The best gourmet foods for spring entertaining
Spring means casual get-togethers, grilling on the patio with friends and warm weather cocktail parties. Instead of relying on your usual spring fare, update your entertaining menu with these must-try gourmet foods.
Texas Tamale Co. Homemade Tamale Kits (Starting at $55)
Seriously, do you really want to spend another Memorial Day or spring fling flipping burgers? Deliciously surprise your summer party guests with a variety of world-famous tamales. Texas Tamale Co. offers five amazing tamales -- beef, chicken, spinach, black bean and pork -- that are all lard- and gluten-free. Best yet, you can get these tasty cornhusk-wrapped Mexican treats to the table in 20 minutes or less. Partner them with a batch of Texas Tamale Co. Alamo Peach Salsa, Jalapeno Sweet Relish, Homestyle Chili or Chili con Queso.
Honey Ridge Grilling Sauces ($6)
Honey Ridge Farms knows that honey and BBQ go hand in hand. The honey-centric family-owned company offers three sweet-savory grilling sauces to give your grilled goods great flavor. Choose from mild (just a little sting of heat), medium (the original Honey Ridge grilling sauce) and hot (made with habanero). As a bonus, all of Honey Ridge grilling sauces are gluten-free. Be sure to check out the company's array of honey glazes, honey vinegars and honey cremes for all of your spring and summer entertaining needs.
Genuine Borneo Spicy Black Pepper Sauce (Price varies)
A newcomer to the gourmet food scene, Genuine Borneo is an eco-friendly company committed to preserving the Borneo rain forests while providing a sustainable income for the island's indigenous people. The company's Spicy Black Pepper Sauce is a mouthwatering marriage of dried Borneo peppers and pure cane sugar that can be used as a sauce for dipping, grilling and stir-fry or used as a marinade. We love it with steak, but you can also slather it on chicken, lamb or pork as well as pour it over your favorite soft white cheese to serve with crackers for an appetizer or lunch.
Cat Cora's Organic Mixed Marinated Olives ($6)
Marinated olives add elegance to any food-centered gathering. Cat Cora's mixed olives are organically grown, carefully selected and packed with extra virgin olive oil. We suggest serving these flavorful olives with tangy cubes of feta cheese.
Brix Chocolate for Wine ($50 for a 4-pack)
Imagine sitting on your patio with your closest friends, sipping fine wine and nibbling deep, dark, delicious chocolate. Brix Chocolate can make this foodie fantasy a reality. Offering four distinct chocolates -- milk, smooth, medium dark and extra dark -- to pair with your favorite drink. From enjoying milk chocolate with sherry to losing yourself with an extra dark chocolate and cabernet sauvignon pairing, chocolate and wine is the perfect excuse to throw a party.
Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup ($11)
We can't get enough of the Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup. Exuding a raspberry-rhubarb flavor and a brilliant crimson hue, these gorgeous flowers can be dropped into a glass of Champagne or other cocktails as well as impressively displayed as edible cupcake or cheesecake decor or used in a number of eye-catching desserts.
Sprinkles CakeShooters ($42 per dozen)
Whether you're throwing your kids a birthday party or inviting your BFFs over for a girls-only gathering, CakeShooters are a must! A favorite of actress Tori Spelling, these mess-free cake pops come in a scrumptious variety of flavors and can be custom ordered for vegan and gluten-free diets.
Kitchen Table Bakers Parmesan Cheese Crisps ($18 for 3-pack)
Instead of the usual party cracker, put these 100 percent aged Parmesan cheese crisps on the nibble list. Low in calories and carbs, these gluten-free cheesy crackers are naturally high in calcium and protein, and will healthfully satisfy those salty and crunchy cravings. Available in nine fab flavors, we recommend buying them all.
Folie a Deux 2010 Sonoma County Merlot ($18)
If you're looking for an outstanding wine with a touch of fun, we suggest any of the four newly-released wines from Folie a Deux, a Sonoma Valley winery founded by two wine-loving psychiatrists who named their winery after the French term for "a passion shared by two." We, too, share the passion for their wine, and particularly love the Folie a Deux Merlot, a red wine that offers ripe, juicy, black cherry flavors complemented by enticing notes of vanilla, tea and cocoa. In addition to this fruity Merlot, you can also entertain your guests with the winery's 2010 Russian River Chardonnay, 2009 Alexander Valley Carbernet Sauvignon and 2009 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel.
Marshmallow Mischief Gourmet Marshmallow Treats (Starting at $9)
Add a sweet surprise to your spring appetizer menu with Marshmallow Mischief's neat little bites of crisped brown rice ensconced in marshmallows and all-natural exotic flavorings. These can't-stop-at-one gourmet eats come in eight flavors, including Gingerlicious, Lava Aloha and Peace Love and Peanut Butter.