Tuesday, December 15, 2009 , Updated 3:29 p.m., December 16, 2009
Local food and wine gift ideas abound in Fort Worth
Local produce, coffee, wine, beer, and tamales are all on Eat This Fort Worth's list this year.
If you’ve got food loving folks on your Christmas list, here’s some food and wine gift ideas with local flavor. Shopping Fort Worth-area businesses helps our local economy and is a lot more pleasant than having to battle crowds and traffic at the area big box stores and malls. Here’s Part 1 of my gift giving guide; tune in tomorrow for more Fort Worth food-centric gift ideas.
1. Gift certificates
A gift certificate to a local restaurant will always please any foodie and keeps our independent restaurants going strong. A gift certificate to the newly opened Tillman’s would surely be a hit (hint, hint, Santa!). Other good options include: Buttons, Lanny’s Alta Cocina Mexicana, Aventino’s, Paco and John's, Lambert’s, Winslow’s Wine Cafe, Sapristi, Lili’s Bistro, Grace, Brix, and Spiral Diner.
2. Cowtown Farmer’s Market for locally produced gifts
Visit the Cowtown Farmer’s Market and find a nice selection of gift items.
Wildflower Soaps carries hand crafted soaps made with natural ingredients that make for wonderful stocking stuffers. They carry a wide variety of scents that are sure to please.
Also make sure to visit Artisan Baking Company and pick up some cranberry bread and other holiday goodies like scones, cocoa mixes, and homemade marshmallows. If you can’t make it to the Farmers Market you can always visit the bakery – more on that tomorrow.
Last weekend at the Farmers Market I picked up gorgeous potted paperwhites for $12. These make great hostess gifts. Some of jarred salsas and jams at the Farmers Market would also make great stocking stuffers or gifts for co-workers.
For the coffee lover you’ll find Arduro Bean Micro-Roasters at the Farmers Market, with a nice selection of coffees to suit many tastes. The Costa Rican beans offer a nice medium roast and The Cowtown Blend is a strong, dark, bolder roast. Check out their website for all the flavors they have available. A cup of Arduro coffee is about the only thing that will make me crawl out of bed most mornings.
With a little creativity you could put together quite a nice gift package or stocking stuffers all from local producers – what a great way to support the local economy. Wednesdays and Saturdays 8-noon.
3. Wine from local wineries
Drive about 15 minutes away from Downtown to the pastoral LightCatcher Winery to pick up some lovely bottles of wine for your friends and loved ones. While you’re there you can enjoy a tasting to find just the right bottle to gift. I was won over by the Texas Roads Merlot on my last visit. They can package up gifts as well, saving you some time.
Times Ten Cellars also offers a nice assortment of wines. The 2007 Malbec and 2007 Zinfandel left a great impression on my last visit. Now if you really want to wander down a wine trail head to Grapevine and you’ll find several wineries to choose from, here’s a handy list.
4. Tamales from Hot Damn, Tamales
In my family instead of cookie exchanges, we have tamale exchanges. My family seems to provide tamales just about every week from Thanksgiving through New Year's. Some are made by family members, some specialty tamales my mom orders from particular vendors. In Texas, tamales are an important part of the holiday season and food loving friends or co-workers would love you even more if you come bearing a dozen or so tamales.
Hot Damn, Tamales on Magnolia Avenue in Fort Worth provides a superior tamale. They differ a bit than a traditional tamale in that the masa is less greasy and the fillings are more on the upscale side. I’m all for tradition, but I love the “modern” tamales that Hot Damn, Tamales makes. The vegetarian and vegan fillings are particularly tasty and not a version I can find at my Abuela’s house. If you’ve got distant relatives, you can send a little taste of Texas by shipping them some Hot Damn, Tamales. Check out the website for more gourmet tamale flavors and shipping and ordering information.
In a small house on 8th Avenue you’ll find the world of spices that Pendery’s has to offer. Any foodie would lose themselves in the vast array of spices and blends – from exotic African Coast blends, charmoula, tabil, and tandoori to good old fashioned apple pie spice and chili spices. If you don’t know what to do with all these spices, they carry plenty of cookbooks to get you started on a spicy adventure.
Gift baskets are available, but you could have great fun crafting the perfect gift from their amazing selection of goodies. The retail store is in the Medical District on 8th avenue. Throw in a mortar and pestle for grinding these exotic spices.
