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Famous Original J's in Five Points occasionally goes vegan.EXPAND
Famous Original J's in Five Points occasionally goes vegan.
Mark Antonation

The Eight Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This Week

This week brings a vegan pizza smorgasbord, Pi Day, a Colorado-only food show and a fight to the death with tiny cocktail swords. Batten down the hatches, drinkers and diners, and get ready for eight great events from Monday, March 11, through Friday, March 15, plus more happenings throughout the rest of March.

Monday, March 11
The Romans had their spectacles in the Colosseum, citizens of Panem had the Hunger Games, and Denverites have the Garnish Games — where six suspendered men and one lone woman will fight to the death to assemble the most visually stunning cocktail. On Monday, March 11, Pony Up, 1808 Blake Street, will be transformed into a theater of destruction as the mixologists square off in the pressure cooker behind the stick from 6 to 9 p.m. Admission and drink samples are free for (blood)thirsty spectators. Finalists are listed on DiningOut Events's Facebook page, and you can see the competing concoctions on the event website. Let the games begin!

If hungry vegans play their cards right on Monday, March 11, it's possible they won't need to eat for the rest of the week. That's because Famous Original J's Pizza, 715 East 26th Avenue, is dubbing that date Vegan Night, when $12 gets you all-you-can-eat vegan slices from 6 to 9 p.m. There will be twelve different varieties of pie on offer, including a white pie with artichoke hearts, mushrooms and seitan; pizza topped with broccoli rabe, 'shrooms, tomatoes and onions; and plenty of slices bearing the housemade vegan mozz and ricotta. And because the joint comes from the same folks as Rosenberg's bagels, you know the New York-style slices are authentic, right down to amending Denver water in order to replicate NYC's supply. Reservations aren't required; just show up after checking out the details on the eatery's Facebook page.

Last year's Eat Colorado Food Show had bites for young and old alike.EXPAND
Last year's Eat Colorado Food Show had bites for young and old alike.
Nikki Rae Photography

Tuesday, March 12
Anyone in the food-service industry looking to beef up the presence of local products on their menu — or anyone who's passionate about buying local, period — will want to visit the Eat Colorado Food Show on Tuesday, March 12, where a hundred Colorado farmers, ranchers and food and beverage producers will be setting up shop in the National Western Complex at 4655 Humboldt Street. Corner Post Meats, Highland Bees, Cultura Chocolate and Deerhammer Distillery are just a handful of folks who will be talking about their products and handing out samples from noon to 4 p.m.; there will also be a pair of panel discussions on sustainability standards and community open to the public. With free entry (and parking!), there's no reason to miss out; RSVP on the food show's website.

Brightmarten's dining room gives you more space than the back seat of your parents's station wagon.EXPAND
Brightmarten's dining room gives you more space than the back seat of your parents's station wagon.
Danielle Lirette

Wednesday, March 13
Making it halfway through the work week is hard, no question. Even harder is living with kidney disease — which is why on Wednesday, March 13, Great Chefs of the West tackles the job of raising money for the National Kidney Foundation, an organization dedicated to raising awareness of, preventing and treating kidney disease. A wealth of Denver restaurants are creating extravagant bites paired with local beverages; expect delectable samples from the Bindery, El Five, Death & Co., Super Mega Bien, Julep, Safta and Liberati Osteria & Oenobeers. The snacking and schmoozing starts at 6 p.m. at Exdo Event Center, 1399 35th Street; snag your ticket, $200, on the National Kidney Foundation's website.

There are two kinds of people in the world: those for whom the prospect of a multi-state road trip and its associated open roads, giant balls of twine and gas station gift shops elicit a freedom and excitement that can't be found anywhere else, and those who would rather chew their own arm off (possibly both arms and a foot) than endure the torture of sitting next to other people for hours at a time while fighting over the air conditioning and music. But both types will be able to get on board with Brightmarten and the Family Jones's Road Trip Dinner on Wednesday, March 13. From 6 to 9 p.m., guests of Brighmarten, at 730 South University Boulevard, will embark on a culinary car trip across five states: Florida, Louisiana, California, Kentucky and Colorado. That's an ambitious itinerary (and an impossible one by motor vehicle), but food and cocktails will be provided at each stop: Think a refreshing key lime and Fresno chile daiquiri in the Sunshine State and a blackberry-bourbon-basil julep with fried chicken in the Bluegrass State. Visit Brightmarten's Facebook page for the full menu, then email wade@brightmarten.com to reserve your $85 seat — and make sure you don't get stuck sitting in the middle of the back seat. NOTE: THIS EVENT HAS BEEN RESCHEDULED FOR SUNDAY, MARCH 17.

There's a pie for every mood.EXPAND
There's a pie for every mood.
Flickr/Yandle

Thursday, March 14
March 14: the perfect marriage of numbers and nibbles, mathematics and meringue. That's right — it's Pi Day! Faithful readers will know we never miss an opportunity to indulge in sweet or savory pies, so our little cholesterol-choked hearts are all aflutter for deals on Thursday, March 14. Smok (3330 Brighton Boulevard) will offer its yummy strawberry-rhubarb hand pies for just $3.14 all day, while Call (2845 Larimer Street) is preparing a trio of tiny tarts (bourbon pecan, gluten-free s'more, and Meyer lemon) to mark the day. Those wanting to wash down their pie with something equally tasty can visit Grandma's House brewery (1710 South Broadway) or Call to Arms Brewing (4526 Tennyson Street), both of which are serving up a quartet of beer and pi(e); details are up on both the Grandma's and Call to Arms Facebook pages.

Don't be number four in line on Pi Day at Mici.
Don't be number four in line on Pi Day at Mici.
Courtesy Mici

If pizza is more your kind of pie, look to Mici Handcrafted Italian for a tongue-in-cheek Pi Day special. All five metro Denver locations of the local chain will be giving away exactly 3.14 whole pizzas to the first four people in line at 3:14 p.m. The first three customers will get a ten-inch formaggio pizza, while slowpoke number four will get the thinnest sliver of a fourth pie (although Mici says it may take pity and give away the remaining .86 too). Visit the Mici website for locations and details.

Learn how to make something other than corned beef and cabbage for St. Paddy's day.
Learn how to make something other than corned beef and cabbage for St. Paddy's day.
Courtesy The Seasoned Chef Cooking School Facebook

Friday, March 15
Looking for great food this St. Patrick's Day? The first and most important thing to know: Corned beef and cabbage isn't Irish. We've said it ’til we're green in the face, but despite our best efforts, it will take the luck o' the Irish to find a meal on March 17 that doesn't include it. Your best bet? Create your own meal, and if you attend the St. Paddy's Day Party Pairings class at the Seasoned Chef Cooking School, 999 Jasmine Street, on Friday, March 15, you'll be prepared to roll out a spread that's a step above the usual. Yes, the ubiquitous corned beef is on the menu (at least it's in slider form), but you'll also learn how to make lamb meatballs, savory turnovers, colcannon (a dish traditionally made of mashed potatoes and kale or cabbage) and Irish cheddar fondue; dishes will be served with Irish beers and cocktails. The couples' class is $175 for two people and runs from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.; sign up now on the Seasoned Chef website. 

Keep reading for future food and drink events.

You'd be this happy with four beers in hand, too.EXPAND
You'd be this happy with four beers in hand, too.
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 welcomes you for a night of Wild and Wine this month.
Rioja welcomes you for a night of Wild and Wine this month.
Danielle Lirette

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.

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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