Get close to macaws with your margarita at Do at the Zoo.EXPAND
Get close to macaws with your margarita at Do at the Zoo.
Courtesy of the Denver Zoo

The Nine Tastiest Events on the Culinary Calendar This Week

Falafel, fermentation, fried plantains and philanthrophy are on the agenda this week. Fermented falafel? Philanthropic fried plantains? Check out the nine best food and drink events for June 12 through June 16 and get creative with your own culinary combinations.

Falafel — the only fried food you can claim is healthy.
Falafel — the only fried food you can claim is healthy.
Danielle Lirette

Monday, June 12
We're not sure exactly who this job falls to, but someone, somewhere (probably deep in the basement of the Pentagon) has dubbed Monday, June 12, International Falafel Day. Local Garbanzo restaurants probably planted that sleeper agent, as Denver locations will be treating diners to a free order of falafel with every meal purchased on June 12. Head over to the Garbanzo website for information on where to pick up the crunchy, herby nuggets of Mediterranean goodness.

Learn to make tostones at the Summer Soulfood Series: Caribbean Basics class.EXPAND
Learn to make tostones at the Summer Soulfood Series: Caribbean Basics class.

Tuesday, June 13
Caribbean food is hard to come by in Denver; there are a few Cuban cafes, a Puerto Rican place and a Jamaican joint, but anything more is woefully absent. This makes the first installment of the Summer Soulfood Series especially welcome, as this hands-on cooking class will teach you how to prepare rice and beans, fried plantains and pikliz, a spicy concoction of fermented veggies from Haiti. And because the event is presented by Five Points Fermentation, students will also leave with a probiotic to ferment at home. School is in session from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 13, at the Dahlia Campus for Health & Well-Being, 3401 Eudora Street. Reserve your spot at eventbrite.com, and while it's technically a donation-only event, be a good egg and chip in to cover the costs — the recommended donation is $25 to $50.

Have dinner on one of the best patios in Denver.
Have dinner on one of the best patios in Denver.
Courtesy of Bistro Vendome

Wednesday, June 14
Denver's event calendar is replete with opportunities to get your grub on, and while nearly all of them are worthwhile, most only benefit diners' hungry bellies. Sampling for Hope is different. It not only enlists some of the city's finest chefs and caterers to create an array of tasty bite-sized dishes for guests to sample, but the event is also served with a generous helping of altruism. The Westin Denver Downtown, 1672 Lawrence Street, is hosting the event on Wednesday, June 14, from 6 to 9 p.m.; VIP guests get to play judge, choosing favorite samples in each category. And every ticket holder can bid in the silent auction or donate $20 to participate in a raffle for a free bottle of wine. Proceeds from the sales of the $65 tickets benefit SafeHouse, a domestic-violence emergency shelter and counseling center that provides crucial support to families in crisis and facilitates their progress into permanent housing. Visit SafeHouse's website to buy tickets and learn more about the vital community services it provides.

It’s possible to stand up for racial justice and have a good time, too, which is a good reason to join the Colorado People’s Alliance’s second annual People's Party, a fundraiser and family gathering bringing diverse folks together in solidarity for the common good. The kid-friendly event will foster understanding over shared food, drinks and frozen treats by Paletería Chihuahua from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 14, at the City Park Pavilion, 1700 York Street. The $20 admission price (there's also a pay-what-you-can option) supports COPA’s fight for social justice; buy tickets online at coloradopeoplesalliance.org.

Bistro Vendôme, 1420 Larimer Street,  has one of the loveliest patios in town. Sitting in the quiet and secluded courtyard imparts a serenity and calm not found at many Denver establishments. On Wednesday, June 14, at 5 p.m., the restaurant will take advantage of the space to host a patio dinner with ingredients from Acres at Warren Tech, an organic garden tended by students at Warren Tech, a technical high school in Jefferson County. For $45, diners will enjoy a four-course menu that blends the French cuisine of Bistro Vendôme with the Iberian food of the soon-to-open Ultreia. Think baby leeks with a six-minute egg and green romesco, and rabbit confit accompanied by lemon cavatelli, fava beans and mustard sauce. Wine pairings will be available at additional cost; call 303-825-3232 for reservations, and check out Bistro's website for the complete menu.

Keep reading for more culinary events this week...

The Running of the Hogs: The loser gets made into ribs.EXPAND
The Running of the Hogs: The loser gets made into ribs.
Courtesy of Colorado BBQ Challenge

Thursday, June 15
The lobster lobby must be more underfunded than the falafel lobby, because it's only National (not International) Lobster Day on Thursday, June 15. But you can still get a good deal on the giant bug of the sea at Blue Island Oyster Bar, 2625 Second Avenue: The joint's lobster roll, usually $25, will be on sale for just $15. We advise you to go in for lunch (service starts at 11 a.m.), since this deal is only good while supplies last.

It's that time of year: Pitmasters are invading Frisco's Main Street for the 24th Colorado BBQ Challenge. Starting with a kickoff concert at 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 15, this year's event will run through Saturday, June 17, with more than seventy master smokers competing in the Kansas City Barbecue Society-sanctioned event to claim top honors for their pork, ribs, chicken, brisket, sauce and side dishes. Friday (11 a.m. to 9 p.m.) and Saturday (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) will allow ample opportunity for 'cue-ophiles to sample some excellent grub; in addition, vegetarians and carnivores in between bites can enjoy pig races, chef demos, live music, a 6-K race and a firefighter cook-off. Attendance is free, but you'll definitely want to invest some greenbacks in grub and grog. Find complete info about the festival on the Town of Frisco's website.

Do at the Zoo, the Denver Zoo's largest annual fundraiser, returns for its 28th year on Thursday, June 15. The Zoo promises that the event, which runs from 7 to 10 p.m., will be "the wildest summer party," with food and drinks from more than 55 of Denver's top restaurants and breweries. Graze, sip and stroll around the animal habitats knowing that your $175 admission will go toward global conservation, science education and animal care. While the grounds are usually crawling with the two-legged critters known as toddlers, this is a 21-and-over party, so be sure to line up a sitter. Purchase your tickets at denverzoo.org, then come dressed in your finest safari attire and animal prints. It's the best night of the year for a little monkey business.

The fixings for fermented hot sauce.EXPAND
The fixings for fermented hot sauce.
Flickr/Dana Howe

Friday, June 16
Author Kirsten Shockey's recent book, Fiery Ferments, focuses on fermented condiments like hot sauce, kimchi, chutney and hot pickles, and she'll share her techniques with a fortunate few at her Fiery Ferments class on Friday, June 16. The class runs from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and will have you whipping up two jars of fermented hot sauce to heat up your culinary creations. Held at McCauley Family Farm, 9421 North 63rd Street in Longmont, the class will be followed by a farm tour, a taste test of the farm's own hot sauces, and lunch catered by Cured in Boulder, all for $125. Go to eventbrite.com to register — and hurry, because there are only twelve spots available.

See our online Food & Drink Calendar for even more event listings.

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