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Wednesday, December 8,2010

Palatable presents

Feed the soul with food-inspired gifts

By Lauren Duncan




Everyone loves food. This holiday season, why not nurture the love of eating by gifting something delicious? From homemade goodies to unique kitchen gadgets, this guide will help holiday shoppers please even the pickiest eater in town. Here’s what to get for:


The Gourmet Guru

Everyone has a friend they’re afraid to invite to dinner; a friend who pronounces every word on the menu without a stumble. Though intimidating, it’s not impossible to shop for this friend.

Consider gifting a specialty olive oil from Oliv You & Me, a boutique on Broadway between Pearl and Spruce Streets. A boutique bottle is a great way to fine-tune one’s taste buds; plus, it makes a beautiful display.

“Consumables seem to be getting more and more popular,” says Oliv You & Me owner Patti Scott. According to Scott, the most popular gift oils are “nuovo” oils, “the freshest of the fresh.” Spanning a price range from $12 to $45, specialty olive oils make a thoughtful gift for a foodie.

For your chocolate-lover friend, a chocolate tasting gift offers the ultimate pleasure experience. Purchase the five main levels of chocolate — cocoa nibs, bittersweet, semisweet, milk and white — and package them accordingly in different shades of brown paper. Include an informational book about the origins of cocoa, and it’s sure to please.

The Barbecue Buff

One doesn’t have to be from the South to appreciate good barbecue. For the loved one who harbors this obsession, consider paying a visit to the Savory Spice Shop in his or her honor. The fragrant shop, located on Broadway between Pearl and Spruce Streets, carries a vast array of potent spices, including about 20 varieties of barbecue spice rubs. From the Red Rocks Hickory Smoke Seasoning to the Pearl Street Plank Rub, the spice combinations complement “any style of meat in any style of cooking,” says shop owner Dan Hayward. “Business is much busier during the holidays,” Hayward says, adding that the prepared spice gift boxes are extremely popular. “People can enjoy [spices] more than once; they can also use them up rather than having something just sitting around the house.”

Give the gift of tender pork and smoky ribs. Luckily for local barbecue buffs, Boulder County has several authentic barbecue restaurants. A gift certificate to one of these offers a successful last-minute gift. KT’s Real Good BBQ has four locations — Downtown Boulder, East Boulder, Broomfield and Denver — and offers succulent Memphis-style pulled pork sandwiches and other smoky delights. The always-delicious Rib House has locations in downtown Boulder and in Longmont.

Wild Mountain Smokehouse in Nederland and Daddy Bruce’s in Boulder also offer quality barbecue — the latter offers brisket and chicken, specialties from another famed barbecue region: Texas. Personalize the gift by offering to go with them, and it’s a gift that gives right back.

The Shameless Sweet Tooth

Of course, this category covers a good number of folks. An obvious choice for the sugar fanatic is to bake something sweet — fudge, cookies or cupcakes. This year, surprise your sweet tooth friend with something unique. Use the layered soup idea to put together a cookie mix in a jar. Layer flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, chocolate chips and oatmeal. Attach instructions onto the jar and let them bake the morsels at their leisure.

Flocks of tourists on Pearl Street allow for several sugary stores on the main street. Powell’s Sweet Shoppe offers a dose of nostalgia in the form of old-fashioned candies, which make ideal stocking stuffers. Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory also offers a healthy serving of sugar; the decadent caramel apples make an impressive hostess gift.

The Kitchen Dweller

For the friend who can’t seem to peel away from the kitchen, nurture his or her love of cooking with a gift that requires preparation. Select a mouthwatering recipe, and gather all of the dry ingredients to compile a cooking “kit.” Gift it in a festive bag with the recipe; they’ll be flattered at how well you know them and thrilled to try a new dish.

Make it even simpler by layering dry ingredients in a jar for a colorful and pleasing gift. For soup, layer a favorite combination of beans, lentils, pasta, rice, bouillon powder, spices and dried herbs in a glass jar with the recipe attached. The recipient will simply need to add water and fresh vegetables for a hearty homemade winter soup.

Give your friend a change of scenery with a gift certificate to the Culinary School of the Rockies. The school offers professional culinary courses for the aspiring chef as well as more casual Home Cook classes, which offer one- to five-day courses in everything from basic cooking techniques to Thai food. Classes run from $65 for some one-day classes to $645 for a five-day techniques course. It’s an experience they’ll carry through many kitchens.

If gadgetry is more his or her style, consider giving a unique kitchen tool. Take a stroll through a kitchen specialty store such as Peppercorn on Pearl Street; from cocktail shakers to color-coordinated spatulas, there’s something for every cook in the kitchen.

It isn’t difficult to please people with food, especially during the holidays.

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