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The Six Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This Weekend

Collaboration Fest tickets are on sale.
Collaboration Fest tickets are on sale.
Danielle Lirette
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Travel the globe this weekend: From Pyeongchang to Kerala to the great (distilling and brewing) state of Colorado to Polynesian pig, there's a world of food and drink options out there. In fact, there are over 200 alone courtesy of Denver Restaurant Week, which begins today and runs through March 4, with eateries around the area offering special deals. In addition to all those DRW options, here are six special events this weekend, as well as more in the weeks to come.
Friday, February 23
Little Machine Beer is playing against type on Friday, February 23, with an Olympic Big Air Viewing Party. Join the folks from Never Summer Industries at the taproom, 2924 West 20th Avenue, to watch Silverthorne native Chris Corning compete in the men's big air finals. Doors open at 4:30 p.m., with the first hundred fans through the door entitled to a free Never Summer T-shirt; a raffle will also benefit SOS Outreach, an organization mentoring at-risk youth through adventure sports. See Facebook for more info, and start limbering up your drinking muscles — and liver — for the performance of your life. 

If you're bitter about Denver Restaurant Week — all those interlopers lured from the suburbs by $25 prix fixe menus have no right to right to usurp a seat that rightfully belongs to you, urban foodie — then hit up the bar at Spuntino, 2639 West 32nd Avenue, starting at 5 p.m. on Friday, February 23, for a drink that matches your disposition: Fernet. Amaro aficionado and co-owner Elliot Strathmann collects vintage bottles and has even made a hobby of creating his own digestifs, so the bar will be offering flights of the beverage (modern, vintage and housemade) for just $12. There will also be Fernet truffles ($1), Fernet and Coke ($5) and Fernet gelato ($1.50) on special through Sunday, March 4 or until supplies run out. So get over there quickly to indulge in bitterness — in both emotional and liquid form. 

Chef Dave Hadley (Chopped  winner and alum of Biju's Little Curry Shop) spent much of the last two months travelling around southern India after a three month stint at Thailand's famed Gaggan. He returned to the Mile High City a few weeks ago, and is bringing the flavors of the state of Kerala to the tastebuds of the Wild West in his pop-up restaurant on Friday, February 23, and Saturday, February 24. Kallu (named after a tart Indian palm wine) will occupy the Biju's dining room at 1441 26th Avenue from 7 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.; if Hadley's Instagram page is any indication, expect gorgeous — and spicy — Kerala beef, dosa and chicken ularthiyathu (chicken with coconut and chiles). No word yet on whether the namesake beverage will be on tap, but even if it's not, Kingfisher will be on special for just $2. Details are also up on Facebook.

Saturday, February 24
This town has had its own culinary identity for years now; despite that, Denverites still tend to go gaga over every regional chain that lands in the Mile High City (we're looking at you, Torchy's and In-N-Out Burger). Perhaps it's a lingering cowtown inferiority complex, or perhaps it's because of the waves of transplants dragging their hometown allegiances across state lines in overstuffed luggage. Whatever the case, get ready for more food frenzy on Saturday, February 24, when restaurateur Danny Meyer's burger joint Shake Shack will pop up at The Source, 3350 Brighton Boulevard, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., in advance of the opening of its upcoming Denver outpost. RiNo Yacht Club will be serving Brooklyn Brewery's ShackMeister Ale, brewed especially for the eatery, to go with your burger and fries. Diners are required to RSVP at shakeshackrino.com (though strangely, that won't guarantee you entry, so show up early), and be sure to bring your credit card, as cash will not be accepted.

Beer festivals are for pusscakes (okay, they're really not, as anyone who's ever been to one — or even gotten trashed on 3.2 beer — can attest). But if you really want to prove your liver's prowess, get a ticket to the Hearts & Trails Spirits Festival on Saturday, February 24. From 4 to 7 p.m., the Colorado Distillers Guild is uniting a slew of local distilleries under one roof at Mile High Station, 2027 West Colfax Avenue, for an out-and-out bacchanal. Among our favorites are Wood's High Mountain Distillery, Leopold Bros. and Bear Creek Distillery, which will be joining over forty other moonshiners in serving unlimited spirit samples and cocktails. Food trucks Baba's Falafel and Boar & Castle will be on hand to help you soak up the booze as you sip your way around the state, and if you spring for VIP tickets (which include early entry at 3 p.m.), you'll be fed by Rolling Smoke Bar-B-Que. Tickets will run you $45 to $75 and are on sale at twoparts.com.

