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The Six Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This Weekend

Nope, that's not a milkshake; it's sake.EXPAND
Nope, that's not a milkshake; it's sake.
Courtesy Colorado Sake Co.

It's a good sign when the weekend kicks off on National Beer Day. The next few days are filled with food events and opportunities to do some good, including an unusual breakfast option, a peachy sake release, and fundraisers for the Flatirons Food Film Festival and the family of chef Brandon Foster, who passed away last month.

Friday, August 7
What's a beer lover and escape-room aficionado to do on Friday, August 7 — National Beer Day — when COVID-19 cases are climbing and both the space inside and outside your own four walls seem like a harrowing nightmare of which there's no way out? Not much, but at least you can save 20 percent on brews from River North Brewery as well as a live-streaming escape-room experience from Paruzal Games. Use the code ADVENTUREFUEL on the brewery's online store for a discount on bottles, cans and Crowlers; then book a game night on Paruzal's site for as many friends as you can fit onto a Zoom call (and whose puzzle-solving skills won't skip town after the first sip of suds). Visit River North's Facebook page for details.

Visit Ultreia's patio (pictured here in pre-pandemic times) for breakfast paella on Saturday.
Visit Ultreia's patio (pictured here in pre-pandemic times) for breakfast paella on Saturday.
Danielle Lirette

Saturday, August 8
Chef Brandon Foster's sudden death on July 5 shocked and saddened Denver's restaurant community, with colleagues and friends from Foster's time in the kitchen at Vesta (1822 Blake Street) and Project Angel Heart mourning his loss deeply. Now Vesta, where Foster was the executive chef for eleven years, is hosting Boards for Brandon, a fundraiser for his family. On Saturday, August 8, and Sunday, August 9, the restaurant will sell its expansive Full Monty charcuterie plates to go. The spread includes all of Vesta's house-cured meats plus cheese, fig jam, truffle honey, olives and bread on custom "#BeLikeBrandon" cutting boards for $65. You can also opt for compostable or eco-friendly trays for $35 or $50. Proceeds from the sale of all charcuterie packages will go to Foster's wife and three children. Wine from Vesta's cellar will also be on sale for 50 percent off all weekend. Visit Tock to select your board and pick-up time between 1 and 5 p.m. And hurry — there are just a few pick-up times left on Sunday, and Saturday has already sold out.

As the summer draws on, it seems everything restaurant-, bar- or booze-related shifts underfoot with dizzying speed — and farmers' markets are no exception. The latest for the popular Union Station Farmers' Market, 1701 Wynkoop Street, is the introduction of curbside pick-up. The market itself is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday; there's an option to make a reservation, or you can walk up and risk a wait in the socially-distanced environs. Shoppers who can't snag an in-person shopping spot (or just don't want to leave the air-conditioned comfort of their car) can order between 8 a.m. Tuesday and noon Thursday on the market's website and will be assigned a pick-up time between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Sunday.

And while you're at Union Station, be sure to stop by Ultreia, which is cooking up a giant pan of something so mouthwatering we can't believe it's not on every menu around town: breakfast paella. In addition to the usual suspects (shrimp, beans and Spanish-spiced rice), bacon and eggs will be added to the mix. Get this breakfast of champions every Saturday from August 8 forward; service starts at 10 a.m. (which we all know isn't too early for a gin tonic — especially if you call it brunch) on the restaurant's patio.

October's Flatirons Food Film Festival has officially been moved online, and so have the events leading up to it. Instead of in-person fundraisers — which are replete with boozy shmoozing that has a way of torpedoing everyone's best social distancing intentions — the Fest is hosting a series of ten Zoom cooking classes from Saturday, August 8, through Sunday, August 16, where you'll learn how to turn out evergreen classics like sourdough bread and the perfect steak, as well as more esoteric topics like the folklore surrounding shiitake mushrooms and how to make shio koji (a fermented Japanese marinade) and tahchin (an Iranian rice dish with a golden, crunchy crust). Each ninety-minute class costs $30 (or buy all ten for $250); visit the Fest's Facebook page for the complete schedule, and Eventbrite to purchase your tickets.

Vesta has closed its doors, but will open for a final fundraiser ending August 9.EXPAND
Vesta has closed its doors, but will open for a final fundraiser ending August 9.
Aaron Thackeray

Sunday, August 9
Humans have been adding fruit to alcoholic beverages ever since the discovery of fermenting, and "hazy" has been a familiar beer descriptor for years now. Colorado Sake Co. is an unlikely entry into hazy drinks, but is doing so in style with the annual release of its summer Peaches and Cream sake that incorporates the famous fruit from Palisade. The peachy sipper goes well beyond hazy; in fact, "impenetrable" might be a better description. The tasting room, at 3559 Larimer Street, will be tapping kegs of the new brew at noon on Sunday, August 9. If you're not comfortable attending the release in person, you can nab a few bottles of Peaches and Cream sake by ordering pick-up or delivery (free within ten miles of the brewery!) on the Colorado Sake Co. website. Custom two-, six- and twelve-packs are available.

Keep reading for future food and drink events....

