With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, do something different this year and skip the traditional heart-shaped boxes of generic candy by opting to support two local businesses.

Whether your Valentine has a sweet tooth or is more inclined to choose something on the savory side, Many Macarons and The Bottled Olive Pantry offer a variety of fun and unique gifts that will please the palates of all ages.

Many Macarons , located at 1224 Automation Drive, Suite E in Windsor, offers a variety of the classic French cookie and hand-made chocolates that will dazzle the eyes and taste buds of all ages.

Husband and wife owners Landon and Paige Fleener took their love of baking, and working together as partners, and turned it into the go-to place for sweet treats that you can’t find on every corner.

So what’ the deal with these cookies?

Well, French macarons are actually pastries created with a meringue-based top and bottom sandwiched together by silky buttercream, sweet or savory jam or rich ganache.

“To be honest, when you call it a ‘cookie’ the experts get a little grumpy about it,” Landon Fleener said, laughing.

Macarons often come in vibrant colors and flavors and a true French macaron is unlike anything you’ve ever tasted.

“The colors and flavors really set macarons apart from just getting a chocolate chip cookie or a sugar cookie that you could make at home,” Paige Fleener explained. “This is something we can provide to our community that you can’t find everywhere.”

The thing with macarons is that they are not easy to make. Even with their experience, the Fleeners say they still watch the pastries bake through the oven window, sometimes while holding their breath and crossing their fingers.

Many Macarons owners Landon and Paige Fleener. (Tamara Markard/Staff Reporter)

Flavors of the Fleener’s macarons vary from banana cream and cotton candy to classic birthday cake and strawberry chamoy and pretty much anything in between. Flavors rotate daily, however, you can place a custom order for a specific flavor of macarons. Flavors can also be made dairy-free upon request.

“It’s kind of a niche cookie right now and I think people are falling in love with the macaron in general. I have people who bring their kids in because their kids love macarons and have been trying to make them,” Landon Fleener said. “It takes so much time and effort to make, that when you are eating it, you are truly enjoying the experience as opposed to slamming a cookie back.”

Kick the typical boring Valentine’s Day sweets to the curb by opting for some decadent French macarons, gourmet chocolates, cupcakes made with love or unique blends of balsamic vinegars and olive oils. (Tamara Markard/Staff Reporter)

For Valentine’s Day, the Fleeners will be offering customized macarons as well as breakable hearts filled with goodies and a hammer to break it open.

“I think we have some of the most romantic desserts,” Paige Fleener said.

Along with macarons, the store offers cupcakes, macaron cakes, Fairy Crystals, chocolate dipped pretzels and strawberries, Crème Brule, handmade gift cards, t-shirts and other items that are sure to put a smile on the faces of everyone in the family.

“We have cocoa bombs and Unicorn Farts which is a conversation starter on its own, we have Cupcakes, cakesicles. We have a little bit of everything,” Paige Fleener said.

The store also carries Robin Chocolates from Longmont.

Many Macarons also features decadent chocolates from Robin Chocolates out of Longmont. (Tamara Markard/Staff Reporter)

The handmade chocolates by Robin Autorino are literal works of art and can make you think twice before popping one into your mouth.

“My favorite is the Longs Peak,” Landon Fleener said, as he carefully pulled one out of the case, offering a sample.

Longs Peak chocolates features a shell of white and dark chocolate filled four different fillings — dark chocolate ganache, Tahitian vanilla bean ganache, milk chocolate ganache and lastly, white chocolate ganache.

Caramel Pecan Turtles by Robin Chocolates are filled with caramel, toasted pecans and covered in dark chocolate and edible gold luster dust. (Credit/Emily Kemme)

Many Macarons can put together a gift box filled with macarons, chocolates, cocoa bombs and other items of customers’ choosing, providing a nice variety of sweets for everyone in the family.

Along with macarons, customers can choose from handmade cards, cupcakes, cakesicles and more to make unique gift boxes. (Tamara Markard/Staff Reporter)

“I have a whole variety of things that I can put into boxes,” Paige Fleener said. “Then it’s not like, ‘oh, I don’t like chocolate so you don’t have anything for me.’ We have something for everyone.”

Custom orders require a minimum of 12 macarons per flavor and a 48-hour notice.

Many Macarons is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and closed on Sunday.

For more information, or to inquire about a custom order, go to www.manymacaronsbypaige.com or call (970) 460-9812.

The Bottled Olive Pantry is located at 1550 Main St., Suite 130, in Windsor. (Tamara Markard/Staff Reporter)

More and more people are requesting gifts that they can use, rather than stick in a closet or stash in a drawer for eternity.

Food defiantly falls into the “use” category and is a gift that is often shared amongst the family, saved for a special date night or celebration.

Two things that people usually don’t consider when purchasing food-themed gifts is that of flavored olive oil and vinegars.

