Best Of :: Shopping & Services
Forget all the pious exhortations to eat local, organic, seasonal. They're all real enough, but they're not the reason we eagerly anticipate the opening of the Boulder County Farmers' Market in early April and visit faithfully, week after week, as the offerings change from tender lettuce and spinach to the corn, eggplants and tomatoes of full summer, and then the September apples, pears and hard-shelled squashes that push us into an orgy of freezing, canning and storage. Produce isn't the whole story: The market also offers beef, chicken, duck, cheeses, eggs, honey and a variety of prepared foods, from tortillas to chocolates, all of it — and this is a strict and crucial rule — locally sourced. We go for all of that, to be sure, but we go primarily because the market represents an important coming together of the community, where farmers offer growing tips, buyers commiserate with farmers about the weather and exchange recipes with each other, friends connect, and everyone remembers just how vibrant and important a role food plays in our lives.
For local musician Martina Grbac, there is life after Matson Jones: Although she still works on musical projects, Grbac's newest vision is eyeLAB, a sliding-scale optical service that provides eyeglasses to artists and other uninsured people who typically can't afford a nice pair. By nature a labor of love, eyeLAB is a one-woman deal, and the sliding-scale concept is unique, but Grbac hopes to pair with charitable organizations in the future so she can dispense free eyewear to the most indigent customers. Give her a visit, whether or not you can afford the smart new frames.
Public bikes and public art ought to go hand in hand, and at this stylin' RiNo B-cycle station, one of fifty in the city, they do. Colorado sculptor Christopher Hecker's untitled urban-art assemblage, built from recycled car hoods and emblazoned with the word "Bike," is the perfect advertisement for B-cycle, especially in an arts district: Not only does it repurpose a dinosaur automobile, but it encourages B-cycle patrons to trade in their metal for pedals.
As sugar addicts and cheapskates already know, it's a scientific fact that candy canes and butterscotch pillows taste exactly the same whether they're intact or broken into pieces. The only difference? The price. In the Oops Room at the Hammond's Candies factory, thrifty five-year-olds (and grown-ass men who love caramel marshmallows and saving money) can get their candy fix for less by buying the factory's fractured goods. At Hammond's, Denver's 91-year-old candy company, even the mistakes are delicious.
The Queen Anne has everything you'd expect from a good downtown Denver B&B. Within reasonable walking distance of the 16th Street Mall and other urban attractions, its side-by-side Victorian houses open up to reveal old-style hospitality, served in lovely old rooms, some of which sport vaulted ceilings or city views. But it also runs on a streak of modernism: Proprietor Milan Doshi, a trained chef, dishes out lovely breakfasts based on locavore principles (there's a big garden in back in the summer, where guests can dine outdoors), and green and eco-friendly standards are observed throughout the inn, right down to the organic linens and low-flow toilets. To top it off, the Queen Anne also features a series of super-urban rooms decorated by an edgy stable of local artists and designers. For visitors hoping for a real city experience, it's an excellent launching pad.
Will he start? Won't he start? It doesn't matter. Denver Broncos (backup?) quarterback, underwear salesman and clean-living phenomenon Tim Tebow has sold a lot of No. 15 jerseys since the team drafted him in April 2010; in fact, his jersey has consistently been one of the NFL's top sellers. But jerseys are expensive, which gave Daniella Grieve, of Lombardi's Embroidery in Arvada, an idea: Bring her your old Brandon Marshall (remember him?) No. 15 jersey, and she'll replace the former Broncos wide receiver's name with Tebow's for $25. It's a bargain for Denver fans and a good way to make sure that Tebow groupies keep their shirts on.