Taste your place this holiday season

Beat the supply chain blues with the best locally crafted food and drink stocking stuffers

Cured meat from Il Porcellino

Making a holiday meal? Packing a food basket? Planning a get together? Sending a taste of home? Needing a treat to hand to a party host? Stuffing a stocking?

Of course you are! Food and beverages are the very beating heart of the holidays from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. Why not spend those dollars on locally produced artisan edible treats? You do it to support businesses and cut down on the fossil fuel impact, and because Boulder County produces an array of first-class foods and beverages that are simply excellent. 

Courtesy Mountain Girl Pickles

You can start with the foods just named as 2022 finalists for the national Good Food Awards, recognizing those making “tasty, authentic and responsible food in order to humanize and reform our American food culture.” 

Local nominees include Fusilli pasta from Pastificio (Boulder), Pickled Okra from Mountain Girl Pickles (Nederland), Toasted Coconut and Ginger Snack Mix from Jai Mix (Boulder), Sesame Swing Quinoa Crackers from New Beat Foods (Longmont), Maple Pretzel Crunch from On Tap Kitchen (Broomfield), and Lavender Vanilla Goat Milk Caramel from Table Mountain Farm (Longmont). 

There are no supply chain problems when you do your holiday gift and food shopping at the Boulder County Farmers Market’s Winter Market December 4 and 5 in Longmont. The 100-plus vendors include many market regulars such as Aspen Moon Farm, Bjorn’s Colorado Honey, Bookcliff Vineyard, Oliko Ginger Beer, and On Tap Kitchen.

The nice thing about food is that no matter who’s on your list, they all eat. A gift card to a local independent eatery is too easy. Consider the following curated collection of palate pleasers. 

The charcuterie board from here

Charcuterie boards are the perfect solution for holiday nibbling, but the foods don’t need to be shipped in from thousands of miles away. 

For cheeses, how about Longmont-made smoked chevre, soft-ripened Snowdrop, or Origin A2 Brie, all crafted by Haystack Mountain? 

For the meat, choose the award-winning salumi from Denver’s Il Porcellino Salumi. You can’t miss with the traditional Finocchiona laced with toasted fennel seeds, fennel pollen, and ground fennel. Il Porcellino has crafted a limited amount of Fruitcake Salami dotted with cranberry, walnut, orange, and port wine. 

Check with the kitchen at Boulder’s Le French Café for two exquisite house-made cracker-toppers: foie gras and duck rillettes. Meanwhile, local chicken farm, Alpine Eggs, now offers fresh chicken liver pate. 

Finish the charcuterie board with MECO Cheddar Crackers, New Beat Quinoa Crackers and Bolder Chips plus cultured butter from Lyons’ La Bella Crema and Highland Honey. 

Give the gift of fungus

Fungus is the ideal gift for that family member who can’t stop talking about their gut health or the budding D.I.Y-er who makes everything from scratch. Lafayette-based Humble Fungus offers everything you need to start growing culinary and medicinal mushrooms at home, plus textbooks and online cultivation classes. At Boulder Fermentation Supply, 2510 47th St., you can find supplies and information on making cheese, yogurt, wine, pickles, beer and kombucha. 

Bonus treat: A slab of pinto bean and millet tempeh from Boulder’s Project Umami Foods.

Courtesy Riskin’s

The hotter the better gift

We all have friends and relatives who regularly enjoy hurting themselves with capsaicin-drenched sauces and foods. For those hot heads, assemble a basket boasting FishSki Provisions Jalapeño Cheddar Grits (Boulder), Green Belly Guatemalan-inspired hot sauces (Boulder), Picaflor Bulgarian Carrot Pepper Pepper Flakes (Boulder), Chiporro Sauce Co. Serrano Thai Salsa (Longmont), Seed Ranch Umami Hot Sauce (Boulder), Moksha dark chocolate with Pueblo green chilies (Boulder), Riskin’s Dragon (chile) Bitters (Boulder), and Grove Street Alchemy’s sneaky spicy New Mexico Hatch Chiles Liqueur (Longmont). 

The gift of culinary know-how

For home cooks who are hungry and also have an insatiable appetite for culinary knowledge, gift them a class or a local cookbook. Local cooking classes are available at The Art of Cheese (theartofcheese.com), Food Lab (foodlabboulder.com), Journey Culinary (journeyculinary.com) and through CozyMeal (cozymeal.com).

Recent locally written cookbooks include:

  • Let’s Cook Japanese Food! Everyday Recipes for Authentic Dishes (Weldon Owen) by Boulder author Amy Kaneko
  • Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue (University of North Carolina Press) by Denver author Adrian Miller. Savory Spicy Shop offers five barbecue seasoning blends inspired by Miller’s book.
  • Friuli Food and Wine—Frasca Cooking from Northern Italy’s Mountains, Vineyards, and Seaside (Ten Speed Press) by Bobby Stuckey, Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson and Meredith Erickson
  • The Fort Restaurant Cookbook: New Foods of the Old West from the Landmark Colorado Restaurant (Two Dot) by Holly Arnold Kinney
  • A Bite of Boulder: Cooking at Home with Boulder’s Best Restaurants by Jessica Benjamin

Satisfy the sweet teeth 

Fulfill sugary dreams by filling a basket with English toffee from Tungsten Toffee in Nederland, and these sweets all made in Boulder: classic honey-soaked baklava from Baklava Unlimited, Cocomel sugar-free coconut milk caramels, white chocolate pistachio, Fortuna bean-to-bar Milk Chocolate with Puffed Quinoa, Moksha bean-to-bar non-dairy milk chocolate, and The Farmer’s Porch Cinnamon Cacao Heirloom Pumpkin Seeds. Top the package with a bottle of local sweetness: Bookcliff Vineyards Moscato 2020 wine, Redstone Meadery Juniper Berry Mountain Honey Wine, or Ricardo’s Decaf Coffee Liqueur. 

Local food news

Boulder Baked has closed its downtown bakery location and reopened at 5290 Arapahoe Ave., former site of Heifer and the Hen Ice Cream . . . Meta Burger, the local plant-based, fast-casual restaurant chain, will open soon at 1905 29th St., former site of Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh . . . Perhaps the most “Boulder” beverage currently available is Boulder Bushel at BOCO Cider, a dry hard cider made from apples harvested at Boulder homes and pressed on the autumn equinox. 

Words to chew on

“Dining is and always was a great artistic opportunity.”—Architect Frank Lloyd Wright

John Lehndorff hosts Radio Nibbles at 8:20 a.m. Thursdays on KGNU (88.5 FM, kgnu.org).