Best Of :: Shopping & Services
Midsummer: At the Red Wagon Organic Farm stand at the Boulder County Farmers' Market, someone is handing out slices of sweet melon, and several varieties of cucumber — smooth and warty, long or stubby as a big toe — are carefully arrayed on counters, along with bunches of slender, multi-colored carrots. Everything gleams under a gentle misting of water. You can try, but you won't find a blemish on any of the tomatoes or a speck of grit in a bunch of chard. You might think the zucchinis have been polished by hand, one by one, and here's the thing: They have. Wyatt Barnes and Amy Tisdale have been running this farm for nine years on thirty acres leased from the county, and they are both perfectionists. They select their produce, whether heirloom or mainstream, for taste, and sell it in pristine condition at the Boulder and Longmont markets and at their own farm stand. Their dedication to an organic and sustainable lifestyle extends to paying workers a fair wage and helping and supporting other growers — which means their CSA (details of which can be found on the website) includes pork, beef, mushrooms and fruit as well as their own vegetables.
Recently relocated from northeast Denver, Masters is a serious wholesaler of art supplies, but the public is also welcome in the shop, where a helpful staff assists price-conscious artists and students seeking the best deals on canvases, wood panels, easels, paints and other essentials. Whether you buy in bulk or are just seeking the right materials for a special project, this place is a thing of beauty.
The name may be Taste of Denmark, but it's buttery goodness that you really savor here. Come in the morning and choose from a wide array of breakfast goodies: dark-brown whirls of cinnamon-heavy cinnamon rolls; almond-topped bear claws that shatter into rich, golden flakes; puffy chocolate croissants; and row after row of tender Danishes cradling pools of custard, jam or an irresistible mix of both. Cherry hand pies, with filling tucked inside large circles of shortbread, raspberry Pop-Tarts with frosting and sprinkles, and chocolate-dipped Napoleon hats stuffed with almond paste are just as tempting, making this the kind of place where you apologize profusely to the nice woman behind the counter for making her ring you up so many times, and try (in vain) to reach the car without taking bites of three different things.
Along with talent to spare, part of the secret behind the success of burlesque madams Eve and Cora Vette is in their sparkly costumes, which are put together by hand with a lot more know-how than the ordinary Joe would ever suspect. They bring the expertise of the musical-theater world into play to stitch up their come-hither looks, and now you can drop in to their Wazee Union showroom to see their custom pinup, rockabilly and burlesque wares firsthand. Don't be caught without a spare pair of pasties, girls. There's no excuse, now that VaVaVette is here.
Denver has a sweeter side, and Sugarlicious Denver does more than cater to it: It satisfies this city's sugar needs. This Cherry Creek store has an entire wall devoted to bins housing over 250 different candies and treats, including oodles and gobs of retro and hard-to-find goodies as well as nut-free and vegan delights. The collection of gift baskets and bags makes last-minute sweet-giving a no-brainer; your toughest task is deciding between fruit gummies and sours, chocolates and truffles. And don't forget to take a few fistfuls home, just for the sugar-sweet hell of it.
Coloradans had plenty of marijuana-related meetings, conferences, protests and contests to choose from over the past year. But the most haze-filled, hashed-out event was the Extract Artists Unite Secret Cup, which took place at the Oriental Theater in December. Organizers Daniel de Sailles and Selecta Nikka T managed to bring an entire community together under one smoke-filled roof, pitting thirty hash makers against each other in a grassroots contest to see who could produce the best hash and BHO. The event may change its name in 2013, but we're looking forward to attending it again.