Top 10 Local Products in My Kitchen

Claudia Alarcón's new kitchen brings new discoveries for 2008

Top 10 Local Products in My Kitchen
Photo by John Anderson

Now that I have the kitchen of my dreams after last year's remodel, I've been cooking and entertaining much more, and many Austin-made ingredients and products find their way into my kitchen. Here's a list of some (but not all) of my favorites.

1) Rio's Malagueta sauces: An exotic taste of Brazil, these sauces are perfect as marinades, dips, or salad dressings. A slight spiciness adds a delicious kick. They're great, of course, to accompany Rio's homemade pastries.

2) Homemade chorizo from Las Delicias: The South Austin family-owned meat market makes the best Mexican-style chorizo around, perfectly spiced, without fillers or tons of fat. It's available in links or bulk.

3) Bolillos from El Fénix Bakery: The closest thing to real Mexican bolillos and the best in Austin, bar none. Crusty on the outside, soft on the inside, and they are huge!

4) Sgt. Pepper's Chipotle del Sol: This spicy, smoky seasoning is my secret ingredient for making great queso. Mixed with kosher salt, it makes a great rim for Bloody Marys, margaritas, and micheladas.

5) Gitcho Michelada Mix: Speaking of micheladas, this mix is the closest I've found to my own blend. It's great in a pinch, and with an extra squeeze of lime, I have used it as a tequila chaser in lieu of sangrita.

6) Zhi Tea: Zhi's soothing Sweet Desert Delight red-tea blend, with coconut, cacao nibs, star anise, and cinnamon, is my latest addiction, especially after a nice meal on a cold night.

7) Pistachio & Roasted Pepper Dip from Classy Delites: This stuff is so good, I eat it with a spoon right out of the jar, but it's also great as a dip for chips or veggies, as a topping for burgers or sandwiches, or with grilled chicken or pork.

8) Spiceburst Savory Pomegranate Glaze: Sweet, salty, and tangy, this delectable glaze goes amazingly well on roast pork and fowl, but I also like to mix a dab with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar for a quick and unusual salad dressing.

9) Cocoa Puro Kakáwa Cocoa Beans: These impossibly addictive bites of freshly roasted cocoa beans covered in layers of white, milk, and dark chocolate and rolled in pure cocoa powder must be the reason why the scientific name of the chocolate tree means "food of the gods."

10) Veldhuizen artisanal cheeses: Made in Dublin, Texas, from grass-fed, free-range cows' milk, these amazing cheeses will knock your socks off. Personal favorites are the Bosque Blue and the Paragon, but there's nothing wrong with the awesome Caraway Cheddar.

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