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Best Place to Buy Used Chrome
V&R Job Lot Co.
1845 W. 12th Ave.

An open-to-the-public warehouse, V&R Job Lot Co. is filled to bursting with the kind of accessories Architectural Digest loves to use to decorate its high-tech lofts: strings of halogen lights, chrome fixtures, glass shelves, knobby cascade hooks that retail stores use for hanging scarves and purses, magnificent standing coat racks, Plexiglas swirls, revolving clothes carousels--all made with gleaming, still-handsome chrome. These sorts of originals would shoot big holes in your wallet at the antique store, but here a couple of world-weary elderly gentlemen make great deals by the item or by the box on salvaged retail equipment. Sure, they think you're nuts to want this stuff in your home--but the bargains are worth a little ribbing.

Best Cooking Instructor
Aurwan "Noy" Farrell
A Thai native who's paid her dues at numerous restaurants around the country, Aurwan Farrell (that's "Noy" to you) uses wit and charm in teaching others to prepare her native foods. She's full of practical advice ("Never spill fish sauce in your car") and cautionary tales ("In Thailand, if you don't slice the lime leaves fine enough, you will never get married"). Noy's students at Colorado Free University or The Seasoned Chef cooking school might learn to make spicy Panang shrimp, curried fish, sticky rice with mangoes, beef salad and/or phat Thai during the multisession classes. Noy tops off the classroom experience with a Saturday morning excursion to a Thai market, where she explains how to find the more exotic ingredients that are a part of Thai cooking.

Best Cooking School
The Seasoned Chef
999 Jasmine St., Ste. 100

Don't have the time or money for the Cordon Bleu? Try a one-night trip to Park Hill and the Seasoned Chef, which has become a playground for novice and advanced cooks. Owner Sarah Leffen strives for a well-rounded culinary experience, lining up local caterers, chefs and restaurateurs to teach everything from French cuisine to stuffing picnic baskets. Students can learn the intricacies of puff pastry or receive tutoring in the most basic cooking techniques. Leffen's classroom is designed specifically for cooking instruction; hanging mirrors over the prep areas guarantee there's not a bad seat in the house.

Best Kitchen Soul
Peppercorn Gourmet Goods
1235 Pearl St., Boulder
Peppercorn Collection
1230 Spruce St., Boulder

The Peppercorn is utterly elegant, witty and, well, huge. The housewares are high-quality, contemporary and smart; if it's kitchen gear you want, it's there as well--sturdy saucepans and skillets from Le Creuset, Chantal, Cuisinart and Calphalon, high-tech Swiss gadgets, slatted wooden dish racks and frisky whisks.

Best Boon for Brown-Baggers
The worst part of taking your lunch to work isn't usually the food, it's the utensils. You have to rely on flimsy plastic forks that hit the garbage in record time or you shlep your own silverware from home--it's either environmentally incorrect or a big hassle. Local entrepreneurs Claudia Bonar and Karen Benson decided to change all that and came up with HaSQA-WARE, a portable set of stainless-steel flatware in a zippered and washable fabric case. Retailing for around $12.50 and selling briskly at Cook's Mart, the Peppercorn Collection, McGuckin's Hardware and other area outlets, they're popular with outdoorsy types as well.

Best Herbal Remedies
Green Earth Farm
23443 U.S. Hwy. 285 S.
Saguache 81149

Lillian McCracken has studied with nature-cure doctors on several continents for 25 years and is something of an herbal alchemist. Though she imports herbs and essences from all over the world, a large part of her raw material is grown on the organic farm she runs with her husband, Thomas. Write her for a list of products and the ills they cure--and if you don't see what ails you on it, call Lillian. She'll know what to do and what to send you.

Best Local Bottled Water
PeakRock Springwater
4615 N. Broadway, Boulder

While most bottlers in the area get their water from wells, PeakRock owner/operator Steve Dolson brings his down from the mountains. And it takes no more than a swallow to tell you PeakRock water has filtered through some particularly pleasant alpine geology on its way from the crown of the Continental Divide to the springhouse at 9,400 feet where Dolson draws it. You might expect to pay extra, but Dolson's low overhead (he and a part-timer run the operation) brings a five-gallon bottle to your door for a good buck cheaper than the bigger dealers charge.

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