Why: Taste one and you won’t have to ask why. They are outstanding, an addictive handcrafted combination of sugar and butter often infused with bold flavors like aromatic cardamom and deep coffee and a hint of sea salt that brings perfect balance to your bite. Ellen Daehnick works her magic in the kitchen and creates caramels that melt in your mouth in a chewy velvet form that always leaves you wanting more. Get the variety pack for a full experience.
Why: Because whoever gets this will not only get to eat amazing food but they will get to do so for weeks on end next summer. Cure Organic Farm is the quintessential back-to-basics farm. Family-owned and operated, friendly, pure, natural, charming, this farm will win over even the biggest skeptics. The produce and meat coming out of Cure Farm is fabulous and their commitment to doing the right thing makes their food taste even better.
Where: Start on their website here. It may be that shares are not yet on sale. But you can always try to work with the owners to get a share secured or you can promise to try really hard to get on the coveted shares. It is worth the effort.
3. The Experience: Any Cooking Class with Mark DeNittis
Why: Because no object can replace this experience. Mark is a pro in butchering and meat processing and his personality and teaching style are both entertaining and approachable. You can learn to break down a whole hog, butcher a lamb, or make sausage, and no matter which one you choose, this adventure will be great. Extra bonus: you may actually leave the class with some meaty goodies.
Where: Try Cook’s Street Cooking School – they have some good classes coming up with him. But don’t limit yourself- Mark teaches other places too from time to time. Keep your eyes and ears open and book what works best for you or your special gift-worthy person.
Why: Because it is a fun and useful cooking tool with recipes from some of the winners of the fair’s competitions and because it is the first one of what will be an annual Denver tradition. Some day it might be worth a fortune! Also, you can find four of my recipes in it.
Where: On the fair’s website – or with a fast click here.
5. The Kid Treat: the Wacky Apple
Why: Because it is fun to find a new product that is a total hit with the younger crew and that makes you feel good about what goes into the precious child. Wacky apple is organic and local, made with integrity from the highest quality . ingredients, the Wacky Apple is not only healthy but truly delicious. Certainly get the apple sauce, but don’t miss the flat fruit (code for fruit leather) and the actual ‘wacky’ apple, a kid-size, cutie-like version of an apple that a little one can actually hold and finish.
Where: At your local King Soopers in the organic section, and select products in select Whole Foods stores. A full list of retailers is available here.
6. The Gift Certificate: Bayleaf
Why: Because this store is like a really fancy candy store for the food lover. It is stunning, filled with the latest and most desirable food books, carefully curated glassware and plate ware, and specialty food products that you may not be able to find anywhere else. Even the card selection is beautiful and the table cloth section brings the French Martha Steward out of anyone. Go now, and get a gift card for someone who will appreciate it.
Where: Boulder, on Pearl Street at 13th. (1222 Pearl Street, Boulder).
Why: Because a beautiful serving dish can change your entire experience of eating a great meal. These Japanese ceramics are unique, handcrafted, artistic in a way that is warm, understated and irresistible. They are simple but deep, basic and functional but extraordinary in ways that make you not want to stop touching it, stunning in the way the look and the experience they provide.
Where: You can try here. Or look for Kazu at local art fairs. Or get a hold of him and ask where you can get this stuff; that’s what I would do.
Why: Because Vajra Rich is the best coffee roaster in the state. At Boxcar, Vaj and his wife, Cara, take tremendous pride in the process of making coffee from bringing the best but also consciously and ethically sourced beans to roasting them in the highest-quality environment in stunning refurbished old German roasters. The coffee is smooth, deep, full-bodied, sophisticated and versatile- the perfect bag of beans. Start with the House Blend for drip or Stella for espresso.
Where: Get it in the ultra-charming coffee shop on Pearl Street (sharing a space with Cured, a cheese, meat & specialty store I adore!), at Crema in Denver, at the Frasca Caffe in Boulder, or order it online here. Bonus: if you go to the coffee shop you can get a ridiculous latte!
Why: Because it is the top of the honey in Colorado. This is like candy, like a dessert, a treat, a smooth escape that is actually healthy for you. I won’t pitch you on ‘eat local honey cause it has the best antibodies’ thing because you know that already but this honey’s qualities go beyond locality. This stands up to any honey anywhere in its flavor, texture, and versatility. Don’t miss the white honey, a creamed variety that is better than any candy out there.
Where: Some specialty stores carry it – Marczyck Fine Foods, St. Killian’s Cheese Shop, Cured Cheese Shop, Alfafla’s- get it through Fooducopia’s Denver Store or Door to Door Organics or order straight from the source here. Tip: you can order in bulk to make mass-gift-buying easier.
Why: Let me count the ways in which I love Leopold’s Brothers: small batch, hand bottled, artisan process, carefully sourced ingredients, rounded flavors, clean taste, full bodied spirits, these men make incredible gin, outstanding whiskey, charming vodkas, seductive absinthe verte, and a variety of liquoers that taste like what God wanted fruit to be, a perfect concentrated flavoring to a great spirit. They have a bottle for everyone but my favorite is still the gin, with the Blackberry liqueur as a close second.
What: At any respectable liquor store. There is a list of places that carry it here or you can order it online from one of these retailers.
Happy local shopping!