The Austin Chronicle

Season's Eatings

Our guide to finally shutting up your in-laws

December 5, 2014, Food

We'll admit it; we don't always like to share. But something about the holidays gets us in the mood. Maybe it's the crisp weather or the cheery jingles. Maybe it's the smell of pine in the air. Or maybe it's that a well-considered foodie gift can silence the crankiest of cousins. Now that's a tiding of comfort and joy.

Tumbled Over

$8-20. Métier Cook's Supply, 1805 S. First, 512/276-2605.

The Austinite's gift-giving cup runneth over at Métier. The charming South First bungalow hosts the mother lode of goodies for the serious food professional and the hardcore hobbyist alike, from fancy knives to myriad utensils to fermenting crocks. But what leapt into our hands were the handmade, slipcast ceramic tumblers made by local artist Melanie Schopper. Pair a couple of these with a bottle of locally made Liber & Co. cocktail syrup (we like gum syrup) and you can cross your craft cocktail-loving relative off your shopping list. – Melanie Haupt

Getting Squirrelly

Navidad Farms, 9914 Hwy. 290, 512/288-1196.

For years, Navidad Farms has specialized in selling the best fresh Texas pecans – originally from their farm near the Navidad River, but now from all over the Texas pecan belt. Get them plain, coated in candy or chocolate, or the way that we love them best: Cajun (cayenne-salted and roasted). Just west of the Y at Oak Hill, or online. – Mick Vann

Meal Ticket

There's no greater gift than a celebration of community and friends. Better still is a perfectly executed dinner using delicious, locally sourced fare without the setup or cleanup. Homegrown Revival can help you throw a seasonal dinner with all the accoutrements of a fancy supper club. Only you get to invite the guests. – Anna Toon

Sweet Sours


The Old Shrubbery Shop hearkens back to the time before refrigeration when fruits, vegetables, and herbs were preserved in vinegar to make drinks. Their shrub syrups are made in Austin with organic cane sugar and locally sourced ingredients whenever possible; available flavors change with the seasons. Peach ginger is our current favorite. Use them to flavor craft cocktails or add spark to still or sparkling water. – Virginia B. Wood

The Fresh Maker

$15.95. Eastside Cafe, 2113 Manor Rd., 512/476-5858

Fifty-five recipes that embody the seasonal freshness of Eastside Cafe are packed neatly into a spiral-bound 4-by-11-inch paperback. No gimmicks, no illustrations, Fresh & New, Tried & True is just a simple booklet guiding you through soups and stews, vinaigrettes, sauces, and one very good pie. The slim volume makes a perfect stocking stuffer or host gift. Consider this a gift that keeps on giving. – Jessi Cape

Fluff, Fluff, Pass

If we were in charge of Candy Land, we'd redevelop Licorice Forest to make more room for Fluff Meringues. The weightless drops come in flavors (strawberry anise black pepper, lavender honey) sophisticated enough for Princess Frostine, while the hand-dipped versions (hazelnut with dark chocolate and cocoa dust) would surely please Gramma Nutt. And the platinum fluff tower would be perfect for our royal salons. We suggest you start trying to curry our favor now. – Brandon Watson

Quail Mail


Chances are, even the cook who has everything doesn't have a stash of sustainably raised quail in their freezer. Lockhart-based Texas Quail Farms conveniently sells a variety of gift packs to suit all tastes and price points. Whether it is a six-pack of smoked quail, a 24-pack of semi-boneless quail, or a holiday extravaganza of semi-boneless birds, quail knots, and bacon-wrapped breasts, they'll ship anywhere in the country. – Rachel Feit

Yo, Ho, Ho


Stephanie Ayers has turned a cherished family holiday baking tradition into a delicious business using her mom's heirloom rum cake recipe. RumYum Cakes offers the original flavor as well as others she developed on her own – chocolate, pecan, coconut, banana nut, and pumpkin spice. Order online by mid-December for shipping via UPS, or make arrangements for local pickup by appointment. – V.B.W.

Wild Style

$750. 2002-B Southern Oaks, 512/983-3023.

Some moms get perfume and some moms get scarves, but we're giving our mom a culinary hunting package from Feral. Not only will she get a full day of guided deer or pig hunting, but she'll learn how to butcher her harvest. You can't get very much more local than that. – B.W.

In a Dash

Locally made in small batches by libationist extraordinaire Lara Nixon and Bar Congress manager Jason Stevens, Bad Dog Bar Craft bitters come in three flavors: Fire & Damnation, Sarsaparilla Dry Bitters, and Bloody Mary Bitters. A dash will add fantastic depth to almost any cocktail. Plus, you can find recipe suggestions from the pros online. Print a couple and include them with your gift. Hopefully you'll be invited for cocktails later. – Claudia Alarcón

Hop to It

$34.99 and up. Austin Homebrew Supply, 9129 Metric, 512/300-2739.

Combine yeast, hops, grains, and sugars, then cross your fingers and hope that you've created something that's actually palatable. Seem intimidating? Even if the extent of your beer knowledge is limited to decoding the riddles on Lone Star bottlecaps, Austin Homebrew Supply's knowledgeable staff will help everyone on your list get started. AHS is a one-stop wonderland for equipment, ingredients, and instruction. With thousands of recipe kits to choose from – including favorite brand-name brews – their new hobby might become an obsession. – Adrienne Whitehorse

Dark Magic

$5-48. Edis Chocolates, 3808 Spicewood Springs Rd., 512/795-9285.

These days, the highest-quality chocolates are being made by small, independent chocolatiers, and one of Austin's earliest and most successful craft chocolate makers is Edis Rezende. At her storefront, you can buy opulent golden boxes of her chocolate truffles in an array of refined flavors including pistachio cardamom, chai spice tea, and her biggest seller, Black Cyprus Sea Salt. – Kate Thornberry

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