Capital Idea!

On the phone, on the Web, on the farm, or in the store: giving a little Austin to the foodies on your gift list

Austinuts (Photo By John Anderson)

If you want to give Austin for Christmas, food is definitely the way to go. The Chronicle Food staff -- Mick Vann, MM Pack, Rachel Feit, Barbara Chisholm, Wes Marshall, Claudia Alarcón, and I -- has spent the past few weeks compiling the following annotated shopping list to give you plenty of good places to start. Many of the products listed below are available on the Web as well as in local stores. Places like Central Market, Whole Foods, Breed & Co., and Tears of Joy (618 E. Sixth, 499-0766) will be glad to make you a gift basket filled with Central Texas delicacies. Shop, Santa, shop! -- Virginia B. Wood


Joy Peppers


Joy Smith's incredible bread & butter jalapeño slices have been racking up awards at fiery and zesty food shows for a couple of years now, and we understand why! They're sweet, spicy, and just plain delicious. -- V.B.W.

Terra Sol Foods


Mark and Alexandra Week's line of 17 chile-related condiments have such a good national reputation that they'll soon be featured in a TVFN segment of Roker on the Road. -- V.B.W.

Austin Slow Burn


(currently under construction)

Award-winning local cooks Jill and Kevin Lewis have come up with the most sophisticated PB&J combo stocking stuffer we've ever seen. -- V.B.W.

Terra Verde Farms


Fredericksburg organic farmers Sandi and Hugh Sabel now have a specialty foods business based on produce from their farm with Austin chef Paul Hieb as a product development specialist. Their diverse line includes tasty jams, jellies, salsas, compotes, sauces, and condiments made with the Hill Country's bounty: peaches, plums, figs, wine, tomatoes, lavender, and peppers. -- V.B.W.

New Caanan Farms


Cindy Figer's New Caanan Farms products have been among our favorites for years. She's got everything from jams and jellies to dip mixes and definitive Texas relishes, and her friendly staff will gladly customize a gift box for each person on your list. -- V.B.W.

Bee Cave Honey Company; W.O. Rominger's

See Second Helpings.

Sgt. Pepper's Hot Sauce

Westlake Farmers Market, Tears of Joy

Longtime local hot-sauce honcho J.P. Hayes is still very much in business. His multiple-award-winning salsas, pestos, rubs, and spice blends are available at his weekly booth at the year-round Westlake Farmers Market and at Tears of Joy hot-sauce shop downtown. -- V.B.W.

Boggy Creek Farm

3414 Lyons Rd., 926-4650

Jars of Larry's famous organic Jamily Family and bags of their famous smoke-dried tomatoes are available for purchase at the biweekly farmstand only, as are their aprons, T-shirts, and cookbooks. No credit cards or mail orders. -- V.B.W.


3202 W. Anderson (Shoal Creek Shopping Plaza), 467-6731

Diners at the popular Satay and Thai Noodles, Etc. House restaurants may not realize that owner Foo Swasdee also manufactures an extensive array of Thai sauces, soups, noodles, and condiments, such as Pad Thai Stir-Fry Sauce, roasted-coconut salsa, and kao soi curry noodles. -- MM Pack

Texas on the Plate products


Brand-new line of excellent gourmet products from Fredericksburg's Fischer & Wieser. Inspired by the acclaimed cookbook of the same name by Terry Thompson-Anderson, these unique products include the Lavaca Bay Lemongrass Pesto, Whiskey 'n' Peaches BBQ sauce, Pasilla de Oaxaca Chile Sauce, Chipotle Chile Ketchup, Texas Port Wine Glaze, and Ridin' High Rosemary Dressing. -- Claudia Alarcón

Candy and Nuts


See Second Helpings.

Berdoll Farms in Bastrop

2626 Hwy. 71, between Austin and Bastrop, 512/321-6157 or 303-6157 (in Austin)

Approaching Bastrop from Austin on Highway 71, motorists are greeted by an enormous sign proclaiming "Pecan Farm" on a picturesque, red barn. That's the retail outlet of the family-owned Berdoll Farms, where they grow and harvest five varieties of papershell pecans. The nuts are sold cracked, shelled, in shell, cinnamon-sugared, roasted and salted, chocolate-covered, and jalapeño-flavored. -- B.C.

