Things to Do

The Seven Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This Weekend

The Wine Classic at Vail is pouring a different type of booze, but the setup is the same as at the recent Vail Craft Beer Classic.
The Wine Classic at Vail is pouring a different type of booze, but the setup is the same as at the recent Vail Craft Beer Classic. Vail Craft Beer Classic
This weekend almost, almost seems normal, with boozy festivals stacking up like a particularly intoxicating game of Jenga. There's a seltzer festival on a golf course, a wine festival in a botanic garden, and an home.

Oh, well, keep reading anyway: Our culinary calendar also has info on getting out the vote at your restaurant or bar, an extra-exclusive dinner and an organic-tomato you-pick-’em.

Friday, September 18
Wine festivals have a bit of an advantage over beer festivals in the age of COVID: Harvest season falls in autumn, so a handful of mountain wine fests are still on. One of those is the Wine Classic at Vail, which is offering four — count ’em, four — grand tastings on Friday, September 18, and Saturday, September 19. More than thirty beverage producers from around the globe will be pouring samples for guests to enjoy on the lawn of Ford Park (adjacent to the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, 522 South Frontage Road East). Each ninety-minute tasting session is limited to 175 people to encourage social distancing. Find out more on the fest's website and nab tickets, $69, on Eventbrite; tastings start at 2 and 4:30 p.m. on Friday and noon, 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Tickets to an Inventing Room Gobblefunk dinner might even be rarer than one of Willy Wonka's golden tickets, but as of this writing, there are still five seats left for the wild ride through pop culture and chef Ian Kleinman's creative process on Friday, September 18. With only ten seats available for the entire meal, it's an ultra-exclusive opportunity to feast on food inspired by...Bill Murray? Correct! The deadpan actor is the jumping-off point for four courses; the first is garlic mashed potatoes with a smoked cheddar-and-horseradish golf ball, based on 1980's Caddyshack. Need we say more? Dinner at the sweet shop, 4433 West 29th Avenue, begins at 6:30 p.m., costs $100 for food and nitro cocktails, and can only be booked by phone. Call 303-885-2802 and be ready to put down a $50 non-refundable deposit. The full menu can be found on the Inventing Room website.

click to enlarge Save the date for seltzer on the green. - SELTZERLAND
Save the date for seltzer on the green.
Saturday, September 19
As event producers cautiously dip their toes back into the murky waters of large-scale gatherings, they're forced to get creative about how to ensure that safety, social distancing and summer fun are all on tap in a single afternoon. Seltzerland, a traveling hard-seltzer fest that's landing in Denver on Saturday, September 19, is taking an approach as intriguing as any: Vendors and guests will tee off on Erie's Colorado National Golf Club, 2700 Vista Parkway, for nine holes of drinks. Leave your clubs at home (long metal sticks are generally frowned upon at any gathering where booze is the main attraction) for your walk along the fairway with a cohort of up to fourteen other attendees. Entry is timed in ten-minute intervals, and social distancing is required between groups as well as between vendors. While we're not sure how you'll get your seltzer samples if you're maintaining six feet from the seltzertender (is that the right word?), you're promised more than fifty different beverages and ninety minutes of fresh air and drinking with friends. Tickets are $39 for general admission, which runs from 1 to 4:30 p.m. (participants are given an entry time during that window), or $79 for VIP, which goes from 11 a.m. to 12:50 p.m. and includes one cocktail, a full can of seltzer, free parking and bites in addition to samples. Visit the event website for details and to purchase tickets.

April 21 — the day government officials from Bavaria and Munich announced the cancellation of Munich's iconic Oktoberfest celebrations — was a sad day for beer drinkers around the globe. Denver's Oktoberfest was not so quick to follow, but finally put the kibosh on the Mile High City's annual dunkel drinking and dachshund racing festivities on July 31. So while large-scale gatherings have been given das Boot this year, you can still enter Breckenridge Brewery's drawing for a mini-Oktoberfest through September 12. Visit the brewery's website to throw your name in the hat to receive a private performance by the Rhinelanders (okay, as private as a Jeep hauling a three-piece band on a trailer and parking in your driveway can be), steins, brats and pretzels — all free. The beer, sadly, is not free (due to legal restrictions), but that means you can furnish whatever brews you prefer. Seven mini-bashes will be provided in Denver and Colorado Springs on Saturday, September 19, and Sunday, September 20.

Boulder's West End Tavern, 926 Pearl Street, is also providing an Oktoberfest bash in your own home (though you'll have to pick this one up at the taproom). Pre-order the grub on Tock no later than 2 p.m. on Friday, September 18, for pick-up between 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday, September 19, or Sunday, September 20. You'll get a spread of smoked and candied nuts; pretzel bites with beer mustard; brats, buns and onions; smoked chicken; cheddar spaetzle; sauerkraut; potato salad; and apple strudel for $55 (serves two) or $110 (serves four), plus you can add 25-ounce Crowlers from local breweries 4 Noses, Left Hand, Bootstrap, Great Divide and the Post for $10 each.
click to enlarge This year, you don't have to go to the farmers' market for Black Cat Farm tomatoes; just go to the farm. - LINNEA COVINGTON
This year, you don't have to go to the farmers' market for Black Cat Farm tomatoes; just go to the farm.
Linnea Covington
Sunday, September 20
It's just 46 days until election day — so we all have a little more than six weeks of repetitive, nasty attack ads popping up on our computer and TV screens. You're forgiven if you've tuned them out, but this year, Restaurants Rally the Vote, an organization headed by Denver restaurants Chook, Snooze, Lola Coastal Mexican, Jax Fish House, the Post Brewing Co. and others, wants restaurant employees to make sure they're registered to vote. With the hospitality industry in chaos and federal assistance dollars in demand from every industry, it's more important than ever for restaurant and bar employees to ensure their voices are heard at their polling places. Owners and GMs can visit the group's website to sign the pledge; individuals — even if you're not employed by a restaurant — can utilize resources such as a calendar of deadlines, links to see if you're registered and to register if you're not, and lists of ballot drop-off locations and places to register (and vote!) in person on November 3. Even better, info is provided in both English and Spanish. Does registering mean you'll be inundated with phone calls and text messages from campaign workers asking if they can count on your vote? Unfortunately, yes — but it also means we might exit our long national nightmare four years earlier than we would otherwise.

Earlier this month, farmers of large and small spreads alike, as well as home gardeners and pretty much anyone with a potted plant on the patio, rushed to protect their flora from the spectacularly weird freeze coming on the heels of 100-plus-degree temps. For most of us, that included bringing in a succulent or throwing an old sheet over a squash plant; for farmers, the stakes were higher. Longmont's Black Cat Farm, 6054 Oxford Road, held a quickly organized public-tomato picking party to ensure that as much of its crop as possible went to good homes, and on Sunday, September 20, they're doing it again (though without the threat of an impending weather apocalypse). A significant portion of the farm's tomato crop survived the snow, and from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., you can show up at the farm (bags, baskets and boxes in tow) and pick as many farm-fresh, certified organic tomatoes as you can carry (or stomach!) for just $1.50 per pound. Take that, Whole Foods.

And mark your calendars....
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