We've all got foodie friends who appreciate culinary gifts. Not just as stocking stuffers but as presents under their holiday tree.
When shopping for them this year, why not seek out San Antonio-area products for a truly special and off-the-beaten path food gift? You can spend locally while letting your friend know you picked up something that required a little more looking around than a quick stop by Sur la Table or another chain store.
Here are four different categories where San Antonio producers excel.
Stocking the pantry
San Antonians looking to liven up their culinary creations are fortunate to have locally produced spice options available to fortify their pantries. The fun part about discovering Alamo City-made blends is that you can usually chat with the chef who created them — and get pointers on their best uses.
Texas Black Gold Garlic (texasblackgoldgarlic.com), for example, is a regular presence at area farmers markets, where its heat-aged, caramelized garlic products have developed a strong following. These days, the Black Gold team also produces hot sauces, a wing sauce, seasoned sea salt and a versatile coffee-spice rub that can be used on all manners of proteins. Unsurprisingly, Texas Black Gold's rub hits the palate with sweet, caramelized garlic flavor first, then opens up into rich pepper, cocoa and smoky notes.
Another SA spicemonger, chef Mona's All Purpose Seasoning (mapsngs.com), offers a trio of spice blends inspired by chef Mona Giroux's Southern upbringing and her husband's Caribbean background. Offered in original, mild and spicy heat levels, the blends can amp up proteins, veggies or even salty snacks such as popcorn or trail mix. Bonus: you can get all three spice levels in a gift box from the chef's website.
Home cooks, whether novices or seasoned pros, need properly maintained equipment to whip up their best eats. While it can be intimidating to gift someone a high-quality implement such as a knife, shopping with knowledgeable local vendors can help you make an informed choice.
Justin Center (theknifeguysa.com) and Rodriguez Butcher Supply (homebutcher.com) are two San Antonio-based businesses that offer knife honing and sharpening, and the latter offer gift cards that can make great gifts for folks who cook at home.
Heavy duty wooden cutting boards are also trending these days, but if you're considering gifting one, be sure to snag some beeswax or food-grade mineral oil to keep it from drying out. Seguin-based Holdman Honey (holdmanhoney.square.site) offers one-pound blocks of Texas beeswax for just such a purpose.
When shopping for home cooks who already have all the toys, it may be worth gifting a cookbook or two to get their culinary juices flowing.
San Antonio Cooks (Figure 1 Publishing) showcases recipes from Alamo City culinary powerhouses including Dashi Sichuan Kitchen + Bar's Kristina Zhao, Clementine power couple Elise and John Russ, Ming's namesake Ming Qian von Bargen and Geronimo Lopez of Botika. Author Julia Rosenfeld uses more than 15 years of food writing experience to connect with chefs about their favorite recipes — and help home cooks create and share those eats.
For those with more of a sweet tooth, local food blogger Megan Neveu will drop her new cookbook Sugar + Spice Cookies (Page Street Publishing) Dec. 13, with 60 recipes that aim to transform ordinary cookie flavor combinations with aromatic herbs, sweet spices and seasonal fruits. In addition to the cookies of the book's title, readers can also expect recipes for brownie-cookie hybrids, cookie bars and pinwheels.
Kitschy kitchen textiles
They say a person's home is an extension of themselves, so why not gift some fun, unexpected kitchen linens that match your friends' personalities? San Antonio's boutique scene is popping these days, and many of them offer handcrafted kitchen textiles that aren't only cute but reusable and better for the environment.
Pearl's newest home decor boutique Rancho Diaz carries napkins, potholders and tea towels that feature bright colors, interesting patterns and artisanal details. For the particularly messy cook in your life, the shop carries woven Guatemalan aprons in a variety of colors and patterns that pop. Rancho Diaz, 303 Pearl Parkway, #101, (210) 670-5509, ranchodiaz.com.
Monte Vista shop Chica Verde largely focuses on outdoor items such as cacti and succulents in funky vessels. However, you can also find fun, colorful tea towels, coaster sets and bottle openers for the foodie who likes a little flair. If you're lucky enough to catch owner Valerie Reynolds loading in some new arrivals, you may even snag an attractive plant stand for the home cook who grows their own cooking herbs. Chica Verde, 2314 San Pedro Ave., chicaverde.net.