When it comes to the whole gift-giving gig, we tend to overthink the solution to the perfect present. Instead of finding something unique for family and friends, gift the thing that makes everyone happy: food and drink.
Each person has their favorite foods and beverages, things they crave and luxuries they seldom afford. If you know them well — or scan their Instagram account — you’ll know what tastes will make them smile.
Finding the chocolate or preserves or food event that rocks their world gives the gift-giver an opportunity. You could buy local because it supports Boulder County businesses and families, or to reduce the environmental impacts.
There are so many cool, first-class, food-related goodies crafted in Boulder County it’s easy to please even the pickiest people on your holiday list.
For an easy option, give gift cards to local bistros like the new Ginger Pig eatery on the Hill. For whiskey lovers, wow them with a single malt from Boulder Spirits.
For cooks, consider giving them a CSA fresh produce share from local farms like Aspen Moon Farm and Black Cat Farm. Add a gift certificate for classes at Boulder’s Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. For newcomers, gift them a walking tasting tour of Boulder restaurants for Local Table Tours.
For the right friend, the best present may be a donation in their name that does some good for organizations like Slow Food Boulder County or Community Food Share.
Where to buy local food
To find the best food and drink gifts produced in Boulder County, start with the Boulder Farmers Market. The Market offers online ordering and pickup all year long. Besides locally grown produce, meat and baked goods, you can order a range of gift-worthy items including Chiporro Sauce Co. hot sauces, Farm to Summit Powdered Sriracha, Dry Storage organic flours, Full Stop Bakery tahini crackers and Ginger Caramels from Bee Grateful Farm.
Stores stocking local artisan products include Boulder’s Peppercorn and the Mountain Fountain Market in Hygiene.
A basket of award-winning locals
Give local products that won the 2023 Good Food Awards, recognizing those making “tasty, authentic and responsible food in order to humanize and reform our American food culture.” These include Dry Land Distillers Cactus Spirit, Willoughby Specialty Foods Bourbon Barrel Aged Honey and Mountain Girl Pickles Corn Relish. Pair it with a best-in-Colorado wine winner from the 2023 Governor’s Cup like Boulder’s BookCliff Vineyards 2022 Syrah and Estes Park-based Snowy Peaks Winery 2019 Élevé.
Paint pretty little trees with local vegetables
Boulder Colors is a remarkable business making vibrant vegan, organic watercolor paints. Amanda Fan crafts them from saved vegetable and flower “scraps.” Mushrooms, chokecherries, citrus, yam, prickly pear and marigolds are collected from local farmers and gardeners to make intensely colored paints. Wedding bouquets can also be transformed into paints. bouldercolors.com
Golden tickets for film food and wine buffs
The 20th anniversary of the Boulder International Film Festival includes CineCHEF, a competitive tasting of fare from eight classic Boulder eateries inspired by classic films on Feb. 29. The lineup will be announced in January. Tickets always sell out. biff1.com
Once a quiet Western Slope gathering, the Colorado Mountain Winefest (Sept. 21 in Palisade), is now a nationally acclaimed wine lovers’ event that always sells out early. coloradowinefest.com
Tasting backpacking space food
Boulder-based Astronaut Products uses freeze-drying to turn ice cream treats into a light, crunchy bar of creamy sweetness that melts in your mouth. Flavors include Cookies & Cream and Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream sandwiches. astronautfoods.com
The same company crafts a line of gourmet meals that are a serious upgrade from the same old camping foods. Backpacker’s Pantry feasts include spot-on pad thai with chicken, fettuccine alfredo with chicken and risotto with chicken plus mango sticky rice or creme brulee for dessert.
Two Boulder companies make trail mornings more pleasant. CUSA (cusatea.com) produces instant English breakfast, oolong, spicy chai, and mango green teas. OZO Instant Coffee (ozocoffee.com) tastes like a cup of coffee at the company’s local shops.
Immersive tea time in the Rockies
If you have a tea lover on your gift list, Boulder County is home to a panoply of infused options offering first-class teas and experiences.
Boulder’s Kucha Tea offers a Taste of the Rockies tea box including six locally themed tea blends ranging from Boulder Boost to Mile High Chai, plus local honey and a tea ball. kuchatea.com
The Boulder Tea Company advent calendar is filled with 24 individual tea bags: black, green, oolong, white and herbal teas. The company — part of the Boulder Dushanbe Tea House — also offers a Tea of the Month Club. boulderteaco.com
The Hill’s new Alice & Rose cafe is hosting proper high tea served with British Alice in Wonderland-themed dishes. aliceandrose.com
For those seeking a more spiritual tea connection, the Boulder Tea Hut provides two spaces — one in Boulder and one in the foothills — that host and support tea rituals and meditations. boulderteahut.org
Homebrew like an old ale expert
Boulder is ground zero for folks who fall in love with brewing. Give them a membership to the Boulder-born American Homebrewers Association, which comes with a free brewing book and a subscription to Zymurgy magazine.
Pair the membership with a gift card to Boulder Fermentation Supply, 2510 47th St., offering supplies and information on making cheese, yogurt, wine, pickles, beer and kombucha. Sip a beer while you shop. Add tickets to the always sold-out Colorado Brewers Guild Collaboration Fest on March 30 in Westminster. collaborationbeerfest.com
Diving into serious cacao culture
Moksha, Boulder’s bean-to-artisan bar chocolate factory, offers a chocolate tasting “Game of Four” including nine chocolate samples, a tasting mat with clues and a reference guide. mokshachocolate.com
Boulder’s Fortuna Chocolate is offering one-pound unsweetened slabs of 100% cacao chocolate, cultivated in Xoconusco, Chiapas, Mexico. fortuna-chocolate.com
For a good time, add tickets to the Estes Park Wine & Chocolate Festival on Feb. 3. estesparkeventscomplex.com
Colorado wheat for loaves and spirits
Longmont’s Dry Land Distillers and Boulder’s Dry Storage offer a grain-forward holiday combination of Colorado varietal baking flours: White Sonora, Winter Langin and Yecora Rojo, and two artisanal single varietal wheat whiskeys: Dry Land Distillers Heirloom Wheat Whiskey and Antero Wheat Whiskey. Both companies support sustainable local farmers. drylanddistillers.com
Some Cool Stocking Stuffers
Longmont-based Fatworks’ Butter Me Up is a body butter made from grass-fed tallow (beef fat). fatworks.com
Boulder’s Coffee Ride delivers freshly roasted, ethically grown coffees delivered locally every month by bicycle. thecoffeeride.com
Longmont’s ma-and-pa Unity Butter handcrafts small batch local butters in flavors including Salted Butter, Garlic Butter, Honey Butter and Cinnamon Sugar Butter. longmontdairy.com
Local Food News: Sourcing Soul Food
The Gold Hill Inn dining room closes for the season Dec. 17 and goes into hibernation until the spring.
Rae’s & Kay’s Authentic Puerto Rican & Soul Food now has a brick-and-mortar pickup spot at 4920D Pearl St.
The Longmont Bakery — one of a handful of full-service bread and cake bakeries in Boulder County — closed on Dec. 9.
Coming soon: A new restaurant at Flatirons Golf Course operated by Dagabi Tapas Bar owners Noah and Tanya Westby: and, in Lyons, Bella La Crema Butter Bar reopening at 304 Main St.
Words to Chew On: Food and Friendship
“I sometimes think the act of bringing food is one of the basic roots of all relationships.” — The Dalai Lama
John Lehndorff hosts Radio Nibbles on KGNU. Podcasts: kgnu.org/category/radio-nibbles