For many of us, offering up a taste of the Hill Country to friends and family is an essential part of the holiday season, a tradition that hearkens back to before the “foodie fad” of recent years. Indeed, many of us old-timers recall shipping Lammes Candies famous pralines to homesick Texans or shelling homegrown pecans for Grandma’s delicious pie.
From simple hostess gifts to wrap-worthy presents or delicious items deserving a place on your own Christmas or New Year’s buffet, we’ve got a curated assortment of Hill Country foods worth a closer look. (Yes, beverage suggestions are in the mix, too.)
Some selections are made by large-scale operations; others are smaller, artisanal even. Taken together, however, they remind us of the region’s complex, dynamic flavors.
And that, Wildflowers, is something worth celebrating year ‘round.
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Alamo Pecan & Coffee Co.
Did you know this popular San Saba business got its start in part from a chat between the owners on the San Antonio Riverwalk? True story! Today the business sells coffee beans, Southern pecan pies, and more in San Saba and online. Website
Oliver Pecan Company
That the winter holidays come so quickly on the heels of pecan season accounts for the prominent place pecans have on regional menus and family spreads this time of year. Thankfully, one doesn’t have to own a tree in order to get fresh nuts—or fresh pecan brittle, for that matter. Oliver Pecan Company ships, after all. (They’ve got a fabulous spin-off business, too, a San Saba coffee shop and bistro that we simply adore.) Website
New Canaan Farms
While it’s true that you can find jars of New Canaan’s famous peach salsa and other local favorites at area retailers, you can also visit the company store just outside of Dripping Springs. We especially like their sampler packs for sending to loved ones. Website
Mi Casa Tamales
Situated between Leon Springs and Fair Oaks on that stretch of IH-10 that leads travelers out of San Antonio and into the Hill Country, Mi Casa Tamales offers up tasty, gluten-free fillings like pork, bean and cheese, and our favorite, chicken with jalapeno. Whether you dine in, take away, or ship to friends, Mi Casa’s tamales are hard to beat. Website
Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que
This part of Texas is known far and wide for its barbecue, but if we’re completely honest the original Cooper’s in Llano is our hands-down favorite place to dig into ribs, brisket, and steak. They ship online and sell gift certificates via their website. Also, while it’s true that Cooper’s can now be found in Austin and New Braunfels, we’re thinking a road trip to the original Llano trip to pick up a gift certificate is ideal. (And, yes, we’d suggest refueling with a nice lunch. Because that’s how we roll.) Website
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Deep Eddy Vodka
We don’t have an official cocktail here at THE TEXAS WILDFLOWER, but if we did, it would most likely involve Deep Eddy’s lemon vodka, sparkling club soda, and a twist of citrus for color. (So maybe we do have an official cocktail?) Other flavors are available and there’s a plain version for the purists. You can even visit the distillery, if so inclined. Website
High Street Chocolate
Oh, sure. Big league chocolate companies may claim their chocolate will “melt in your mouth,” but it wasn’t until we sampled High Street’s dark chocolate one Sunday morning at the Alamo Heights Farmers Market in San Antonio that we fully grasped what those words could mean literally. The chocolate alone is worth the trip to the market.
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Bear Moon Bakery
Wonderful cakes, pies, cookies, cupcakes are on offer at this beloved Boerne bakery. We’re partial to the seasonal petit fours enrobed in a delicate frosting that puts those hard, commercial petit fours at big box retailers to shame. (Tip: the teeny-tiny cakes make perfect host/hostess gifts.) Website
Nile Valley Hibiscus Tea
Founded in 1995 in part to support a Nubian village in the northern Sudan, this company’s refreshing hibiscus teas are unparalleled and make a delicious, refreshing drink. (We recommend the mint-infused version.) Website.
Fischer & Wieser
As one Wildflower reminded us recently on our Facebook page, nothing says “Hill Country Christmas” quite like a bar of cream cheese topped off with Fischer & Wieser’s famous roasted raspberry chipotle sauce. The company also makes a terrific array of preserved items, both sweet and savory. Our recommendation? Switch things up with their Cherry Apple Chutney on cream cheese (pictured above) or indulge in their Old-Fashioned Peach Preserves served with brie, good crackers, and a little fresh fruit. Website
Sister Creek Vineyards
For almost thirty years Sister Creek has been making wine in this tiny Hill Country town using traditional European techniques. We’re partial to the Italian-style Muscat Canelli, but fans of red will want to check out the Merlot. Website
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