I say to-may-to, you say to-mah-to; I say wine, you say how many wine dinners can there be in one week? A lot, judging from the culinary calendar, but they're happening at some of the best restaurants in town — so if it's been a while since you swirled before supping, you won't want to skip these. Here are seven scintillating food and drink events from August 21 through August 25, plus a few more to plan for down the road.
Monday, August 21
Nocturne's swanky interior transports you to a time when jazz was transgressive, fashion was sleek, and drinks were strong. And on Monday, August 21, the jazz club at 1330 27th Street is embracing the early twentieth century with its Pre-Prohibition Cocktail Competition. From 7:30 to 11:30 p.m., $20 will get you a show by La Pompe Jazz, appetizers and, most important, the right to sample and vote on the cocktails coming from behind the bar. Tickets are on sale at eventbrite.com. Just remember: While the past is alluring, this modern tribute to the first two decades of the 1900s is far superior: Women get the right to vote tonight.
Tuesday, August 22
Paul and Aileen Reilly's southern Italian eatery, Coperta, is narrowing its focus on the Eternal City on Tuesday, August 22, as it welcomes Katie Parla, author of Tasting Rome: Fresh Flavors & Forgotten Recipes From an Ancient City, to the Mile High City. The kitchen will be cooking four courses using Parla's recipes, including butter and anchovy crostini and Roman-style tripe (don't worry, spaghetti will be available for the offal-averse; see the full menu on Coperta's Facebook page). Diners will also receive wine pairings and a copy of the cookbook so they can re-create that tripe in their home kitchen. Dinner starts at 5 p.m. and will run you $85; call 720-749-466 for reservations.
Corner Post Meats is one of Colorado's premier ranches, providing grass-finished beef and lamb and pasture-raised pork and chicken to restaurants and families for three generations. There are plenty of eateries around town that carry Corner Post's products, but for one night, you can taste a variety of them — along with a selection of local wines — all in one location, at a five-course dinner hosted by Carboy Winery, 6885 South Santa Fe Drive in Littleton. Dinner is served on Tuesday, August 22, from 6 to 9 p.m.; tickets are $85 per person (including tax and gratuity) and can be purchased at eventbrite.com. Carboy works with vineyards and winemakers worldwide to bring in interesting varietals, which it then blends and ages into unique wines; this dinner is the perfect opportunity to partake in a Colorado double-header.
Wednesday, August 23
Earlier this month, Comal, 3445 Ringsby Court, launched A Taste of Southern Mexico, a series of weekly cooking classes taught by Marysola Menendez, a native of Chiapas. The first three classes covered salsa, guacamole, ceviche and cochinita pibil; on Wednesday, August 23, the curriculum is tinga tapas (meat or veggie appetizers served in a red chile sauce). For an exceedingly reasonable $35, students will spend two hours learning to make a variety of small plates, and will take home a prepared dish and a collection of recipes. Class is in session from 6 to 8 p.m.; enroll at eventbrite.com but make sure to stay tuned to Comal's Facebook page, where you can keep up to date on future offerings.
Thursday, August 24
Just when you're getting bored with weekly wine dinners, Solitaire, 3927 West 32nd Avenue, is throwing its hat into the ring. Our 2016 Best Restaurant on 32nd Avenue earned the honor because of its creative small plates, and the menu for its partnership with Jack Rabbit Hill Farms on Thursday, August 24, looks intriguing. Think salmon with eggplant fondue and saffron zabaglione, and an espresso doughnut popsicle with chocolate ganache. Add Jack Rabbit Hill's Colorado wines (grapes are grown on a certified organic and biodynamic farm near Hotchkiss) and you've got yourself an evening that stands out, even among Denver's endless parade of small plates and pairings. Dinner starts at 7 p.m.; tickets, $96, and the full menu are up at eventbrite.com.
If you've been lax on your lycopene intake this summer, we've got your solution. Join Oak at Fourteenth, 1400 Pearl Street in Boulder, for its Tomato Dinner on Thursday, August 24. Starting at 6 p.m., the restaurant will help you boost your antioxidant levels with seven courses from the chefs at Oak, Acorn and Brider — each showcasing the vermilion fruit. You can expect tomatoes in Bloody Marys, tomatoes with uni and ponzu, tomatoes with smoked brisket, tomatoes in pretzels, even tomatoes with dessert. Dinner will run you $65 (excluding drinks), but there will be nary a pale winter tomato in sight; only the juiciest, most luscious examples will make it onto your plate. Call the restaurant at 303-444-3622 to reserve your seat at the table.
Friday, August 25
Support the American Cancer Society on Friday, August 25, with Cooks Against Cancer at Uncorked Kitchen, 8171 South Chester Street in Centennial. For $89 per person, you'll get a three-course meal prepared from the ACS cookbook, New Healthy Eating Cookbook, with dishes like rice noodles with shrimp, bok choy and mint; a salmon bowl with Asian dipping sauce; string beans with ginger and garlic; and roasted pineapple with toasted coconut. The dinner runs from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., and tickets are available on the Uncorked Kitchen website.
