You can learn the basics of beer festing, root for the underdog, and pop in for paella this weekend. Here are six great food and drink events over the next few days, plus more to plan for as summer slowly turns to fall.
Friday, August 23
Denver temperatures are forecast to start off freaking hot (in official meteorological terms) this Friday and escalate to absolutely unbearable by Sunday. We have a solution, though: Head for the hills. Specifically, make the drive to Breckenridge, where it will be practically balmy in the mid-70s, and the Breckenridge Hogfest will be happening all weekend. This bacon and bourbon bash kicks off on Friday, August 23, with a bourbon dinner, followed by the grand tasting on Saturday and brunch on Sunday. Expect tipples from local distillers Laws Whiskey House, 52eighty, Axe and the Oak, Mythology and Breckenridge Distillery, alongside national brands like Buffalo Trace, Bird Dog Whiskey and Maker's Mark.Tickets for the weekend's events range from $50 to $125, and are still available on the Hogfest website.
If you've watched Wine Country (and if you haven't, get it together!) you know paella can take upwards of 24 hours to prepare and requires a canoe paddle to stir. Perhaps this is why it's hard to find the dish on menus around town — and chances are you haven't been slaving away over the seafood, saffron and rice concoction recently, either. But on Friday, August 23, Lola Coastal Mexican, 1575 Boulder Street, is breaking out the paddles and pans for a paella pop-up from 6 to 9 p.m., and you can get the classic Spanish dish without having to put up with the fraught friendship dynamics in Wine Country or the weirdly intrusive Devon (who will only hand you a raw squid). The dish comes packed with shellfish at $30 per plate, with pitchers of sangria and margaritas for $40. So bring a crowd, because that enormous pan of rice, mussels, clams and fish isn't going to eat itself.
Saturday, August 24
Brace yourself: There are no farm dinners this weekend. But there are a plethora of beer fests on Saturday, August 24, so school yourself on the ABCs of drinking and before choosing from this trio of fests. Arts & Ales benefits the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, and the expansive lawn (and air conditioned buildings!) at 6901 Wadsworth Boulevard in Arvada will be turned into a beer, music and arts festival, with a full lineup of bands, local artisans and food trucks on hand from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with suds starting at 2 p.m. Admission starts at just $30 on the Arvada Center's website, and proceeds from all food sales go directly to the Center's programming. Boulder Craft Beer Festival boasts nearly thirty local breweries, plus food trucks slinging barbecue, tacos, empanadas and Cuban and Jamaican fare, and a free yoga class from 1 to 5 p.m. at North Boulder Park, 9th Street and Dellwood Avenue. Tickets are $35 to $50 on Boulder Downtown's website.
Ever felt the universe was conspiring against you? If so, you understand what it feels like to be an underdog. Now imagine being an actual dog and having the odds of finding a home stacked against you due to breed-specific legislation, old age or trauma. Underdogs Animal Rescue places animals from overcrowded shelters into foster care, where they can receive improved training and socialization. On Saturday, August 24, the non-profit organization is holding its annual fundraiser at the McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue, where from 7 to 10 p.m. human advocates and underdogs can enjoy an open bar, live music and dancing, and bites from Edwin Sandoval's excellent Xatrucho Concepts — all vegetarian, of course: mac and cheese, mushroom arancini with blue cheese, potatoes with mornay, fried cauliflower and a ponzu reduction, and panzanella with creamed corn. Tickets, $100, are still available on the rescue's website, along with pictures of adorable adoptable dogs.
Sunday, August 25
More than 200 restaurants opened in Denver last year — and it seems all of them started serving brunch within a few months of opening their doors. For brunchophiles trying to work their way through all the restaurants in town serving the meal, that's a tall order. But on Sunday, August 25, you can make a significant dent in your to-brunch list at BrunchFest 2019. The McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue, is the site of the boozy shenanigans, with more than twenty restaurants serving brunch dishes, plus unlimited Bloodys and mimosas, from noon to 3 p.m. Tickets run $59 to $109, and you can pick them up, as well as see participating restaurants, on the event website.
