Poach pods, $9.99 for two, The Cupboard
Poach pods, $9.99 for two, The Cupboard (Cyrus McCrimmon | The Denver Post)

The Bronco nut gets a jersey, the knitter a few balls of Icelandic wool, the gardener a cool Japanese trowel. Foodies? Knives, vegetable peelers, cutting boards, fanciful ramekins, Spanish olive oil, infused vinegars, cookbooks, tins of saffron. We could go on.

So we will.

If you have a food lover in your holiday gift-giving orbit, this time of the year can bewilder: With so many options, what to get the "Top Chef" fanatic, the cooking-class enroller, the guy who spends half his free time shopping for ingredients, and the other half hustling between the oven, the fridge and the stock pot?

Kuhn Rikon peeler, $4.50, The Peppercorn
Kuhn Rikon peeler, $4.50, The Peppercorn (Cyrus McCrimmon | The Denver Post)

We asked the people in the know, at the three largest independent kitchen stores along the Front Range: Compleat Gourmet & Gifts in Centennial, The Peppercorn in Boulder and The Cupboard in Fort Collins. All of these stores are marvels, and Front Rangers are lucky to have them and their knowledgeable and, in many cases, longtime, employees. If you have been Amazoning up a storm this season, it's time to leave that jungle for the local spots.

We asked owners and employees what you would ask them: What are people buying this year for foodies? What are the hot gadgets, the coolest new products?

We got answers.

During a segment of the local radio show Gabby Gourmet, "we sold 48 VinOice gadgets in 48 hours," said Connie Stevinson, the owner of Compleat Gourmet & Gifts, 7592 S. University Boulevard, Centennial (303-290-9222).

Lollacup, $19.95, The Peppercorn
Lollacup, $19.95, The Peppercorn (Cyrus McCrimmon | The Denver Post)
"I think it's going to be huge."

Here's how it works. Stick the VinOice in the freezer at least half an hour before you plan to uncork that bottle of sauvignon blanc. When it's ready, open the wine — this works best if the wine is pre-chilled — and plunge the VinOice into the bottle. It looks like a wand, and it has a spout on the end. Commence pouring wine, drip-free. Leave the bottle out on the table. With the VinOice inside, it will stay cool for at least an hour.

She also likes Corkcicle, a re-freezable wine chiller/stopper, $24.95.

VinOice, $28.95, Compleat Gourmet
VinOice, $28.95, Compleat Gourmet (Cyrus McCrimmon | The Denver Post)

At The Cupboard in Fort Collins, 152 S. College Ave. (970-493-8585), which celebrated its 40th anniversary this year, Nespresso machines are hard to keep in stock.

"I've seen a few grand slams in my life, but not many," said Carey Hewitt, who, along with his son, owns the store. "One of them was espresso machines for the home, and the Nespresso is the newest one on the block. It's no mess, no grind, no holding the pitcher just right to get the milk frothing properly."

Nespresso, $129, The Cupboard
Nespresso, $129, The Cupboard

The Nespresso machine uses small canisters of ground coffee for each shot of espresso. You just stick the cartridges in the machine and go. Thirty seconds later you have finished your shot of joe and are on your way to work. The prices, with milk frothers, range between $200 and $300. Without a frother, they are between $130 and $230.

The cooking crazies at The Peppercorn in Boulder, 1235 Pearl St. (303-449-5847), jam more food-related stuff into their sprawling store than you can imagine — seriously.

Janice Manville, a buyer for the 35-year-old store, said they sell a lot of staff-assembled holiday gift baskets, full of Colorado products, like ChocoLove chocolate bars and local honeys. (The baskets sell for about $10.)

Vinegars, $12.95-$130, The Peppercorn
Vinegars, $12.95-$130, The Peppercorn (Cyrus McCrimmon | The Denver Post)

"They are perfect little gifts, and they support local companies," said Manville.

What else? Following are some ideas. When you need more, visit your local kitchen store, and start asking questions. The people who work at these places know so much about kitchen-related things that it is sometimes jaw-dropping.

Connie Stevinson at Compleat Gourmet & Gifts also likes:

GurglePot, a water pitcher shaped like a fish that, when you pour, makes a gurgling sound. "We have people coming in going crazy for it," she said. ($42.95)

Ceramic knives, which stay sharper (much sharper) for longer than steel knives; they are more fragile, though. "You don't use it on a bone-in chicken breast or a hard crust of a pie, but it is amazing for fruits, vegetables, and boneless meats. We sell tons of them." Her store carries the Kyocera brand. (They range in price from $19.95 to $59.95. The most popular, called the Santoku, sells for $49.95.)

Lily Pad Lids, silicone coverings for bowls that make seals so tight you can turn the bowl upside down and the contents will stay in the bowl. "We keep selling out of them," she said. "You put it over a bowl in place of Saran Wrap or plastic wrap. You can put it in the microwave." (The lids, which come in four sizes, range in price from $7.95 to $12.95.)

Carey Hewitt at The Cupboard suggests:

PoachPod, a silicone cradle that holds an egg, floats in simmering water, and makes perfect poached eggs. "It's been around a little while, but it's still one of those things people gravitate to." ($9.99)

Egg Rite Timer, an egg-shaped gizmo that you stick in the water along with the eggs you are trying to soft-boil, hard-boil, or something in between. The device tells you exactly when the egg is at the proper stage, based on temperature rather than time. We think Hewitt has a thing for eggs. ($6.99.)

"Barefoot Contessa Foolproof" cookbook, a book by the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, that offers recipes that allegedly never fail. "Her recipes are never complicated, and they are always good." ($35)

Wild Opheliachocolate bars, a line of treats inspired by American road trips. Flavors include beef jerky, New Orleans chili, Southern hibiscus peach, and more. ($4.99)

Robin Chocolates, a line of truffles made by a chef in Longmont. "They make great gift boxes." ($1.99 per truffle)

Joyce Manville at The Peppercorn recommends:

Salts, which have "been hot" for a while, Manville said, but continue to fly out the door. Last year the popular salts were high-end "finishing" salts, and this year salts with flavors like black truffle are gaining ground. (A bag of Murray River finishing salt, from Australia, costs $18.95; truffle salts sell for between $22 and $23, depending on the brand.)

Kuhn Rikon vegetable peeler, which "peels like there's no tomorrow. What could go wrong?" ($4.50)

Chilewich products, which include placemats, floor mats, napkins and coasters. "They are fun, whimsical patterns that are very, very popular." (The placemats start at $9.95, and the most expensive is $17.95. Napkins are $8.50 for a linen napkin, $16.95 for a reversible linen napkin.)

Lollacups, which are sippy cups for kids with handles on two sides. "They have handles and straws, and people are going crazy for them." ($19.95)

Douglas Brown: 303-954-1395, djbrown@denverpost.com or twitter.com/douglasjbrown