I’ve lived in locales that nobody would visit except my Mom and my best friend. Boulder is not like that. If you’ve lived here for very long you know the drill. Brothers, sisters, old friends, Facebook friends and random former co-workers get in touch and are enthusiastic about visiting you, even in the dead of winter.
Eating being the great common denominator, you take them to the obvious visitor destinations and innumerable tasting rooms. After a while everybody has toured Hammond’s Candies and had their single encounter with sopapillas and cliff divers at Casa Bonita. They have experienced mind/sinus expansion in the Celestial Seasonings mint room, taken the iconic Coors Beer Tour in Golden, had afternoon tea at the ornately decorated Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse and already brunched with the sharks at Denver’s Downtown Aquarium.
Here are a few alternative culinary destinations for the veteran yuletide visitor.
Special effects for dessert: At the Willie Wonka-inspired Inventing Room Dessert Shop, expect loud shrieks, cold fog, exploding whipped cream and first-class desserts created by chefs Ian and Stacey Kleinman. Whipped burnt marshmallow, graham cracker pop rocks, housemade lollipops, exquisite butterscotch sauce and maple sage cotton candy are on the menu of this steampunk-y establishment near Sloan’s Lake. The shop’s uber-popular Butter Beer magically brings together made-to-order liquid nitrogen salted butterscotch ice cream, butter beer soda, crunchy brown butter bits and an abundance of nitro-chilled exploding whipped cream with a dark chocolate swizzle stick. Nibble on free nitro-popped popcorn while waiting. It’s cool. (tirdenver.com)
The breakfast of champions: Surprise gourmet tourists with a visit to Arvada’s Cereal Box to build your bowl involving 50 U.S. and international cereals, diverse milks (including banana) and cool toppings. It is a childish opportunity to combine Trix, Fruit Loops and Fruity Pebbles in one bowl.
Pie taste tour and a song: Gather true pastry geeks for a night at the pie-centric musical Waitress Dec. 19-31 at the Buell Theatre. (denvercenter.org) Start with a pie tour with slices at Wednesday’s Pie (wednesdayspie.com) under Larimer Square and at the Humble Pie Store for toasted coconut cream with chocolate cookie crust pie. (humblepiestore.com). Stop by Hinman’s Bakery for fruit-filled hand pies for the ride home. (squareup.com/store/hinmans-bakery)
Teas and purrs: Take respite from the holiday season mayhem at the Denver Cat Company, a café that’s really a club for feline lovers that hosts adoptable cats. There is a $5 admission fee. For gift-giving, consider a meow session of yoga with purring cats followed by a cup of coffee or tea. (denvercatco.com)
Feasting like a Viking: Those aching to eat like Vikings (or at least Scandinavians) can celebrate Julebord, the traditional Norwegian Christmas fest Dec. 17 at Viking Hall in Colorado Springs. The smorgasbord groans with cardamom-scented breads, lefse, herring, pickled beets, rice cream and many pastries including krumkake. (sonsofnorwaycs.com/events.html)
The search for fromage: Head to Longmont for a tasting tour of the cheese-making process at Haystack Cheese headquarters. Be sure to taste some award-winning Haystack Peak, a bloomy rind pyramid full of melty goat cheese goodness. (haystackgoatcheese.com) Bundle up for the giant cooler of cheeses at the nearby Cheese Importers Warehouse with taste samples throughout. The cafe dishes raclette, cheese melted over boiled potatoes with mustard, bread, and cornichon. (cheeseimporters.com)
A Hanukkah Celebration: Hanukkah continues through Dec. 20. Commence with a festive road trip to Rosenberg’s Kosher in Denver for kosher bagels, challah, hamentashen and apricot rugelach. (rosenbergsk.com) Consider bringing foodie relatives for a Dec. 17 Food Lab class pairing sips of champagne with making potato and zucchini latkes and horseradish beet relish. (foodlabboulder.com) The whole family will enjoy Klezmania Dec. 24 at the Boulder Jewish Community Center with live music for dancing and a menu of traditional Chinese-American foods. (boulderjcc.org)
Oysters are the pearls: There are oyster people who live to taste raw mollusks and there are others. For the former, the destination should be one of the local Jax Fish House for the members-only Oyster Club. Members are offered samplings of sustainably sourced oysters in slurp-worthy categories such as East Coast Salty and West Coast Rich. Pass the lemon wedges. (jaxfishhouse.com)
Other tasteful suggestions: A midnight run to the epic Voodoo Donuts on Colfax in Denver (voodoodoughnut.com); attending Los Posadas at the Fort in Morrison Dec. 24 with candles, traditional songs, hot chocolate and cookies (thefort.com); or riding the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge brunch train Jan. 1, 2018 with a buffet, cocktails and live music along the Animas River. (durangotrain.com)
Local food news
McDevitt Taco Supply, which started as a Pearl Street Mall food stand, has opened its first official eatery at Boulder’s Meadows Shopping Center serving hefty tacos filled with everything from chimichuri steak to sweet chile shrimp.
There are so many cookbooks available this season but you have to wonder how many of the giftees will actually end up cooking from the volume. The just-published America the Great Cookbook (Weldon Owen) is jammed with chefs’ comfort food recipes you would actually use. Contributors include Colorado notables Adrian Miller, The Kitchen’s Hugo Matheson and Toni Tipton-Martin, who shares a Blueberry Buckle recipe. Book proceeds benefit Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry program.
Taste of the week
When stopping by the Dickens Opera House in Longmont on a chilly evening for a singer-songwriter open mic, nothing sounded better than the Dickens Pie. This shepherd’s pie variation layers shredded beef, onions mushrooms and peas in gravy under a coating of creamy mashers and melted cheese baked in a flat bowl. It was comforting but it would have been sensational enclosed in flaky, buttery pastry.
Words to chew on
“Life, within doors, has few pleasanter prospects than a neatly arranged and well-provisioned breakfast table.” — Nathaniel Hawthorne
John Lehndorff hosts Radio Nibbles 8:25 a.m. Thursdays on KGNU (88.5 FM, 1390 AM,
kgnu.org). Podcasts: news.kgnu.org/category/radio-nibbles