photo by Caroline Treadway for elephantjournaldotcom.
The below is adapted from Denver’s own 5280‘s list of Top 50 Colorado Natural Products, via the lovely (I’m sure) Amanda M. Faison. Given that I see these companies week in and week out, I’ve pared it down to 10 (or so)…which has the added benefit of sending you to the source for the other 40 great companies worth supporting if you happen to live out here in the Wild West. Brief excerpt (for the rest of the article, go to 5280), with commentary by yours truly. ~ Waylon Lewis, elephantjournaldotcom ed-in-chief.
5280: Get sticky fingers from Lucile’s Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam. You know the stuff—it’s a thing of legend on those hot-from-the-fryer beignets. Five bucks buys you a jar of jam that’s just as perfect at home on toast, biscuits, pancakes, and bagels. www.luciles.com
Commentary via Waylon Lewis, for elephant journal: I used to work for Shambhala Mountain Center, our offices were right across the street. My mentor, Jeff Waltcher, and I would eat at Lucile’s about five times a week. It’s still the best breakfast lunch joint this side of Nawlins.
5280: Scoop up Boulder Ice Cream. For the past 15 years, this company has slow-churned all-natural, super-premium ingredients like cage-free eggs and rBGH-free Colorado cream and milk. The result is an extraordinarily creamy, flavor-dense treat. There are 20-some flavors, but we think the vanilla and Island Coconut flavors are superb. Bonus: Boulder Ice Cream powers its manufacturing plant with wind, and it recently launched a line of USDA-certified organic ice cream. www.bouldericecream.com
Commentary: If there’s one thing I know, it’s ice cream. I went to high school in Vermont, where school lunch coupons or food stamps gets you Ben & Jerry’s. I still eat two pints at a sitting…but now I go local, so as to reduce the average 1500 miles that our food is shipped and trucked. Boulder Ice Cream is delish…and their packaging (not that it matters) is lovely, these days…they’re ready for the bigtime.
5280: Slather a piece of toast with Justin’s Nut Butter. Proof that all peanut butters are not created equal, Justin’s shuns the use of refined sugar and hydrogenated oils in favor of organic Valencia peanuts, unfiltered all-natural honey, and sea salt. The result: natural, healthy, and yummy-tasting peanut butter. We’re also addicted to the not-too-sweet honey almond butter. www.justinsnutbutter.com
Commentary: Justin is, like Josh Onysko (who I saw last night at DWR’s White Space, a live art party featuring Alex Henry, Scot LeFavor and others painting live to benefit BMOCA) and myself, a Boulder Bachelor Ecopreneur. He’s big and tall and handsome and stylish and…hard-working…bringing you the chemical-free-est, best peanut and almond butter I know of. Support him, it’s worth it for your children and your own health.
5280: Dress up a cheese plate with Frasca Food and Wine’s Red Pepper Jelly. The recipe for this zippy and sweet accompaniment originated with chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson’s grandmother. Try it at the restaurant, and then serve it at home paired with cheese, roasted potatoes, or simply bagels and cream cheese. www.frascafoodandwine.com
Commentary: While the ecopreneur life has drained me of energy for night life and the money to afford it [cue tiny violins], I still like to think that I’m the kind of guy who takes an incredibly lovely lady who just turned 29 and who I have a huge crush on to Frasca. But I don’t. Instead, I buy some of Chef Lachlan’s delish jelly and, well, “dress up a cheese plate.” Okay, I don’t do that either—I go to Alfalfa’s I mean Wild Oats I mean Whole Foods and buy some organic nacho fixins, and then eat two pints of Boulder Ice Cream while Redford chows some Pet Promise and chews some farmer’s market dog bone for dessert.
5280: Grab a handful of Oogie’s Gourmet Popcorn. These delicious kernels, which come in tempting flavors such as smoked Gouda (our favorite) and sun-dried tomato and Parmesan, are the brainchild of three Denver friends looking for a healthy, tasty snack. Although the corn is popped in Oregon, we had to give them kudos for creating eats that are cholesterol-free, trans-fat-free, gluten-free, and certified kosher.www.oogiessnacks.com
Commentary: Okay, I’m tired of typing, and Redford is sick of watching me blog for four straight hours. It’s Saturday morning in late October, and that means it’s time to go to one of the last farmers’ markets of the season. Au revoir pour maintenant— W.
5280: Pop the top on a Dale’s Pale Ale. We’ve got to hand it to Lyons’ Oskar Blues Cajun Grill & Brewery for single-handedly banishing the stigma of canned beer. This small-batch, homegrown pale ale is hoppy, confident, and totally refreshing. And how many other canned brews can claim the titles of “Top American Pale Ale” ( the New York Times), “#1 Rated U.S. Beer” (New York magazine), and “World’s Best Canned Beer” (Details)?www.oskarblues.com
5280: Make a difference by purchasing a product from the Women’s Bean Project. By spending $5 on a soup or cookie mix (which are prepared and packaged by WBP participants working their way out of poverty), you not only end up with a fresh pot of soup or home-baked cookies, you also support a worthy community program. www.womensbeanproject.com
Commentary: We mention the Bean Project here.
5280: Cook up a pot of Pappardelle’s pasta. Find a wide selection of the homespun noodles, ravioli, and orzo at Colorado farmers’ markets. Our go-to flavors are the harvest squash ravioli and whole-wheat linguine. Bonus: Look for the very tasty gluten-free varieties. 303-321-4222
5280: Munch on cookies from Ice Box Bakery. These Boulder-made, refrigerated cookie doughs trump the commercial slice-and-bake disks—and well they should as they’re free of preservatives and stabilizers. And did we mention these all-natural doughs were dreamt up by Boulder pastry chefs Allison Patterson (former owner of Allison’s Espresso) and Jennifer Bush (of Blue Fine Pastries fame)? Flavors range from deluxe chocolate chip to farmers’ market cherry pie, but our pick is the chewy ginger spice. www.iceboxbakery.com
5280: Start the day with Udi’s Natural Artisan Granola. It all began with pastry chef and Udi partner Yasmin Lozada-Hissom’s grandmother’s granola recipe. The homespun combo took off, and now Udi’s is the 11th-largest granola company in the country. We regularly breakfast on the Hawaiian flavor, with wholesome thick-cut oats, Colorado wildflower honey, nuts, and dried fruit. Bonus: Granola chunks (called “Udi’s Nuggets”) make for easy snacking at your desk. www.udisfood.com
5280: Snack on Ela Family Farms’ Apples Aplenty Applesauce. This Hotchkiss-based farm grows full-flavored organic apples for sale, and also blends Golden Delicious, Golden Supreme, Jonathan, Gala, and Jonagold apples for this smooth, well-rounded treat. Ela products also include jams, fruit butter, nectar, and cider made from the farm’s homegrown organic cherries, peaches, pears, grapes, and berries.www.elafamilyfarms.com
5280: Twirl a spoonful of golden ambrosia Madhava Honey. This Lyons honey is made by bees that spend 80 days a year high in the Rockies. The result is an exquisite elixir naturally infused with the essence of high-alpine wildflowers. www.madhavahoney.com
5280: Pour a glass from Sutcliffe Vineyards. If you’ve shied away from Colorado wines thinking they were too young, this small, Cortez-based vineyard will change your mind. The Syrah drinks beautifully, with cocoa and black-pepper nuances, as does the balanced, honeysuckle-tinged Pinot Gris. As a testament to its quality, some of Denver’s best restaurants pour Sutcliffe wines. (For more on Sutcliffe, check out the profile of John Sutcliffe on page 118.) www.sutcliffewines.com