Eat and be merry 

Whether you need a last-minute stocking stuffer or a full-on, bow-topped package, sweet and savory treats can help you finish off your holiday shopping. Of course, you could visit Tejon Street's Extraordinary Ingredients (from our cover story here) or Savory Spice Shop, but there are plenty of other choices, too.

I drank and ate my way across the Pikes Peak region this past weekend, taste-testing some of the best giftable, Colorado-made products I could find. Any extra pounds I may have gained are all in the name of holiday cheer and quality journalism.

Gourmet greetings

A good place to start checking off your list is Garden of the Gods Gourmet (2528 W. Cucharras St., godsgourmet.net) and its namesake gourmet salt-free seasonings. Buy just one or buy all 11 blends in stackable jars. From the seasonings, move on to the baked goods. You can purchase a tower of cookies (love the peanut butter), or granola by the pound. If you're looking for wine, the shop doubles as a tasting room for the Grand Junction-based Two Rivers winery.

Of course, humans aren't the only ones who appreciate gourmet goods. Wag N' Wash (1625 W. Uintah St.; 1234 Woodmen Road, wagnwash.com) bakes items on site for the pups in your life. Staff members there say the turkey or beef loaves and the liver brownies are their bestsellers, but you could also put together a bag of housemade cookies including the MultiGrain Men, the Super Stars and the Moose Heads. And don't forget the cats: Wag N' Wash carries natural Durango-made Zukes treats for both canines and felines.

A sip or two

A trip to Monument's Wisdom Tea House (65 Second St., Monument, wisdomteahouse.com) could start off with breakfast, lunch or an afternoon scone for you, but your gift recipient will be just as pleased with a tin of Noel Christmas (orange, apple, almond and cinnamon spice) tea. Need more than just a tin? Add a decorative tea cup and saucer or pot, or a sand timer.

High-quality coffee beans are probably the easiest option for any joe addicts. At Colorado Coffee Merchants (302 E. Fillmore St., coloradocoffeemerchants.com), you can pick up a bag of Ümpire Estate Mountain Roasters or Idle Truck. For a seriously substantial offering, slip a few selections into a basket with the gift that keeps on giving: CCM's copper mug.

Shell out $49.95 and your recipient will receive a logo-ed travel mug and access to daily drip at CCM for a year. (The site keeps three coffees brewed at all times.) If you want to add even more to that basket, CCM carries fresh baked goods from Sweet Daphne Confections (2825 Dublin Blvd. sweetdaphneconfections.com). Might I recommend a couple perfectly flaky almond croissants?

Sweet kisses

Speaking of sweet treats, you might not consider a cupcake shop for stocking stuffers, but the Couture Cupcake Co. (3347 Cinema Point., springscupcakes.com) can tuck one or two of any of their cakes in a specially designed presentation box to keep your present from getting smushed. Many of their cupcakes are decorated for the holidays right now — think snowflake sprinkles and Santa Peeps. Of course, you can also package up a larger gift for any bakers you know. Couture has recently started selling high-altitude-ready cupcake mixes; on hand when I visited were Dark Chocolate and Red Velvet.

If you prefer your cacao straight, try Pikes Peak Chocolate and Ice Cream (805 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, pikespeakchocolate.com). Employees there say some of their bestsellers around this time of year are their Festive Frosteds. Handmade and decorated on site, classic favorites such as Twinkies and Nutter Butters get turned into snowmen and reindeer. And the shop also offers more than 30 different types of bite-sized and dessert truffles. Choose your own selection for a four-pack, a 25-piece box, or an overstuffed gift basket.

No time? No problem

Local health foods stores such as Vitamin Cottage Natural Grocers (7690 N. Academy Blvd.; 1825 S. Nevada Ave.; 655 W. Hwy. 105, Monument, vitamincottage.com), Mountain Mama Natural Foods (1625A W. Uintah St., mountainmamanaturalfoods.com) and Sammy's Organics (830 Arcturus Drive, 1837 N. Circle Drive, sammysorganics.org) make gift-giving as simple as a grocery trip. All these locations offer great options when looking for Colorado-made products.

From Boulder, try the Almonds & Sea Salt in Dark Chocolate Chocolove bar or Justin's nut butters — the Chocolate Peanut Butter is particularly decadent. Out of Lyons, a jar of Madhava honey would add a little extra something to a bag of Udi's Granola, from Denver. Made in Centennial, Rocky Mountain Popcorn Co.'s Just Honest Popcorn is perfect for those with allergies. It's gluten- and nut-free and comes in seven flavors — try the caramel for sweet or the red chili for savory.



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