Not sure what to get your foodie friends who live across the country? What about your brother-in-law? Your co-worker? Neighbor? Mom and Dad? How come there are so many people to get things for every year? Why do we keep doing this to our—sorry ... it got a little personal there.
Hey, I'm here to help (apparently myself, too). Here are some Houston-made foodie finds I'll be happy (and relieved) to gift this year.
Chili Oil and Sauce Division
Is the hot sauce lip a little crusty these days? How's that giant, five-year-old bottle of sriracha in the fridge looking? All the cool kids have moved on to chili oil, that perfect condiment that goes on just about everything (usually found with Southeast and East Asian foods), and you can get locally made versions!
Kin: Evelyn Garcia, who was making Southeast Asian foods at Politan Row before it shut down, has turned her attention to making condiments and other food-related goodies (also out of Politan Row, but you can't eat her food there). Kin's condiments include a garlicky chili oil, plus a five-spice barbecue sauce and ketchup. Also get spice rubs (including Thai, sweet and spicy, and a grill-ready blend for steaks).
Dumpling Haus: After scoring some lightly fried dumplings at its Urban Harvest Farmers Market stand (or at its Sawyer Yards brick-and-mortar), buy a jar of chili garlic sauce, which goes onto everything. There's also a "secret" dumpling sauce that'll compete against all the other chili oils in your fridge.
Plus: Tam and Diane Nguyen make sate chili oil, jar it up, and sell it for $5 per eight ounces. The brand is called Tam Out, and you can get it here. ... Pantry by Nature, a business by An Dao, specializes in tiger sate with three heat levels (spicy gets to 8,000 on the Scoville scale). Get her products here.
There's also shito sauce, the plenty-spicy West African chili oil that's made with smoked fish. I found a jar of LisaLiz shito sauce at Julie's Afro Market, and it's been a wonderfully fiery accompaniment for milder fish and meat (think salmon, chicken, lean pork).
Condiments and Pantry Finds
Honey: There's both Hive Bee Farm, which sells unfiltered honey and bee butter, and ages honey in bourbon, and Bee2Bee Honey Collective, which sells neighborhood-centric honey, along with syrups and balms. (Plus the music at Bee2Bee's stand is always great.)
Yes, you can send those you love the gift of beef this year. The gift of beef! Taste of Texas, which has a pretty substantial retail wing, offers the option to send everything from eight six-ounce filets, to some gorgeous porterhouses. (Feges BBQ was also shipping brisket, but they sold out as of Tuesday morning.)
Naturally, Goode Company's Brazos Bottom Pecan Pie in a Box is available to send out to friends, family, or yourself for a December 25 self-surprise. $42. Also get bagged pecans, a gift box with barbecue sauces, and plenty more.