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The Seven Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This Weekend

Present this pie to your guests with pride; learn how to make it at Vero this weekend.EXPAND
Present this pie to your guests with pride; learn how to make it at Vero this weekend.
Courtesy Vero
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This weekend is a busy one: it boasts a duo of dances and a pair of pizza parties and pop-ups. So start planning now for all the food and drinks you'll be enjoying from Friday, March 8, through Sunday, March 10. Then keep reading for future events in the weeks to come.

Come Friday night, the tables at Maria Empanada will be cleared to make way for dancing.
Come Friday night, the tables at Maria Empanada will be cleared to make way for dancing.
Mark Antonation

Friday, March 8
Heat up your Friday night with a pair of dancing and drinking events on the same hot block: Both Maria Empanada, 1700 Platte Street, and Cerveceria Colorado, 1635 Platte Street, are opening their doors and dance floors on Friday, March 8. Start the night at Maria Empanada at 5:30 p.m., where you can fortify yourself with a spread of delicious empanadas (including vegan and veggie options) and a pinguino of wine while watching a samba performance, then take a free samba lesson and enjoy open dance until 7 p.m. Then head across the street for cervezas and a salsa class ($8 per single, $15 per couple in advance) at 8 p.m., followed by free open dancing from 8:30 to 11 p.m. Details for both events are up on the Maria Empanada and Cerveceria Colorado Facebook pages.

A day celebrating human beings, not foodstuffs: It's a bold move, and one we can get behind as we observe International Women's Day on Friday, March 8. To mark the occasion of honoring the achievements of women across the globe, five of the baddest women in Denver are getting together to create an epic meal, with profits benefiting Girls Inc. of Denver, a nonprofit offering mentoring and support to young women in a girl-only environment. Chefs Jennifer Jasinski (Ultreia, Stoic & Genuine, et al.), Dana Rodriguez (Super Mega Bien, Work & Class), Nadine Donovan (Steuben's, Ace Eat Serve, Vesta) and Kat Caine (Death & Co.) join Alex Jump (head bartender at Death & Co.) at the Ramble Hotel, 1280 25th Street, to create a four-course meal with cocktail pairings so good you won't even mind when you hear that guy at the next table start his monologue with, "Well, actually...." Tickets, $95, are on sale at Eventbrite, along with details about room rates and specials. NOTE: THIS EVENT IS NOW SOLD OUT.

Crush Pizza & Tap has been serving up the Chicago-style pie for four years. That's reason to celebrate!
Crush Pizza & Tap has been serving up the Chicago-style pie for four years. That's reason to celebrate!
Courtesy Crush Pizza & Tap

Saturday, March 9
Chef Andrea Frizzi is known as the gregarious force of nature behind Il Posto, but he's also in charge of Vero, the Milanese-style pizzeria with outposts in Denver and Boulder. And on Saturday, March 9, Frizzi is opening the doors of his Boulder establishment, 2525 Arapahoe Avenue, to aspiring pizzaiolos for a crash course in making the thin, crispy pies. Pizza Making 101 runs from 11 a.m to 1 p.m.; students will learn how to make and properly stretch pizza dough, as well as the correct amount of sauce and toppings to keep your pie deliciously toothsome instead of a soggy mess. Along the way, you'll learn pro tips that can still be achieved in the home kitchen for just $30 per person or $50 per couple. Call Vero at 303-396-6366 to book your spot, and soon you'll be turning out pies so delicious, you'll never need to go out for pizza again.

Crush Pizza + Tap (née Denver Deep Dish), 1200 West 38th Avenue, came into the world in 2015, and oh, my, how it's grown. The joint starting out selling only its namesake pie, but added other styles and then expanded its offerings to Sicilian and East Coast crusts six months ago, prompting a name change. And on Saturday, March 9, Crush is devoting the day to celebrating everything that's happened in the past four years. Starting at 11 a.m., the first fifty customers in the door who order a drink will get a free slice, followed by a kids' build-your-own pizza party until 1 p.m.; a spicy wing challenge from 1 to 2:15 p.m. (call the restaurant at 720-619-3337 to sign up); trivia from 3 to 5 p.m.; and live music from 7 to 9 p.m. Details on the all-day shindigs are up on the pizzeria's Facebook page.

The late, great Rebel Restaurant shut its doors for good last August, and after some time away from the kitchen, Dan Lasiy and Bo Porytko, the culinary insurgents who helmed the cutting-edge eatery for three years, are starting to pop up more and more around town. Back in January, there was the epic His & Hers dinner at the Bindery, where Lasiy and Porytko and Bindery owner and chef Linda Hampsten Fox went head to head with courses made from the same ingredients; on Saturday, March 9, Lasiy is flying solo at Bar Helix, 3440 Larimer Street, with an evening of fried chicken and champagne. FLY BRD kicks off at 4 p.m., when Lasiy's excellent fried chicken will start coming out of the kitchen, and will continue until sell-out, though discounted bubbles will be on offer all night. Find info on Bar Helix's Facebook page; we'll be holding our breath for the fried chicken hearts that made an appearance at Rebel every so often.

The still-to-open cocktail bar Run for the Roses (1801 Blake Street) is doubling down on Kentucky Derby references with Lay the Favorite, a series of menu previews going on throughout the month at Seven Grand just down the street. Every Saturday from March 9 through March 30, the whiskey bar at 1855 Blake Street is taking limited reservations at 6, 8 and 10 p.m. for curious cocktailers who want a sneak peek at the RFTR food and drink menu. You're required to pony up $15 for the privilege of a one-hour-and-45-minute reservation on Tock, though that does include one cocktail; guests are also encouraged to pre-purchase food and drinks, though if you're willing to gamble, you can skip the pre-order (and pre-payment) to make your selection pending availability. The real money is on when the bar will finally open in its own space; it's already exceeded initial estimates by a full year.

Sunday, March 10
Put on your ruby slippers (or dress or bow tie or undies) and paint the town red at the Colorado Restaurant Association's Drink Red, Wear Red fundraiser on Sunday, March 10. From 6 to 9 p.m., attendees can enjoy plenty of red wine, cocktails and appetizers at the McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue, while benefiting the CRA's Angel Relief Fund and the CRA Mile High Chapter's hardship fund, which provide emergency assistance to restaurant and hospitality employees in Denver and throughout the state. A DJ and silent auction will also be on hand; nab details and tickets, $75, on the Mile High Chapter's Facebook page. The best part about this party? When you're done, just click your heels together and say, "There's no place like home" — no need for a Lyft!

Keep reading for future food and drink events.

A unique beer festival like Collaboration Fest deserves a unique pretzel necklace.EXPAND
A unique beer festival like Collaboration Fest deserves a unique pretzel necklace.
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.

Behind this door lies revelry and wildness.EXPAND
Behind this door lies revelry and wildness.
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 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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