This week is starting out on a pretty normal note, but don't be fooled: As Friday approaches, the quirkiness of Denver's food scene will be ramping up. Cocktail competition on Monday? Nothing strange about that. A lecture on mathematical formulas and what the President drinks when he wants to get hammered on Wednesday? Okay. Drunken bike relays and Barbie doll-themed pop-ups? Whatever. Here are eight increasingly strange food events this week, as well as future fun in upcoming months.
Love beer and love cocktails, but don't love having to decide between the two of them? If you hit Avanti Food & Beverage, 3200 Pecos Street, on Monday, August 13, you won't have to. Cocktails: A Competition (not a Michael Bay movie, despite its portentous title) is running from 6 to 9 p.m., with ten local bartenders competing to see who can mix up the best beer cocktail using New Belgium brews. Show up to help judge — results of the popular vote will count as one-fifth of the final results — and get a free beer as a reward for your efforts. Find out more at Avanti's Facebook page and raise a glass to never having to choose between two great drinks.
Labor Day is rapidly approaching, but despite the imminent arrival of the (unofficial) end of summer, temperatures are still sweltering and Colorado farms are still harvesting loads of summer veggies. To wit: The Tuesday, August 14, Farmer's Beer Dinner at the Post Brewing Co., 2027 13th Street in Boulder, will have tables piled high with seasonal produce. Standouts include tomatoes two ways (as salsa and roasted-tomato hummus) served with crispy chicken skin, and porchetta with squash, Swiss chard, eggplant, turnips and peach panzanella (though we wouldn't kick the corn spaetzle mac and cheese out of bed, either). Four farm-fresh courses paired with five beers will run you $45; call the brewpub at 720-372-3341 to reserve your spot.
Hotheads might be eagerly awaiting the return of chile vendors to Federal Boulevard, but it will be another month or so before the air along the thoroughfare is heavily perfumed with roasting chiles alongside the singular aroma of pot grows, tacos and exhaust that marks one of Denver's most fascinating streets. But you can mollify your chile craving on Wednesday, August 15, as Billy's Gourmet Hot Dogs, Arepas Queen and Still Smokin' BBQ Joint face off at Clash of the Hatch. The food trucks are lining up outside Broncos training camp at the UC Health Training Center, 13655 East Broncos Parkway in Englewood, from 9:30 a.m. to noon to sell their green chile creations; vote for your favorite at 505clashofthehatch.com and the winner will travel to New Mexico to defend their honor against challengers from Austin, Dallas and Phoenix.
Austin isn't any closer to Thailand than Denver, but because of the Texas city's ineffable hipness and culinary cool (a mystery, given Torchy's Tacos), a Lone Star state chef coming to Denver to cook southeast Asian food is big news in New Denver. Pranom Pop-Up, a hip and hyped endeavor helmed by Dream Kasestatad, is hitting Cerebral Brewing, 1477 Monroe Street, from 4 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, August 15. Kasestatad will be turning out Thai street food (his khao soi gai — curry soup with pickled mustard greens, chicken and wonton noodles, redolent with chile paste and fried garlic — has gotten great press) until he sells outs; visit the brewery's Facebook page for details about the visit. Our advice to get the most out of the experience? Eat early, eat often, Instagram incessantly.
The final in a trio of food-related Mixed Taste lectures (and the penultimate event of the summer series) takes place on Wednesday, August 15, as Denver author and food expert Adrian Miller tackles unwinding after a long day on the most difficult job in the country in his presentation on "Presidential Drinking." While we can only speculate on the favorite drinks of past Presidents (good ol' boy Bill Clinton? Cheap whiskey. Cool prez Obama? Craft beer. 45? Russian vodka), Miller is likely to have some research to back up his assertions. Mathematician Beth Stade will take on the Golden Ratio as a foil to Miller's less quantitative analysis. The lecture starts at 7 p.m. in the Seawell Ballroom at the Denver Center for Performing Arts, 1050 13th Street, with a cash bar opening at 5:30 p.m.; buy tickets for $20 at DCPA's website.