Saturday, August 26
Another beer festival in Denver isn't anything new, but the Levitt Pavilion Denver, 1380 West Florida Avenue, is. And you can enjoy the city's newest concert venue at the Levitt Pavilion Beer Festival on Saturday, August 26. From 4 to 7 p.m., you'll get unlimited beer from the likes of FATE Brewing Co., Platt Park Brewing Co., Declaration Brewing Co. and Cerebral Brewing. After the beer is gone, you can sober up to a free concert by Karl Denson's Tiny Universe. Unlike most of the events at the venue, this isn't free to the public; tickets will run you $25 or $65 for VIP (includes private restrooms, catered snacks, a goody bag and up-close seating for the show). Check out the Facebook event page for all participating breweries, and get your tickets at levittdenver.org.
Monday, August 28
This is one event you'll want to act on immediately: On Monday, August 28, The Black Americas Project is presenting its final Black Americas Pop-Up Dinner. (We tried to write about the first two for you, but they sold out in two shakes of a lamb's tail.) From 6 to 8 p.m., join James Beard Award-winning author Adrian Miller and Mayor Michael Hancock at Cafe Brazil, 4408 Lowell Boulevard, for an exploration of African influences in Brazil. While you're getting an education, you'll also get a bellyful of delicious Brazilian cuisine: sweet potato and shrimp croquettes in a cayenne Bechamel, and blackened cod with dende oil and fresh coconut meat are just two dishes on the menu. Get your tickets (soon!) at biennialoftheamericas.org, where you can find individual tickets for $85 or a pair for $160. All proceeds will go back to the project, which looks at the influence of the African diaspora in the Americas.
Thursday, August 31
The 5th Annual Chef and Brew Festival returns to Exdo Event Center, 3500 Walnut Street, for a night of indulgence on Thursday, August 31. Participating restaurants will team up with local breweries to pair small plates with craft beers — and each team will provide at least two different plates and two different beers, giving guests a whopping forty pairs to sample (so far). Teams to watch? Wit's End Brewing Co. and Hearth & Dram, Ratio Beerworks and Fish N Beer, and Crooked Stave and Citizen Rail. The event runs from 7 to 10 p.m. and will set you back $49, though a VIP ticket will get you in an hour early (and at $69 is probably worth it to beat the crowd). Get your tickets and a full list of competitors at chefandbrew.com.
Saturday, September 2
Salida is better known for FIBArk than fermentation, though that's changing with Wood's High Mountain Distillery and the annual Brewer's Rendezvous, now in its 21st year. And on Saturday, September 2, the town rounds out its alcohol portfolio with the 6th Annual Salida Winefest. Eighteen Colorado wineries will set up shop in beautiful Riverside Park from 1 to 6 p.m., where attendees can spread out on the banks of the Arkansas River while sipping their way through unlimited wine samples. If you're a locavore oenophile with early-onset grumpiness (is there any other kind?), we suggest hitting this festival sooner rather than later, so you can spend the next six years complaining about how much better the fest was when nobody knew about it. Tickets are a steal at $20; get them at salidawinefest.com.
Tuesday, September 5, through Sunday, September 10
The Denver Food + Wine Festival is less than a month away, and if you're considering hitting any of the events this year, it's time to get moving. Tickets are on sale now, and depending on what whets your appetite, they'll set you back a very reasonable $40 to a steep $195 — and there's even a VIP Grand Tasting ticket available for $250 if you want to go all-in. Our pick? The Culinary Cinema Series will screen the documentary Barbecue on Tuesday, September 5, at 7 p.m. at the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue. The movie is sure to make your mouth water, which won't be a problem, as the $40 ticket includes bites from Hearth & Dram, Rolling Smoke Bar-B-Que and the Nickel; drinks will be available for purchase at the theater's bar. Snag tickets and find the rest of the festival's schedule at denverfoodandwine.com.
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Thursday, September 14 through Sunday, September 17
Fall is grape-harvesting season in the Centennial State, and it seems every mountain town is celebrating the season with a wine festival in August and September. From Thursday, September 14, through Sunday, September 17, it's Breckenridge's turn to lure the bikers, hikers and drinkers up the hill with gorgeous fall weather and great wines at the Breckenridge Wine Classic. There are luncheons, seminars, tours, hikes, tastings and bike rides to be had — all of them geared toward highlighting the beverage of honor. The best part about Breckenridge's celebration? Its proximity to Denver: You'll barely have to spend ninety minutes commuting to feel like you're in a different world (though the drive back to Denver might be a different story). A full schedule is up, and tickets ($55 to $145) are on sale now at breckenridgewineclassic.com.
Tuesday, October 3, and Wednesday, October 4
The Den brothers are throwing a party, and you'll want to add this to your social calendar. On Tuesday, October 3, and Wednesday, October 4, the roof of the parking garage at the corner of South Pearl Street and East Florida Avenue will turn into a veritable Japanese street fair from 5 to 9 p.m. Not only will Toshi and Yasu Kizaki be providing food from Sushi Den, Izakaya Den and Ototo, but they've called on twenty of their Japanese chef friends to hop the pond and lend their talents to the rooftop party. Expect ramen, yakisoba noodles, the hard-to-find-in-Denver okonomiyaki, yakiniku (Japanese barbecue) and lots, lots more. Tickets are $75 and include three drinks (additional beverages will be available for purchase). As with every party the Kizakis host, this one is likely to sell out, so check out sushiden.net asap for details and tickets.