This is the one weekend of the year when everyone is Irish — but why not branch out? Embrace your Irish heritage (ahem), but also dig up your Ethiopian and pan-American roots, and celebrate your general muttliness. Here are a quartet of fun events that don't involve getting plastered at a parade or pub, plus more throughout March, April and May.
(For more leprechaun-related festivities, see our list of the best St. Patrick's Day food and booze events happening this weekend.)
Friday, March 15
Looking for great food this St. Patrick's Day? The first and most important thing to know: Corned beef and cabbage isn't Irish. We've said it ’til we're green in the face, but despite our best efforts, it will take the luck o' the Irish to find a meal on March 17 that doesn't include the combo. Your best bet? Create your own meal, and if you attend the St. Paddy's Day Party Pairings class at the Seasoned Chef Cooking School, 999 Jasmine Street, on Friday, March 15, you'll be prepared to roll out a spread that's a step above the usual. Yes, the ubiquitous corned beef is on the menu (at least it's in slider form), but you'll also learn how to make lamb meatballs, savory turnovers, colcannon (a dish traditionally made of mashed potatoes and kale or cabbage) and Irish cheddar fondue; dishes will be served with Irish beers and cocktails. The couples' class has been discounted to $157.50 for two people and runs from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.; sign up now on the Seasoned Chef website.
Saturday, March 16
Coffee fiends will get a chance to consume their beloved beverage and get their hit of caffeine while simultaneously slowing down and savoring the moment at Sara Gebre's weekly Ethiopian coffee ceremonies, which will launch on Saturday, March 16, at Food Bridge International Marketplace, 998 Navajo Street. At 11 a.m., Gebre (who has previously cooked Ethiopian cuisine at Comal) will start the ritual by roasting green coffee beans in a pan over an open flame before grinding and brewing them. The entire process takes about 45 minutes, giving guests time to relax and chat with their neighbors rather than slopping their brew into a travel mug and rushing out the door. Book your spot on Eventbrite for just $10. Looking for an even more in-depth experience? Stick around for one of Gebre's traditional Ethiopian meals afterward for an additional $15, or go for the trifecta on the third Saturday of every month, when a 9:30 a.m. yoga class, coffee and meal will run you $35.
The sixth annual Collaboration Fest has finally arrived. 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 beers on tap is a result of the experience, style and approach of separate teams, culminating in a range of 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.
Sunday, March 17
There are two kinds of people in the world: those for whom the prospect of a multi-state road trip and its associated open roads, giant balls of twine and gas station gift shops elicit a freedom and excitement that can't be found anywhere else, and those who would rather chew their own arm off (possibly both arms and a foot) than endure the torture of sitting next to other people for hours at a time while fighting over the air conditioning and music. But both types will be able to get on board with Brightmarten and the Family Jones's Road Trip Dinner on Sunday, March 17 (rescheduled from Wednesday, March 13, because no one wants to drive cross-country in a blizzard). From 6 to 9 p.m., guests of Brightmarten, at 730 South University Boulevard, will embark on a culinary car trip across five states: Florida, Louisiana, California, Kentucky and Colorado. That's an ambitious itinerary (and an impossible one by motor vehicle), but food and cocktails will be provided at each stop: Think a refreshing key lime and Fresno chile daiquiri in the Sunshine State and a blackberry-bourbon-basil julep with fried chicken in the Bluegrass State. Visit Brightmarten's Facebook page for the full menu, then email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your $85 seat — and make sure you don't get stuck sitting in the middle of the back seat.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
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.
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.
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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 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.
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