The Austin Chronicle

https://www.austinchronicle.com/daily/food/2018-12-05/a-texas-snackers-guide-to-the-holidays/

A Texas Snacker's Guide to the Holidays

By Emily Beyda, December 5, 2018, 3:15pm, On the Range

From meringues to funny looking pears to a piece of fresh honeycomb, there's something local for everyone on your list this holiday season.

Little Clouds of Holiday Happiness from Fluff

Fruitcake is a holiday standby, but it’s also a perennial joke. It makes sense to us to lean hard in the other direction and get our sweet-toothed loved ones the opposite of fruitcake – meringues! They’re light, they’re adorable in a flatlay, and nobody could ever mistake one for a door stopper. Fluff Meringues & More is one of our favorite Austin bakeries, and using their special bespoke service you can order custom meringue drops, clouds tarts, mini pavlovas, and cones in any flavor or color their heart desires. If the people on your gift list are really special, you could even help make their holiday entertaining easier by ordering up a custom pavlova bar for them to share.

Love and Chocolate from SRSLY

Hometown roasters SRSLY Chocolate take a, well, serious approach to the art of roasting, winnowing, and refining the highest quality fermented cocoa beans from around the world. For the holidays this year, in addition to their specially organized “chocolate libraries” of thematically grouped bars (our favorite is the Taste of Texas set featuring chocolate flavored with cranberry and Texas pecan, hand harvested Sal De Rey from the Rio Grande Valley, and the Texas Mesquite made from unfiltered white chocolate and locally sourced mesquite pods), they’re releasing a line of bonbons. These bean to bonbon treats each showcase a different Texas culinary specialty. Think confituras jam, dewberries, Elgin pecans, Third Coast coffee, mesquite and Fredericksburg peach. It’s the perfect gift for a homesick Texan.

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Relish the Laissez Faire Life

Laissez-faire economics might be a heavy subject these days, but the latest release from Vista Brewing’s brewmaster Josh Watterson – Laissez Faire Brett Ale – is light and bright, dry and delightful, with notes of pear and rose. It’s like champagne and craft beer had a lovechild, which obviously means if you bring some to share, you’ll forever be known as the very best holiday party guest. Conveniently for you, sweet starved-for-attention friend, right now it’s available at select Specs around town. And for the less social among us, feel free to give the gift of a Vista Member’s Club annual membership – a golden ticket to exclusive bottles and parties. The barrel program features limited-release Lambic-style and Brettanomyces beers made with Texas grains and fermented in freshly-emptied wine barrels from Central Texas wineries. There’s more than one way to mic drop.

Cut Down on Carbon with an Imperfect Produce Gift Card

The holiday season is traditionally a time of excess, so it feels good for both gifter and giftee to give a present that is so explicitly the opposite. We’ve been a fan of Imperfect Produce since they hit town a few months ago, with their promised 30% of grocery prices rates on produce and customizable delivery options. But what we like most about them is their explicit mission to eliminate food waste, a huge problem in a nation where, according to some estimates, about 30% of all food is wasted along the food chain. Since their inception, Imperfect has saved 30 million pounds of food, translating to a recovery of about 900 million gallons of water and 91 pounds of CO2. Plus, each box of delivered produce means one less trip to the grocery store for your beleaguered giftee.

A Little Help in the Kitchen from Green Chef

These days, as any podcast listener knows, meal kits abound, each promising to make your life easier with pre-cut ingredients and chef-approved recipes. One of our favorites this time of year is Green Chef, whose kits are infinitely customizable to meet your giftee’s dietary and flavor preferences (they’ve got vegan, pescatarian, ketogenic, and paleo options). It’s the ideal thank you gift to anyone who lets you crash on their couch or drink their eggnog during this hectic season. And what better chance for a New Year, New You reset than having some nutritionist-approved group of svelte health professionals who won’t be tempted by the special holiday offerings in the cookie aisle.

