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There are people who stare at a showroom floor of cars, yearning for the latest model, or drool over displays of fine watches. Then there are the folks who can't walk past a dessert case without being mesmerized by the mile-high cakes under the spotlights. For you, we have Annie Pie's (anniepiesbakery.com).

Annie's delights can be ordered from the Neiman-Marcus catalog or at Moonfish restaurants, and they've been featured on Food Network's "Best Of" show But now you can purchase those humongous, coma-inducing cakes for your own gluttonous glee by phone or web from Annie's.

Annie's delights can be ordered from the Neiman-Marcus catalog or at Moonfish restaurants, and they've been featured on Food Network's "Best Of" show But now you can purchase those humongous, coma-inducing cakes for your own gluttonous glee by phone or web from Annie's.

These are not only gourmet indulgences, but marvels of construction: The "peanut butter explosion" cake, layers of chewy fudge brownie, peanut butter mousse, chocolate cake, fudge and peanut-butter chips, weighs in at over three pounds!

Health-food market that includes a bakery and cafe with a hot lunch bar that is vegetarian heaven. Also try their fresh juices, smoothies and sandwiches.

Health-food market that includes a bakery and cafe with a hot lunch bar that is vegetarian heaven. Also try their fresh juices, smoothies and sandwiches.

For the people who know me, it is no secret that I love chocolate, but they don't realize the extent of my affliction. I was spawned by ravenous chocoholics. My father has been known to get up in the middle of the night and drive himself several miles to get his favorite Cadbury bar. When my mother says the word "chocolate," her voice gets kind of breathy like a young girl talking about her first love. And at my grandmother's house, no dinner is complete without three courses of dessert: First fruit, then whatever baked goods a guest was kind enough to bring, which we nibble while waiting for the real dessert, an imported bar of dark chocolate with hazelnuts that is passed around the table and voraciously dispatched.

I'm also a chocolate snob. Hand me a Hershey's bar and you'll likely hear a polemic on the disgraces of poor chocolate manufacturing (wax!) versus handcrafting (bliss!) So when my good friend told me about frozen chocolate drinks at Godiva Boutique, my heart skipped a beat, but I was still skeptical, even as we headed to the store at the Mall at Millenia. Eventually I tried all three flavors of Godiva's Chocolixir ($4.50): milk chocolate latte, dark chocolate decadence and white chocolate raspberry. All are good, but the dark chocolate is what really excited me. My first sip was rapturous. As I pulled the cold, dark slush up through the straw, past the top layer of Grade-A heavy whipping cream, a particularly well-poised mixture of flavors hit my palate.

Godiva cleverly utilizes two byproducts of the cocoa bean to make their Chocolixir: cocoa powder and real chocolate chips. Oh, and let me not forget about the rich chocolate syrup they delicately drizzle onto the whipped cream. But I've said too much. I need one – now.

It's the season for giving, and edible gifts are always welcome. Where to go for the goods? One new place is Hot Olives Market, a classy depot attached to the eponymous restaurant in Winter Park. In August the owners of Hot Olives brought in colleagues from their catering past to run the attached market (which offers catering). Steven Poyner and Chris Kenyon purchase all the merchandise and are on hand to answer questions and take requests. The market features a private label of sauces, preserves and condiments, and they stock artisanal and gourmet specialties. Plus, they throw together tasty takeout meals – the barbecue brisket and Hot Olive salad are delicious.

The room is bright and stylish with Tuscan pottery, olive wood beams and stainless steel shelves. I sampled a few choice items after wandering around the small space. My favorite was the handmade sopressata ($28 per pound) that I snatched out of the refrigerator case. When I cut into the cured meat at home, the aroma of tenderly aged pork and a bouquet of spices, particularly paprika, extended across the room.

From the prepared sauces, I tried walnut artichoke pomodoro sauce ($7). For a pre-made sauce, it was of exceptional quality. Mellow undertones of the nuts married with a pleasing bitter thistle-y flavor, which complemented the acidic tang of plum tomatoes. The signature sauces come packaged in clever gift bundles: Italian pastas are piled into a stainless-steel colander with the sauces and tied with ribbon. Holidays or not, this is a spot to indulge in something out of the ordinary – for others and for yourself.

