The 2021 Good Food Awards confirmed what we’ve known for years: Colorado excels at responsibly crafting culinary products that taste delicious.
The 11th annual Good Food Awards, a prestigious competition that evaluates American-made food and beverage products on craftsmanship and flavor as well as social and environmental responsibility, honored 19 Colorado products from 15 local brands. Out of the 41 states represented on this year’s winners list, the Centennial State had the fourth highest number of businesses, behind California (44), Oregon (25), and Washington (17).
Nabbing a Good Food Award is an industry badge of honor; winners can affix the blue Good Food seal to their products. Earning the accolade isn’t easy, either. The 2021 competition drew 1,928 entries across 17 categories, according to the Good Food Foundation, the nonprofit organization behind the awards. A judging panel of nearly 300 industry leaders, technical experts, grocers, chefs, food writers, and general “food movement leaders” scored products based on blind taste tests and sustainability practices. After all was said and sampled, the panel declared 475 products “finalists” and from that group selected 266 winners.
Colorado’s winning products spanned 10 categories: cider, beer, elixirs, coffee, charcuterie, spirits, snacks, grains, confections, and preserves. Our state earned its most accolades (four) in the confections category, followed by three wins each in the beer, cider, and grains categories. (No surprise there, given Colorado’s penchant for craft booze.)
Notably, three Centennial State companies collected multiple Good Food Awards this year. We spoke with them to learn what makes their products exceptional—and how you can get your hands on these raved-about food and drinks.
Table Mountain Farm in Longmont garnered three of Colorado’s four confection awards with their goat milk caramel sauces. The winning flavors include vanilla bean, cinnamon vanilla (cajeta), and salted dark chocolate. Founder and owner Amanda Adare first concocted the dessert sauces, which are a staple in Mexican food culture, about two years ago for friends and family. Spurred by their positive feedback, Adare then expanded her operations to the Longmont Farmers Market in 2019. In the time since, her rich sauces, which are made with locally and sustainably sourced ingredients, have caught the attention of The New York Times and earned shelf space in Whole Foods and various local shops. Winning three Good Food Awards—the most any brand can earn in a category—“was really affirming,” says Adare.
High-quality goat milk is crucial to Adare’s sauces. Goat milk, she explains, is creamier than cow’s milk and can be a great alternative for folks with lactose intolerance and dairy allergies. If you don’t love the traditional “gamey” taste of goat products, don’t worry—Adare doesn’t either. She says the milk sourced for her sauces, which she boils and hand-stirs for five hours, is a particular type of goat’s milk that tastes a lot like cow’s milk. “I’ve gotten emails from people that basically say they had no idea it was a goat milk product,” Adare explains. “And then they looked at the label when they were halfway through a jar, and they were like wow.”
Adare recommends drizzling the sauces into banana, pumpkin, and zucchini bread batters (“they give a really nice gooey flavor”); on top of cinnamon rolls, ice cream, toast, pancakes, waffles, and frozen coffee drinks; and even on savory dishes like salmon, pork tenderloin, and cheese plates.
You can buy Table Mountain Farm sauces online, at Whole Foods, and at other stores along the Front Range. $22 for a four-pack of 2-oz. jars; $10 for one 5-oz. jar. Visit the website for store locations and more information.
Boulder-based Pastificio took home two awards in the grains category for its rigatoni and garganelli dried pastas. Pastificio co-founder Claudia Bouvier grew up in “a very food-oriented” Italian family and spent a month in Italy studying the art and science of pasta-making before she and her husband Ted Steen launched Pastaficio in 2018. Their craft products, which are made with organic heritage and ancient grains and which were vigorously taste tested for two years at Boulder County Farmers Markets, offer a healthy-yet-still-delicious spin on traditional Italian pasta. “Whole grain pasta normally is associated with sandpaper and cardboard boxes,” explains Bouvier. “We really want to do whole grain, but we want people to taste the flavor and the uniqueness of this wheat.” Pastificio sources its wheat as locally as possible; the resulting whole grain flour is milled in-house; and the pasta is slow dried at a low temperature which “results in a much more tasty and nutritious and structurally stable pasta,” Bouvier says.
The superior ingredients and fresh-milling process make for a better eating experience, Bouvier believes. “A lot of people tell me that they feel good eating our pasta,” she says, “meaning that after a full bowl of pasta, they’re not bloated or feeling sleepy.” Bouvier recommends enjoying the award-winning rigatoni with a simple pomodoro sauce and says the more delicate garganelli is delicious with roasted zucchini, fresh herbs, and olive oil.
Snow Capped Cider on Colorado’s Western Slope earned two awards in the cider category for its Dabinett and Harrison bottled ciders. Snow Capped’s Gold Rush, a canned cider, was named a finalist. Co-founder and owner Kari Williams spent the past nine years developing and testing cider apples on the 800-acre estate farm that her family has run since the early 1900s. “Our kids are sixth generation Colorado orchardists,” Williams explains. “You can’t get any closer to the farm than my cider.”
Williams’s husband, Ty, manages the fruit growing while Williams closely monitors the cider production. “Everything that goes into the cider, I know about it from the time we plant the tree, how it’s doing on the orchard, how our elevation (6,130 feet) is affecting the flavor profiles, and whatÆs happening with it from the start all the way to the ferment,” she says. The Harrison cider (ABV 6.5 percent) is made with Harrison apples, a varietal that originated in former U.S. President William Henry Harrison’s orchard, says Williams. It’s a sparkling, slightly sweet beverage with a smooth apple taste and hints of earthy spice, lemon, ginger, and orange peel, according to Williams. And the Dabinett, made from a bittersweet apple discovered in 19th century England, is a lightly carbonated drink (ABV 8.2 percent) with fruity sweetness, floral notes, and a bittersweet finish.
Snow Capped Cider’s Dabinett and Harrison ciders will be available for purchase in Front Range stores starting in May 2021. Other Snow Capped Ciders are currently sold online and in various stores across the state. Visit the website to learn more.
The full list of Colorado winners of the 2021 Good Food Awards include:
- Vanilla Bean Goat Milk Caramel Sauce by Table Mountain Farm (Longmont)
- Salted Dark Chocolate Goat Milk Caramel Sauce by Table Mountain Farm (Longmont)
- Cinnamon Vanilla (Cajeta) Goat Milk Caramel Sauce by Table Mountain Farm (Longmont)
- Colorado Bourbon Cocktail Cherries by RedCamper (Denver)
- Heritage and Ancient Wheat Garganelli by Pastificio Boulder (Boulder)
- Heritage and Ancient Wheat Rigatoni by Pastificio Boulder (Boulder)
- Fully Steam-Cooked Black Lentils by RTE Cuisine, Inc. (Denver)
- Dabinett by Snow Capped Cider (Cedaredge)
- Harrison by Snow Capped Cider (Cedaredge)
- White Buffalo by Big B’s Hard Cider (Hotchkiss)
- Hereditary Title by Cerebral Brewing (Denver)
- Pink Vapor Stew by Ska Brewing (Durango)
- Foraged Flavors by Chrysalis Barrel Aged Beer (Paonia)
- Quinoa Crackers – Cranberry Chorus by New Beat Foods (Longmont)
- Apricot Lemon Verbena Jam by Saba Jam (Boulder)
- Gingergrass Sparkling Water + CBD by DRAM (Salida)
- Phantom Limb Blend by Huckleberry Roasters (Denver)
- Diablo Salami by Il Porcellino Salumi (Denver)
- Rocky Mountain Blackberry Liqueur by Leopold Bros. (Denver)