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A Cheese Plate of Their Own from Austin Cheese Company

There’s nothing more festive than a nice bottle of champagne, and you know what goes best with a bottle of champagne? A really well-composed cheese plate. A gift card from the Austin Cheese Company means your loved one is well on their way to achieving our dream New Year’s Eve: that champagne, of course, and a well-rounded spread of charcuterie, cheeses, and little sweet and salty bits to round everything off. For vegetarians, there’s their “just the cheese, please,” with three artisan cheeses and accompanying nuts, pickles, and jams. There’s a similar, carnivore-friendly, meat-only charcuterie board. But our favorite is the cocktail party tray – an excellent balance of sweet and salty with cheese, charcuterie, fruit, and sliced baguette. Now how about that champagne?

Go HAM with Texas Jamón ibérico

Sure, you could get your loved ones a big slab of honey baked ham. It’s a Christmas classic, after all, and there are few omnivores who would say no to a whole leg of roast pork. But if you really want to take your pork gifting game to the next level, slow-cured Jamón ibérico is the obvious move. It’s a delightfully complex salty slice just made for wrapping around ripe melon, accompanying smelly cheese, or just eating by the handful while standing in front of the fridge in your underpants. The folks at Acorn Seekers hand-raise the pampered free-range black-hoofed Ibericus pigs, who live a relaxing life wandering the West Texas countryside chowing down on acorns. Some pig indeed.

A Vertical of West Texas' Finest from William Chris Vineyards

For the completionist wine lover, no gift is better than a vertical, comprised of a block of wines from the same winery, sharing the same grapes, the same soil, each displaying the variation and individuality created by the quirks of whatever year it was produced in. Whether your giftee is a Texas wine country fan, or needs a little convincing about the promise of non-coastal American wine, the William Chris Enchante vertical, spanning 2011-2016 is a great place to start. It contains one bottle per year of the Enchante vintage, their flagship wine, produced since Bill Blackmon and Chris Brundrett opened the winery in 2008, derived from the Granite Hill Vineyards in Bell Mountain and made from a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Space out your sipping with one bottle per night, or open them all at once with a group of friends to compare tasting notes.

Get Party Ready with Deep Eddy's Vodka Holiday Gift Box

Vodka, the preferred spirit of snowbound hard drinkers the world over, is an essential ingredient for any well-stocked winter bar. Deep Eddy is an Austin classic, handcrafted in small batches and favoring a subtle approach to botanicals (think real fruit rather than industrial grade fruit flavoring) that’ll stand a chance of convincing even your most anti-vodka friends (those college experiences with Popov have a certain way of searing themselves onto your lizard brain, don’t they?). This year, they’re releasing a holiday pack to make gifting even easier, featuring a bottle of their original vodka alongside a special edition (and very cute) string of Deep Eddy bottle shaped holiday lights, a bonus decoration you’ve just been waiting to string over your drinks table.

Get in a Jam with Confituras

With their family-friendly jam-making classes, sweetly minimalist packaging, and seasonal approach to ingredients, Confituras is pretty much the platonic ideal of the hip Austin food craft store. Start off slow with the mini jam box, featuring three 2-ounce jars of seasonal preserves, salts, and sugars whose flavors rotate with the seasons. Their winter offerings feature treats like cranberry cinnamon jam, Meyer lemon curd, orange vanilla bean, or orange chile marmalades, grapefruit vanilla bean jam, and tipsy cranberry pecan sauce, each made with locally sourced ingredients from in and around Austin. Or, if your giftee is really committed to the jam eating lifestyle, you can buy them a share in their seasonal program and get 12 months worth of jams, including any limited editions, three jars per season, four times a year.

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Bee Friendly with Two Hives Honey

The great things about gifting Two Hives Honey is that there are different levels available. Is your giftee a casual honey fan? Consider a box of their gorgeous honeycomb, encased in a hard plastic box and glinting like a jewel, honey pooling golden at the bottom. If they’re more serious, you can upgrade their home garden with a packet of pollinator-friendly wild seed mix, a lovely boost to their neighborhood community of bees and butterflies. Maybe even throw in a simple hexagonal bee home, or a bee builders kit including everything they need to get started on their amateur beekeeping carrier. And if all this bee talk really piques their interest, the two of you can book a beekeeping class to take together. That’ll really get ‘em buzzing.

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