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The Seven Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This Weekend

See that? It's a martini — no dumb name.EXPAND
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.

Tuna crudo served with beets, cabbage, dill and a challah cracker for RiNo's version of Carnival.EXPAND
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.

There's no such thing as overdressed at Saturday's Chinese New Year party.EXPAND
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.

This grilled cheese will always be there for you, even if you messed up on VD.EXPAND
This grilled cheese will always be there for you, even if you messed up on VD.
Danielle Lirette

Saturday, February 15
Had a lackluster Valentine's Day? Cheese and booze will never let you down, so forget your disappointing date and opt for a solo expedition to the Grilled Cheese & Beer Fest on Saturday, February 15; it's a lovefest in the form of crispy, crunchy sandwiches washed down by craft beer. Show up for unlimited bites from Blake Street Tavern, Maine Shack, Cheese Love Grill and the Brutal Poodle, among others; bottomless brews are courtesy of Horse and Dragon, Mockery, Spice Trade and Zuni Street. Tickets are currently on sale on Eventbrite or Facebook for $54 or $89 (the Big Cheese option gets you early entry and full-sized beers instead of samples), though prices are set to increase as the event approaches. Choose from the afternoon (12:30 to 3:30 p.m.) or evening (5 to 8 p.m.) session at Runway 35 Park, 8863 East 47th Avenue.

Friday, February 21, through Sunday, March 1
For ten days in late February, Denver eateries are going to be crammed with diners seeking great deals. Yes, Denver Restaurant Week returns on Friday, February 21, and runs through Sunday, March 1; both longstanding institutions and trendy hot spots will be serving multi-course prix fixe menus offered at just $25, $35 or $45. Visit the event website, where you'll find scrumptious pics of some of last year's most delectable dishes, as well as over 200 participating restaurants and their 2020 menus (some of our favorites include AJ's Pit Bar-B-Q, Il Posto, Vesta and Denver Milk Market). The race for reservations is on! It's you vs. the rest of Denver scrambling to book the best tables in town.

Friday, February 21
An offshoot of the Slow Food movement, the first Slow Wine Guide was published in 2010 and covered only Italian wines; a decade later, it's expanded into California and Oregon. And on Friday, February 21, the Slow Wine Tour lands in Denver. The free tasting is open only to industry folks (business cards and work credentials are required for entry), highlights products from nearly 65 vineyards, and takes place at Asterisk, 1075 Park Avenue West, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visit the Slow Wine website for more details and a list of producers that will be in attendance, then hit up Eventbrite to RSVP.

Want beautiful fried eggs every day? Learn how with Four Seasons market's backyard chicken workshop.EXPAND
Want beautiful fried eggs every day? Learn how with Four Seasons market's backyard chicken workshop.
Mark Antonation

Saturday, February 22
Of all Denver's city regulations, the cutest and cuddliest is section 11.8.5 of the Denver Zoning Code, under which residents are allowed a maximum of two rabbits, 25 pigeons, eight chickens (or ducks!), two dwarf goats and an unlimited number of fish on their property. Sadly, we haven't come across any urban goat husbandry classes — but on Saturday, February 22, the Four Seasons Farmers & Artisans Market, 7043 West 38th Avenue in Wheat Ridge, will help you get started in poultry with a backyard chicken-keeping class from 10 a.m. to noon. For just $5, you'll learn how to house, feed and water your feathered friends and get the basics on how to keep the little cluckers healthy. Sign up on Eventbrite.

Tuesday, February 25
Three cheers for restaurateur Troy Guard, whose calendrical skills rival his kitchen chops. The man is hosting a Fat Tuesday event on the day itself: Tuesday, February 25, not the weekend before or (abomination of all abominations) the weekend after, when Lent is already in full swing. From 6 to 8:30 p.m., Commissary (the former Mister Tuna at 3033 Brighton Boulevard), hosts the bacchanal with bites, beverages and a brass band. Guard is bringing in reinforcements in the form of Louisiana boy and Houston chef Drake Leonards of Eunice, and the evening's menu boasts instant classics like shrimp po' boy sliders, crawfish hand pies and Cajun duck poppers. Entry ($45 or $65 on Night Out) includes a drink, unlimited apps and a chef demo for VIP ticket holders.

Pigs will fly before we give up our devotion to pie.EXPAND
Pigs will fly before we give up our devotion to pie.
Linnea Covington

Wednesday, February 26
Regular readers will already know of our affinity for pies: sweet, savory, elegant, rustic, handheld, served by the slice — all are the way to our heart and guaranteed to put us in a blissful, pie-induced trance. But we have nothing on Boulder pie expert John Lehndorff, who has served as organizer of the Great American Pie Festival and head judge of the National Pie Championships (be right back; we're taking a break to seethe with jealousy). On Wednesday, February 26, the man, the myth, the pie legend will be giving a lecture at Niwot's Left Hand Grange, 195 Second Avenue, on the history of pies in Boulder County. Attendees will get "pie-related" refreshments (hmmmm) starting at 6:30 p.m., followed by a talk that spans the genesis of National Pie Day, pie-adjacent artifacts, tips and tricks to judging a slice and a Q&A on how to turn out your own flaky, tasty masterpiece, all for just $5 at the door. Details are up on Lehndorff's Facebook page, and you can see more of his writing — including a list of Denver's top hand pies — on his website.

Thursday, March 5
The annual kickoff to the Boulder International Film Festival, CineChef, returns on Thursday, March 5, with a literal battle of the sexes (there are knives involved, after all). It's the men versus the women as the chefs go head to head at Boulder's Rembrandt Yard, 1301 Spruce Street; each team will turn out film-inspired fare, with guests voting on the most scrumptious cinematic bites. Participating chefs include Linda Hampsten Fox (the Bindery), Becca Henry (ChoLon) and John Platt (Riffs Urban Fare). Further details and tickets for the 5:30 p.m. event ($100 or $145) are up now on the festival's website.

Thursday, March 12
A wealth of Denver's A-list restaurants are uniting under one roof on Thursday, March 12, to raise money for the National Kidney Foundation at its annual feast, Great Chefs of the West. Starting at 6 p.m., Exdo Event Center, 1399 35th Street, will play host to talent from Death & Co., Mercantile, the Bindery, American Elm, El Five, Woodie Fisher and over fifteen other restaurants and bars serving their most extravagant bites and beverages. And while tickets aren't cheap ($200, though you can save $20 by purchasing before January 6), you'd spend that much on Lyft rides alone trying to navigate from one end of town to another to hit up each and every eatery. Find out more about the event on the NKF website

If you know of a date that should be on this calendar, send information to cafe@westword.com.

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