Embrace your inner kid with a food fight and football-game food, or go grown-up at the Colorado Bar & Restaurant Show, a wine fest, or a boozy Boulder chile dinner. Here are eight great food and drink events from Monday, September 16, through Friday, September 20, then keep reading for a handful of future food fun.
Monday, September 16
Monday, September 16, is the fifth year that Taste of the Broncos has taken over the Stadium-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named. This year's football foodie event kicks off at 7 p.m. at 1701 Bryant Street, where you'll get the fanciest stadium food you've ever tasted, plus the chance to meet current and former players — and at $100 to $150, tickets to the event are slightly less than what you'd pay for nachos and a couple of beers at an actual game. More than thirty restaurants, including chef and Taste of the Broncos founder Troy Guard's epicurean empire, will be represented; secure your spot on Ticketmaster's website and enjoy a winning night during a season that doesn't look like it will have many more.
Tuesday, September 17
You've gotta eat at some point today, right? Skip the stove and visit one of more than thirty eateries in town partnering with Mount Saint Vincent, a nonprofit residential treatment home for children. On Tuesday, September 17, visit any of the participating restaurants and mention the fundraiser to your server, and up to 25 percent of your purchase will be donated to the organization. So instead of a sad fast-food burger for lunch, opt for an epic sandwich from Denver Biscuit Company, followed up by some ice cream from Little Man. And rather than pouring yourself a bowl of cereal for dinner, have the bartenders at Epic Brewing pour you a beer before grabbing a flavorful curry bowl from Biju's Little Curry Shop. Take a look at Mount Saint Vincent's website for more info and a complete list of restaurants donating to the cause.
This year's Colorado Restaurant and Bar Show takes place on Tuesday, September 17, and Wednesday, September 18, at the Colorado Convention Center, and along with the usual free expo where industry folks can peruse the latest in food, equipment and technology, there will be breakout sessions with keynote speakers and local experts to keep the conversation going on hot-button topics. Among this year's keynote speakers is food writer and mental-health advocate Kat Kinsman; from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Kinsman will talk about how to bring up the topic of mental health in the workplace, and "how to get past the awkwardness to normalize the conversation." The keynote address will take place in room 401-403 of the convention center, and a $35 pass is required to attend; register online for this and other presentations, including chef Michel Nischan on sustainable food, chef Daniel Asher on sourcing locally, celebrity chef Scott Liebfried, and Beast + Bottle co-owner Aileen Reilly on growing your restaurant business.
Wednesday, September 18
On the heels of Kat Kinsman's talk at the CRB show comes a Zero Proof dinner on Wednesday, September 18. Altius Farms, above Uchi at 2500 Lawrence Street, is hosting the meal, where nearly twenty of Denver's top chefs and bartenders are collaborating on a four-course menu with non-alcoholic cocktails. Chefs from Beast + Bottle, Citizen Rail, Vesta, Potager, Jax Fish House and Project Angel Heart will be in the kitchen; while menu details are still being finalized and could change, expect high-end bites like pork-cheek rillettes, Caprese salad with heirloom tomatoes and housemade ricotta, rack of lamb and chocolate tart with beet ganache to be paired with crafted beverages so tasty you won't miss the booze at all. Proceeds from the dinner, $85, will go to Colorado Hospitality Outreach & Wellness; see the full chef and bartender lineup on Vesta's Facebook page, where you can also snag your ticket.
The last time you were part of a food fight, you probably ended up with cafeteria mashed potatoes in your hair (those things are a bitch to wash out). But on Wednesday, September 18, there's a food fight that won't leave you smelling like school lunch. Food Fight for Scleroderma, a fundraiser for the Scleroderma Foundation, is taking over Englewood's BAC Appliance Center, 1880 West Oxford Avenue, from 6 to 9 p.m. Unlike most food festivals, where chefs have nothing but a hot plate to bring their bites together, each of the twelve competitors will be allocated a kitchen station with all the bells and whistles, so you're sure to get some high-quality goods. Competition categories include Sip, Sweet and Savory, with contestants from Rita's Law, Temper Chocolates, Ste. Ellie, Spuntino and the Cruise Room. Visit the event website for tickets ($85 to $150) and get ready to rumble — though everyone's a winner at this food fight.
Thursday, September 19
The Infinite Monkey Theorem, 3200 Larimer Street, is a welcoming kind of winery — not too stuffy, not too hip — so it's no surprise that the Ballpark tasting room is welcoming its soon-to-be neighbor, Mister Oso, for a wine dinner celebrating fall's grape harvest. Starting at 6 p.m., Blake Edmunds and the team from Señor Bear will give diners the first taste of the big bear's little brother (which will soon open in the former home of the Populist, just a hop, skip and a jump away) with five courses, including a mini wedge salad topped with chile-ranch dressing paired with rosé in cans; smoked beef-cheek tacos, crispy oyster mushrooms and avocados with cab franc; and pork belly with tamarind and escabeche (tart pickled veggies) with the always excellent Blind Watchmaker. Tickets are just $60 and are on sale now at the winery's website. Being neighborly has never been so tasty.
