Start this weekend with a high tea that could only happen in Denver, then spend the rest of the weekend globetrotting from Scotland to Australia to Japan and back again. Here are seven of the best food and drink happenings over the next few days, with many more to come in the weeks ahead:
Friday, January 24
Take afternoon tea with royalty on Friday, January 24. No, we don't mean the Duchess of Sussex; we don't even mean American royalty (as if the Kennedys would deign to leave the East Coast). We mean Denver royalty — the kind with hooves, horns and a fluffy blow-dried coat. For the 75th year, the National Western Stock Show's Grand Champion steer is visiting the Brown Palace Hotel, 321 17th Street, to take tea with Denver's finest. The biggest boy in town will be in the Brown's lobby from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., where he'll be surrounded by adoring fans, paparazzi and the best-dressed cowpokes around. While anyone can stop by the hotel for a glimpse of the guest of honor, if you want the royal treatment, spring for VIP tickets ($99 on Eventbrite), which include lunch, an open bar and first crack at pro photos with the bovine baron.
Bushfires have been raging across Australia since September, destroying hundreds of homes and killing dozens of people and untold numbers of animals. On Friday, January 24, Ironton Distillery & Crafthouse, 3636 Chestnut Place, is hosting Booze for Roos from 5:30 to 9 p.m., a fundraiser with 100 percent of ticket sales going to the Australian Red Cross, NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service and Wildlife Victoria. Your ticket, $20 on Eventbrite, gains you access to giveaways and an auction (items include a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle, a football signed by Von Miller and wine from local and Aussie producers). Not only will all auction proceeds go to wildfire relief, but a portion of your drink purchases will be donated as well. If you can't cuddle a traumatized koala, this is the next best thing.
Now that late January has arrived, the same weather that seemed festive just thirty days ago seems bleak and interminable. Luckily, the same spirit that kept you warm and cozy last month can help you through the dark, chilly nights of January. Not the Christmas spirit; the spirit called whiskey. On Friday, January 24, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post No. 1 — the first VFW post in the nation — is hosting a whiskey tasting and fundraiser at 7 p.m.; Whiskey Ambassador Ryan Negley will walk guests through the flavor profiles of a group of exclusive beverages and pairings of light bites, after which you'll get a guided tour of the historic building (at 841 Santa Fe Drive), including cocktails in the veterans' art gallery. All of the proceeds from ticket sales ($80 at brownpapertickets.com) go directly to VFW Post No. 1 and its programs.
Saturday, January 25
If you've never seen a bunch of men in skirts talk to a sheep's stomach stuffed with oatmeal and minced sheep parts, your worldview is severely limited. Luckily, you can rectify your experiential oversight without a trip to Scotland on Saturday, January 25; take a (relatively) quick jaunt north to the Niwot Tavern, 7960 Niwot Road, where a traditional Burns Night supper is kicking off at 5 p.m. In addition to the traditional recitation of Robert Burns's Address to a Haggis, there will be neeps and tatties (mashed turnips or rutabagas and potatoes) alongside the infamous dish, which depending on your point of view is either a bargain or a boondoggle at $11.95. And whether you need several slugs of Scotch to stomach the "great chieftan o' the puddin' race" or not, there will be plenty of peaty drink to purchase. Just want to show up for men in kilts? The regular menu will be available, too; details are up on the Tavern's Facebook page.
Sunday, January 26
Regular readers will know we're skeptical when a right- or left-coast chef sweeps into the Mile High City boasting about bringing the next hot concept to the Wild West — but when that chef is bringing twelve courses of wagyu beef to dinner, we're a little more welcoming. On Sunday, January 26, San Diego chef Steve Brown is bringing his Cosecha SD supper club to Denver's Daughter Thai Kitchen and Bar, 1700 Platte Street, where he'll prepare the delicately marbled Japanese meat with ingredients local to Colorado. (While the final menu isn't yet available, you can find past menus on Cosecha's website that include bites like jerky, wagyu tongue and fermented tomatoes, cornbread with miso-wagyu butter, and even wagyu brownies for dessert.) Reserve your spot on the website; while the pop-up is pricey at $225, it includes beef from a number of Japanese prefectures — including cattle raised on olives and sake mash — as well as wine pairings.
