We love our snowbirds and visitors--just not so many of them in line at our favorite restaurants.

Fortunately, I’ve discovered that you can get that dining-out flavor at home with a myriad of special sauces produced by our local establishments. They make great gifts, too. 

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Gold Rush proprietor Susan Caudill holds a bottle of the restaurant's secret sauce.

Image: Kim Hackett

 Like that barbecue taste? Throw some chicken on the grill and baste it with bottled sauce from Gold Rush BBQ. It comes in the three varieties served at the popular restaurant on Venice Island.

“Add it the last five minutes of grilling,” says owner Bob Overholser. Otherwise, the honey in the sauce will char the meat. If you’re baking meat or chicken, you can add it earlier, he says. 

It took the Gold Rush years of tinkering to perfect its secret sauces. Overholser won’t say what all the ingredients are but I heard him mention honey, mustard, apple, and cayenne. Gold Rush bottles and sells about 2,000 take-home sauces every year, including their hot blend, which has a serious kick of cayenne. They're introducing a new barbecue sauce for pasta this month, but you'll have to dine in to taste it.

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If spicy is your thing, you’ll want to head to the Blu Island Bistro and take home a bottle of Chef Alan’s Hellacious Sauce. The Culinary Institute of America-trained chef delivers the promised heat in a truly delicious way, if your tongue can handle it. Chef Alan Laskowski recommends it for soups, fish, meat dishes and poultry.

With Gulf fish a main staple of our diet, it’s hard to beat a nice citrus sauce. Nokomis Groves is known for their oranges and ice cream, but they also produce a line of jellies and citrus grilling sauces that are truly delicious. Give the lime-rosemary grilling sauce a try--it's versatile and works well on meats and poultry.

Have more to add to the list? Let us know.

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