Pick your poison this week: Whether you like beer, wine or whiskey, there's a dinner to quench your thirst while whetting your appetite. Here are seven great food and drink events this week.
Monday, March 19
Olive oil: It's not sexy or flashy, but without it, Italian kitchens would cease to function. It's the overworked, underpaid administrative assistant of the culinary world. On Monday, March 19, though, olive oil gets its due as Coperta and Marczyk Fine Foods team up for the first in a series of Mondays With Marczyk's dinners. At 6:30 p.m., the restaurant, at 400 East 20th Avenue, will offer a four-course menu based on olive oil that can be found at the market just a few blocks away. There will be rockfish crudo with smoked olive oil; coppa crostini; spaghetti with olive oil-poached squid; and gelato made with olive oil. Dinner — including wine pairings — will set you back just $59; make your reservation at Coperta's website.
Tuesday, March 20
If you know beer, you may have heard of a little brewery back east called Dogfish Head. Besides being the equally fawned over and reviled indie-rocker-gone-mainstream of brewers, founder Sam Calagione has consistently turned out interesting experimental beers for more than twenty years. If you're not familiar with his work, you can get an overview on Tuesday, March 20, as Blackbird Public House, 305 South Downing Street, hosts a Dogfish Head Beer Dinner. Four courses and four beers will run you $45; expect oysters and Sea Quench Ale, a lime gose; scallops with golden-raisin salsa and 90 Minute IPA; and a po' boy with Palo Santo Marron Brown Ale. The food and brews start at 7 p.m.; find tickets and the complete menu on the restaurant's website.
Wednesday, March 21
It's wine-dinner Wednesday, boys and girls — that time of the week when restaurants try to entice you with multi-course meals paired with wines from a vineyard you may never have heard of. While we sometimes weary of wine dinners, we can wholeheartedly recommend Panzano's Manzone Wine Dinner on Wednesday, March 21. That's because chef Nic Lebas's technique is impeccable, and the elements on the five-course menu — foie gras terrine with espresso gelée, bison agnolotti with Gorgonzola and preserved lemons, prosciutto-wrapped monkfish with basil crisps — are sure to be delectable. Pair them with big, bold, red Italian wines, and this wine dinner will be well worth the $125 price tag. Reserve your spot for the 6:30 p.m. supper by calling 303-296-3525.
Thursday, March 22
If you've eaten at the SAME Cafe, you know it's not the same old story. Because of the restaurant's mission to provide people of all income levels healthy food, the menu doesn't include prices; customers pay what they can or swap volunteer hours in exchange for a meal. But there are other, subtler touches that aren't immediately apparent. For instance, there are always two pizza, soup and meal choices on the menu — one vegetarian — so that customers are able to make a real choice about what they want to eat. That's an organization dedicated to treating people with real dignity, and you can support the eatery at the So All May Eat Gala on Thursday, March 22. From 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Space Gallery, 400 Santa Fe Drive, will host the fundraiser, where you'll enjoy small plates and beverages from Que Bueno Suerte, City, O' City, The Corner Beet, Renegade Brewing Co., Woody Creek Distillers and more. Tickets are a bargain at $60; find out more on SAME Café's Facebook page and snag your tickets at eventbrite.com.
Culinary Quick Start is a free four-week training program for potential service-industry employees. Offered at the Emily Griffith Technical College and funded primarily through a State of Colorado Workforce (WORK Act) Grant, Culinary Quick Start still needs additional funding to keep the program running. On Thursday, March 22, participating Denver restaurants will donate 10 percent of their sales as part of Culinary Quick Start Giveback Day. Restaurants that wish to participate can sign up on the CQS website, and a list of participating eateries will also soon be available for diners who want to donate a portion of their breakfast, lunch or dinner bill that day.
Get a little sideways with whiskey at Wayward this week. On Thursday, March 22, at 7 p.m., the eatery, 1610 Little Raven Street, is hosting The Whiskey Dinner, a fundraiser for the Colorado documentary makers at Traverse Image. Their project, The Whiskey Film, explores the distillation process as well as the personalities of local producers Distillery 291 and Deerhammer Distilling Co. The kitchen's five-course menu will be paired with samplings from Deerhammer's line, and co-founder Lenny Eckstein as well as the film's director, Thomas Kolicko, will be on hand to discuss all things firewater and film. Tickets, $80, are on sale at thewhiskeyfilm.com.
Friday, March 23
Dishes from Portugal are hard to come by in Denver; the closest you'll get is Ultreia, which serves both Spanish and Portuguese cuisine. But Boulder's Food Lab cooking school, 1825 Pearl Street, is giving you the power to remedy this grave oversight with its Portugal cooking class on Friday, March 23. Starting at 6 p.m., you'll learn to make caldo verde (potato soup with collard greens and sausage), camarão alho (garlic shrimp), bolinhos de bacalhau (cod fritters) and berinjela gratinada ao forno (tomato- and cheese-stuffed eggplant). The investment of $79 is certainly worth it to ensure that you'll be on the forefront of Denver's culinary trends. Sign up at foodlabboulder.com, where you can also check out future classes.
Keep reading for more events later in the month.
Saturday, March 24 and Sunday, March 25
If you think you're the next Chloe Kim or you like beer (only one of those is likely), you won't want to miss Hops and Handrails, the mashup of beer festival and snowboard competition that's entering its sixth year. This year, just over sixty breweries will converge on Longmont's Roosevelt Park, 700 Longs Peak Avenue, where they'll be pouring over 150 beers on Saturday, March 24, and Sunday, March 25. The suds start flowing at noon both days, with a ski and board competition on Saturday afternoon and family-friendly sledding on Sunday afternoon. Spring for the VIP pass and you'll get early entry at 11 a.m. plus the opportunity sit in a hot tub with a bunch of strangers in between beers. Get advance tickets (ranging from $10 to $125) at lhbfoundation.org, as prices go up the day of the event.
Saturday, March 31
Imagine that old stalwart The Dating Game was still on the air. Imagine you went on it and didn't end up on a date with a serial killer; instead, you went out with a nice boy or girl and had to brew a beer together the first time you met. In a nutshell, that's the premise of Collaboration Fest. The beer festival has spent the past five years teaming up breweries and seeing what maniacal brews come from the partnership. This year, the fun is moving to bigger digs at the Hyatt Regency Denver, 650 15th Street, where on Saturday, March 31, you'll be able to imbibe creations from nearly 100 teams of brewers. Our most anticipated collabs? Local favorites Our Mutual Friend and TRVE Brewing Co., and Renegade Brewing Co. and French brewery Brasserie du Baril. The event runs from 4 to 7 p.m., though VIP ticket holders get in at 3 p.m. Get your ticket before the fest sells out at the Collaboration Fest website.
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Saturday, April 28
If you don't know your farmhouse beer from your Flemish reds or your Westvleteren from your witbier — or even if you do — get a mouthful of ale and education at Bruz Beer's second Belgian Brew Fest on Saturday, April 28. Early-bird tickets are currently on sale for $40 at belgianbrewfest.com, which will get you unlimited tastes of Belgian-style beer from local breweries Paradox Beer Co., River North Brewery, Crooked Stave, Bruz and more. Brewery Ommegang will also be venturing out west to join the day of dubbels, which runs from 1 to 4 p.m. at the taproom, 1675 West 67th Avenue. Note: Early-bird pricing has sold out, so the price of admission is now $48 — still a great price for all these brews.
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