Cooking Indian food at home can be a leisurely, luxurious experience. Hours spent grinding spices, chopping vegetables and slowly simmering curries and kormas are ideal for getting to know a cooking partner, affording as they do plenty of time for wine-sipping and conversational digression. There's none of the flash and sizzle or the split-second timing required by some other ethnic cuisines.

But sometimes you just want a quickie. Whichever you prefer, House of Spices – in the Laxmi Plaza across from Woodlands – is there to help.

But sometimes you just want a quickie. Whichever you prefer, House of Spices – in the Laxmi Plaza across from Woodlands – is there to help.

This Indian/Pakistani grocery can provide the raw ingredients for those unhurried cooking journeys. There's a whole aisle of spices, from the mundane (black peppercorns) to the exotic (whole turmeric, four different forms of cardamom), and every sort of dried bean and legume your Indian recipe book might call for. There's also a truly impressive selection of pickles and chutneys: I felt lucky to find a jar of lime pickle, but was delighted to be able to choose between seven different kinds of lime pickle.

This Indian/Pakistani grocery can provide the raw ingredients for those unhurried cooking journeys. There's a whole aisle of spices, from the mundane (black peppercorns) to the exotic (whole turmeric, four different forms of cardamom), and every sort of dried bean and legume your Indian recipe book might call for. There's also a truly impressive selection of pickles and chutneys: I felt lucky to find a jar of lime pickle, but was delighted to be able to choose between seven different kinds of lime pickle.

Also helpful for the home cook, House of Spices has a small produce section stuffed with hard-to-find veggies like bitter melon, fresh okra and curry leaves, along with some of the freshest, juiciest ginger root I've ever seen.

Also helpful for the home cook, House of Spices has a small produce section stuffed with hard-to-find veggies like bitter melon, fresh okra and curry leaves, along with some of the freshest, juiciest ginger root I've ever seen.

And for those quickie moments, an entire section of the store is devoted to MREs – no, not Army rations, but precooked shelf-stable curries and soups – and the freezer is well-stocked with naan, paratha and frozen desserts. Fling one in the microwave, toss a thawed naan on the griddle and you'll be devouring a tasty meal in less than five minutes.

Bonus: Like most Indian groceries, House of Spices carries a selection of British foods. Sweet-toothed customers will find the full range of British candy bars (from Flake bars to Yorkies) and all those yummy cookies (HobNobs, Jaffa Cakes), as well as basic necessities like Horlicks cocoa and heavenly Heinz vegetarian baked beans.

As we sauntered into our friends' kitchen, in anticipation of a delicious home-cooked meal, we were handed glasses of a refreshing sparkling wine that we downed while watching the making of the feast. These friends are the most adventurous and skillful at this very task. I couldn't help but comment on the smell of spices that filled the kitchen, and when handed the cookbook from which our meal was inspired, I found there were no less than 25 ingredients required, most of them exotic spices and hard to find ingredients.

"Where can you get annatto?" I asked. "And tamarind pulp?"

Our host winked: A cook's secret was about to be revealed.

"India Spice House," she whispered.

India is so rich with spice that almost all other cultures have incorporated Indian varieties into their cuisine. Just about any seasoning called for in a recipe can be purchased on the shelves of an Indian market – usually at a great price.

India Spice House is located in a south Orlando K-mart shopping center. The messy storefront is plastered with product printouts and hand-written specials; inside it is neat and perfumed with exotic ingredients. With only three aisles, this store is packed with wondrous surprises. All of the ingredients for a Moroccan dish I wanted to make were available in abundance: Turkish pistachios, orange flower water, cumin, coriander and mint. There were also exciting new things to try: A delightful jar of lime relish and mace, which totally captivated me with its spicy-sweet smell and turned out to be the outer hull of the nutmeg fruit. And safetida, an alluring powder that was both musky and fruity, is a crucial ingredient in Indian vegetarian cooking and comes from a hybrid of the fennel plant. I picked up some prepared Indian food as well as some frozen paneer cheese that mixed nicely with a ready-made curry for a quick weeknight meal. There's something for everyone.