Civic Center Eats is finally opening — better late than never.EXPAND
Civic Center Eats is finally opening — better late than never.
Danielle Lirette

Wednesday, August 12
We've said for years it would take an act of god to prevent Civic Center Eats from taking over Civic Center Park, but even COVID-19 couldn't cancel the annual food truck frenzy altogether. The pandemic delayed the gathering by three months, so this year the moveable feast returns on Wednesday, August 12, and will take place every Wednesday and Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and again from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., through October 15. Of course, the whole event will look a little different this year. Instead of twenty or so trucks all at once, five trucks will set up near the Greek Amphitheater for each session, and each of the four weekly sessions will rotate vendors, adding variety for returning customers. Visit the Civic Center Eats website for event details and a roster of trucks.

Thursday-night Peking duck at Ace Eat Serve.EXPAND
Thursday-night Peking duck at Ace Eat Serve.
Mark Antonation

Thursday, August 13
What's better than a whole-roasted juicy duck with crispy, crackly, perfectly caramel-colored skin? That bird prepared and plated for you by someone else. And Ace Eat Serve, 501 East 17th Avenue, is slowly getting back to normal(ish) with the return of its Peking duck Thursday starting August 13. Call the eatery at 303-800-7705 no later than Friday, August 7, to pre-order a whole duck, light-as-air mu shu crepes, scallions, cucumber and a pair of sauces (hoisin and apricot chile) for $42. The feast serves three (or four if you can get together three friends who don't mind engaging in the "That last bite's yours" dance), is available for dine-in or takeout, and is worth every penny.

Vail Craft Beer Classic is still on for 2020 — but it won't look like this.EXPAND
Vail Craft Beer Classic is still on for 2020 — but it won't look like this.
Scott Peterson

Friday, August 14
Coloradans would do almost anything to attend their beloved beer festivals this summer — including risking a public outing to sample a bottomless batch of brews. If you're willing to take the risk, you'll want to book a room in Vail for the night of Friday, August 14, because the Vail Craft Beer Classic will soldier on that day. The fest takes place in a park adjacent to Betty Ford Alpine Gardens (522 South Frontage Road South, Vail) and will run differently than standard beer festivals, of course: Attendance is limited to 175 people during each of two ninety-minute sessions (Friday at 4 and 6:30 p.m., Saturday at 1 and 3 p.m.); everyone will be required to mask up while obtaining their beers and will only be allowed to imbibe once they're settled on the lawn with their drinking buddies. We can't guarantee there won't be any lines, but they will be spread out with six-foot indicators on the ground, as will brewery reps. Find details on the fest's website, where you can also pick up tickets ($49), but hurry — the 1 p.m. session on Saturday, August 15, has already sold out.

Saturday, August 15
Chef Hosea Rosenberg's daughter, Sophie, is just three, but she already has Boulder and Denver's restaurant community wrapped around her little finger. Nonprofit organization Sophie's Neighborhood launched earlier this year with the mission of raising money to research multicentric carpotarsal osteolysis (MCTO). Sophie is one of just thirty people worldwide diagnosed with the illness, and the organization bearing her name has already collected approximately $300,000 in donations. But with a fundraising goal of $2 million for 2020, there's no time to slow down, so an online auction is scheduled for Saturday, August 15. Bidding opens at 12:01 a.m. and closes at 9 p.m., but you can preview the catalogue now on the auction website. There are currently over seventy items available, including a $9,000 Viking grill; virtual cooking and cocktail classes with fellow Top Chef alumni Jennifer Carroll and Fabio Viviani as well as local fixtures Alon Shaya, Bryan Dayton and Daniel Asher; private dinners from Maine Shack, Steuben's Food Truck and the Bindery; travel packages (including an African safari!); and more, with new items still being added.

With City Park Jazz and Levitt Pavilion streaming shows this summer in lieu of hosting live performances, the time-honored practice of smuggling booze into the park alongside your picnic, blanket and camp chairs for a concert under the stars hasn't been on the agenda for fans this summer. But now you can re-create the experience (sort of) on Saturday, August 15,  at Tunes at Twilight. Is it in the heart of the city? Well, no — but it is at the gorgeous Lyons Farmette, an intimate and private farm at 4121 Ute Highway in Lyons. Is it free? Definitely not, but of the $150 ticket price, $47 will go to musicians and music-related small businesses; $25 will go to restaurant and bar staff; and the remaining $84 will benefit nonprofit organization Can'd Aid, specifically its music outreach programs. Americana band Trout Steak Revival is providing the tunes, A Spice of Life Catering is serving boxed picnic dinners, and Oskar Blues and Infinite Monkey Theorem will be selling beer and wine. Find out more and reserve your spot on Can'd Aid's website.

In previous years, Coohills has packed the railway bridge over Cherry Creek with music fans, but this year patio tables will be spread out for dinner guests.
In previous years, Coohills has packed the railway bridge over Cherry Creek with music fans, but this year patio tables will be spread out for dinner guests.
Coohills

Saturday, August 22
Chef Tom Coohill's namesake restaurant at 1400 Wewatta Street is perfectly positioned to take advantage of outdoor dining; its proximity to the bridge spanning the South Platte River has made it a popular destination for Beats on the Creek in prior years. While the 2020 concert series was canceled, diners can still sit under the stars on Saturday, August 22, at an al fresco wine dinner with seating set up on the bridge. Guests at the five-course dinner can expect a selection of six wines from around the globe poured alongside courses like lobster salad with duck breast and citrus-truffle emulsion; roasted guinea hen with porcini mousse, black mission figs and port reduction; and harissa-spiced lamb loin with dates and braised heirloom potatoes. Call 303-623-5700 or email events@coohills.com to reserve your spot for the 7 p.m. meal, which will run you $115.

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