Monday, November 16, 2020

An Austin Food Lover's Holiday Gift Guide 2020

2020 has been a challenge to say the least! Many...Most regular events as we know it have unfortunately been canceled outright or pivoted to online, and dining at a restaurant looks a whole lot different than it used to. I have certainly taken advantage of several restaurants that now offer take out options, and hope that will continue to be offered when life as we know it returns to "normal." 

If you're looking for holiday gifts/experiences or a place to hold a private gathering, here are some suggestions. And if you're feeling generous and have some cash to spare, remember that a few of these are non-profit organizations who could definitely use some support!

Time sensitive, online auctions!

One of my past Austin Empty Bowl purchases.

1) The Austin Empty Bowl Project is near and dear to my heart, as I have volunteered for them the past several years. Normally held the Sunday before Thanksgiving at the Central Texas Food Bank, you purchase one (or more!) locally made (some by students, others by professional ceramists) for $25, get to eat a bowl of soup prepared by an area restaurant, and then bowls are rinsed and you get to take it home. This year, their silent auction of various ceramic pieces is of course online, bidding now through November 22nd (monetary donations welcome beyond that!). Last year they raised over $100,000 which benefited CTFB and Meals on Wheels.

2) Texas Food + Wine Alliance Holiday Auction has many experiences, classes, and products available for bidding though November 22nd as well. 

3) Local restaurant Tso Chinese has formed #TsoGiving, which has already raised $100,000 in a few short months to help with meal assistance to those facing hunger in Austin due to the pandemic.  Donations are accepted via Venmo or Go Fund Me, and this holiday season they are working with area social service agencies such as Asian Family Support Services, People's Community Clinic and SAFE.

Foodie gifts

Foodie Passport from JettSet Local

1) Perhaps your favorite Austin-area food-obsessed person would like the gift of a 2021 Foodie Passport from JettSet Local? You get $10 off a $25 purchase at 25 different eateries around the Austin area. Use it three times, and it pays for itself!  And pssst! I'll soon be doing an Instagram giveaway for a passport in the next couple weeks, so keep an eye on my page! {Don't have Insta, but are interested in entering? Leave a note in the comments below, and I'll enter you in.}

2) I recently stumbled across the site Goldbelly, which has actually been around since like 2013, but they're new to me! You can order food from some of your favorite places nationwide! Arthur Bryant BBQ in Kansas City? Sweets from the Cake Boss? Heck, I was just excited to see the neighborhood deli that I grew up with in Washington, DC on there. Definitely something for everyone.

3) Last year, Eater Austin published their holiday gift guide. Here's the 2019 version, and when the 2020 comes out, I'll post it here.  Update: here's the 2020 version.

4) Online classes. I can vouch for ones from Antonelli's Cheese, and have heard that Air B + B has some which are also fun. Learn something new in your stretchy pants at home!

5) Update: Local (to Austin!) food subscription boxes + more suggestions from Austin American-Statesman food writer Addie Broyles.

6) Food + Wine Magazine's best mail-order food gifts from each state

Comfort foods

1) Liquids. Central Texas has tons of wine, beer + spirit makers. But  there's also Fond Bone Broth, which is healthy and delicious! 

Photo courtesy Cocoa Puro's Instagram page

2) Chocolate. Delysia and Cocoa Puro are two local specialists. Delysia has truffles with very unique flavor combos, and I've known the excellent folks at Cocoa Puro for a long time, and they make a unique thing called kakawa beans. It's a cacao nib enrobed in white, milk, and dark chocolate then dusted with cocoa powder. Trust me, they're addictive and incredible!

Chocolate croissant from Vivian's

3) Carbs.  Check out Blue Door Sweets for locally made cinnamon buns, Confituras for biscuits, Vivian's Boulangerie for French-style pastries, and Pasta  + Company for fresh made pasta.

Location, location, location...

The McGuire Moorman Hospitality Group sent an email reminder that many of their restaurants have private dining spaces for your holiday gatherings. Contact your favorite restaurant of theirs for details, including: Lambert's, Elizabeth Street Cafe, Josephine, Jeffrey's, Joann's, Lou's, Neighborhood Sushi. Catering is also available through several of these, as well as Clark's and Sweetish Hill. Book now!

Have additional holiday gift ideas? Drop a note below! Let's kick 2020 to the curb on a high note!