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Lola's award-winning margaritas are the perfect way to celebrate National Margarita Day.EXPAND
Lola's award-winning margaritas are the perfect way to celebrate National Margarita Day.
Danielle Lirette

The Five Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This Weekend

Desserts and dresses, cocktails and cultivation; whether you're up for fancy attire and fancier beer or down to dig in the dirt, there's something for you on this weekend's culinary calendar. Planning ahead? Keep reading for more events in the months to come.

Friday, February 22
Denver Restaurant Week has finally arrived. If you haven't cleared your calendar from February 22 through March 3, it's not too late; with more than 200 Denver eateries participating, you can still visit a different spot every day during the fifteenth annual occurrence of this wildly popular event. Go to Visit Denver's website to search for restaurants by location or type of cuisine, then peruse the multi-course menus offered at three tasty prices ($25, $35 or $45). While you may have to use all your powers of persuasion to finagle yourself a last-minute reservation, the savings can be worth it. 

While we aren't the biggest fans of assigning a foodstuff to every day of the year (who needs a day devoted to liver and onions or chewing gum?), sometimes good things can come of the food industry's insatiable desire to dub a random weekday as "National _____ Day." After all, even a broken clock is right twice a day, and on Friday, February 22, drinkers are the beneficiaries: Hoist a glass to National Margarita Day. More than a handful of joints around town are offering specials, and here are some notable ones: Indulge in buy-one, get-one-free margs at Nomad Taqueria + Beer Garden (18485 West Colfax Avenue, Golden, 7 a.m. to 1 a.m.) or Que Bueno Suerte! (1518 South Pearl Street, 4 to 11 p.m.). Lola Coastal Mexican (1575 Boulder Street, 4 to 10 p.m.) is setting up free tequila and mini-margarita tasting stations around the restaurant pouring Suerte, Casa Noble and Patrón tequilas; and those looking for a twist on the traditional tequila, lime and Cointreau can find it at Comida Cantina (2501 Dallas Street in Aurora and 3350 Brighton Boulevard, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.), where nearly fifteen variations of the drink dominate the cocktail menu, and at Mythology Distillery (3622 Tejon Street, 4 p.m. to midnight) where the bar is debuting a version that includes its own rum as well as mezcal. Celebrate accordingly, and be prepared for National Hangover Day (March 23).

"Local" has been a buzzword in the food community for years now, but how, exactly, does a young person interested in growing food in Colorado go about it — especially given the short growing season and limited access to farmland? The feature-length documentary film How We Grow attempts to shine a light on those challenges with its depiction of young farmers in the Roaring Fork Valley who moved beyond their own gardens to break into the agricultural industry. The film is screening at 7 p.m. on Friday, February 22, at the Chautauqua Community House, 900 Baseline Road in Boulder; after the movie, directors Haley Thompson and Tomas Zuccareno will lead a discussion on sustainable agricultural communities and growth guidelines. Tickets are $12 and are available on the Colorado Chautauqua Association's website for anyone wanting to ditch their potted tomato plants for something greater.

A selection of extravagant doughnuts from the Inventing Room's last Molecular Donut Shop: baklava, the Elvis (peanut butter, bacon, chocolate, banana), Laws Whiskey apple, and fried chicken with hot sauce caviar.
A selection of extravagant doughnuts from the Inventing Room's last Molecular Donut Shop: baklava, the Elvis (peanut butter, bacon, chocolate, banana), Laws Whiskey apple, and fried chicken with hot sauce caviar.
Mark Antonation

Saturday, February 23
Ian Kleinman's Inventing Room Dessert Shop may be shuttered for the season (don't fear, it will be reopening its doors come summer), but Kleinman and his team are still keeping busy. As the recent Molecular Donut Shop pop-up proved, fans haven't lost their taste for the over-the-top creations, and on Saturday, February 23, you can get even more dessert madness at the Inventing Room's collab with Diebolt Brewing. In a beer and dessert pairing even we can get behind, the taproom, 3855 Mariposa Street, will host guests for three desserts (a chocolate shell stuffed with grape jelly mousse, peanut butter marshmallows and "magic" chocolate; sticky toffee pudding with sweet cream cubes and vanilla caviar; and an Imperial stout float made with salted butterscotch ice cream and exploding whipped cream) paired with three of Diebolt's brews. Tickets, $35, and the full menu are available on Eventbrite. Get your fill now; who knows how long you'll have to wait for your next fix?