Dr. Chocolate

See Second Helpings.

Lammes Candies

See Second Helpings.


569 Hwy. 71 E., Bastrop, 512/303-1500 or 866/400-7374

The handcrafted chocolates were born out of the frustration Frans and R.C. Hendriks experienced when they sought a worthy after-dinner bonbon for their San Antonio restaurant. -- B.C.

Virginia's At Home on the Range

512/478-7650 or 800/990-7650

The Chronicle's own Virginia B. Wood is the creator of an assortment of Southwestern sweets, including Chipotle Chile Fudge, pralines, and butter toffee. -- B.C.


18620 Bandera Rd., Helotes 210/695-8727

The can proclaims they're "A Delight With Drinks," and boy hidy, we can attest to that. The zesty, salty roasted peanuts are absolutely addictive as military folks in Texas and the central U.S. have discovered (cans of nuts are carried in commissaries). -- B.C.

Passion Food Truffles

903 Austin Highlands Blvd. 441-9341

Chef Mary Perna is passionate about cooking. Her truffles and truffle cakes are made without preservatives and feature a blend of various chocolates to achieve their deep, rich, decadent result. -- B.C.



Founder Ida McGarity put her classical French cuisine training to work in creating chocolates in a variety of shapes and themes that change with the seasons. She uses French chocolate and imported molds to fashion the edible beauties. -- B.C.

Sweet Venus Delights


These handmade, filled chocolates put some zing in the sweet with fillings of orange- or raspberry-flavored natural jams that have a touch of habanero, chipotle, or jalapeño pepper. Available at West 6th Street Artists' Market (next to Mother Egan's), Grape Vine Market, and Westlake Farmers Market (the last weekend before Christmas). -- B.C.


Tears of Joy Hot Sauce Shop

618 E. Sixth, 499-0766

In business for 15 years, Tears of Joy will ship their tamales overnight, in a Styrofoam container, for about $100 for the minimum five dozen. Chicken, pork, and three kinds of vegetarian tamales are available. -- C.A.

Central Market

4001 N. Lamar, 206-1000

4477 S. Lamar, 899-4300

Central Market will ship tamales overnight, in a large Styrofoam cooler with ice, starting at $50. Shipping charges depend on weight and destination. -- C.A.

Curra's Grill

614 E. Oltorf, 444-0012

6801 Burnet Rd., 451-2560

Delicious regular and specialty tamales, like crabmeat salpicon and salmon in banana leaf, are available for shipping or to pick up and send yourself. Order must be placed by Dec. 16. -- C.A.

Oaxacan Tamaleo

626 N. Lamar, 447-3345

Oaxacan-style tamales, wrapped in banana leaves, made without lard or shortening. Order pork, chicken, or bean and cheese. -- C.A.

Hot Damn, Tamales!


Former Austin business now based in Fort Worth. They make gourmet tamales like wild mushroom and goat cheese, fresh corn and poblano, and beef tenderloin. Shipping minimum is two dozen. -- C.A.

Baked Goods

High Cotton Baking Company

201 E. Main St., Brenham, 800/321-9796

Family-owned bakery in Brenham, makers of delicious cakes, liqueur cakes, homemade cookies, and their spectacular savory cheese thins. These come in three flavors: spicy pecan and cheddar, Swiss cheese and almond, and blue cheese walnut. Some of their products are available at Grape Vine Market. -- C.A.

Sweetish Hill Bakery

See Second Helpings.