The easiest way to do your part for Australian wildlife on Sunday, January 26 (known as Australia Day down under), is by going out for a bite. Stop by either Chook Charcoal Chicken location, 1300 South Pearl Street or 4340 East Eighth Avenue, to pick up a whole bird, and the joint will donate $10 to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal. The deal is good for either takeout or eat-in, but if you want to do more, stay at the restaurant and order a round of Great Divide lagers for the table; the brewery is donating the cost of every brew purchased to the cause. If you've got the money (and the guts) to take on a full day of fundraising, visit one — or more — of chef/restaurateur Troy Guard's establishments. All of Guard's eateries will donate 15 percent of the day's sales to the Australia Wildfire Fund, so start the day with brunch at FNG or Hashtag, have (more) drinks at Los Chingones or TAG Burger Bar, then round out the evening with dinner at TAG or Guard and Grace.
Keep reading for future food and drink happenings...
Thursday, January 30
In Colorado, the idea of a "pot-to-table" dinner conjures images of something that's most certainly not a cooking vessel (even if you can get baked with it). And while there are plenty of pairing meals for diners who'd rather smoke than sip in the Mile High City, White Pie's pot-to-table polenta feast on Thursday, January 30, is definitely not of that ilk. Instead, creamy, cheesy polenta will be poured directly from its pot onto one of the restaurant's marble community tables, where it will be topped with goodies like bone marrow, meatballs and roasted veggies and accompanied by a handful of sauces, including pesto, romesco and olive oil. The $45 price tag also includes a small starter, dessert and a glass of house wine; the messy, mouthwatering fun starts at 7 p.m. at the pizza place at 1702 Humboldt Street. Ensure you don't miss out — there are just twenty seats available — by snapping up your ticket on Eventbrite or Facebook.
Saturday, February 1
Now that the holidays are behind us and your mind is unclouded by merriment, cheer or the desire to chug as many drinks as quickly as possible to mitigate the awkwardness of family gatherings and work parties, you'll recall that you drank some very regrettable champagne during December (or maybe you don't remember, but trust us — you did). Bubbly may be celebratory, but that doesn't mean it's all good. Luckily, you can start honing your champagne-tasting skills now so you know what to serve, order and avoid like the plague in eleven months' time. Hotel Teatro, 1100 14th Street, is hosting a tasting class on Saturday, February 1, from 2 to 3:30 p.m., with a pair of the Nickel's sommeliers guiding you through tastings of capital "C" champagne and other sparkling wines and giving advice on pairings. Tickets, $45 on Eventbrite, include a charcuterie plate with nuts and fruit, and invaluable knowledge that will help you avoid a bad bubbly hangover the next time someone decides to pop a cork. NOTE: This event was previously scheduled for Sunday, January 19.
Wednesday, February 5
Pre-Valentine's Day, you can still treat your sweetie (even if — especially if — your sweetie is yourself!) to something explosive at Bistro Vendôme, 1420 Larimer Street. Throw off the shackles of the Gregorian calendar and pricy prix fixe menus and book a table on Wednesday, February 5, for a sparkling wine dinner. The five courses include delights like a progressive oyster trio with quince-guajillo jelly, spicy cranberry mustard and gooseberry mignonette; fried chicken served with cucumber and caviar crème fraiche; and banana cheesecake in a peanut-panko crust. Five pink and white sparklers accompany the $125 meal; the corks come out at 6:30 p.m. Take a look at the complete menu on Bistro's Facebook page, then call 303-825-3232 for reservations and be prepared to win(e) Valentine's Day a week in advance.
