In honor of Colorado's 135th birthday, our ten favorite Colorado food and drink products
Today, Colorado marks a major milestone: The state is celebrating its 135th birthday, and in honor of the anniversary, we're giving shout-outs to ten of our favorite food and drink products made in our own back yard.
MM Local, based in Boulder, partners with local farms to make (and jar) a whole smorgasbord of Colorado products, but my favorite is the hot high desert peppers, a spicy bomb of mixed chiles, grown by Grant Family Farms, pickled in vinegar and seasoned with garlic, salt and spices. They're delicious on their own, in salsas, or green chile.
Salted caramels are here, there and everywhere, and while I've never met a salted caramel that I didn't like, I recently discovered the handcrafted sensations from Ellen Daehnick, aka Helliemae -- and I can't shove them in my mouth fast enough. Deep tawny in color, rich with butter, vanilla, cream and pure cane sugar, and soft and chewy, they're judiciously sprinkled with sea salt (from the Savory Spice Shop) and packaged in pretty paper wrappers.
I've long had a love affair with just about everything that Mark DeNittis creates at Il Mondo Vecchio, his revered sausage and salumi emporium that pimps everything from breakfast sausage to Portuguese longanzia to the best pepperoni on the planet. He's constantly coming up with new creations, each one impossibly better than the last, and his flavor profiles are spot-on. There's a reason that chefs all over the state call him the salumi king: He is.
Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy, which started as a small farm in Boulder in 1989, has grown by leaps and bounds over the years, so much so that it quickly outgrew its seven-acre farm and now operates a 5,000-square-foot creamery in Longmont, complete with four aging rooms. But while the cheesery has achieved a national stronghold, it's never compromised its local roots, and the cheeses, of which there are now sixteen, continue to impress, most notably the nutty queso de mano.
Colorado is the fourth largest sheep and lamb producer in the United States, and if you ask just about any Colorado chef what their favorite state product is, you'll hear a resounding, unified chorus of Colorado lamb, which is milder -- much -- than its New Zealand counterpart. But it's not just Colorado chefs (and me) who herald its attributes; chefs from all over the country put it on their menus, thanks to it faultless texture, versatility and unparalleled flavor.