Phoenicia Bakery

4701-A Burnet Rd., 323-6770

2912 S. Lamar, 447-4444

Phoenicia's iconic thin Lebanese-style pita has become a fixture in restaurants and grocery stores throughout the city. -- Rachel Feit


Miles of Chocolate

Since its debut last year, Miles Compton's rich and dense chocolate confection ("a cross between a brownie and a truffle") has developed a devoted local following. For $10 to $12 per pound, you can purchase it at Central Market, Whole Foods, Grape Vine Market, Boggy Creek farmstand, and the Westbank location of People's Pharmacy. -- MM.P.

The Ultimate Cheesecake

4032 S. Lamar #250 (Brodie Oaks Shopping Center), 462-0922

Visit Ultimate Cheesecake for a wide variety of intricately flavored cheesecakes such as toffee crunch, white chocolate raspberry, and Oreo cookie. During the holidays, seasonal specials include pumpkin, eggnog, and cranberry orange, not to mention Christmas-tree-shaped cheesecakes. -- MM.P.

Royer's Round Top Cafe Pies


The Royer family makes it very easy to mail-order pies anywhere in the country. They have been successfully shipping pies for 14 years, and if your pie arrives less than intact, they will replace it. -- MM.P.

Wimberley Pie Company

13619 RR 12, Wimberley 512/847-9462

Since 1989, Wimberley has created some of the best-known pies in this area, including a selection of fruit and custard pies ($8.50-13), cheesecakes, diabetic-friendly, no-sugar-added pies, and seasonal offerings of pumpkin, sweet potato, and pumpkin-pecan pies. They don't take orders online or by e-mail, so call in for holiday orders. -- MM.P.

Pure Luck Cheeses

101 Twin Oaks Trail, Dripping Springs, 512/858-7034

The prizewinning goat cheeses from Pure Luck Farm in Dripping Springs are something of a local legend, and they make thoughtful gifts to cheeseophiles everywhere. You can buy their cheeses at Central Market, Whole Foods, Portabla, Westlake Farmers Market, Austin Downtown Farmers' Market, and the Pure Luck farmstand. -- MM.P.

Babbo's Italian Gelato

Babbo's has caused quite a stir since it opened earlier this year. Maybe it has something to do with their vivid, eclectic flavors -- gianduja, hazelnut, pear caramel, lavender honey, and walnut are among my personal favorites -- or maybe it's the authentic way the gelato is made. To ship, contact Matt Lee at the store, 451-9555. -- R.F.

Amy's Ice Creams

Amy's superrich, supercreamy ice cream is one of the things Austin ex-pats crave most. Contact Joe Morris, 458-3188. -- R.F.


Harrell Ranch Gourmet Meats

The Meat Shop

948 Peyton Gin, 837-6331

All natural, dry-aged, Wagyu-breed (the same as Kobe) beef, which is quickly gaining a reputation as the finest and most tender beef in the country. Raised near Lake Walter E. Long and retailed through The Meat Shop, Harrell's melt-in-your-mouth goodness is available in seven different cuts, from about $20 to $40 per pound. -- Mick Vann

Broken Arrow Ranch

PO Box 530, Ingram, 78025

A longtime producer of wild game for the local restaurant scene, Broken Arrow Ranch offers axis and sika venison, blackbuck antelope, and wild boar products, as well as venison and boar sausages, in mixed assortments or singly, starting at about $8.50 per pound. -- M.V.

Kreuz Market

619 N. Colorado, Lockhart 512/398-2361

On everyone's list of top Texas barbecue joints, Kreuz (pronounced "krites") can ship all of the standard cuts, as well as dried sausage, wieners, pork chops, prime rib, their new jalapeño sausage (all by the pound), and smoked turkeys ($19.99 each). -- M.V.

Black's Barbecue

215 N. Main, Lockhart 512/398-2712

Started in 1932, Black's is included in every serious local barbecue tour. They are shipping sausage, succulent briskets, pork ribs, and sauce to most anywhere you prefer ($70-110, includes shipping). -- M.V.

Cooper's Old Time Pit BBQ

604 W. Young St., Llano 325/247-5713

The Wootan clan's restaurant is another of the area's most serious stops for the smoked meat gourmand, shipping brisket, pork chops and ribs, chicken, sauces and seasonings, jerky, smoked beef, and snack sticks at various prices by the pound. -- M.V.

