Published: December 6, 2013
While the culinary treasures featured in my cover story would be wonderful to find under the Christmas tree, here are a few gift ideas that have caught my eye with more modest price tags.
Wayne Laugesen, The Gazette's editorial page editor, gifted me with a colorful bag of Temblor Coffee beans. The coffee is from the highlands of Guatemala, imported by Denver-based Peter Miller, a friend of Laugesen.
Miller was traveling in Guatemala where he went on a tour of a finca de cafe (coffee farm) and became hooked on the coffee.
"Now I'm proud to introduce Temblor, a slightly earthshaking blend of gourmet organic coffee grown on the slopes of the Moyuta Volcano near the Guatemalan border with El Salvador," he writes in his blog, thelostgringo.com/blog.
He pays the cafetal directly that pays the farmers who tend the coffee plants a fair wage to help the families. The coffee beans are packaged in colorful Mayan textile bags.
"The cafetal's Mayan textile bags not only look cool and make great general purpose bags and gift bags, they also support the native weaving industry," he says. "The cafetal supports around four weaving families at a time and is pleased to promote a craft that is of great cultural and historical significance in Guatemala."
The darkly roasted beans have a full-bodied taste with notes of spice, cinnamon and chocolate, and no bitter aftertaste. Each bag costs $12.50 and can be ordered online at thelostgringo.com/shop. Or you can meet Miller in person at The NEAT Market, 1031 33rd St. in Denver, a pop-up vegan market that is open the third Sunday of the month. The next market is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 15.
Helen Eppley, matriarch at Sparrow Hawk cookery shop, 120 N. Tejon St., tipped me off about a Colorado College student, Francisco Castro, who brings beautifully embroidered linens from his home country of Ecuador. Sam Eppley, Helen's son and owner of the culinary store, was impressed with the lovely tea towels and other linens and immediately agreed to stock them at his store.
Castro started Artizan of the Andes. According to the hang tag on one of the towels, "It's a venture to give marginalized artisans the opportunity to pull themselves out of poverty by providing them jobs and a market for their products."
The ladies weave the cloth and make aprons, tea towels and bun warmers. The colors of the yarn used to make the designs are stunning and the artwork precise. The textiles are almost too lovely to use, but they are sturdy and the colors hold up well when washing directions are followed. Cost: tea towel $24.99, apron $39.99 and bun warmer $27.99.
Kathleen Purvis, a former food writer, invented the Chef's Duster, a great little gizmo for sifting dry ingredients. Dust cakes, cookies, brownies, pancakes, waffles, French toast or desserts with confectioners' sugar, cinnamon or cocoa. You can scoop dry ingredients from a canister, snap on the plastic lid and gently squeeze the handle for a fine shower of sweetness. Cost is $24.99 at Sparrow Hawk.
You can thank Eric Viedt, executive chef at the Margarita at PineCreek, for this gift suggestion: Davy Crack It Squirrel Nutcracker.
At a recent cooking class, he could not stop talking about the novel-looking nutcracker that he had picked up. Davy the squirrel is made from heavy-duty cast aluminum and can crack the toughest of nuts. Cost is $21.99 at Sparrow Hawk.
If you like Davy, you might also like a similar-looking nut grinder that is available at Sparrow Hawk for $39.99.
What's the holiday season without a touch of alcohol to warm the spirits? Michael Myers, owner of Distillery 291, 1647 S. Tejon St., has you covered with his DECC - citrus, clove wheskey liqueur. It's a spicy, smooth sipper that is perfect for apr? warm up. Cost is $33.