Saturday, February 8
Rats aren't all bad — especially if they're talented and adorable (Remy from Ratatouille), meme-able (Pizza Rat) or the first animal of the zodiac, bringing rebirth and renewal (Lunar New Year). And on Saturday, February 8, you can celebrate the Year of the Rat (which admittedly begins a couple of weeks earlier, on January 25) at the Chinese New Year party put on by the Nathan Yip Foundation. From 5:30 to 11 p.m., ballrooms at the Grand Hyatt Denver, 1750 Welton Street, will be transformed into an expansive night market, with food stations, games, palm readers, calligraphers and traditional clothing; this year, there will also be a formal Chinese banquet where guests can enjoy traditions such as yu sheng, a salad composed of auspicious ingredients that are mixed at the table by diners to ensure a prosperous new year. Tickets ($250, or $150 for young professionals under 36), along with details and colorful pictures of the event, are available now on the foundation's website.
Sunday, February 9
Accio pint glass! On Sunday, February 9, all you have to do is swish your wand about to summon good times and cheer at the generically named Wizard's Beer Festival (the wizarding world has become significantly more litigious, it seems). Diebolt Brewing Co., 3855 Mariposa Street, is the site of the shenanigans, with four two-hour sessions throughout the day, beginning at 11 a.m. and 1:30, 4 and 6:30 p.m. There will be tarot card readers, DJs and wand-making classes; your $45 ticket will get you a welcome beer and tickets for five further potions. Just remember: You can't evanesco your hangover the next day. Pick up your tickets at Eventbrite before those sneaky Slytherins find a way to steal them all.
Saturday, February 15
The folks that brought you November's mac and cheese festival are doubling down on dairy with a grilled cheese and beer festival on Saturday, February 15. Yes, after stuffing yourself on ooey, gooey, creamy mac, you can now get your cheese and carb combo in the form of crispy, crunchy sandwiches washed down by craft beer. Show up for unlimited bites from Blake Street Tavern, Maine Shack and Cheese Love Grill, among others; bottomless brews are courtesy of Horse and Dragon, Mockery, Spice Trade and Zuni Street. Tickets are currently on sale on Eventbrite or Facebook for $54 or $89 (the Big Cheese option gets you early entry and full-sized beers instead of samples), though prices are set to increase as the event approaches. Choose from the afternoon (12:30 to 3:30 p.m.) or evening (5 to 8 p.m.) session at Runway 35 Park, 8863 East 47th Avenue.
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Friday, February 21, through Sunday, March 1
For ten days in late February, Denver eateries are going to be crammed with diners seeking great deals. Yes, Denver Restaurant Week returns on Friday, February 21, and runs through Sunday, March 1; both longstanding institutions and trendy hot spots will be serving multi-course prix fixe menus offered at just $25, $35 or $45. Visit the event website, where you'll find scrumptious pics of some of last year's most delectable dishes, as well as over 200 participating restaurants and their 2020 menus (some of our favorites include AJ's Pit Bar-B-Q, Il Posto, Vesta and Denver Milk Market). The race for reservations is on! It's you vs. the rest of Denver scrambling to book the best tables in town.
Thursday, March 5
The annual kickoff to the Boulder International Film Festival, CineChef, returns on Thursday, March 5, with a literal battle of the sexes (there are knives involved, after all). It's the men versus the women as the chefs go head to head at Boulder's Rembrandt Yard, 1301 Spruce Street; each team will turn out film-inspired fare with guests voting on the most scrumptious cinematic bites. Participating chefs include Linda Hampsten Fox (the Bindery), Becca Henry (ChoLon) and John Platt (Riffs Urban Fare). Further details and tickets for the 5:30 p.m. event ($100 or $145) are up now on the festival's website.
Thursday, March 12
A wealth of Denver's A-list restaurants are uniting under one roof on Thursday, March 12, to raise money for the National Kidney Foundation at its annual feast, Great Chefs of the West. Starting at 6 p.m., Exdo Event Center, 1399 35th Street, will play host to talent from Death & Co., Mercantile, the Bindery, American Elm, El Five, Woodie Fisher and over fifteen other restaurants and bars serving their most extravagant bites and beverages. And while tickets aren't cheap ($200, though you can save $20 by purchasing before January 6), you'd spend that much on Lyft rides alone trying to navigate from one end of town to another to hit up each and every eatery. Find out more about the event on the NKF website.
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