Last-Minute Stocking Stuffers for Food Lovers
Unique gifts to please each discerning palate or distinctive passion
The time for holiday shopping is quickly evaporating, but here are some suggestions for little last-minute gifts for everyone from home bakers to restaurant diners. Slip some of these things into just the right stocking and hang around to share the tasty benefits afterward.
• For the caramel lover: Over the past year, we've discovered two decadently delicious goat's milk (cajeta) caramel products, both for sale at Antonelli's Cheese Shop (4220 Duval). From Blue Heron Farm near Waller, try their cajeta plain or the bourbon-flavored over ice cream or pound cake, or as a dipping sauce for crisp, crunchy apple slices. Also look for the Original Goat's Milk Caramel and Salted Bourbon Goat's Milk Caramel from Fat Toad Farm (www.fattoadfarm.com) in Vermont.
• For the griller, mixologist, or savory cook: We're already devoted fans of Stephanie McClenny's line of locally sourced, seasonal jams, marmalades, and sauces from Confituras, but we've fallen hard for her newest product. Citrus Salts ($7, 4-ounce jars) come in valley lemon, tangerine, and key lime flavors. Sprinkle these delectable salts over meats, fish, or vegetables on the grill, or use them to coat the edges of cocktail glasses. They are divine.
• For the cottage or professional baker: We noticed the cute little rolling pin business card holders during the grand opening party at the new Make It Sweet location (9070 Research), and they have plenty in stock. Bakers beware: It's easy to go crazy in this store.
• For the apron lover: Like me, anyone who appreciates a cool looking apron will be totally jealous of the very cute Día de los Muertos-inspired apron from H-E-B's festive Cocinaware line of kitchen- and tableware.
• For the chocoholic: Cocoa Puro Kakawa Cocoa Beans are roasted whole beans tossed in white, milk, and dark chocolate and dusted with cocoa. They've got 12-ounce bags for $28 and 2-ounce elf bags (perfect for stockings) for $7. Look for them at the Downtown Farmers' Market on Saturday, Dec. 22.
• For the ice cream or gelato lover: Amy's (multiple outlets), Tèo Espresso, Gelato & Bella Vita (1206 W. 38th), and Blue Bell (www.bluebell.com) all offer gift certificates, which means folks can load up to their hearts' content on taste-tempting flavors such as Mexican vanilla or molasses (Amy's), salted caramel or brown butter bourbon gelato (Tèo's), or Blue Bell's perennial holiday peppermint ice cream.
• For the campfire cook: Amy's Ice Creams has created a delectable update on a beloved retro classic. Look for their Big Kid's S'mores Kit, complete with Biscoff cookies, squares of quality dark chocolate, and homemade Mexican vanilla marshmallows. The gift of a personal dessert torch from Breed & Co. or Faraday's is optional.
• For the farm-to-table devotee: The gift of a share in one of our area's many community-supported agriculture programs would be a very good way to spread interest in eating locally and in season.
• For the regular restaurant diner: Based on my inbox, restaurant gift cards with a bonus are a hot item this season. Lots of places are offering enticing deals, such as the $20-off card for every $100 gift card purchased at either Manuel's outlet. New this year: As Texas French Bread embarks on its 32nd year, owners Murph and Ben Willcott hope to fund their expansion plans with a program that's a cross between a gift card and Kickstarter investment. As a $100 Supporter, get $110 worth of meals; VIPs invest $500 to get $600 in value; and Inner Circle patrons can put up $1,000 for $1,200 in meals and an invitation to the renovation-completion celebration dinner in the spring of 2013. I am so curious to see how this works out.
• For the book lover: Just as a reminder, any of these local books would make great gifts: Afield by Jesse Griffiths; The Salt Lick Cookbook by Scott Roberts and Jessica Dupuy; Trailer Food Diaries Cookbook: Austin Edition Vol. 2 by Tiffany Harelik; and Learn to Cook by Hilah Johnson. Also, all three e-book versions of chef/nutritherapist Alain Braux's award-winning cookbooks are available at the special sale price of $4.99 at Amazon.com or Smashwords.com.
• And if you happen to talk to Santa, tell him I could really use a rack-and-roll for my kitchen.