Best Afternoon Free Hors D'oeuvres

Costco

It's hard to explain the basic human urge to pursue microwave cheese puffs, cold cuts and toaster waffles, but admit it: You love the stuff. Since Costco sells items like these in mega-quantities, it hires food demonstrators to hand out tastes, and you can count on snacking on at least ten selections any afternoon of the week at this giant discount warehouse. Whether stuffing your face with such freebies will stop you from making impulse purchases -- a new set of tires, say, or a big-screen TV -- we can't say. But at least you won't be light-headed from hunger when you throw down your credit card.
Since farmers' markets now abound throughout the metro area, ambience can be as big a draw as the more standard offerings -- and it's definitely the atmosphere that sets Pearl Street's market apart from all the rest. This is a small, friendly affair with a strong community vibe, where folks can nosh on pastries and gossip, parents can push strollers, and helmeted kids can try out their training wheels without fear of being run over. And like any outdoor market worth its peaches and tomatoes, the South Pearl Farmers' Market features dewy, farm-fresh produce and the kind of gorgeous cut flowers you usually find only in a backyard cutting garden, as well as homemade condiments, pastas and ice cream. Also in the community spirit, this year's market, which debuts in mid-June, will increase its emphasis on fundraising for nonprofits by including informational booths. But even without the feel-good causes, the market is a lovely place to spend a Sunday morning among friends and neighbors.
Since farmers' markets now abound throughout the metro area, ambience can be as big a draw as the more standard offerings -- and it's definitely the atmosphere that sets Pearl Street's market apart from all the rest. This is a small, friendly affair with a strong community vibe, where folks can nosh on pastries and gossip, parents can push strollers, and helmeted kids can try out their training wheels without fear of being run over. And like any outdoor market worth its peaches and tomatoes, the South Pearl Farmers' Market features dewy, farm-fresh produce and the kind of gorgeous cut flowers you usually find only in a backyard cutting garden, as well as homemade condiments, pastas and ice cream. Also in the community spirit, this year's market, which debuts in mid-June, will increase its emphasis on fundraising for nonprofits by including informational booths. But even without the feel-good causes, the market is a lovely place to spend a Sunday morning among friends and neighbors.


Tom Gillan's corn is fresh enough to eat uncooked, and here's why: "I literally wait at the end of the row while they're picking, load it into my truck and rush home," he says. Since it's hard to imagine a summer barbecue without fresh corn, and since it's harder still to find any such thing at the supermarket, Gillan's produce stand is a lifesaver. Located in front of his excellent plant nursery -- known for plants that can survive anything the Colorado climate throws at them -- the stand changes its offerings according to the ripeness of local fruit and vegetables, then sells them at less than farmers' market prices. Ah, summer!
Tom Gillan's corn is fresh enough to eat uncooked, and here's why: "I literally wait at the end of the row while they're picking, load it into my truck and rush home," he says. Since it's hard to imagine a summer barbecue without fresh corn, and since it's harder still to find any such thing at the supermarket, Gillan's produce stand is a lifesaver. Located in front of his excellent plant nursery -- known for plants that can survive anything the Colorado climate throws at them -- the stand changes its offerings according to the ripeness of local fruit and vegetables, then sells them at less than farmers' market prices. Ah, summer!


Forget the microwave burrito, the hurried Slim Jim, the ancient doughnut. When Lori's Deli whips up a custom egg sandwich or a Reuben, you'll vow never to go back to nasty road food again. Housed in a deli case at the back of a family gas station that's been going strong for more than eighty years, Lori's stocks only Boar's Head meats and makes every sandwich to order. You'll think you died and went to the Bronx -- until the friendly Western ambience convinces you otherwise.
Forget the microwave burrito, the hurried Slim Jim, the ancient doughnut. When Lori's Deli whips up a custom egg sandwich or a Reuben, you'll vow never to go back to nasty road food again. Housed in a deli case at the back of a family gas station that's been going strong for more than eighty years, Lori's stocks only Boar's Head meats and makes every sandwich to order. You'll think you died and went to the Bronx -- until the friendly Western ambience convinces you otherwise.

Best Rethinking of the Convenience-Store Concept

Sun Deli Groceries & Liquor

Just over a year ago, Sharmilla Lalchandani and her family -- son Ravi and daughter Laxmi -- took over a failed convenience store at the east end of the Boulder Mall, then set out to transform the place. Sure, you can still buy cigs and a carton of milk here. But now the spicy aroma of chai hangs in the air, and there are glass cases holding food such as curries and savory Indian pastries, to be eaten on site or taken away. The store also carries a selection of ingredients and packaged items from around the world, including marmalade and digestive biscuits from England, olive oils from Italy and Greece, tamarind pulp, fish sauce and Indian spices. Fortunately, more often than not, a member of the Lalchandani family is around to help you figure out how to use them.

Best Rethinking of the Convenience-Store Concept

Sun Deli Groceries & Liquor

Just over a year ago, Sharmilla Lalchandani and her family -- son Ravi and daughter Laxmi -- took over a failed convenience store at the east end of the Boulder Mall, then set out to transform the place. Sure, you can still buy cigs and a carton of milk here. But now the spicy aroma of chai hangs in the air, and there are glass cases holding food such as curries and savory Indian pastries, to be eaten on site or taken away. The store also carries a selection of ingredients and packaged items from around the world, including marmalade and digestive biscuits from England, olive oils from Italy and Greece, tamarind pulp, fish sauce and Indian spices. Fortunately, more often than not, a member of the Lalchandani family is around to help you figure out how to use them.
Feeling lucky? Then head down to Lucky Market, where you'll find all those weird, freaky, Jesus-why-would-anyone-eat-that? ingredients you've been looking for. Need some pork pâté? Jackfruit chips? Frozen squid tentacles? Lucky's got you covered. It boasts a wall stacked high and wide with dishes, bowls and all manner of Asian kitchen accessories; it has so much freezer space, you may need a team

of Sherpas to get you through; and it stocks such basics as Asian-export condensed milk, Cafe du Monde chicory coffee, Jahe Kopi ginger coffee and more canned goods than the most discriminating fan of Indochinese cooking could ever use.

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