Gardens, greenhouses, granges and Negronis are on the agenda this week as the first week of summer brings brightly colored drinks and garden-fresh ingredients to get-togethers around town. Here are five great food and drink happenings, plus a pair to plan ahead for in July and August.
Monday, June 24
The Negroni is the poster child for why you should never judge a book by its cover (or a cocktail by its color). While the bright scarlet hue and orange-peel garnish may bring to mind an overly sweet umbrella drink, the combo of Campari, gin and vermouth is instead pleasantly bitter. Fans of the Italian aperitif (and future fans who haven't yet had the pleasure of discovering the drink) can get their fill during Negroni Week from June 24 through 30, during which fifty Denver bars and restaurants will donate part of the sales of the drink to charity. You can find the list of all participating venues as well as their designated nonprofits on the Negroni Week website, but two of our favorites include Tavernetta (1889 16th Street), which will have a Negroni fountain flowing from 3 to 6 p.m. on Monday, June 24, and will donate a portion of sales to National Alliance on Mental Illness Colorado; and Bar Helix (3440 Larimer Street), which boasts twelve variations of the drink on its menu and has a full slate of events, including a cocktail class and deep discounts on a different drink each day as part of its Negroni Cleanse, and is giving to the Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation.
Tuesday, June 25
Uchi, 2500 Lawrence Street, launches its monthly summer Garden Series on Tuesday, June 25, with chef/owner Tyson Cole at the helm in the kitchen. Guests will be seated in Uchi's garden at 7 p.m., where they'll be served ten courses, including chef's choice nigiri, panko-fried green tomatoes with king crab, and wagyu ribeye. A number of ingredients will come from Altius Farms, the greenhouse perched atop the restaurant's roof, and the $150 price tag includes a welcome cocktail and beverage with dessert (wine pairings are an additional $45). And while dinner won't be cheap, you're getting some of the best sushi in our landlocked state (not to mention some of the prettiest plates in town). Call the restaurant at 303-444-1922 or email email@example.com to reserve your spot. Can't make it this week? Save the date: The next dinner is scheduled for July 30, so keep an eye on Uchi's Facebook page for future events in the series or to find the full menu for this week.
Wednesday, June 26
Is Olive Garden your guilty pleasure? If so, we've got a meal for you. The rest of you: Don't roll your eyes — someone's buying all those breadsticks. Either way, Spuntino, 2639 West 32nd Avenue, is paying homage to the restaurant we all secretly love (or love to hate) on Wednesday, June 26, with its quarterly wine dinner. The kitchen will tyrn out six courses of chain-restaurant classics — fried mozz, shrimp scampi, eggplant parmesan, lasagna — prepared with high-end touches like pickled green tomato chutney, garlic phyllo crisps, hand-rolled pasta and Colorado lamb. And while you probably couldn't spend $80 (the cost of the dinner) at Olive Garden if you tried, you probably won't be able to find the unusual Italian wines that will be served with dinner anywhere else in town. Reservations are required and available between 5 and 8:30 p.m.; call 303-433-0949 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for yours. The complete menu is posted on Spuntino's Facebook page.
Thursday, June 27
Nobody loves tacos more than we do — but can you eat $135 worth of them? If you can't, it's not for lack of opportunity at this year's Top Taco. The annual competition takes place on Thursday, June 27, at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas Street in Aurora, when more than fifty restaurants around town will go head-to-head to see who can serve the best iteration of the classic Mexican street food. There will be tacos for all tastes: street-style (Cilantro & Perejil, Adelitas, Las Delicias), crowd-pleasers (Uno Mas, Tacos Tequila Whiskey, Los Chingones) and WTF (Tupelo Honey, Syrup). Not only will tacos fill your tummy, but tequila and margs are also on tap. Still don't think you can stuff over a hundred bucks worth of food in your estómago? Not to worry: GA tickets start at $75 on the event website.
Friday, June 28
Summer (even a cool, wet one, as Colorado's is shaping up to be) means farm dinners — on urban, suburban and rural farms and ranches across the state. This Friday, June 28, Pastures of Plenty, 4039 Ogallala Road in Longmont, is starting its summer farm dinner series. From 6 to 9:30 p.m., the table will be set for a five-course Greek dinner, with mezze, local lamb, spanakopita and honey cake piled high on platters. While a welcome cocktail is included in the ticket price of $85, the rest of the meal is BYOB, so you can pair your dishes with whatever strikes your fancy: wine, beer, cider or even batched cocktails. Guests will also go home with a bouquet of flowers grown on the farm. Reserve your spot on the farm's website, where you can also find details on upcoming dinners through October.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
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Friday, July 19, through Sunday, July 21
Slow Food Nations appeals to everyone (except, perhaps, unrepentant fast-food aficionados). The international food fest kicks off its third year in town on Friday, July 19, and will run nearly forty chef demos, lectures, workshops, parties and dinners — plus the enormous Taste Marketplace, with over 100 vendors hawking their wares and handing out samples — through Sunday, July 21. About half the events taking place around town (but mainly around Larimer Square at Larimer and 14th streets) are free, but the rest require tickets, which start at $20. Visit the Slow Food Nations website to see the whole weekend's schedule and make sure you nab tickets for your can't-miss events.
Saturday, August 17
Tacolandia returns to Civic Center Park, Broadway and Colfax Avenue, for a fourth year on Saturday, August 17, celebrating food, art, music and culture. Join us in honoring that great Mexican invention, the taco, in its many forms as presented by the city's top cantinas, taquerias and food trucks, including Adelitas Cocina y Cantina, Antojitos La Poblanita, Carniceria Aaliyah, El Gallo Blanco, Issai's Catering, Kachina Cantina, La Fiesta, Los Chingones, Lucha Cantina, Mariscos El Rey 2, Los Mesones, Neveria Jedany's, Taco Block, Torta Grill, Yareth's, El Coco Pirata and more. Tickets, $25 for general admission or $55 for VIP, are now on sale at westwordtacolandia.com.
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