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Cheese platter with fromage from So Damn Gouda. Photo by Callie Sumlin

Gift Guide 2019: 14 Local Gifts Your Foodie Friends Actually Want

From a natural wine club membership to cult decal glasses to artisan goat milk caramel sauce, we found tasteful options to fit every budget.

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Budget-Conscious

White Chocolate So Good You Will Rethink Everything You Know About White Chocolate

Fortuna chocolates. Photo by Callie Sumlin

You may think that you (and your loved ones) don’t like white chocolate, but this new line from Boulder-based Fortuna will change that stance. Fortuna takes an artisanal, bean-to-bar approach with all of its products. These slabs are made with organic heirloom Arriba Nacional Criollo cacao butter, derived from a rare type of cacao with deep, unique flavor. In short, they taste nothing like the waxy, fake-vanilla white chocolate you’ve tried before. The pistachio and pepita bar has addictive savory crunch, while the Palisade peach and yogurt variety is slightly sweeter and studded with freeze-dried Colorado peaches. White chocolate still not your thing? Check out Fortuna’s Grown at the Garden series, which combine Denver Botanic Gardens’ mint and lemon verbena with milk and dark chocolate, respectively. Bonus: Each eye-catching bar comes wrapped with original wood-block artwork by Mexico City artist Cesar Ramirez. $9 per 50-gram slab online or at area retailers

Fermented Hot Sauce: The Essential Condiment You Didn’t Know You Were Missing

Picaflor hot sauces. Photo courtesy of Picaflor

These Colorado-made fermented hot sauces are delicious, yes, but they also include beneficial probiotics (Lactobacillus plantarum LM and L. rhamnosus LB3) along with the welcome burn of heirloom chiles. All three options—Red Srirawcha, Green Viva Verde, and Boulder Sol—are crafted by regenerative poultry and pepper farmer Marcus McCauley at his Boulder County farm. Our favorite is the mango-hued Boulder Sol, which combines organic Criolla Sella and Bulgarian Carrot peppers with cantaloupe for a slightly sweet, not-too-spicy sauce that gains loads of complexity from a year-long fermentation process. Everything from scrambled eggs to tacos will benefit from a dash or two (or 10). $9.99 per bottle on Amazon (or get all three bottles for $23.97); also available at Whole Foods Market and other area retailers

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Not Your Grandmother’s Rose Decal Drinking Glasses

Safta’s water glasses. Photo courtesy of Safta

One of the most memorable things about dining at Safta at the Source in RiNo—aside from its ethereal pita, hummus, and other modern Israeli fare from chef Alon Shaya—is the restaurant’s gorgeous feminine aesthetic. The strikingly retro, rose-patterned water glasses that adorn your table there are now available for purchase, meaning you can gift some hip grandma vibes (in a good way; the cup’s design was inspired by Shaya’s grandmother’s glassware) to a friend. They bring a warm, nostalgic vibe to everything liquid, from water to cocktails. $10 each, available at Safta’s counter at the Source Market Hall, 3330 Brighton Blvd., #201

Goat Milk Caramel Sauces Are the New Hot Fudge

Table Mountain Farm goat milk caramel. Photo by Callie Sumlin

Made by Boulder’s Table Mountain Farm from the milk of humanely raised Nubian and Lamancha Alpine goats, these silky, golden caramel sauces currently come in vanilla bean, cinnamon vanilla, and whiskey flavors; coffee and sea salt iterations are coming soon. All three are incredible drizzled over ice cream (or eaten straight from the jar), but our favorite is the dulce de leche-esque cinnamon variety, which is thick, slightly tangy, and perfectly spiced. Sauces start at $7 for a four-ounce jar; a flight (two ounces each) of all three flavors cost $14 online

Lovely Loose-Leaf Teas Made With Nutrient-Packed Microgreens

Microtea. Photo by Callie Sumlin

Stephen Cowan founded Microtea in 2018 to share the concentrated benefits of microgreens with a wider audience. The entrepreneur freeze-dries microgreens grown at his Boulder farm—a process that retains 97 percent of the greens’ nutrients—and combines them with tea leaves and herbs to create these delicious premium blends. The functional flavors include turmeric-heavy Recovery; chamomile-forward Relax; and jasmine green-based Focus. Each can be purchased with or without CBD extract. Teas start at $24.95 and go up to $54.95 for the CBD-infused varieties online

Three Flavor-Bomb Gourmet Salts in One Set

Savory Spice gourmet sea salt set. Photo courtesy of Savory Spice

Salt is a cook’s most important ingredient, so why not gift the cook in your life with a few novel options from the blend masters over at Savory Spice? The Denver-based company has created a new set of three of its most popular flavored salts: Chicharron Salt (flecked with pork rinds and a touch of spicy vinegar); Black Garlic Salt (whose namesake ingredient offers caramelized notes and a little sweetness); and Chook Chicken Salt (an aromatic blend created in collaboration with chef Alex Seidel to be used at his rotisserie chicken restaurant, Chook). $24.95 for the three-salt set online or at any Savory Spice location

