We’ve spent the fall seeking out brands and businesses that emphasize the same goals we do: excellence on a local, sustainable basis. In celebration of a genuine Austin holiday, we are pointing our readers to companies who combine a passion for providing the finest products in town with a dedication to carrying on the Austin tradition of locally based sources of creativity and production. Below, you’ll find our favorite gift ideas for the food-obsessed recipient in your life.
Antonelli’s Cheese Shop
When you find out how dedicated Antonelli’s is to combining business with sustainability, it’s hard not to fall in love; add in some of their top-of-the-line cheeses, and the combination of flavor and community support is a decadent one-two punch. Antonelli’s operates day-to-day out of two locations: the cozy flagship store in the heart of Hyde Park (4420 Duval St.) and the Fareground downtown (111 Congress). The in-store experience is defined by friendly folks offering delicious cheeses alongside a beautiful array of cured meats, fruits and nuts that come together for a wide array of possible cheese trays.
On top of a dynamite product offered by passionate cheesemongers, the Antonelli’s business and brand is built on a foundation of constant community support and outreach. In fact, their website dedicates about as much space to their philanthropy efforts as it does to cheese; in numerous monthly and yearly programs, Antonelli’s works with local nonprofits to provide access to sustainable food and environmentally conscious production. Give a cheese gift from Antonelli’s this year to invest in small business, local philanthropy, and a stunning product.
As their website explains:
“Unfortunately you can't taste them through your screen. So come by the shop and let our passionate team of cheesemongers do what they do best: guide you through the case sharing the stories of their favorite products and offering small tastes to make you smile.”
Johnson’s Backyard Garden
We’ve had a blast working with Johnson’s Backyard Garden this fall, inventing recipes to remind Austinites that a full meal constructed from local ingredients is never more than a few clicks (or a trip to one of their farmers’ market stands) away. JBG started as an acre farm in the East Austin backyard of founder Brenton Johnson, and has since exploded into a 186 acre operation in Garfield, Texas, currently home to 200 different crops grown according to certified organic standards. JBG’s Community Supported Agriculture model allows customers to advance-purchase shares of an upcoming harvest, thereby ensuring a market for farmers and local produce for consumers. Along with weekly or biweekly delivery of organic local produce (boxes come in four sizes), CSA membership with JBG includes invitations to events and classes, a weekly newsletter, special member pricing, and access to a database of recipes and tips.
JBG’s gift spread is as impressive as their crop operation. Choose from various-sized CSA boxes sent to the home of your chosen recipient, or send a few “Farmers’ Market Bucks,” redeemable at one of the many markets you’ll find double-wide displays of the seasonal produce selection. Even better: give a “sponsored share,” one or several boxes of produce sent directly to help feed Texan children and young adults with histories of trauma and abuse, donated in the name of your recipient. A handwritten note from the farmer will be sent to thank your chosen donor.
And, of course, pick up some of their signature merch while you’re at it.
Keith Kreeger Studios
For the person in your life seeking handcrafted, cream-of-the-crop goods, you have to take a look at the porcelain dining collection from Austin’s Keith Kreeger. Kreeger spent 12 years on Cape Cod before moving to Austin to reexamine his project, and his studio’s focus on “enhancing the everyday” has given way to tremendous results: Kreeger’s products can be seen on tables in the very finest restaurants in Austin and fine dining establishments from coast to coast.
Kreeger’s project embodies the spirit of local, artisanal excellence. Every piece is handmade in Austin, with a dual emphasis on beauty and everyday durability, with individual pieces taking up to three weeks to complete the painstaking process necessary for the undeniable quality of the final products. The entire stock of available pieces is found on Kreeger’s online catalog, but so is an added note: “We are always up for the challenge of custom work. We're able to tackle any project, whether it's a 12 piece place setting or a full run of dinnerware for a 200 seat restaurant.”
Contact Keith Kreeger to invest in the finest handcrafted porcelain available in town (and the country). Beyond the durability and aesthetic value of the pieces, you can get involved in the creation of something new: a custom set of dinnerware for the fine diner in your life.
Nine Banded Whiskey
To round out our tour of the best Austin gift suppliers for this holiday’s foodie friend, we’re inviting a little “holiday cheer” into your cocktails and recipes, with small batch whiskey from Nine Banded. Founded in Austin and currently located in Dripping Springs, Nine Banded Whiskey uses some of the purest water in the state, drawn from a spring 60 miles into the Hill Country. The handcrafted product combines aged Kentucky bourbon with a corn and rye whiskey meant amplify the bourbon flavors, and the result is magical. Check out their site for a custom cocktails.
We love Nine Banded because the depth of flavors lends itself equally to fine cooking as it does to responsible consumption: at a grill competition earlier in the year, we designed a boozy wing glaze that represents just one of the practical culinary applications for this beautiful whiskey. Plus, making a holiday ham glaze with Nine Banded means we get to sneak a little cheer into our holiday beverage.
Happy Holidays from Rosso & Flynn
This year we’re taking time to appreciate the local abundance of businesses dedicated to business practices that fall in line with our mission. Pick gifts for your loved ones that provide an investment in the creative spirit and sustainable methods found across our great city, and have a very happy holiday.