Season’s Eatings: Give the gift of good tastes made in Boulder County
(I have written a version of this story every holiday season for about 30 years for an array of publications. What has changed is that now there are so many more local culinary and artisan food gifts to give besides gift cards. A version of what follows here will appear in the Boulder Daily Camera’s Holiday Gift Guide.
It includes a recipe for Bruce Monette’s famous Southern Exposure Key lime pie.)
By John Lehndorff
Everybody in the family has very different interests and sweater sizes, favorite colors and entertainment preferences not to mention religions and political parties. Luckily they have an inherited trait that makes gift buying a relative breeze.
They all absolutely love to eat, although not the same foods. From the tweens to the seniors each has cravings and childhood tastes that can be satisfied for the holidays. Food gifts are also the salvation of holiday procrastinators. When in doubt, bring chocolate.
With so many stellar local food products and shops offering curated collections of goodies that you can take care of your whole gift list without leaving Boulder County. Here are a few gift suggestions:
A Chocolate Lover’s Dream
Chris Widlar’s Concertos in Chocolate truffles have been part of Boulder holidays since she started making them in 1999. Concertos in Chocolate truffles and other candies are available at Whole Foods Markets, Pharmaca stores and online, but at her Gunbarrel shop you can customize a gift box from the largest selection of truffle flavors. The bestsellers are Raspberry, Death by Ganache and Espresso. Seasonal truffle flavors include Blood Orange, Peppermint, Pumpkin Spice and Salted Cappuccino Caramel. While you are there you pick up stocking stuffers and housewarming gifts confections such as caramel stars, holiday marzipan, toffee trees and cherry cashew crisp and pecan caramel turtles … and maybe a sweet treat for the ride home. Concertos in Chocolate, 6395 Gunpark Drive, Boulder; 303-447-1001; concertosinchocolate.com
Dressing up for the Party
Until you taste olive oils and Balsamic vinegars next to each other you don’t realize how different and delightful they can be. At Boulder’s Oliverde you can sample an array and create a gift pack you can personally recommend to everyone on your gift list. Pre-packaged sets of Tuscan herb-infused extra virgin olive oil with 8-year-old Balsamic vinegar are available if you are on the run or visit with owner Kathy Kulesa and assemble a gift in a basket, wood box or jute bag. Basket additions can be selected from the shop’s selection of olives, pickles, jams and salsas. Among the many infused extra virgin olive oils available is the seasonal Wild Mushroom and Sage. Oliverde, 2027 Broadway, Boulder; 303-442-2199; oliverdeoil.com
Wood smoke, hot ribs and organic whiskey
Not everyone is into artisan cheese and single tree origin coffee beans. For some it is the allure of burnt ends and whiskey, neat. Give them a memory maker by wrapping a gift card for St. Louis-style ribs, cilantro chile slaw, green bean casserole and more at Georgia Boys BBQ Co. in Longmont. Add a bottle of Whiskey Barley, Colorado’s first certified organic whiskey, or Apple Straightup, an eau de vie (un-oaked brandy) distilled from Western Slope apples at Longmont’s Still Cellars. Better yet stop by for a tasting. Georgia Boys BBQ Co., 237 Collyer St., 720-999-4099; georgiaboysbbqcompany.com
Still Cellars, 1115 Colorado Ave., Longmont; 720-204-6064; stillcellars.com
Stuff stockings with a few of our favorite local tastes
– Ozuke Bloody Mary Kraut: It doubles as a drink mix and bratwurst topping. It’s bottled in Boulder and available at supermarkets and natural food stores. ozuke.com
– Highland Honey: Artisan creamed honey collected from Boulder County bees. highlandbees.com
– Ozo El Salvador Finca el Naranjo: Imported beans are roasted in Boulder County by Ozo Coffee Roasters. ozocoffee.com
– Cocktail Punk Smoked Orange Bitters: Old-style cocktail bitters made in Boulder County. cocktailpunk.com
- Also: Give the gift of a Boulder walking tasting tour (localtabletours.com), a Longmont cheesemaking class (theartofcheese.com), or a Boulder County Trio of Haystack Mountain Snowdrop soft-ripened cheese (haystackgoatcheese.com) with 34 Degrees Toasted Onion Crackers (34-degrees.com) and Settembre Cellars 2014 Rosato wine (settembrecellars.com).
Homemade Food Gifts
This recipe comes from Oliverde in Boulder. Individually wrapped mini loaves make great hostess gifts over the holidays. They can be topped with a simple glaze of powdered sugar, fresh lemon juice and lemon zest.
Lemon Blueberry Tea Cake
2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 cups cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk yogurt
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup lemon-infused extra virgin olive oil
Fresh grated zest from one lemon
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease or line muffin cups or miniature loaf pans. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl mix the wet ingredients and lemon zest. In three separate additions, add the wet ingredients to the dry, scraping down the bowl. Gently fold in the berries. Fill the muffin cups or loaf pans half way with batter. Bake in the center of oven for 20-25 minutes until a tester inserted in to the middle comes out clean. Makes 18 standard size muffins or one dozen muffins and one large or two miniature loaf pans.
This pie from Lafayette chef Bruce Monette took First Place honors at the National Pie Championships. It’s available at the Boulder County Farmers Market and Niwot Market.
Southern Exposure Key Lime Pie
1/2 cup real Key lime juice (bottled or fresh)
5 large egg yolks
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 graham cracker crust
1 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
(preferably not ultra-pasteurized)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon double-strength vanilla extract
Fresh lime zest
Fresh lime slices for garnish
Mix lime juice, egg yolks and condensed milk with a wire whisk. Pour into pie shell. Bake for 10 minutes in a pre-heated 350 degree oven. Cool to room temperature. Chill in refrigerator. To make whipped cream, whip cream with sugar and vanilla. Garnish chilled pie with whipped cream, lime zest and thin, seeded lime slices. Refrigerate pie until serving. These pies also freeze quite well. Thaw at room temperature for about 1 hour before serving.
Food Words: “Let’s stop for a moment to admire the rotating pies.” – David Letterman
John Lehndorff writes the Nibbles blog, hosts Radio Nibbles on KGNU-FM, and contributes features to Cheese Connoisseur Magazine, AAA EnCompass Magazine,Vail Beaver Creek Magazine and many others.