Things to Do

The Seven Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This Weekend

See that? It's a martini — no dumb name.
See that? It's a martini — no dumb name. Danielle Lirette
From chocolate to Carnival, rats to red wine and queens to Quidditch, there's something going on for every palate this weekend in Denver. Take your pick from seven of the most succulent and savory food happenings around town, then keep reading for more good times to sate your appetite through mid-March.

click to enlarge Tuna crudo served with beets, cabbage, dill and a challah cracker for RiNo's version of Carnival. - IL POSTO
Tuna crudo served with beets, cabbage, dill and a challah cracker for RiNo's version of Carnival.
Il Posto
Friday, February 7
Re:Vision, 3800 Morrison Road, is holding it's RISE Westwood launch party from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday, February 7; guests will get a sneak peek of the All You Need Is Love and Chocolate art exhibit, a preview of Cultura Chocolate Factoría & Café (which will have a separate grand opening on February 8), and food from chef Edwin Sandoval's Xatrucho and Mayan street-food truck X'tabai Yucateco. RSVP for the Friday night event on Facebook, then visit Re:Vision's website for a deeper dive into the flavors of the season by signing up for one of Cultura's cooking classes over the next two weeks: a chocolate mousse kids' class at 2 p.m. on Saturday, February 8 ($5); mole class from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, February 12 ($25); and chocoflan class from 10 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, February 15 ($25). There are still spaces available for all classes, but they're going quickly (as chocolate tends to do).

We haven't even put Lunar New Year celebrations or Valentine's Day behind us, but Denver Central Market and Il Posto are already looking forward to Carnival. Countries around the world revel in that debauchery in February and early March, before the deprivation of Lent; RiNo's version runs Friday, February 7, through Sunday, February 9, with a trio of events. Il Posto, 2601 Larimer Street, is serving a Carnival tasting menu on Friday for $60 that includes items like beet risotto with gorgonzola and balsamic vinegar; duck, ricotta and spinach inside flaky puff pastry; and tuna crudo with green cabbage and dill. Reserve your seat on OpenTable. Saturday brings the DCM After Dark at the Market, 2669 Larimer Street, with exclusive bites and cocktails, DJs and dancing from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.; your entry is $15 on Eventbrite and includes one drink and a festive feathered mask. Finally, Sunday is family day with an all-ages party from noon to 2 p.m. that boasts jugglers, face painters and more off-the-menu food items. The best part? In addition to $5 from the ticket price for DCM After Dark, all profits from the weekend will be donated to the World Wildlife Fund Australia.

click to enlarge There's no such thing as overdressed at Saturday's Chinese New Year party. - DANIELLE LIRETTE
There's no such thing as overdressed at Saturday's Chinese New Year party.
Danielle Lirette
Saturday, February 8
Rats aren't all bad — especially if they're talented and adorable (Remy from Ratatouille), meme-able (Pizza Rat) or the first animal of the zodiac, bringing rebirth and renewal (Lunar New Year). And on Saturday, February 8, you can celebrate the Year of the Rat (which admittedly begins a couple of weeks earlier, on January 25) at the Chinese New Year party put on by the Nathan Yip Foundation. From 5:30 to 11 p.m., ballrooms at the Grand Hyatt Denver, 1750 Welton Street, will be transformed into an expansive night market, with food stations, games, palm readers, calligraphers and traditional clothing; this year, there will also be a formal Chinese banquet where guests can enjoy traditions such as yu sheng, a salad composed of auspicious ingredients that are mixed at the table by diners to ensure a prosperous new year. Tickets ($250, or $150 for young professionals under 36), along with details and colorful pictures of the event, are available now on the foundation's website.

The Nickel, 1100 14th Street, is rolling out the red carpet (and wine!) on Saturday, February 8, with a feast in conjunction with California producer Orin Swift Winery. The four-course meal focuses on red and rosé wines, with pairings including pinot noir-infused chicken liver mousse paired with (you guessed it!) the winery's Slander Pinot Noir, and lamb with a pink-peppercorn crust served alongside tapenade, red pepper jelly and a hearty zinfandel blend. Guests will be served in the restaurant's cozy, subterranean wine cellar, with winery reps on hand to discuss the beverages. Tickets ($65 per person or $115 per pair) for the 6 p.m. spread are still available on Eventbrite.

There are an infinite number of ways to construct a martini; the flashy versions that most catch our attention (and ire!) are the ones that combine random liquors — not gin or vodka — with an off-the-wall flavor and then tack "tini" onto the end (popcorn-tini, anyone?). For the discerning, though, a martini is gin and vermouth; vodka is acceptable, but only in a pinch. On Saturday, February 8, see how Denver bars build their drinks at the Shaken, Not Stirred Martini Party. The annual fundraiser for Boys Hope Girls Hope — a nonprofit organization that provides mentoring, tutoring and scholarships to academically motivated kids from disadvantaged backgrounds — takes over the History Colorado Center, 1200 Broadway, from 7 to 10 p.m., with appetizers and dancing to accompany bartenders' creations. Tickets are $75 or $125 on the Boys Hope Girls Hope website.

Sunday, February 9
Accio pint glass! On Sunday, February 9, all you have to do is swish your wand about to summon good times and cheer at the generically named Wizard's Beer Festival (the wizarding world has become significantly more litigious, it seems). Diebolt Brewing Co., 3855 Mariposa Street, is the site of the shenanigans, with four two-hour sessions throughout the day, beginning at 11 a.m. and 1:30, 4 and 6:30 p.m. There will be tarot card readers, DJs and wand-making classes; your $45 ticket will get you a welcome beer and tickets for five further potions. Just remember: You can't evanesco your hangover the next day. Pick up your tickets at Eventbrite before those sneaky Slytherins find a way to steal them all.

Every drag queen was a baby queen at one point; you're invited to a drag brunch for the next generation on Sunday, February 9, when the Goods, 2550 East Colfax Avenue, welcomes Denver's tween queens for the Dragutante Sweetheart Brunch. Starting at 11 a.m., you can meet young drag performers under age 18 before they serve some bottomless virgin Bloody realness between the bread basket and the breakfast burrito. As with any drag brunch — especially one with such adorable performers — it's likely the restaurant will be filled to capacity, so we recommend you secure your spot now on OpenTable. Tips for the queens as well as 10 percent of brunch proceeds will go to nonprofit organization Dragutante, which provides a safe space for kids to learn and perform drag; find out more on the Goods' Facebook page.

Keep reading for more food-related events through mid-March.

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Amy Antonation knows that street tacos are infinitely superior to tacos that come covered in squiggles of crema, and she will stab you with her knitting needles if you try to convince her otherwise.
Contact: Amy Antonation