The last few weeks have been hectic for me at work. While I don’t work in politics, it seems like everyone in Washington, DC logs more hours during election seasons. Work has been the first thing I think of when I wake up, and the last thing I think about before I fall asleep. Needless to say, I’ve been in need of some serious R&R – and I was thankful to get a taste of it last weekend in Colorado.
One of my best friends, Elysia, is a Colorado native. We met and became friends while living in Seattle. While we both moved away a couple years ago (me to grad school in DC; she back to Denver), we remain very close. I periodically crash with Elysia and her Great Dane, Rupert, when work sends me to Denver. And this past weekend, the boyfriend and I spent a weekend in Colorado to attend the Great American Beer Festival. It was the fourth GABF for me, and it was the seventh one for the boyfriend. To be honest, it’s not just the GABF that keeps me coming back every year – it’s the chance to hang out at Elysia’s parents house right outside the town of Idaho Springs, Colorado. Elysia’s parents are the type of people that instantly make you feel relaxed and invited. I feel as comfortable in their house as I do in my own; rummaging through the fridge, wearing my sweats, and helping myself to whatever I find. Their house is actually a two-level cabin, complete with a wood-burning stove and brick oven. The cabin sits next to a mountain stream, and you can actually fish off the back porch! It’s a little piece of heaven.
When I can tear myself away from the wood-burning stove and porch fishing, I love exploring downtown Idaho Springs. This little town of less than 2,000 people is nestled in the mountains about an hour outside of Denver. In 1859, the first gold in Colorado was discovered here. And it’s impossible to ignore the state’s mining history in Idaho Springs today, with the Argo Gold Mine & Mill perched on a hill overlooking the town and the number of old railroad tracks you drive over. The town is also a halfway point between Denver and Breckenridge (a super-popular skiing destination), so it boasts more restaurants and shops than most towns of its size. On Saturday morning, Elysia, the boyfriend, and I drove downtown to grab some ice cream before we needed to leave for the Great American Beer Festival.
The Georgetown Valley Candy Company is located right in the heart of downtown Idaho Springs. This is actually the second location; the company is based in nearby Georgetown, where its owners have been producing high-quality candies and chocolates in small batches for over twenty years. What makes the Georgetown Valley Candy Company unique is the focus on old-fashioned classics like caramel corn, salt water taffy, classic fudge, and different types of nut brittles. The Idaho Springs store is a bit smaller than the Georgetown flagship, but the selection is just as extensive.
Before leaving the store, I also purchased my mom a bag of Georgetown Valley’s black licorice hard candies. My mom adores black licorice, but I don’t think she’s had it in hard candy-form. The store clerk rang my purchase up, asking for $4.25. Thinking it was a mistake, I reminded him that I’d also ordered an ice cream. Surely the candies and ice cream would not cost less than five dollars. But, indeed, they did! Nostalgic treats at nostalgic prices. Talk about a win-win.
The verdict? Talk about comfort food. Instead of throwing in chunks of hard brickle, Georgetown Valley blends thick, gooey swirls of liquid butter brickle into the ice cream. But have no fear, there are little bites of the hardened toffee. The buttery warmth of the brickle was a nice contrast to the coldness of the dessert. But I have to say, I’m glad I chose the smallest size. This ice cream is a tad too sweet – even for someone like me, with a mouth full of sweet teeth! If I could chat with the owners, I’d suggest they use a less-sweet ice cream base to highlight the sweet butter brickle. After all, the candy is the star of this ice cream. Elysia was also happy with her choice. While Georgetown Valley’s version of Cookie Dough wasn’t the best she’d ever had, Elysia was happy with the generous size of the cookie dough bites. And both Elysia and I agreed that you just can’t beat the value or customer service at the Georgetown Valley Candy Company. This might be a new Colorado tradition for me.
Georgetown Valley Candy Company
1501 Minor Street
Idaho Springs, CO