With the recent kerfuffle over the relative merits of Hatch and Pueblo chiles, it's easy to forget that these two well-known cultivars are but a drop in the ocean of heirloom capsicums grown around the globe. What about Himo Togarashi, Chiltepin, Beaver Dam, Jimmy Nardello, Manganji, Wenk and Cervena Chuska? All of these are on the menu at Zolo Grill's chile dinner on Thursday, September 19. The peppers are from Thistle Whistle Farm (say that five times fast) and they'll be served roasted, pickled, blistered, raw and candied. We're most looking forward to porchetta served with green chile made from Pueblos and a cinnamon cupcake with chocolate frosting and candied peppers. The restaurant, 2525 Arapahoe Avenue in Boulder, starts serving at 6 p.m.; find the entire menu and tickets, $75, on Zolo's Facebook page.
Friday, September 20
If you're like us, you spend most of September vowing to get up to the mountains and see the colors — only to be derailed by that bottle of wine in the fridge on Friday night, that new restaurant you've been meaning to try on Saturday and that ensuing hangover on Sunday. This year, plan ahead to combine all of your interests (drinking, dining and saying how much you enjoy the outdoors while you're indoors, safe from bear attacks) at the Vail Fall Food & Wine Classic on Friday, September 20, and Saturday, September 21. The weekend includes Friday night wine dinners at restaurants around town, followed by Saturday morning excursions like biking, berry picking and bakasana (and other yoga poses) before the grand tasting of scores of wines from more than fifty producers. Tickets for the grand tasting will run you $85 on Taste of Vail's website, but the satisfaction of knowing you've finally — finally! — made it to the mountains in time to see the aspen turn is priceless.
Keep reading for future fall food and drink fun.
Saturday, September 28
Everything about last year's Black Panther was so unrelentingly cool — from the costumes to the car chases to the computers to Danai Gurira's epic wig snatching and general badassery — we're still disgruntled that the African utopia is only part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and not our own. But on Saturday, September 28, you can suspend your disbelief from 6 p.m. to midnight at Night in Wakanda, a party for the ages. More than twenty South African and Zimbabwean wines will be represented during the Grand Tasting, which runs from 6 to 9 p.m., and a handful of products from black U.S. winemakers will be on hand as well. Round out the night with a fashion show based on the thirteen tribes from the film, a performance by Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, dancing, DJs and a dessert and coffee bar until midnight. The McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue, hosts the celebration; find details and tickets ($65 to $115) on the event Facebook page.
Thursday, October 3
Get a jump on the weekend on Thursday, October 3, with Vesta's annual Plates for the Peak fundraiser, which benefits Urban Peak, a nonprofit organization that provides housing, outreach and educational support for young people between the ages of 15 and 24. From 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., the restaurant at 1822 Blake Street will host the casual event, with chefs from three of Denver's most beloved restaurants — good-times stalwarts Steuben's and Ace Eat Serve, along with their fine-dining big sister Vesta — turning out upscale American classics and excellent cocktails that will be sure to satisfy. Visit Urban Peak's website to purchase your tickets ($85 to $100, or spring for table service for groups of six or ten).
Sunday, October 6 through Sunday, October 10
Denver's Harvest Week is already sold out! The $55 dinners include a vegetarian meal with chefs from Luca, Urban Farmer, Acreage and the Regional; a zero-waste dinner from Super Mega Bien, Vesta and Bistro Vendôme; plus a straight-up eclectic meal combining the vastly different styles of Mercantile & Provision, Vine Street Pub, Rio Grande and Flagstaff House. All dinners start at 6 p.m. at the GrowHaus, 4751 York Street; watch harvestweek.com for any updates on ticket availability.
Thursday, October 10, through Sunday, October 13
The Flatirons Food Film Festival kicks off its seventh year on Thursday, October 10, and its program for the next four days is more wide-ranging than ever. This year's films shine a spotlight on immigrant and international cuisine, including a pair of films from Africa (Tazzeka from Morocco and Cook Off from Zimbabwe — we highly recommend a visit to one of the African Grill and Bar outposts prior to the screenings for a taste of the cuisine that's underrepresented in the Denver area). There will also be documentaries about Mexico's Diana Kennedy and a couple who traded in their city life for 200 acres of barren farmland; visual-art installations inspired by the films; interviews with chefs, sommeliers and farmers; and, of course, spreads of food from Japanese to Jewish deli. A festival pass will run you $90, with individual screenings and events starting at just $13 on the fest's website.
Thursday, October 24
Feast, Westword's annual celebration of the Denver restaurant scene, will make its delicious return to the McNichols Building on a new day and time: 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday evening. As always, though, Feast will be a true feast for the senses, with music, beverage samplings and dishes from more than forty favorite restaurants. Among those already signed on to sample their food are Uchi, Jackdaw, The Veggie Whisperer, Roaming Buffalo Bar-B-Q and more. This year, VIP ticket-holders will again be treated to a special menu, this year courtesy of the world-renowned Matsuhisa. Bites from Matsuhisa will include spicy tuna crispy rice, chicken gyoza, black cod miso in limestone lettuce, and more, as well as special VIP cocktails to complement the menu. VIP tickets also include early entry into the event at 6 p.m. and a VIP gift bag. Buy tickets and get more info at westwordfeast.com.
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