After trying a terrific heirloom dried bean sampler ($11.50, plus shipping) from Earthy Delights in Michigan, I’m hooked on its Web site, www.earthy.com. The colorful beans (adzuki, cannelini, Christmas lima, cranberry, rattlesnake, and Jacob’s cattle) came with detailed descriptions and recipe cards for each type of bean. The beans were very fresh (old dried beans can be so dessicated that they never get tender when cooked) and the small (8-ounce) size of each sample was the perfect amount to try in a single recipe. Though all the beans were unique and delicious, the nutty flavor of the Asian adzuki bean (nice in a salad with a fresh ginger-sesame dressing) turned out to be my favorite.
My next order from Earthy.com is the grain sampler (which includes fun things like blue cornmeal and toasted orzo), but it’s nice to know the site has more exotic things, too—the fresh truffles, morels, specialty oils, and baby vegetables are probably what draw top chefs like Charlie Trotter to the site. If you prefer to order by phone, call 800-367-4709.