Bring glitz and glam to Bar Helix's Oscar viewing party on Sunday.EXPAND
Bring glitz and glam to Bar Helix's Oscar viewing party on Sunday.
Mark Antonation

Sunday, February 24
Bar Helix, 3440 Larimer Street, with its emphasis on bubbly, caviar and ’70s chic, is undeniably swanky — which makes it the perfect place to gather for the glammest event of the year: the Academy Awards. Ditch your Sunday evening yoga pants for your Sunday evening best and walk the bar's red carpet, then settle in for two-for-one glasses of champagne from 5 to 10 p.m. on February 24. Judge the gowns (and the Academy's string of horrible decisions regarding the broadcast) harshly from the comfort of the lounge's comfy seating. Get the details on the Bar Helix Facebook page. And that Oscars drinking game you've been perfecting the rules for (take a drink every time someone is played off the stage; finish the drink every time the camera catches someone in the audience looking awkward; finish the bottle if Keven Hart shows up)? It's classy if you're playing with champagne.

Keep reading for future food and drink events.

Sweet Action Ice Cream is bringing the sweet stuff to SAME Cafe's gala fundraiser.EXPAND
Sweet Action Ice Cream is bringing the sweet stuff to SAME Cafe's gala fundraiser.
Linnea Covington

Thursday, March 7
SAME Cafe has been serving up healthy and hearty meals — as well as making national headlines — for more than a decade now, and the pay-what-you-can eatery is now getting wheels. On Thursday, March 7, the nonprofit restaurant's SAME Food Truck will make its debut alongside bites and booze from Snooze, Cirque Kitchen and Spirits, the Inventing Room, Renegade Brewing Company, Sweet Action Ice Cream and Biju's Little Curry Shop at the second annual So All May Eat Gala at the McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue. From 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., guests will nip and nibble from great restaurants around Denver; food-justice activist and founder of D.C. Central Kitchen and L.A. Kitchen Robert Egger will also give a presentation. Tickets are currently on sale for $75 on Eventbrite, though in keeping with SAME's mission, pay-what-you-can and volunteer exchange tickets are also available; find out more on the cafe's website.

Collaboration Fest gets bigger and better with every passing year.EXPAND
Collaboration Fest gets bigger and better with every passing year.
Nikki Rae Photography

Saturday, March 16
The sixth annual Collaboration Fest is drawing near, and even if the festival wasn't on your radar six months ago, when tickets first went on sale, it should be now. Because two (or more) breweries team up to brew each beer, each of the brews on tap is a result of the experience, style and approach of separate teams, resulting in almost 120 beers you'll never see or taste anywhere else. Tickets for the Saturday, March 16, event are (still) on sale on Collaboration Fest's website for $65 or $85; pouring commences at 3 and lasts until 6 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Denver, 650 15th Street. Our most anticipated collabs? Colorado breweries Paradox Beer Co. and Purpose Brewing; Belgian-style brewers Bruz Beers and the Thirsty Monk; and TRVE Brewing and Denver's Family Jones distillery.

This quiet corner at Rioja belies the wildness on the menu this March.EXPAND
This quiet corner at Rioja belies the wildness on the menu this March.
Scott Lentz

Monday, March 18 through Wednesday, March 20
Take a walk on the wild side at Rioja this spring at the Mediterranean restaurant's Wild and Wine dinners. From Monday, March 18, through Wednesday, March 20, the eatery at 1431 Larimer Street will offer an off-the-beaten-path five-course dinner highlighting unusual proteins like venison (not so strange), boar, snake, alligator and ostrich (completely bizarre — that neck!). Unfiltered, natural and wild-yeast fermented wines will accompany the dishes. Tickets ($80 without wine, $110 with) are for sale on Rioja's website; choose from 5:30 or 7:45 p.m. seatings.

Learn to ham it up like a pro at Stir Cooking School.EXPAND
Learn to ham it up like a pro at Stir Cooking School.

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 cafe@westword.com.

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