Once upon a time, shopping for vanilla beans meant taking a trip to southern India. Now, it means going online to a tasty website called gourmetco.in

Flowering teas, truffle-infused honey, animal-shaped cookies, wild strawberry jam, queen olives from Spain and organic drinking chocolate -- the new gourmet website launched in Mumbai offers something for every foodie.

Sandhya Mittersain and daughter Neerja

The brainchild of Sandhya Mittersain (48) and her daughter Neerja (27), the website is ideal for sourcing gourmet ingredients, especially on a rainy day when hitting stores like Nature's Basket seems tedious. That is, if you can wait for two to three days before your product arrives.

Surfing around
The virtual walls of Gourmet Company are stocked with ingredients from lesser-known brands such as Mackays, Pepperidge Farm, Filippo Berio and Urbani Tartufi. There is also the familiar Under The Mango Tree, Barilla and Davidoff, which already boast of a good presence in the Indian market.

The website is divided into a few basic sections. The usual pastas, olive oil, olives and sauces are listed down under the Italian ingredients section. For caffeine lovers, there are some fine infusions and blends in their tea and coffee department.

There is also a tab for exotic honeys and jams, where a good mix of Indian and foreign produce can be found. And lastly, there is a page dedicated to food enjoyed by children, which mainly comprises of cookies and sweet syrups. What caught our fascination the most was the miscellaneous section, where the most unusual ingredients,  such as charcoal crackers, were hidden away.

Hampering your ideas
"We started Gourmet Company as a gifting business in the year 2009, but since our culinary gifting ideas got popular quickly, we decided to turn it into a website in May 2011," says owner Sandhya, who enjoys pairing ingredients. So, for those of you who are not good at choosing your gifts, you can opt for their hampers, which include fondue kits, cheese boards and tea baskets.

Though the website accepts orders from across the country, the ones that involve fresh produce such as cheeses, breads and fresh fruits are restricted to Mumbai alone. Since other metros don't have enough gourmet options, the website works best for them. "We have a client in Secunderabad who calls for the lime and lemon marmalade as soon as his previous jar is emptied," laughs Neerja.

For rookie cooks, gourmetco.in has information on setting up a perfect cheese table and directions to toss up a mean pasta dish. "The next step, however, is to create a larger recipe section that will educate the buyer about cooking with our ingredients," says Neerja, adding that they also plan to have a live chat option soon.