Holiday shopping can be a tedious and painful process. From parking garage purgatory, to never-ending check-out lines and the inevitable anxiety over buying the “perfect gift,” there’s bound to be some emotional, mental and financial damage. This year we urge you to break this cycle of psychotic shopping and try out something new. Denver Flea, happening this weekend, is the city’s largest holiday market with over 125 vendors in attendance. But instead of being just like any other flea market, this event is designed to be more of a holiday celebration. There will be an abundance of food trucks, three different bars and a free cocktail, beer or coffee for all RSVP’ed attendees (put your name on the list here). So instead of going to the mall and picking up something that’s probably going to be returned, you can come to Flea eat, drink and be merry all while shopping for unique gifts from some of Denver’s best artisans.
In honor of this event 303 Magazine’s Food and Booze Desk has put together a guide to the food vendors in attendance (many other types of goods will be offered) so you can plan your purchases in advance and then head straight to the bar for some holiday cheer.
Helliemae’s Salted Caramels
The Low Down: Helliemae’s should be your first stop at Denver Flea. This candy company isn’t just slinging boxes of its tasty treats, they’re pairing different types of whiskey and beer to go with caramel samples. For sale: Atticus Caramels made with Denver whiskey, Kentucky bourbon barrel-smoked sea salt, and Louisiana small-batch open-kettle cane syrup or Cardamom Caramels with freshly-ground cardamom provided by Denver’s Savory Spice Shop.
Perfect Gift for: the old man in your life, literally or figuratively.
The Real Dill
The Low Down: The Real Dill first began as a couple of good friends making pickles “just for fun,” until one day they had a “pickle epiphany” in the form of their japlaeño honey dill pickles. Get a taste of their revelation at this year’s Flea along with several other flavors. For Sale: A range of hand-crafted artisan pickles such as caraway garlic dills, habanero horseradish dills, jalapeño honey dills as well as a delicious bloody mary mix
Perfect Gift For: Your pregnant friend who won’t be weirded out when they unwrap a jar of pickles. Pro tip: Don’t make the mistake in assuming that those extra holiday pounds are a fetus. It could get ugly.
The Long I Pie
The Low Down: Pies are serious business over at Long I Pie. This Denver company believes that “making pie is a mix of art and science all wrapped up in the feeling of family and home.” They even bake the pies in a cast iron skillet to make it feel extra homey. Plus this baking method results in an extra-buttery, flaky crust so golden and delicious you’ll want to eat the whole thing. For Sale: Slices and whole pies will be available.
Perfect Gift For: A holiday party where you want to pretend you are so well-rounded that you baked this pie yourself.
The Low Down: From cupcakes and bundt cakes to croissants and donuts, Gwendolyn’s Bakery has it all. This local catering company founded by Keely Quinn is here to make all your party wishes come true by providing tasty baked good for any important shindig. This year you can take home some of her magic with cake mixes and frostings available for purchase. For Sale: Cake Mix (vanilla, chocolate, chocolate peppermint, and spice cake,) buttercream frosting (vanilla, chocolate, maple) and Bourbon vanilla extract.
Perfect Gift For: Your Pinterest-loving friend that actually did bake it themselves.
Western Daughter Butchers
The Low Down: Western Daughters Butcher Shoppe might be known for its locally and responsibly raised meats but what many people do not know is they sell a wide range of curated artisan food products. For sale: From Dram Bitters to Western Daughter Owner’s Kate Kavanaugh’s favorite condiment, Empire Mayo, you can expect W.D. to bring a plethora of items that’ll satisfy your food obsessed friends.
Perfect Gift For: The chef in your life that you know will treat that $8 jar of mayo like liquid gold.
Teatulia Organic Teas
The Low Down: From one of the largest organic tea gardens in the world comes Teatulia Organic Teas. Grown in Northern Bangladesh against the backdrop of the Himalayas, Teatulia claims to source these naturally grown teas straight from the garden and into your cup. The result is a flavorful yet delicate range of teas that are all USDA certified organic. For sale: an array of different teas sold in compostable canisters (pictured above).
Perfect Gift For: That one person you know who hates coffee which makes you question their life choices but you love them anyway.
The Low Down: All Denver Flea attendees are in for a serious treat. This year Coda Coffee, an award wining local roaster, will provide free cups of coffee for all RSVP’ed guests. You might have to forgo a beer or cocktail to claim your free cup but for some this might be worth it. Last year Coda joined the ranks of an elite group when it was named “Roaster of the Year” by Roast Magazine. This prestigious award has only been given to nine other companies, making for a small but highly-revered list. Make sure to redeem your voucher for a cup or take a whole bag of beans home with you for later enjoyment. For Sale: bags of whole bean coffee will be available
Perfect Gift For: Any sane, normal human that understands the necessity of a daily caffeine intake.
Dead Dog Chocolate
The Low Down: Dead Dog might sound like a Mexican drug gang, but in actuality it’s a wonderful local chocolate company from the hearts and minds of two local ladies. Damaris and Katelyn, founders of Dead Dog, both commit themselves to ethically sourced and organic cacao beans to make their delicacies from scratch. They also pride themselves on using every part of the cacao beans, even the shells (which is used to make a variety of cacao infused teas). For sale: Mexican drinking chocolate, assorted chocolate bars, peppermint bark, cacao infused teas and assorted truffle chocolate gift boxes.
Perfect Gift For: Your friend that occasionally has a mental break down and requires an emergency supply of chocolate (and wine) at all times.
Puff’s Preserves/Modern Gingham Preserves/ RedCamper/Naked Goat Farm
The Low Down: Four Flea vendors will sell a variety of jam, jellies and preserves. Naked Goat Farm and Puff’s Preserve will both sell booze infused jams that’ll help you kick off any morning, no matter how rough. For Sale: Puff’s Preserves– Apple Beer Cardamom jelly, Blackberry Bourbon Lavender jam, Cherry Bourbon Vanilla preserves, Raspberry, Whiskey Chipotle jam, Raspberry Gin Rose jam, Cocktail Cherries, Rhubarb Vodka Hibiscus jam. Naked Goat Farm: Stout Jam (Guinness), Amber Ale Jam (Fat Tire), India Pale Ale (Dales Pale Ale). Redcamper: Picnic Supply line of Deliciousness jams. Modern Gingham Preserves: variety of highly fruity, subtly sweet, and softly set jam using organically grown fruits that are often local and even foraged.
Perfect Gift For: Your friend that secretly wishes they could get drunk in the morning.
Tuffy Kickshaw’s Sweetly Covered Corn
The Low Down: As a kid the thought of receiving a giant metal barrel filled with caramel corn sounded like heaven, but now we are “adults” and moderation is key. Queue Tuffy Kickshaw, a Denver company that makes and sells bags (not barrels) of delicious candied corn using local ingredients. Savor a childhood favorite and make sure to check out them out at Denver Flea. For Sale: Malted Chocolate Porter (made with Boulder Beer’s Chocolate Porter and malted milk) and Whiskey ‘n Brown Butter (made with Stranahan’s whiskey) caramel corn.
Perfect gift for: Your friend that loves anything “old timey” meaning they either own a pocket watch and/or dress like they lived through the 1930s dust bowl.