Korean barbecue is stale and dated; enter Korean Barbie Q. How can we explain the emergence of the restaurant, bar and art show mashup that relies heavily on the idea of dismembered doll parts? Better just to give yourself over to the experience and not try too hard to make sense of it all. The installation kicks off on Thursday, August 16, at 7 p.m. (additional dinners will be held August 17, 18, 23, 24 and 25) at 1414 Larimer Street, where $75 will get you pork belly saam and kimchi; Korean barbecue brisket, slaw and pancakes; and gochujang frog legs from Injoi Korean Kitchen's Bill Espiricueta. Four cocktails from El Five's Shawn Campbell are included in the ticket price, as well as art, live music and ample opportunities for weirdness. Get your tickets at thricepopup.com and don't ask too many questions.
For most of us, foraging means digging around in the pantry for that last bag of Cool Ranch Doritos we could have sworn was still back there somewhere. But for mushroom experts like Pete Marczyk, owner of Marczyk Fine Foods, foraging means a secret trip to the mountains to identify and gather safe and delicious fungi for a fine feast. Marczyk's foraging skills will be the central attraction at a special mushroom dinner at Coperta, 400 East 20th Avenue, on Thursday, August 16. Coperta's chef/co-owner Paul C. Reilly, who joined Marczyk on the mushroom hunt, will cook up a five-course dinner for guests for $59 per person, including wine pairings. The mushroom madness begins at 6:30 p.m. and ends with customers taking home porcini meringues; visit Coperta's website or call 720-749-4666 for details and reservations.
The second Velorama festival has marketed itself more as a music festival after last year's inaugural event left us scratching our heads and wondering what, exactly, would be going on during the event, and there's no doubt the band lineup (including the Kills, Modest Mouse, Matt and Kim and Wildermiss) will draw big crowds. But there will still be plenty of bikes, food and drink, as well; our favorite event combines two of the three in a beer-and-bike relay. Throughout the weekend, teams of four will hand off bikes and race to chug a beer before their teammate can take off. Entry in the race is $15 in addition to festival entry (daily ticket prices start at $10), and you don't have to have a team formed in order to participate. The festival will take over Blake Street between 27th and 33rd streets from Friday, August 17, through Sunday, August 19; get your tickets and complete details at veloramafestival.com.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
Westword's Tacolandia returns to Civic Center Park, Broadway and Colfax Avenue, with more than forty of Denver's favorite Mexican restaurants and taco joints serving their takes on street tacos (or as they're known to non-hipsters: tacos). Enjoy unlimited samples and lots of live entertainment. For complete information, go to westwordtacolandia.com. This isn't a competition, it's a celebration — so come hungry and get ready for a wide variety of great Mexican eats, from the smallest mom-and-pop shops to the city's most popular cantinas.
We're well past the days when beer wasn't considered fit for pairing with high-end food (that role was, ridiculously, reserved for wine), but it's still common to see more thought put into wine lists than tap handles at restaurants around town. That won't be the case on Wednesday, August 29, though, when Chef and Brew will pair bites and beers from kitchens and brewing operations around town. Exdo Event Center, 3500 Walnut Street, hosts the fun from 7 to 10 p.m., as guests and judges alike vote on the best dish, best beer and best pairing. Find the entire lineup and tickets ($49 to $69) at Chef and Brew's website.
It's never too early to start planning for Feast, Westword's annual celebration of Denver's restaurant scene. This year's party returns to the McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue, on Sunday, September 30. There will be unlimited bites from over forty local eateries, live entertainment, unlimited drink samples and unlimited merriment from noon to 3 p.m., especially if you opt for VIP tickets, which get you in an hour early and include an open VIP bar. Tickets start at $30 and are on sale now at westwordfeast.com.
Sunday, October 7, through Thursday, October 11
The ninth annual Harvest Week, hosted by EatDenver and the GrowHaus, will run Sunday, October 7, through Thursday, October 11. Each night, six chefs will come together to create a one-of-a-kind pop-up dinner at the GrowHaus, 4751 York Street; last year's dinners each focused on meat and produce from a particular region in the state. While the 2018 lineup hasn't yet been announced, be prepared to pounce on tickets once they go on sale in September (previous years have sold out in just two weeks.) In addition to great food and good company, all the festivities of the week will benefit EatDenver and the GrowHaus. Find out more at eatdenver.com or thegrowhaus.org.
If you know of a date that should be on this calendar, send information to [email protected].