The Bottled Olive Pantry , 1550 Main St., Unit 130, Windsor, introduces cooks of all skill levels and foodies to the world of flavored olive oils and vinegars as well as unique spice blends, jams and jellies, mustards and more.

The store originally opened in October 2017, with new owner Amanda Hiller taking it over in June 2020.

“I loved the store and was a great customer and I love to cook. During COVID I was laid off like everybody else and I was coming to the store through curbside pick up and loving on the owner and she said she was just really tired and if she could find the right person, she would sell the store,” Hiller explained. “So I went home and thought about what I wanted to do when I grow up, so I am now the olive oil lady.”

Jars of different seasoning mixes, salts, peppers and spices sit at the ready at The Bottled Olive Pantry. (Tamara Markard/Staff Reporter)

The store features over 50 different flavored infused oils and vinegars that can be used to make marinades and dressings, in baked goods, for grilling meats and vegetables, sprinkled over ice cream, drizzled over soups and even added to water for a burst of flavor.

“You can taste any of the oils, vinegars and spices before you buy them as well as the perishable items,” Hiller said. “We want to eliminate that barrier to entry and make it super approachable. We want to give customers a taste of something and then tell them about the different ways to use it.”

The Bottled Olive Pantry has a variety of premade gift baskets in all sizes and price points. (Tamara Markard/Staff Reporter)

For those not familiar with flavor infused olive oils and vinegars, they may think that there’s really only a couple of things you can do with the pair — make salad dressings or marinades.

“What do you do with blood orange olive oil? You put it in brownie mix and it’s fabulous. These olive oils and vinegars takes a good cook and elevates their cooking because there’s so much concentrated flavor,” Hiller said. “There’s also the health part of it. Olive oils are a healthy fat rather than using vegetable oil, canola oil or butter. We try to teach people how to do food replacement and use olive oil.”

The store’s oils and vinegars run the gamut from sweet and savory to hot and classic flavors.

Opt for something other than the typical candy and flowers this Valentine’s Day by swinging over to The Bottled Olive Pantry for a unique gift basket. (Tamara Markard/Staff Reporter)

Some of The Bottled Olive’s more unique oil and vinegar flavors include:

Pineapple Habanero Balsamic Vinegar

Black Garlic Tamari Barrel Aged Balsamic Vinegar

Prosecco Sparkling White Wine Vinegar

Maple-Wood Smoked Bacon Olive Oil

Blood Orange Olive Oil

Sweet Cream Butter Olive Oil

The store also sells different herbs, spices, seasoning mixes, sugars, salts and peppers like sweet smoked chili rub and seasoning, vanilla bean infused sea salt, wild blueberry sugar and a Wild Spice Sampler.

The Bottled Olive Pantry in Windsor sells a variety of different flavored sugars, spices, salts and seasonings to kick up any recipe. (Tamara Markard/Staff Reporter)

The Bottled Olive also has premade gift baskets in a variety of sizes, themes and price points. Customers can also make their own gift basket designed in mind for that special someone.

Want to learn more about how to use flavored olive oils and vinegars in your cooking? Then sign yourself and your sweetie up for one of the Bottled Olives’ cooking classes.

The classes are demonstration style so you don’t have to worry about getting your hands dirty — just sit, watch, eat and repeat for the next course. Guests of all ages are welcome to attend the cooking classes and recipes for all items, along with a list of ingredients, are provided after the class.

“We precook all of the food, but we taste all of the different elements. We break it down to make it super simple so that people can recreate the recipes at home and aren’t intimidated,” Hiller said.

Opt for something other than the typical candy and flowers this Valentine’s Day by swinging over to The Bottled Olive Pantry for a unique gift basket. (Tamara Markard/Staff Reporter)

“Everyone gets a menu sheet so they can see everything that they tasted and take that home,” store manager Amanda Lucas added.

Attendees are welcome to bring in beer, cocktails or non-alcoholic drinks to enjoy with the food demonstration.

Classes are open to people of all ages, including kids interested in cooking and learning how to use flavor infused olive oils and vinegars.

Along with flavor infused olive oils and vinegars, The Bottled Olive in Windsor features different pastas, sauces and other items for making a memorable Valentine’s Day gift or meal. (Tamara Markard/Staff Reporter)

Classes are $50 per person and the full list of upcoming classes from now until June is available online at www.thebottledolivepantry.com .

Choose from The Bottled Olive Pantry’s premade gift baskets or create your own this Valentine’s Day. (Tamara Markard/Staff Reporter)

Customers can help themselves to recipe cards featuring a variety of different ways to use olive oils, vinegars, salts, spices, peppers, sugars and other items The Bottled Olive Pantry sells.

The Bottle Olive Pantry is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. The store is closed on Sunday.

For more information, go to www.thebottledolivepantry.com or call (970) 699-5995.

This article was originally published in Greeley Tribune