Whenever I visit other places, I’m usually at a loss for a good host gift to bring from Houston. This season, whether you’re traveling out of state or staying in town, consider picking up one of the following items to execute the dual tasks of impressing your family and friends while showcasing some of Houston’s finest offerings.
Whiskey-infused maple syrup from Yellow Rose Distilling: After creating its fine whiskey, this three-year old distillery sends off its used whiskey barrels to Vermont where they are used to age maple syrup, imparting a delightfully smoky flavor to the amber liquid. At $25 a pop, this is a unique gift perfect for the foodie friend who has everything.
Barbecue spice rub from multiple locations: By far the number one requested cuisine when out-of-state visitors come to town is barbecue — so why not bring the barbecue to them? Killen’s sells its BBQ Rub — a mix of black pepper, lemon pepper, paprika, granulated garlic, brown sugar and more — as well as its S + P Blend — a mix of three different grinds of Tellicherry peppercorns and kosher salt that is ideal for brisket, beef ribs, steaks and more — in-store and at select H-E-Bs. The blends, which are freshly ground and packaged weekly, sell in six- and 12-ounce bottles for $5.95 and $13.95, respectively. Alternatively, other quality spice rubs can be found from local companies Brigg’s True, The Grateful Bread and Savory Spice Shop in Rice Village.
Texas Trio from Houston Dairymaids: If there were to be a food antithesis to the eternally unappreciated holiday fruitcake, I would nominate cheese. While you can order several gift-worthy cheese-of-the-month packages through the Heights-based Houston Dairymaids, the Texas Trio stands out as a special selection of three of Texas’s best handmade cheeses that is sure to be appreciated by anyone.
Condiments from Bernie’s Burger Bus: For any friend or family member who loves piling on the condiments, look no further than a bottle of freshly made ketchup from Justin Turner. The scratch-made, small-batch ketchup is made with fresh tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, spices, and local wildflower honey, available at both restaurant locations for $6.50 or at Whole Foods Market.
Local jams from multiple locations: Fine dining and shopping at the same time — some restaurants make it easy to kill two birds with one stone. You can pick up Reef’s jalapeño apple jelly the next time you stop in, or try some of the myriad pickles and jams sold at Revival Market or jams at Underbelly on your next night out.
Seasoning or waffle mix from The Breakfast Klub: For the hearty breakfast lover, pick up The Breakfast Klub’s waffle and pancake mix ($5.99), the restaurant's signature seasoning mix ($7.50) or its “seasoned chikin koating” and tell the gift recipient that you just saved him or her a two-hour wait in line for brunch. Available in-store or online.
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Texas Trio from The Great Texas Pecan Candy Co.: This Katy-based company sells a wide assortment of delicious pecan-based confections. The Texas Trio includes best-seller Pecan Roca, Pecan Beer Nuts and “Poppin’ Pecans,” a mix of popcorn, pecans and a brittle topping (kind of like the Southern version of Moose Munch).
Buc-ee’s Beaver Nuggets from Buc-ee’s: If you find yourself driving out of town empty-handed, Buc-ee's is never a bad last resort. Even though no one outside Texas may understand the Buc-ee craze that pervades this great state, pretty much any gift receiver will be amused or at least intrigued by this #1-selling item.