This is the weekend where you don't have to dress up for a single imported festival or holiday, so put away your green clothing and Mardi Gras beads and just get ready to enjoy whiskey with food, seed-swapping, Italian cooking and some surprise cocktails. Here are the five best food and drink events on the culinary calendar over the next three days, plus fun stuff in the weeks ahead.
Friday, March 22
Hungry partygoers who have recovered from St. Patrick's Day and are braced to tear up the Ballpark neighborhood again this weekend will want to start their rampage at Ignite Kitchen + Cocktails, 2124 Larimer Street, for its Laws Whiskey Pairing Dinner on Friday, March 22. From 6:30 to 8 p.m., the kitchen is serving a five-course feast (think duck confit and cassoulet; wagyu beef with horseradish, Bordelaise and celeriac purée; and candied pork belly) accompanied by five of Laws's best bourbons and ryes. Tickets, $50, are up on the restaurant's website, along with the complete menu and pairings.
Saturday, March 23
The GrowHaus, at 4751 York Street, has been serving the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood for years now, and its food production, distribution and educational offerings just keep getting bigger and better. On Saturday, March 23, the nonprofit is hosting its ninth annual seed swap from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with workshops on growing mushrooms, starting seedlings indoors, vermiculture and beekeeping alongside the trading of organic seeds (make sure you bring your own containers to tote your bounty home) with fellow gardeners. Kids' activities, food vendors (cash only!), farm tours and live music will also be part of the day. Children under twelve and residents of Elyria-Swansea and Globeville get in free; the rest of us will have to pay a very reasonable admission price of $12 ($15 the day of) on the GrowHaus website.
Lacrosse is that weird sport the cool kids all pretend to understand, but nobody really does. Even the players sometimes look confused. But it won't matter if you can follow the action or not on Saturday, March 23, because your money will be going to a good cause. The Colorado Mammoth will cross sticks with the Vancouver Warriors, and you can enjoy a night of live music and indoor lacrosse (even stranger than the outdoor variety) for only $25. Five dollars of every ticket sold will go toward Blues & BBQ for Better Housing, which raises money and awareness for affordable housing. Get your tickets on the Colorado Mammoth website, then come to the Peak Pub House at the Pepsi Center, 1000 Chopper Circle), from 5:30 to 7 p.m. for a performance by the Duke Street Kings. Then head into the arena to watch the game — or match, or whatever they call it.
Sunday, March 24
There's nothing to shake your self-confidence like enjoying an amazing meal from a professional chef and then going home and failing miserably at trying to re-create the dishes in your own kitchen. Fortunately, you'll have the recipes this time, if you attend a special Italian dinner at Coperta, 400 East 20th Avenue, on Sunday March 24. Cookbook author and Rome-based expert of Italian food and drink Katie Parla will be in the house with her new book, Food of the Italian South. Coperta's chef/co-owner Paul Reilly and his team will be cooking five dishes from the book, including bread dumplings with potato and tomato broth; orecchiette with burrata, tomatoes and almond pesto; paccheri with capers, olives, anchovies and fried bread crumbs; cod with chiles, tomato and paprika; and pork neck with mushrooms. Dessert and sides will also be included in the $78 price tag, as will a signed copy of the book, although beverages, tax and tip will be extra; call Coperta at 720-749-4666 for reservations. Meet the author, get the book, eat the food — and then go home and do it yourself. "Nailed it!"
The upcoming LoDo bar Run For the Roses is holding so many pop-ups that we're starting to run out of horse-racing puns to describe them. But even if you're getting pop-up fatigue, you'll want to jockey for position at the mezzanine bar at Brass Tacks (1526 Blake Street) on Sunday, March 24, because the RftR cocktails are always a sure bet. Show up at Brass Tacks at 6 p.m, and mount the stairs at the back of the space to see what's shaking. Admission's free, but the drinks aren't. Along with the booze, there will also be a few surprises tied to the address's long history as a downtown Denver watering trough.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
Saturday, March 30
What happens on a micro ranch? Do tiny cowboys round up miniature cows while riding pint-sized ponies? Not at the Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch, 4845 Morrison Road, Colorado's only edible insect farm. If you want to see what insect farming is really all about, sign up for a tour on Saturday, March 30. It turns out that crickets and other insects are surprisingly tasty and packed with nutrients, while impacting the land and environment far less than larger livestock. Learn all about it from 3 to 4 p.m., sample some insect-based protein, then purchase products to take home and incorporate into your own cooking. Tickets are $8.79 on the RMMR Facebook page. If you miss this tour, the ranch will be repeating them every month.
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Tuesday, April 19
It may feel like winter will never end in the Mile High City, but in fact it's already time to start planning your spring garden dinners. The early bird gets the worm, after all, and the earliest feast to hit the table this year is already scheduled for Tuesday, April 19, at Kingman Estates Winery, 800 East 64th Avenue. Chefs Samantha New (Éclat Culinary) and Brandon Becker (Cirque Kitchen and Spirits) are teaming up to turn out an impressive nine-course meal, with pairings crafted from grapes grown entirely in Colorado, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Fresh ingredients like melon will be served with chicory, speck and riesling, while heavier courses of beef and morels with merlot will be accented with seasonal ramps. Tickets, $138, include tax and tip, and are on sale now on the winery's website, where you can get a peek at the entire menu.
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-cure 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.
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