This week brings bugs, Barolo and Bordeaux, boozeless cocktails and beef to the menu. Here are five of the best food and drink events for the next five days, plus a handful of future fun in the months to come.
Monday, September 9
Think you know a little something about wine? That may be, but combine the huge number of grapes, languages and regions involved in viticulture and you have a nearly endless parade of facts and figures. If you want to expand your knowledge (and your palate!), do it at a fun night of trivia instead of a stuffy lecture. On Monday, September 9, put together a team of four to six wine-loving friends and sign up for wine trivia at Metro State University, 1190 Auraria Parkway. From 6 to 8 p.m., the Sensory Analysis Lab (room 265) in the Hospitality Learning Center will host the event, which also includes blind tastings and almost $1,000 worth of prizes. Tickets, $35, go to benefit the Napa Valley Wine Academy scholarship fund, and are for sale now on the organization's website.
Tuesday, September 10
Sustainability is an evergreen culinary buzzword, and plenty of studies have concluded that raising and slaughtering big animals like cows and pigs in large numbers is (while delicious!) ultimately harmful to the environment. Hence we have meat substitutes like Impossible Burger (and our personal old-school fave, Morningstar vegetarian corn dogs). Also creeping and crawling their way into any conversation about sustainable sources of protein: insects. On Tuesday, September 10, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, 2001 Colorado Boulevard, is hosting Bugs, Bites and Brews from 6:30 to 9 p.m., where diners not squicked out by the thought of picking tiny legs out from between their teeth can sample dishes made with insects, learn about their potential culinary and environmental applications, taste beer brewed with the critters and basically earn bragging rights for years. Tickets, $33, are on sale on the Museum's website. Yum?
Wednesday, September 11
Celebrate Hump Day with a pair of fun events out that benefit good causes. On Wednesday, September 11, El Jefe, 2450 West 44th Avenue, is donating 20 percent of all food and drink sales from 4 to 9 p.m. to the Denver Public Library Friends Foundation, the same nonprofit that puts on the epic, twice-yearly DPL used-books sale. So fill your belly with tacos and tlayudas, then get to the library to check out one of its hundreds of tomes on the subject of Mexican food.
Meanwhile, Dazzle, 1512 Curtis Street, is hosting a Zero Proof Mix Off from 7 to 9 p.m., which will raise funds for Bar Zero, a nonprofit restaurant aiming to be the first sober eatery to open in Denver. Visit Bar Zero's website for tickets to the competition ($40), where bartenders will be stirring and shaking non-alcoholic drinks that go way beyond a Shirley Temple.
Thursday, September 12
Denver Food and Wine just wrapped, but if you can't get enough swirling, sipping and selfies, call in to work with a bad case of Alice in Wonderland or foreign accent syndrome and head to the hills for the Breckenridge Wine Classic, which runs from Thursday, September 12, through Sunday, September 15. Wine dinners kick off the festivities Thursday night, but if you can't make it to the mountain town until Friday, fear not: there are still plenty of tickets left for Stroll Breckenridge, a Friday afternoon tasting along Main Street; both the noon and 4 p.m. sessions of Saturday's Grand Tasting; and Sunday's boozy Hair of the Dog brunch. It'll leave you with plenty of time to sober up for the ninety-minute drive back to the big city, by which time you'll have miraculously recovered from your mysterious ailment just in time for your Monday morning meeting. Visit the Breckenridge Wine Classic website for details and tickets.
Friday, September 13
Citizen Rail, 1899 16th Street, is turning two this month and inviting all the younger kids in the neighborhood to the party. So from Friday, September 13, through Sunday, September 22, you can celebrate with two-week dry-aged duck breast or lamb, or 28-day dry-aged New York strip steak. For just $45, you'll get a three-course prix-fixe dinner with your choice of house-aged protein, starter and dessert. And while we rarely recommend opting for the upcharge, it's worth it in this case, because for a mere $10 more, you can add four ounces of 365-day dry-aged strip to your plate to compare directly with its month-old cousin. Find the full menu on Citizen Rail's Facebook page, then visit the restaurant's website for reservations to ensure you don't miss out on this fantastic birthday deal.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
Friday, September 20, and Saturday, September 21
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.
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.
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Thursday, October 10, through Sunday, October 13
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, Milk & Cake, 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. Tickets are now on sale for $30 general admission, $55 VIP at westwordfeast.com.
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