Lamb is woefully underutilized in American kitchens (especially when compared to the Ned Flanders of proteins, chicken), which is a shame. But if you're a fan of the flavorful meat — or even if you're on the fence about eating the curly-haired creatures — the Lamb Jam is the best place in Denver to get the goods. On Sunday, August 25, an all-star lineup of Denver's top chefs, including Dana Rodriguez (Super Mega Bien), Marta Biasotti (Liberati), Justin Brunson (Old Major), Alon Shaya (Safta) and Tristan Epps (Mister Tuna) will be competing for the title of Lamb Jam champion at Mile High Station, 2027 West Colfax Avenue, from 3 to 6 p.m. There will be plenty of beer, wine and cocktails to pair with the succulent meat; tickets ($75 to $125) are on sale now on Lamb Jam's website.
Tuesday, August 27, and Wednesday, August 28
Den Corner knows how to throw a party, and its annual rooftop party and fundraiser only gets better with age. What started out in 2016 with a handful of chefs flown in from Japan has morphed into even more festivities, with twenty Japanese chefs hopping the pond to raise funds for Colorado's We Don't Waste and southern Japan's Kumamoto Castle Earthquake Relief Fund. This year, local chefs Carrie Baird, Ian Wortham, Caroline Glover, Dana Rodriguez, Elise Wiggins, Alex Seidel, Paul Reilly, Alon Shaya and more will join the shindig on August 27 and 28; beer, wine, cocktails and sake will be flowing, while ramen, hand rolls and Japanese street food will be plentiful. Tickets for the party, which runs from 7 to 10 p.m. both nights on the roof of the Den Corner parking garage at East Florida Avenue and Pearl Street, are $90 (includes three drink tickets), $110 (includes five drink tickets), or $135 (VIP early admission at 5 p.m., plus five drink tickets), and can be purchased on Sushi Den's website, along with a complete list of participating chefs and menu details. As with everything manned by Toshi and Yasu Kizaki, the party generally sells out, so don't delay in guaranteeing your entry.
Wednesday, August 28
Brace yourself: Come Wednesday, August 28, you're going to need all your fortitude — intestinal and liver — to make it through the evening. That's because Chef and Brew, the sprawling summer bazaar of bites and booze, is returning to town. Starting at 7 p.m., the Exdo Event Center, 1399 15th Street, will host a wonderland of sweet and savory bites and local craft beers. Forty dishes (two from each eatery) will be paired with forty different brews, so it's statistically impossible for you to leave without finding something to tickle your tastebuds. And more than honor is on the line here: Cash prizes will be handed out, so chefs and brewers will be on their A game. Tickets are $49 or $69 on the event website, where you can also find a complete list of participants.
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Wednesday, September 4, through Sunday, September 8
September brings cooler temps (we hope!), as well as the return of the annual Denver Food and Wine Festival. From Wednesday, September 4, through Sunday, September 8, restaurants around town will be turning out immaculately plated food, and the wine will be flowing freely. There are annual events (the Riedel wine glass seminar, good for those who want to appear über-sophisticated while sipping — or just those who've broken the majority of their glassware, since you'll be going home with a set of four glasses); bougie events (Dinner Under the Stars, this year taking place at our favorite Italian restaurant in a brewery, Liberati); crowd-pleasers (a patio party at Cattivella and the Bartender's Bash cocktail competition); the marquee event (the Grand Tasting, with over 700 wines and spirits, chef demos and food from forty top Denver restaurants); and a Sunday brunch (again at Liberati) that's sure to pave your way smoothly from hangover to Sunday Funday. Tickets run from $45 to $150 and are available on the festival's website.
Thursday, October 24
Feast, Westword's annual celebration of the Denver restaurant scene, will make its delicious return to the McNichols Building on a new day and time: 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday evening. As always, though, Feast will be a true feast for the senses, with music, beverage samplings and dishes from more than forty favorite restaurants. Among those already signed on to sample their food are Uchi, Jackdaw, Milk & Cake, The Veggie Whisperer, Roaming Buffalo Bar-B-Q and more. This year, VIP ticket-holders will again be treated to a special menu, this year courtesy of the word-renowned Matsuhisa. Bites from Matsuhisa will include spicy tuna crispy rice, chicken gyoza, black cod miso in limestone lettuce, and more, as well as special VIP cocktails to complement the menu. VIP tickets also include early entry into the event at 6 p.m. and a VIP gift bag. Tickets are now on sale for $30 general admission, $55 VIP at westwordfeast.com.
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