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Iggy Pop has opinions about interlopers at the Occidental.EXPAND
Iggy Pop has opinions about interlopers at the Occidental.
Mark Antonation

The Six Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This Week

Start your week with wine and end it in Wonderland; here are six great food and drink events for the days ahead. And if you're wondering how to keep yourself occupied through the month of March after Denver Restaurant Week ends, keep reading for future dates to put on your culinary calendar.

A wealth of wineglasses bodes well at Coohills.
A wealth of wineglasses bodes well at Coohills.
Jacqueline Collins

Monday, February 25
When was the last time you went to a good old-fashioned wine dinner? It's all sake pairings and artisanal moonshine cocktails these days, but there's a reason the classics persist: They're timeless. Get back to basics on Monday, February 25, at Coohills (1400 Wewatta Street) for its Castiglion del Bosco wine dinner. Reps from the sangiovese-focused winery will be on hand to pour five varietals to accompany chef Tom Coohill's five-course menu, which is slated to include stuffed guinea hen with porcini sauce and truffle mousse; strip steak and crispy shallots in red wine sauce; and roasted tilefish served with saffron-fennel broth. The full menu is up on the restaurant's website; reservations for the $90 dinner are required and can be made by calling 303-623-5700 or emailing events@coohills.com.

Tuesday, February 26
After a night of drinking classic Italian wine, you're probably jonesing for some of those fancy cocktails that are all the rage. Williams & Graham (3160 Tejon Street) and Occidental (around the corner at 1950 West 32nd Avenue) are hoping to lure you in with concoctions from across the country as Austin's Roosevelt Room and Boston's Drink take over the taps on Tuesday, February 26. Jockey for a place at Williams & Graham's bar, where Texas tea will be served starting at 7 p.m., then pay a visit to the far more accessible Occidental to see whether the boys from Boston can mix up a better boozy drink. Visit the bars' Facebook pages for more details.

Start creating brackets that matter at Factotum's Brewer's Madness.
Start creating brackets that matter at Factotum's Brewer's Madness.
Courtesy Factotum Brewhouse Facebook

Wednesday, February 27
We're still a few weeks away from March Madness, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't start brushing up on your brackets. Starting Wednesday, February 27, you'll have way more fun creating your beer bracket at Factotum Brewhouse, 3845 Lipan Street, at the fourth annual Brewer's Madness than you will trying to put together picks for NCAA teams you started following, oh, yesterday. From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., show up at the taproom and cast your vote for the tastiest brew and its accompanying nonprofit organization; the competition will run through April 20, when the championship round decides who will be awarded the $500 grand prize donation. Visit Eventbrite for details about the event, including a complete schedule and list of nonprofits; no tickets are required.

Think you can take beer photos this good? It's not just point-and-shoot.EXPAND
Think you can take beer photos this good? It's not just point-and-shoot.
Danielle Lirette

Thursday, February 28
Aspiring influencers, take notice: You'll never get invited to events if your beer photos all end up looking like amber ale and you can't deal with the glare from the pint glass. Denver Beertography Meetup has your back; on Thursday, February 28, the group will meet at Ratio Beerworks, 2920 Larimer Street, for a discussion about backlighting and brews. All cameras and skill levels are welcome at the free meetup from 6 to 9 p.m. Show up and you'll be that much closer to being invited to events where your plus one (er....unpaid labor) can follow you around with a light reflector before you monopolize the bar for forty minutes trying to get the perfect shot. More info is up on the Beer Breath Co. Facebook page.

Friday, March 1
Everyone knows March comes in like a lion, but the Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York Street, are more interested in the March Hare this month. On Friday, March 1, From 6 to 9 p.m., the DBG will host an Alice in Wonderland-themed evening. Like the famous Wonderland tea party, this one will serve mock turtle soup and sugar cookies while you sip tea (you can even make your own herbal blend). At the same time, learn about fungi and folklore from scientists and enjoy entertainment from an electric string quartet and circus performers in the tropical conservatory. Tickets, $21, and details are available now on the Botanic Gardens website.

So, you say you really like burritos? You'll have to turn that like into love, or even obsession, if you hope to have a shot at downing the five-pound, tortilla-wrapped monster at the Pioneer Bar, 2401 South University Boulevard. On Friday, March 1, the venerable University of Denver watering hole is launching its Burrito You Can't Complete-O challenge, with four contestants vying to be the first to get through the gut-busting ordeal. Come down and watch the fun so you can gauge whether you're up to besting the burrito yourself; after March 1, you can take the challenge any time during the Pioneer's regular business hours. If you can devour the delicious devil in 35 minutes, you won't have to pay, plus you'll earn a commemorative T-shirt and your photo on the wall of fame. If you fail, you'll only be out $35. Either way, there's a free Dos Equis thrown in (as long as you're at least 21). The inaugural eat-off is free for spectators; call the bar at 720-536-4802 for details.

Keep reading for future food and drink events.

Snooze is Denver's most recognizable breakfast spot, and it will be serving at the So All May Eat Gala on March 7.EXPAND
Snooze is Denver's most recognizable breakfast spot, and it will be serving at the So All May Eat Gala on March 7.
Danielle Lirette

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.

Paddle away on a river of suds at Collaboration Fest.EXPAND
Paddle away on a river of suds at Collaboration Fest.
Danielle Lirette

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 nearly 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.

Rioja's calm exterior belies the wildness within.EXPAND
Rioja's calm exterior belies the wildness within.
Courtesy of Rioja

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 available on Rioja's website; choose from 5:30 or 7:45 p.m. seatings.

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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