Mid-Range

A Colorado-Centric Cookbook

Centennial Celebrations. Photo by Callie Sumlin

If you’ve been in Colorado for a while and like to cook, you’re likely familiar with the Junior League of Denver’s earlier cookbooks (Colorado Caché and Créme de Colorado, to name a couple). The latest installment, Centennial Celebrations, carries on the tradition of the previous five volumes, pairing community-sourced recipes with vibrant photography. Dishes include everything from Homemade Everything Bagels to Fajita Soup to former Denver Broncos player Reggie Rivers’ Football Sunday Salmon Salad, and there are shoutouts galore to local landmarks and institutions. As always, the revenue from the cookbook helps the Junior League’s efforts to train women, boost local literacy rates, and improve our communities. $29.95 at the Tattered Cover and other local bookstores and online

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Gin Flavored With Plants From the Denver Botanic Gardens

Mythology Distillery Botanical Gin. Photo courtesy of Mythology Distilling

A special collaboration between LoHi’s Mythology Distillery and the Denver Botanic Gardens, this unique spirit will please lovers of both gardening and gin. In addition to gin’s signature juniper aroma, this special release also includes notes of chamomile, lemon verbena, and elderflower, all of which were harvested from the Botanic Gardens. It’s an easy-drinking spirit that will bring a clean, summery flavor to any dead-of-winter martini or G&T. Plus, a portion of the proceeds from each bottle sold will be donated back to the Botanic Gardens. $35 at the LoHi tasting room (3622 Tejon St.) and at various area liquor stores

Brownie Truffles That Taste Good and Do Good

Danconias brownie truffles. Photo by Callie Sumlin

These bite-size marvels, which come in flavors such as espresso, cookie dough, and almond blondie, are exactly what they sound like: decadent, chewy hybrids of brownies and chocolate truffles. They’re incredibly tasty and beautifully packaged like a box of chocolates. Best of all, each bite helps end homelessness by supporting Boulder’s Bridge House. The brownies themselves are made by Community Table Kitchen, a social enterprise of the Bridge House, which not only serves meals to the food insecure but also provides jobs and training as a stepping stone out of homelessness. Danconias 30-piece holiday collection is $36.99, but packages start as low as 24.99 online

A Tortilla Press To Make Taco Tuesday Even Better

Verve Culture tortilla press. Photo by Callie Sumlin

Steamboat-based Verve Culture works to highlight traditional artisans around the world. To that end, it sells everything from citrus juicers to Mexican hot chocolate kits, all of which are striking enough to display on your countertop. The fire-engine-red cast-iron tortilla press, in particular, makes a pretty and practical gift for the taco enthusiast. All the recipient has to do is mix up corn masa and water, roll balls of dough, and use the weight of the press to shape their own street-taco-size tortillas; Verve has a recipe on their site to help. After griddling, they can stash the fresh tortillas in the included Mexican warming towel until ready to serve. $45 online

Top Shelf

A Stunning, Locally-Made Serving Dish

Fenway Clayworks dishes. Photo courtesy of Fenway Clayworks

Giving locally-made ceramics is always a good idea, but that’s all the more true when it’s one of Sean VanderVliet’s rustic-yet-modern creations from his Arvada studio, Fenway Clayworks. Take the austere beauty of his Snowmass serving dish (pictured), for example: The buttermilk-white finish and hand-crafted look make it stunning enough to fill with fruit and display year-round, while the fact that it’s microwave-, oven-, and dishwasher-safe make it something your loved ones will actually use. $98 online

Photo courtesy of Unrooted

A Natural Wine Club For the Modern Oenophile

Buying natural wines in Denver is still a challenge, with retail shop shelves carrying just a few at a time. Thank goodness veteran wine professional Joel Kampfe (who is also one of the minds behind Noble Riot’s fantastic wine list) and Ted Carrick of Free Flow Wines started this club a year ago. Members receive four bottles of natural wine each month; themes include the likes of “celebrating female winemakers around the world” and “Pet nats.” Each vino comes with tasting notes, pairing suggestions, and a hand-made tag that includes the fascinating story behind each bottle. Kampfe and Carrick promise access to bottles that are hard to track down, making this the perfect gift for wine enthusiasts and the merely wine-curious. Gift subscriptions are $99 per month and come in two, three, and six-month increments online

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A Gift Box For Carnivores

Pasture Provisions meats. Photo by Callie Sumlin

We all know someone who would pick a juicy steak over a sweet treat. Pasture Provisions, a locally sourced meat delivery service, has devised a protein-packed gift basket just for those people. The box includes two filet steaks, two rib-eyes, two New York strips, and two pork chops, all sourced from sustainable, ethical Colorado ranches. Since the goods arrive frozen, this is a gift that will keep on giving long after the holiday season ends. $100 online; delivery only to Denver and Boulder metro areas, shipping not available

A Club For Fromage Fans

So Damn Gouda cheeses. Photo by Callie Sumlin

So Damn Gouda got its start as a cheese tray delivery service, but last year husband and wife duo Mike and Cori Keuler took over the former Cheese & Provisions shop in Sunnyside. Now, the pair is offering a new cheese club subscription that will commence in January. Subscribers receive three different types of cheese (anything from local Haystack Mountain Gold Hill to French Roquefort) and an accoutrement to pair it with, along with tasting notes from chef Mike. The Keulers smartly offer two Cheese Club tiers: Apprentice level (with more approachable cheeses) and Ace (stocked with more intense options for the true connoisseur). Cheese Club Gift Subscriptions start at $35 per month and are available in three or six month increments online

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