Ruby's BBQ

512 W. 29th, 477-1651

The only BBQ in Texas serving all-natural Texas beef (from the B3R Ranch in Childress), Ruby's will ship oak-smoked 6-pound briskets with 32-ounce sauce for around $100. Picked by Esquire magazine as one of the best in the U.S. -- M.V.

The Salt Lick

18001 FM 1826, Driftwood


A destination for many out-of-town guests when they come to Austin, the Salt Lick can ship all of the standard all-you-can-eat platter items, as well as traditional or habanero-smoked turkey breasts and tender pork tenderloins. -- M.V.

Iron Works BBQ

100 Red River 478-4855, 800/669-3602

You can get those Flintstones-sized beef ribs and all of the standards. Also whole smoked turkeys (and single breasts), chicken, Texas chili, beans, sauces, and seasonings. -- M.V.

The County Line

Various locations, 800/AIR-RIBS

County Line ships all of the usual barbecue suspects, and to make it the complete feast, they offer smokehouse combos, steaks (uncooked), their popular bread mix, and their massive (and sinful) deep-dish caramel pecan pies. -- M.V.

Wine and Spirits

A word of warning: Giving the gift of adult beverages carries some risk. Many states are anxious to wrest every possible penny in taxes from their residents. There are at least two states in the union that consider it a felony crime to ship beer, wine, or spirits across their borders. Most states don't care enough to enforce the regulations. However, I once lost three cases of tequila to a hyperactive taxman. Caveat mailor.

Alamosa Vineyards Viognier


Becker Vineyards Viognier


Driftwood Vineyards Viognier


World Class Viogniers (about $50): All three of these wines can stand up to any except the very finest (and most expensive) French Condrieus, and wouldn't even be embarrassed in that company! These are wines that should fill a Texan with pride. -- Wes Marshall

Alamosa Sangiovese


McPherson Vineyards Sangiovese

(no phone or Web site, but sometimes available at Central Market or Grape Vine Market)

Texas Hills' Kuhlken Vineyard Sangiovese


Texitaly (pronounced TEX-eye-TAL-ee) Offerings (about $50): Texas is a great place to grow Sangiovese, and lots of our wineries are experimenting with it. These are some of the best versions from the Hill Country. -- W.M.

Llano Estacado Port


Messina Hof Papa Paulo Port


Pleasant Hill Tawny Rosso Forte


Texas Ports of Call (about $50): Texas is host to the largest number of wild grapes of any place on the planet. The only problem is finding something to do with them. Many intrepid Texas souls have tried adding a little brandy and sugar to make a home-style Port. These are some of my faves. -- W.M.

Fall Creek Meritus


Becker Vineyards Cabernet Syrah


Peregrine Hills Pinot Noir


High End Texas Wines (about $70): I recently tasted the Fall Creek Meritus and was stunned by the quality. Becker's Cab Syrah is always worth the drive out to Stonewall, which is the only place you can buy it. The surprise here is the Peregrine Hill Pinot Noir. For years, I've believed that Pinot couldn't be grown in Texas. Somehow, Peregrine Hills' French winemaker Benedicte Rhyne has pulled a rabbit out of her hat. The best part is the price: under $10. -- W.M.

Tito's Handmade Vodka


Spice It Up Bloody Jalapeño Bloody Mary Mix


A CD of Willie Nelson's Phases and Stages

Available at Waterloo Records

It's a Bloody Mary Morning (about $35): Willie's great 1974 album containing "Bloody Mary Morning" is still a country classic. Pack it up with some Tito's Handmade Vodka, winner of the unanimous Gold Medal over 70 of the world's best premium vodkas at the San Francisco Wine & Spirits Competition. Unfortunately, the world's greatest addition to Tito's, Boggy Creek Farm's ethereal Tomato Tonic, is sold out for the season. Second best, but still worthy of Willie, is Spice It Up's Bloody Jalapeño Bloody Mary Mix. -- W.M.

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