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Amazing Online Specialty Food Stores

Traditional American grocery stores have evolved and are presently better than ever. As you walk the isles of your neighbourhood grocery store you will notice several speciality items that were not there before like artisanal flour, premium truffle sauce, and even fresh turmeric. Selections have become more sophisticated, but specialty purveyors are still needed for certain ingredients - just now its no longer truffle, tumeric, or ginger (thank goodness). Luckily, our digitally connected world has given life to specialty food suppliers as the demand has proven prominent. Online Grocers have one goal and it is to bring you premium and obscure cooking ingredients that can not be popularly found anywhere else. Read on below for 10 impressive online specialty food stores that stock the latest and greatest products like Afghan Saffron, Carolina Grits, and Sichuan Peppercorns.

#1 The Mala Market

'Mala' directly translates to 'spicy' which happens to be one of the main characteristics of Sichuan cuisine. The Mala Market comes highly recommended when searching for Sichuan ingredients like premium-grade Sichuan Peppercorns, an essential ingredients for Mapo tofu. This specialty food store got its start through a food blog titled, The Mala Project by Taylor Holliday, an ex Wall Street Journal editor who wanted to learn to cook Sichuan dishes for her adopted daughter from China. Today, The Mala Market is best known for its intense and citrusy Sichuan Peppercorns in both red (hua jiao) and green (qing hua jiao). However, we recommend checking out the Pixian Chili Bean Paste (doubanjiang) for twice-cooked pork and the preserved Mustard Stem (yibin suimiyacai) for dan dan noodles.

#2 Gustiamo

Gustiamo is a small Italian importer from the Bronx borough of New York. Established in 1999 by Beatrice Ughhi, Gustiamo is heavily focused on sourcing its specialty products from producers who meticulously harvest their ingredients, such as Nettuno's and their Colatura Di Alici (fish sauce). This italian fish sauce is made on the Amalfi Coast in the fishing village of Cetara by pressing freshly caught anchovies with pure sea salt and later aging them within chestnut wood barrels. In addition to their one of a kind fish sauce, we highly recommend trying the Sultana (dried chickpeas from Umbria), flavored olive oils, and jarred Bottarga.

#3 Rumi

Rumi was launched by three U.S. military veterans after they discovered what is considered to be the 'best saffron in the world' while deployed in Afghanistan. Grown in the province of Herat, Rumi's saffron is one of a kind and offers chef's earthy and floral notes free of red food coloring. Thus, if you are looking to purchase saffron, the world's 'most expensive spice' you may as well be spending your hard earned cash at Rumi's where you know you will receive a quality product.

#4 Geechie Boy Mill

Geechie Boy Mill found in South Carolina is your answer to everything grits. Whether you are looking for small batch white & yellow grits, benne seeds, or Sea Island red peas, Betsy and Greg Johnsman have what you are looking for. In 1945 Greg restored a grist mill which began the family's grits obsession. Since then, their family farm has added four more mills to grind grits as well as flour and cornmeal to order. Currently, Geechie Boy Mill offers six different types of grits including white, yellow, blue, speckles, Jimmy Red, and Guinea Flint (very rare) .

#5 Gold Mine Natural Food Co.

Gold Mine Natural Food Co. is a macrobiotic foods supplier that offers a large range of premium Japanese ingredients. Regarded as pure and artisanal, Gold Mine Natural Food Co. prides itself on sourcing products without harsh additives, like their one of a kind Umeboshi (pickled plums) by the Oshawa brand which is all organic, grown in volcanic soil and only contains plums, sea salt, and shiso. While their products may be pricey, Gold Mine Natural Foods Co. only provides the absolute best quality that money can buy. We recommend checking out their Oshawa Yamaki Soy Sauce and Ohsawa Yamaki Miso.

#6 Reluctant Trading Experiment

Reluctant Trading got its start from selling hand-picked, high quality Tellicherry peppercorns. Many cooks and chefs around the world took notice of the companies unique flavorings and thus Reluctant Trading as a whole began to flourish. Their standout products include coarse Icelandic sea salt, premium grade turmeric, black cardamom pods, and crowd favorite chai. We also insist that you check out their range of beautifully designed Swedish Pepper Mills cultivated from walnut wood and porcelain.

#7 Muddy Pond Sorghum

Coming to you from the hills of Monterey, Tennessee, Muddy Pond Sorghum is a family run business of pressing sorghum cane to create a full bodied, tangy-sweet syrup. The family's exact cane pressing method includes boiling the juices over an open wood-fire to steam and reduce into this lovely and thick sorghum syrup. This product is truly one of a kind and chefs simply adore it. Traditionally, the syrup is poured over pancakes, waffles, and biscuits but we recommend adding it to pecan pie or roasted chicken.

#8 Masienda

Masienda is a Mexican food importer with a goal of infiltrating the industrial corn market with an heirloom alternative. Jorge Gaviria is the founder of Masienda and is extremely passionate about the company's mission as he only sources from farmers who produce their heirloom beans and corn in the traditional MesoAmerican 'Milpa' way of planting/harvesting. This planting/harvesting method calls for each new crop of beans, corn, and squash to be rotated on the land presenting new soil to every batch. We recommend trying the masa tortillas made from Oaxaca black beans which are truly divine.

#9 Mountain Rose Herbs

Regarded as a savior for obscure organic flavorings, Mountain Rose Herbs is an Oregon based supplier offering over two hundred different types of spices and herbs! The founders of Mountain Rose Herbs are herbalists native to California whom have made it their life's journey to bring chefs, cooks, and bakers the rarest ingredients they seek. Many have reported feeling like a kid in a candy story when they check out the company's spice and herb selection including everything from bitter orange peel to dried bilberry. Along with their wonderful line of spices and herbs, Mountain Rose Herbs offers seeds, clays, seaweeds, cosmetic oils, and burnables.

#10 Belazu Ingredient Co.

One would never guess that only twenty five years ago Belazu Ingredient Co. only offered fresh olives! Presently, the Belazu Ingredient Co. provides full lines of vinegars, pastes, pomegranate molasses, and argan oils to its customers, which we might add is extremely impressive. Chefs frequent the Belazu Ingredient Co. for their expertly balanced rose petal harissa, preserved Meyer Lemons, viscous Modena balsamic vinegar, fire-roasted freekeh, smoked chile jelly, and nutty barley couscous. For orders to the United States, one must contact Belazu directly. Give them a ring, your palate will thank you.