6. Local beer
Stop by Rahr & Sons Brewery for the Wednesday or Saturday tastings and pick up some gifts from the gift shop. Rahr glasses, t-shirts, and ball caps make great gifts especially when rounded out with a six-pack (which can be found at Central Market).
The Covey Restaurant and Brewery also offers Covey Beer for a year, which for growlers is $120 for 12 months or Pints for $30 for 12 months. My favorite is the Horned Frog Pale Ale.
7. Cooking class from Central Market
This is a great gift if you have someone on your list that seems to have everything or is just plain hard to shop for. Anyone from a newbie cook to a seasoned gourmand will appreciate the opportunity to learn how to roll sushi, make pasta, or bread. Some classes are less hands on, where you observe a local chef preparing dishes that you sample along with wine pairings. Check the Central Market Cooking School schedule to select a class. Best of all, you can purchase online.
UPDATE: So I got a little carried away with all the gift ideas this year, here’s Part 2 of Fort Worth Food and Wine gifts. Happy Shopping!
1. Artisan Baking Company Gift Basket
Artisan Baking Company uses the highest quality ingredients including local ingredients when possible resulting in fresh and delicious breads. Artisan Baking Company offers several custom Gift Baskets featuring their amazing breads that would make great gifts. Christmas morning will be that much better if you find the Breakfast Basket under your tree with a loaf of Breakfast Bread, 4 scones, 2 muffins and a pound of locally roasted Arduro Coffee ($35). Several other gift basket options are available, check their website for details. 4900 White Settlement Road, Fort Worth TX.
If you haven’t visited the Cupcake Cottage, you’re missing out. Bring a dozen of these babies to to your next holiday gathering and they are sure to be a hit. My favorite is the Fiori di Sicilia.
They also have cuter than cute cupcake themed gifts. How adorable is this cupcake and Fort Worth themed T-shirt.
3. Walter Kaufmann’s Chef's Holiday Pantry
The Fort Worth Chapter of The Chef’s Association is sponsoring the Third Annual Chef’s Holiday Pantry. If any of you can remember The Swiss House, you’ll recognize that this event is named for culinary luminary, Chef Walter Kaufmann.
Local chefs prepare and donate all sorts of goodies: pies, cakes, cookies, etc. Proceeds from items sold benefit Tarrant Area Food Banks Operation Frontline nutrition education as well as to support the Chef’s Association. The event takes place in front of Macy’s at Ridgmar Mall in Fort Worth, Saturday, December 19 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Go and support a good cause and pick up some chef-made goodies.
4. Nuts from Vending Nut Company
Nuts from Vending Nut Company make a great stocking stuffer or teacher gifts. The Vending Nut Company roasts nuts onsite at the facilities. In addition to nuts you’ll find dried fruits, spicy snack blends, chocolates and candies. Gift baskets are conveniently all packaged up and ready to go for the truly challenged gift givers.
5. Local Cookbooks
Along the same lines check out The Texas Cowboy Kitchen by local chef Grady Spears and local food writer June Naylor. The Texas Cowboy Kitchen gives us a down home and upscale take on cowboy cuisine as well as a look at the history of the Chisolm Trail.
Even though it may be freezing outside, you may know someone that clamors for the frozen goodness at Yogolait. My kids can’t get enough of that place, they love the novelty of serving your own yogurt and toppings. This is a family run business and I love the loungy, laid back vibe with uber cool touches such as all the Kid Robot figures on display. A gift certificate from here would certainly come in handy on those random 70 degree winter days we’ve been having. 3250 Hulen Street #150, Fort Worth TX 76107.
If you know someone with a serious chocolate obsession, you will surely score points if you gift them handmade truffles from Hot Chocolates in Hurst. All the chocolate confections at Hot Chocolates in Hurst are made on site, you can even watch them making it through a huge window at the entrance of the store.
When Russell Stover won’t do, you have to come here. Their adorable chocolate-dipped marshmallows or gingerbread cookies would delight any child. They also have a nice assortment of chocolate themed t-shirts. Take a load off there and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate, perfect on a chilly day.
I don’t know what it is about the holiday season that makes a huge tinful of cheesy popcorn such a welcome sight. Fort Worth has a great source for all your popcorn cravings, King Korn Popcorn. They have many flavors, from Jalapeno Cheese to Kandied English Toffee. These can be packaged up in any number of festive containers, making them an easy and tasty gift to give. Check online for all their ordering information.
Let’s face it, times are tough for many folks right now and if you’re able to donate to the Tarrant Area Food Bank or any other charitable organization now is the time to do it.
I wish everyone the best during this holiday season!
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