however their special $5.95 two-day shipping more than compensated for the price difference.
Now, on to the panettone itself. It arrived looking as luscious and beauteous as pictured. The candied orange inside was nice quality and lovely, while the chocolate chunks were yummy, but overall I was not $63-including-shipping-but-not-tax thrilled. The price probably puts it up there with the most expensive ever, including the lovely one with candied chestnuts that Williams Sonoma imports each year and the fantastic homemade one from Sullivan Street Bakery. Most importantly, to me and a few other panettone lovers that I shared it with, all agreed, it lacked that sweet, richness you expect in a panettone. It was more of a chocolate bread. While it was a nice chocolate bread, it didn’t deliver as a panettone and more importantly it didn’t establish a connection between the product and my sixty three dollars. So Sullivan Street Bakery take note, I’m calling out to you to work it out and make me my chocolate panettone for Christmas this year. I’ll take two.