Chef Philippe’s Kitchen Apple Cider Sauce, Grand Prairie
This thin, apple-flavored sauce will sweeten up your pork roasts, chops, and hams. Eight-ounce jar $7.99. 800-648-2837 or saucestreet.com.
Ham I Am! Hogwash, Dallas
Besides having a cute label and clever name, Hogwash is a savory sauce or glaze for pork and ham. It’s made with horseradish, brown sugar, lemon juice, and a few secret ingredients, and with the addition of soy sauce, it can even be used as a dip for spring rolls. Eight-ounce jar $6. 800-742-6426 or hamiam.com.
Spiceburst Rocket Sauce and Pomegranate Glaze, Austin
Spiceburst makes two unusual condiments for meats. The first is Rocket Sauce, which is the company’s version of a spicy, mustardlike condiment popular in Barbados. The company’s savory Pomegranate Glaze is fruity, sweet, and salty, with a lavender undertone. Eight-ounce bottle of Rocket Sauce $5.99, four-ounce jar of Pomegranate Glaze $6.99. 512-970-5808 or spiceburst.com.
Whitson’s Moist Chili Seasoning, Terlingua
From 1932 to 1970 (with a break during World War II), Texas-based Whitson’s Moist Chili seasoning was a familiar sight on grocery shelves in the Lone Star State, one of five states where Whitson’s sold its distinctive line of condiments, relishes, pickles, and such. The company went out of business until a granddaughter of the founder started selling the chili seasoning out of her kitchen in the eighties. Then, in 2004, another granddaughter revived the business and perfected the recipe. Her ancho-chile-and-spice paste is deeply flavorful and packs some serious heat—one little jar (plus some masa and bouillon) will turn two-and-a-half pounds of meat into great chili in fifteen minutes flat. $4.95 a jar. 432-371-2202 or whitsonschile.com.
Heritage Family Specialty Foods Southwestern Jalapeño Cheese Ring, Grand Prairie
Trust us: This exceptionally tasty queso rivals—no, bests—Ro-Tel and Velveeta. It comes in an attractive copper mold (which is why it’s so expensive) along with a bottle of jalapeño glaze to drizzle on top. Just heat and serve; it may become your favorite new party dip. One ring yields twenty to thirty servings. $69. 800-648-2837 or hfsfoods.com.
Edes Custom Meats Cured Hickory Smoked Bacon and Smoked Beef Tenderloin, Amarillo
With more lean meat than fat, Edes’s thickly sliced bacon strips have a light, fresh flavor. The company’s beef tenderloin is smoked to a perfect medium-rare, giving it an excellent texture and a meaty taste. Bacon $2.99 a pound, tenderloin $28 a pound. 806-622-0205 or 6700 McCormick Rd., Amarillo 79118.
Ranch Oak Farm Honey Glazed Smoked Ham, Fort Worth
No need to worry whether you’ll run out of food with Ranch Oak Farm’s substantial ham on your holiday table. Approximately 14 pounds $99.95 if shipped ground, $124.95 air. 800-888-0327 or ranchoak.com.
Texas Best Beef Jerky Hot Beef Jerky, Wichita Falls
Even if you aren’t usually a fan of jerky, you’ll be impressed with this version. It’s not too dry, and the flavor is full and slightly sweet. $22 a pound. 800-373-9679 or texasbestbeefjerky.com.
Willy Ray’s Bar-B-Q Pork Roast, Beaumont
Slow cooked over red oak, Willy Ray’s pork roast delivers real smoke flavor in every bite. Approximately 6.5 pounds $65. 409-832-7770 or illyraysbbq.com.
Hot Damn, Tamales!, Fort Worth
Nontraditional fillings—beef tenderloin, beer-and-jalapeño—make Hot Damn tamales worth tasting. The masa, admirably ungreasy, is more crumbly than some. Vegetable sampler (two dozen) $55.75, meat or combo sampler (two dozen) $69.75 (shipping is included). 877-826-2539 or hotdamntamales.com.
Texas Elk Company Elk Tamales, Lubbock
Made with Texas farm-raised elk, these tamales have a perfect ratio of masa to filling; plus, they didn’t crumble the moment we put a fork into them. Four dozen $40. 866-839-2735 or texaselkcompany.com.
Great San Saba River Pecan Company Pecan Pie, San Saba
This is the rare pecan pie that tastes as good as it looks, with a quite sweet filling and a high-quality, slightly salty crust. Pecan halves blanket the top. It could win a beauty and a flavor contest. $21.95. 800-621-8121 or greatpecans.com.
Heritage Pie Cobblers-in-a-Jar, Jasper
Perfect for late-night cravings, these cobblers come in a jar (yes, crust included, and while it was soggy, we liked it). They are ready to go when the mood strikes you. Apple was our favorite, but peach came in a close second. Three-pack of sixteen-ounce jars $32.95. 877-816-1400 or heritagepies.com.
Millican Pecan Company Chocolate Pecan Pie, San Saba
The emphasis is on chocolate in this variation on the Texas classic. If you didn’t know there is syrup in the filling, you’d hardly guess. Eight-inch pie $18.75. Phone: 866-484-6358; fax: 206-222-2056; or pecancompany.com.
Willy Ray’s Bar-B-Q Carrot Soufflé, Beaumont
Williy Ray’s sells its fluffy puréed carrots as a side dish, but they could just as easily be the filling for a fantastic pie—we think it would be better than sweet-potato pie, and that’s saying a lot. One quart $10. 409-832-7770 or illyraysbbq.com.
El Rey Chocolate, Fredericksburg
The North American headquarters of this Venezuelan chocolate company is in Frederickburg, yes, our Fredericksburg. Its intense flavor comes from the percentage of cacao in each blend—we found 70 percent the most harmonious. But there’s milk and white chocolate, too. Six standard-size (80-gram) bars $9.95. 830-997-2200 or elreychocolate.com.
Miles of Chocolate Chocolate, Austin
The best way to describe Miles Compton III’s utterly delectable creation is a hybrid between brownies and fudge. It strikes just the right balance of solid and gooey and is best at room temperature. Medium-sized brick (2.25 pounds) $30. 512-323-5900 or milesofchocolate.com.
SXUL Chocolates, Austin
Better than sex? Maybe. Curl up in bed with a box of these bonbons (a dark-chocolate shell encasing a nearly-as-dark-chocolate-ganache center) and find out. We can guarantee that one is not enough. Fifteen pieces $35.99. 512-731-9904 or sxulchocolate.com.
The choice of flavors—red, white, pink, or port —is up to you. We did not pick favorites here because peoples’ taste in wine is so individual. All of the five wineries below are top award winners and all ship to destinations in Texas and selected other states. (For links to additional Texas vineyards and wineries with Web sites, go to texasmonthly.com wineries.)
Fall Creek Vineyards, 325-379-5361 or fcv.com;
Flat Creek, 512-267-6310 or flatcreekestate.com;
Llano Estacado Winery, 800-634-3854 or llanowine.com;
Pleasant Hill Winery, 979-830-8463 or pleasanthillwinery.com;
Spicewood Vineyards, 830-693-5328 or spicewoodvineyards.com.