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500 6th St.
Georgetown, CO 80444
First stop, the Georgetown Valley Candy Company, at 500 6th Street. Owners Rube and Nina Goeringer have been making and selling artisan chocolates, fudge and about a thousand other things from this cluttered, cozy space for almost ten years — but they've been supplying the good citizens of Georgetown (and others) with candy for more than thirty.
Even while whipping up a batch of his famous handmade caramel corn, Rube had no trouble talking my ear off about the history of the business, the building it's housed in and Georgetown in general. "Now, there's a limit to how much candy you can give away," he began, in fine storyteller's style. "And we had to find a way to turn Nina's hobby into a business."
He went on to offer a rough outline of how he and Nina went from a small, home-kitchen candy operation in the '70s to where they are now. How they began with candies, chocolates and clusters, and added handmade ice cream in 1987. "We just couldn't find a suitable product in the market," he explained. "Most ice cream these days is just ice milk — stretched a little, you know. We wanted something better." By then they were out of the home kitchen and in a shop just down the street, which made it easier to expand their product line. The Georgetown Valley Candy Company moved into its current location in 1999, and if you can get past all the stuffed animals for sale, the tourist knickknacks lining the shelves, and make your way to the candy counter, you'll be amazed by what they make here.
The candy cases hold a fat kid's wonderland of ever-changing specialties — from hand-painted cameos and chocolate-dipped cherries to excellent truffles and Spice Trader gourmet chocolates (spiced with chai, with ginger and cardamom, with cinnamon, chili and almonds). I'm addicted to their caramels (to the unending glee of my dentist), as well as the filled chocolates and jellies. Laura's a fan of the chocolate-covered pretzels.
Rube's talk about the town is almost as tasty as his candy. The address his business now occupies has been home to a pharmacy, a stable, an opera house and, briefly, a bank. "The banker liked the money so well, he ran off with it, though," Rube said. It's also been county offices, a plumbing shop, a rooming house for hippies and the infamous Silver Queen bar and restaurant. During World War II, copper shell casings were manufactured in the basement. The stained glass and mirrors are antiques — rescued from places like the Windsor Hotel and the Tabor Grand Opera House in Denver. Ghosts still haunt the place, Rube told me.
Maybe they're candy fans.
Just down 6th Street is Kneisel & Anderson, a grocery store that has me considering a move to Georgetown. It's the kind of grocery I've always dreamed of having right down the street — a place where, sure, I can buy a loaf of bread, a bag of Doritos and a six-pack, but where I can also pick up tinned herring, a block of Danish havarti, a bag of Olathe sweet corn, two bars of French chocolate and a package of Swedish crispbread. Kneisel & Anderson, which is now owned and operated by Cora Lou and Wendy Anderson, has been a general store forever, and still displays on its shelves some of the products — fish pastes and bone salves and hardware — that were sold here a century ago. But it also has some of the strangest, most bizarre delicacies I've ever seen in a place so small, and I've never walked across the creaking, plank-wood floors without finding something I absolutely have to have. When I stopped in a couple of weeks ago, it was a cup of instant wonton ramen soup — something I've never seen for sale in the Asian markets I haunt in Denver. A year or so ago, it was a can of crab chowder that I'd thought was only sold in North Atlantic states. It also stocks a spread of excellent European cheeses, a plethora of Colorado products, loads of English, German and Northern European specialty foods and excellent steaks.
Kneisel & Anderson is a dream destination for the serious gastronaut, a hidden treasure of freaky ethno-fusion that, in the simple act of stocking its shelves, lays plain the history of a town that was once the third-largest in all of Colorado and ground zero for the American silver boom.
Back in the kitchen: When I first encountered Olav Peterson, he was Gene Tang's executive chef at 1515, working with sous chef Ben Alandt (who went on to work with Ian Kleinman at the smart-but-doomed Indigo, at 250 Josephine Street). Peterson saw 1515 through some lean times and some flush ones, and worked like a good chef is supposed to: quietly and well, with little fanfare.
A couple of years back, though, he grew antsy for a new challenge, and so took over as chef at Euro, at 231 Milwaukee Street — another doomed restaurant address that didn't even have the Indigo advantage of being smart as well as destined to fail. But Peterson worked hard there, only to be rewarded with a pink slip when the owners decided they didn't want to pay his salary anymore. (It's since closed altogether.)
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