With the addition of the International Market and Deli near the British Shoppe and the Brit-populated Chuck's Diner, you can make a culinary trip across Europe on one single block. But what the International Market's got over the others is the feeling that, when stepping into their large, warm space, you've wound up in the Old World.

Most European countries are represented somewhere on the store's many shelves, but when you get to the deli case, it's all pretty much Eastern Bloc. Chicken and cheese-stuffed pierogis, sweet and savory blintzes, stuffed cabbage (served with fresh sour cream, of course) ' it's all made in-house and can be enjoyed at the cafeteria tables while Russian soap operas play on the television. 

A good start is the chicken cutlet, stuffed with a variety of light, creamy cheeses then breaded and fried to crispy, cheese-melting perfection. Not even the mightiest hangover stands a chance. 

Exploring one of the area's small but growing number of ethnic markets is like an adventure into uncharted culinary territory. Even if you don't get double-coupons or a florist center as part of the deal, you'll find everything you need to inspire a home-cooked Spanish feast, or the option for cheap takeout, at La Nacional Hispano American Grocery.

The sound system is tuned to Spanish pop, and the produce aisles are filled with exotic green plantains, shiny brown yuccas and bright, pumpkin-orange calabaza squash. Head back to the deli for specials like roast chicken, rice, stewed beans, flan and a soda for $4.99.

The sound system is tuned to Spanish pop, and the produce aisles are filled with exotic green plantains, shiny brown yuccas and bright, pumpkin-orange calabaza squash. Head back to the deli for specials like roast chicken, rice, stewed beans, flan and a soda for $4.99.

Long rows of Cuban bread dough are laid out, waiting to be baked -- and you get a free loaf with every purchase of $20 or more.

At Muse Gelato we make our gelato fresh with only all natural ingredients! Our gourmet ice cream is smooth and creamy. Signature flavors include our famous Banana Split Gelato, which is banana gelato layered with mocha, dulce de leche and strawberries. Gelato is Italian ice cream. It is denser than American ice cream. As a result, the flavors are more intense. We make all of our gelato and sorbets with only the finest and freshest ingredients with true traditional Italian recipes. Gelato is Italian ice cream. It is denser than American ice cream. As a result, the flavors are more intense. We make all of our gelato and sorbets with only the finest and freshest ingredients with true traditional Italian recipes. At our café, the flavors change daily. So each time you come youâ??ll have a different experience. We also provide gelato-catering services for parties and events.

Between the options to eat in or take out, there's the Olive Branch (314 Hannibal Square, 407-629-1029), directly across the street from Hot Olives (463 W. New England Ave., 407-629-1030), a settled-in spot known for the casual nosh or two. And now we have the cutely named offshoot, where those noshes are available to take home. They do things differently in Winter Park.

"They make everything across the street and bring it over," I was told at the counter, a glass case brimming with dense meat loaf, salmon with cous cous and chocolate-chip cheesecakes.

"They make everything across the street and bring it over," I was told at the counter, a glass case brimming with dense meat loaf, salmon with cous cous and chocolate-chip cheesecakes.

Prices might seem high -- $12 for a whole chicken lasagna -- but the paper-thin sheets of pasta covering layers of shredded chicken, mushrooms and mild tomato sauce weighs in at almost three pounds, and you can always tell folks it's your recipe. I promise I won't say a word.

Designated shopping-cart drivers, anyone? Don't laugh. On Saturdays at Petty's Specialty Foods and Meats in Longwood shoppers can pour themselves a beer at a free keg. But place the blame for the jammed aisles on the 60-foot-long deli counter filled with international meats, cheeses and entrees-to-go.

There's a huge selection of hard-to-find items, from fiery mango chutneys to obscure brands of olive oil. And you can taste-sample any deli item before buying. On a typical day there are about 75 dinner combos, from stuffed pork chops to chicken with Chihuahua cheese. A lot of items check in at $4.59 per pound, but you can go all the way up to $11.99 per pound for filet mignon. Petty's also packs a deluxe picnic basket with ingredients of your choice for about $50.

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