Send those out-of-towners a little taste of Austin for the holidays
Nothing says "happy holidays" better than a distinctive Austin food gift. Whether the folks on your list are hungry for local barbecue, sweets, or condiments, we've got a gift idea for you.
What better way to comfort homesick Texans than to share the gift of genuine Central Texas barbecue during the holidays? Three respected local companies offer a full range of smoked meats, sauces, rubs and marinades, side dishes, and desserts, with the option to shop online or by phone from their full-color catalogs. Check out the County Line Bar-B-Q (www.airribs.com, 800/247-7427), Iron Works BBQ (www.ironworksbbq.com, 800/669-3602), and Stubb's Bar-B-Q (www.stubbsbbq.com, 800/227-2283). – Virginia B. Wood
Bark for Peace (www.barkforpeace.com) offers an array of organic, vegan dog treats, organic dog soap, spa-quality shampoos, and toys made of Fair Trade hemp, boiled wool, and rubber. Just select the products you want, and have them packed in a recycled, compostable gift box. Bark for Peace is a bona fide 21st century, zero- to low-environmental-impact company, and its products are beneficial to both pets and the planet. – Kate Thornberry
New Canaan Farms (www.shopncf.com), located just outside of town in Dripping Springs, has been making outstanding jams, jellies, salsas, and spice mixes since 1979. They're geared for gift boxes and offer five different boxes, as well as three gift baskets, ranging in price from $28 to $54. With 33 different products to choose from, including Blushin' Peach Jam, Hill Country Caviar, Texas Pride Jalapeño Mustard, and Brazos River Blackberry Jam, you can send the taste of Texas anywhere in the country. – K.T.
The Sticky Toffee Pudding Co. (www.stickytoffeepuddingcompany.com): While traditional plum pudding may be scarce in Central Texas, Tracy Claros produces what must be the finest English-style puddings on this side of the pond. Claros, transplanted to Austin from her native British Lake District, began marketing her signature Sticky Toffee Pudding in 2004. Since then, she's added the equally scrumptious English Lemon Pudding, Molten Chocolate Baby-Cake Pudding, and Sticky Ginger Pudding. Each variety is made in small batches from all natural ingredients and sold in individual serving-sized pudding basins imported from England. Order these delightful, authentic sweets online. They are sold in packages of six ($30 plus shipping and handling) and are shipped priority on Monday-Wednesday for Wednesday-Saturday delivery. – MM Pack
Austin Slow Burn (www.austinslowburn.com): Since 1994, Jill and Kevin Lewis, both well-known AusTex restaurant folks, have been producing a line of award-winning salsas, jams, and chile-affiliated products. Their label, Austin Slow Burn, brings the heat but, more importantly, offers rich, well-balanced flavors. A package of their products will never be regifted, and it should definitely include their Salsa con Habanero ($3.49), with fire-roasted tomatoes, carrot, and devilish habanero chiles. No gift box is complete without a jar of their wonderful Green Chile con Queso ($5.99), the perfect cheesy, creamy queso. We also recommend an assortment of their zippy jams and jellies ($3.29 to $3.99); choose from Green Chile Jam, Spiced Peach Jam, Habanero Jelly, Hot Apple Pie Jam, Cranberry Jam, and Jalapeño Jam. These are ideal with mild cheeses (goat's milk, Brie, cream cheese, Manchego, etc.), as a glaze or serving sauce with pork or chicken, or whipped with olive oil for salad dressings. All of Austin Slow Burn's products can be ordered online at www.tearsofjoysauces.com. – Mick Vann