As befits the weekend before Valentine's Day, there are some sweet deals on the calendar. From all-you-can-eat mac and cheese to a pizza pop-up to a free (and juicy!) history lesson, here are the six best food and drink events over the next three days, plus four more to plan for in the weeks to come.
Friday, February 8
Start the weekend off with good drinks and deeds at the Anchor Center for Blind Children's Visions of Love benefit on Friday, February 8. From 6 to 9 p.m. at the Center, 2550 Roslyn Street, indulge in eight wine-tasting stations, each with sweet and savory pairings, plus hors d'oeuvres and a coffee and biscotti lounge for just $50. VIP tickets, $75, include beer, bubbly and "sensory cocktails" made with local herbal liqueur Tingala, which leaves a tingly buzzing sensation on the lips of drinkers thanks to its botanical ingredients. Proceeds benefit the nonprofit organization, which provides early education for blind and visually impaired children under the age of six; get your tickets on Anchor's website.
Whether you use macaroni, rigatoni, penne, farfalle, fusilli, orecchiette, cavatappi or cavatelli — or cheddar, Gouda, provolone, mascarpone, Monterey Jack, muenster or mozzarella — there's really no wrong way to construct mac and cheese. On Friday, February 8, you can sample more than fifteen creamy, crusty and cheesy creations from local restaurants at the Denver Mac & Cheese Festival, which runs from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at 3560 Chestnut Place. Tickets start at $59 (which includes unlimited mac and wine, beer and spirit samples) and top out at $109 (5:30 p.m. entry, a T-shirt, unlimited mac and an open bar). The most intriguing part of this fest? The commemorative spork that comes with each ticket purchase. We're a fan of commemorative flatware: It takes up less space than beer glasses, and if you're resourceful enough, you can scrounge up a full set for next Thanksgiving. Ensure your entry to the extravaganza by snagging tickets on Eventbrite.
Saturday, February 9
Saturday morning is prime time for a good hangover breakfast. The classics include a full fry-up or breakfast burrito, but let's not forget the humble bagel. Among the many charms of a bagel topped with cream cheese is its ability to soak up the residual alcohol in your system and set you on the right (less hung over) path for the rest of the day. How lucky for us, then, that National Bagel Day falls on Saturday, February 9, and Einstein Bros. Bagels is celebrating the occasion by giving away the goods. All of the bagelry's locations are offering a free bagel and shmear with any purchase all day, so start the day off with a hangover cure that's healthier than hair of the dog — and cheaper, too.
First Italy gave us pizza, then it gave us pizza al taglio — pizza by the pound — an idea so wonderful it's a mystery that no one in Denver is doing it yet. That's about to change, though, when Pizzeria Coperta opens its doors on February 22 inside the forthcoming Broadway Market. But this Saturday, February 9, you can get a pizza preview at Beast + Bottle, 719 East 17th Avenue, as two versions of chef Paul Reilly's pies will be served along with the regular brunch menu from noon until 2 p.m. (or until the pies sell out, whichever is earlier). A slice of the margherita will set you back $5; the prosciutto, mozz and arugula slice is selling for $7 (no buying in five-pound increments quite yet). Find out more on Beast + Bottle's Facebook page.
James Bond is certainly a literary and cinematic legend, but the man has horrible taste in martinis. Nevertheless, his drink order has become iconic, and while emulating it might well get you a roll of the eyes from your bartender, at least it's the most benign of 007's crimes (try manhandling Pussy Galore like Bond and you may well spend the night in jail). One place where you can go and not be judged about your martini preference? The Boys Hope Girls Hope of Colorado's Shaken, Not Stirred Martini Party on Saturday, February 9. History Colorado Center, 1200 Broadway, is hosting the fundraiser from 7 to 10 p.m., where attendees can channel their inner secret agent by getting swanky and sipping cocktails from bars competing to be recognized for the best martini in Denver. Bonus: You'll stealthily be doing good for a nonprofit that provides support for disadvantaged but motivated middle school, high school and college students. Find out more and nab tickets on the Boys Hope Girls Hope website.
Sunday, February 10
No one knows more about Denver history than local legend Phil Goodstein; the historian and author has tackled Denver neighborhoods, ghosts, street names and the KKK in his many books (our favorite: 2000's DIA and Other Scams) and innumerable walking tours. And on Sunday, February 10, Goodstein will regale listeners with tales of romance at Sweet Cooie's Ice Cream and Confectionary, 3506 East 12th Avenue. Guests hungry for happy (and maybe not-so-happy) endings should meet at the ice creamery for a free, one-hour presentation titled "Sweet and Salty Love Stories of Denver's Past" at 2 p.m.; guests hungry for the shop's excellent cones, ice cream sandwiches and malts should show up earlier to ensure they have plenty of time to make their sweet selection before the slightly sour tales of heartbreak begin. Details are up now on denver.org.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
Thursday, February 14, through Sunday, February 17
Fans of Ian Kleinman's doughnut pop-up shops have been waiting a long, long time to get their hands on the confectioner's breakfast creations; the last time the pastries made an appearance was more than two years ago. But from Thursday, February 14, through Sunday, February 17, the Molecular Donut Shop returns to the Inventing Room Dessert Shop, 4431 West 29th Avenue, from 6 to 11 a.m. Ten flavors will be on the menu, ranging from $5 to $8; we're most excited for the Buttermilk Fried Chicken, a take on chicken and waffles that includes fried bird, coffee gravy and hot-sauce caviar.
Tuesday, February 19
February is a fine month for celebrating tasty morsels of joy with a hidden surprise inside — the kind of food that fills your heart with love. No, not chocolate bonbons, silly; we're talking about Asian dumplings. Station 26 Brewing Co., at 7045 East 38th Avenue, is hosting A Night of Dumplings and Beer on Tuesday, February 19. Chef Penelope Wong, most recently of Glenmoor Country Club, and chef Blaine Baggao of the Adobo Food Truck will present a four-course dumpling dinner paired with four beers from Station 26. Wong has been hard at work perfecting her dough folding and pleating, so be prepared for exquisite bites all evening; the dinner runs from 6:30 to 8 p.m., and tickets, available on Eventbrite, cost $50.
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Friday, February 22, through Sunday, March 3
Denver Restaurant Week is coming, so clear your calendar from February 22 through March 3; you'll want to visit a different eatery every day. Hundreds of Denver’s top restaurants will offer multi-course dinners for three tasty prices ($25, $35 or $45) during the fifteenth year of the wildly popular week. Participating restaurants and menus are up on the Visit Denver site; be sure you book your first choices right away, before someone else nabs your table. Find out more here.
Sunday, May 19 and Monday, May 20
Chefs and aspiring charcutiers will want to plan ahead for a Denver visit from the maestro of meat, Brian Polcyn, who will lead a butchery course next spring at Stir Cooking School, 3215 Zuni Street. Polcyn and author Michael Ruhlman will spend two days teaching students how to break down hogs using both USDA and European seam butchery techniques; how to work charcuterie into menus; and how to properly dry-cure and smoke cured meats. Recipes for pâté, fresh sausage and offal will be provided, as well as a copy of one of the duo's books (their third title, Pâté, Confit, Rillette, will be released May 19), a private cocktail hour and dinner with the pair. Tickets are $800 and are on sale now at Eventbrite.
If you know of a date that should be on this calendar, send information to firstname.lastname@example.org.