Adrift's bar will transport you to somewhere south of the equator.EXPAND
Adrift's bar will transport you to somewhere south of the equator.
Westword file photo

Sunday, February 25
Adrift, 218 South Broadway, has been a refuge since it opened in 2012: In the summer, it's a respite from endless construction delays and fiery asphalt along Broadway, and in the winter, it's an oasis from bitter gusts of  wind and half-melted snow. Starting Sunday, February 25, the tiki bar and eatery hopes to tide you over until spring with its Last Sunday Luaus. For $25, you'll relax in Adrift's dimly lit interior from 4 to 8 p.m. with an all-you-can-eat kalua pork buffet, Hawaiian side dishes, and beautiful, dangerously delicious tiki drinks. To complete the illusion — or just help you prep for your next vacation — Polynesian dancers will be on hand giving hula lessons. If you miss this week's event, fear not: You'll have a second chance to join the fun on March 25 and April 29.

Keep reading for more tasty events beyond this weekend.
Wednesday, February 28

Chef Kevin Grossi's The Regional, inside Avanti F&B at 3200 Pecos Street, is going national on Wednesday, February 28, as part of its Oyster, Farm and the Table Dinner benefiting No Kid Hungry. From 6 to 9 p.m., the joint will be serving regional foods from across the United States, focusing heavily (but not entirely) on seafood: Cape Cod oysters, mushroom hot dish from the north Midwest, Washington Coast Dungeness crab salad and Low Country hoppin' John are just a few of the dishes on the menu. Your $65 ticket ($120 per couple) also includes two beverages from the bar; get yours at universe.com.

Globeville and Elyria-Swansea are lacking in restaurant options, but Comal Heritage Food Incubator, at 3455 Ringsby Court, is trying to change that. Comal serves up delicious Mexican and Syrian lunches during the week while training workers from the surrounding area, in hopes of helping them open their own food businesses. See what it's all about from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 28, at the restaurant's Impact Dinner. For $75 each, guests get a five-course dinner made with fresh, local greens and traditional Mexican ingredients (you won't want to miss Comal's handmade tortillas). For an extra $25 each, four lucky attendees can sit at the chef's counter, where executive chef Tim Bender and his special guest, Raymunda "Nena" Carreon, will add to the excitement with margarita spheres, bone-marrow toast and other modern flourishes. Purchase tickets at eventbrite.com; proceeds from the event will be donated to Focus Points Family Resource Center (the nonprofit behind Comal) and the Globeville Elyria-Swansea Community Land Trust.

Culverts make for good acoustics during Beethoven and Brews.EXPAND
Culverts make for good acoustics during Beethoven and Brews.
Danielle Lirette

Wednesday, March 7
Elevate that oh-so-crafty Blue Moon beer with Beethoven and Brews on Wednesday, March 7, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., when the Colorado Symphony's ongoing series hits Blue Moon Brewing Company, 3750 Chestnut Place; its largest performance group to date will take advantage of the expansive taproom to serenade drinkers with a selection of classical music while the suds flow. For $65, guests will enjoy a performance by symphony musicians, plus appetizers and two pints; $85 VIP tickets include a brewery tour, VIP seating, souvenir glassware and an additional tasting. Because no one in Colorado can truly enjoy a happening without a beer in hand, these events sell out quickly, so nab your ticket at coloradosymphony.org. And if you miss out on this one, you can always book the next event in the series, at Left Hand Brewing on Wednesday, May 30.

Great Chefs of the West will offer culinary creations from more than two dozen restaurants.
Great Chefs of the West will offer culinary creations from more than two dozen restaurants.
Great Chefs of the West

Thursday, March 15
Great Chefs of the West is back on Thursday, March 15, for another year of dazzling your tastebuds and raising money for the National Kidney Foundation. This is the 35th year of the event, and the roster of participating restaurants is perhaps the best yet: The Populist, Ototo, Sushi Den, Rioja, Mercantile Dining & Provision, Izakaya Den, Hop Alley, Fish N Beer, Beast + Bottle  and Hop Alley, among others, will compete at the Exdo Event Center, 1399 35th Street, to see who can create the best dish. Add to that an open bar with signature cocktails and a live auction, and the night can't get any more fab. Get your ticket for the fest, $200, at the National Kidney Foundation's website.

Everything's experimental at Collaboration Fest.EXPAND
Everything's experimental at Collaboration Fest.
Danielle Lirette

Saturday, March 31
Imagine that old chestnut 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.

If you know of a date that should be on this calendar, send information to cafe@westword.com.

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