The Tastiest Occasions on Denver’s Culinary Calendar, Might 21 to Might 24, 2021

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This weekend, you can learn how to set the stage (and the table) for a grown-up party that’s a step up from kegs and corn chips, take a bike tour of just a few of Denver’s community gardens, learn what the heck banush is (and how to make it), and bee social. Those are just some of the tasty activities on the culinary calendar.

After you’ve had your fill of festivities this weekend, keep reading for future events that will make your mouth water.

Friday, May 21
Still setting out bags of Tostitos and grocery-store tubs of salsa when your friends come over? Get it together, friend. You’re an adult, and it’s time to start entertaining like one. If you have no concept of how to step it up (other than transferring the chips and salsa to bowls), consider the Seasoned Chef’s cocktail party cooking class for two on Friday, May 21. The school at 999 Jasmine Street will equip you with grown-up recipes that you can make ahead of time, so you’ll spend more time hanging out with your house guests than hovering over your cooktop. The six-course menu includes green chile crab cakes with chipotle aioli and lemon cubes, cucumber avocado gazpacho shooters with grilled-lime cream, and steak skewers with ancho steak sauce. Sign up for the 6:30 p.m. class, $180 per pair, on the Seasoned Chef’s website.

Environmental activist and artist DJ Cavem.EXPAND

Environmental activist and artist DJ Cavem.

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez

Saturday, May 22
Get to know Denver Urban Gardens (DUG), a patchwork of over 180 community and school gardens in metro Denver, at a bike tour and seed giveaway on Saturday, May 22. The nonprofit organization is hosting its first ever Tour de DUG, a bike tour that will lead guests to three gardens where they will meet the gardeners and learn about the neighborhoods in which the plots are located. Groups of bikers will set off from DUG’s office, 1031 33rd Street, at 9:30, 9:45, 10, 10:15 and 10:30 a.m. (the 10:15 tour will be conducted in Spanish) for a suggested donation of $10. Back at the office after the tour, vegan DJ Cavem will be hosting a seed giveaway and listening party until 1 p.m. Find out more and register on DUG’s website. 

The love affair with adding bacon to everything seems awfully 2012, but this year’s Bacon and Beer Classic will bring back a welcome taste of pre-pandemic times. Guests will be ushered along a path at Kennedy Golf Course, 10500 East Hampden Avenue, where they’ll pause at stations to throw back beer, cider and pork products. This year’s Classic also touts full-sized, bacon-based dishes instead of sample sizes. Purchase tickets ($79 or $59) on Eventbrite, where — like any bacon-munching, beer-swilling golfer — you’ll need to pick your “b” time (11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) to start your beer and bacon death march. Visit the event website for details.

If the only things you know about Ukraine are its figure skaters and land wars, you’re missing out. On Saturday, May 22, find out exactly what you’re missing at a Ukrainian cooking class. From 2 to 6 p.m., you’ll make borscht (beet soup); potato, cabbage and mushroom varenyky (similar to pierogi); banush (a cornmeal dish traditionally topped with bacon, cheese and mushrooms); and syrnik (a cross between a cheese souffle, pancake and cheesecake). The class will run you $45, which also includes wine, and is being held at the Retreat at Solterra, 15250 West Evans Avenue in Lakewood; visit Facebook for details, then purchase your ticket here.

Someone may or may not have gotten up close and personal with the honey used to make Nectar Jones.EXPAND

Someone may or may not have gotten up close and personal with the honey used to make Nectar Jones.

Courtesy Family Jones

Sunday, May 23
Sip sweetly on Sunday, May 23, at the launch of the Family Jones’s limited-edition honey liqueur, Nectar Jones. The beverage was created with the help of artist Kristen Hatgi Sink, whose 2018 MCA exhibit, Honey, included photographs and videos of honey being dripped over people and objects, as well as a memorable in-person installment of a leotard-clad woman writhing about in a tank of the sticky substance. That honey was ultimately used to make Nectar Jones (germophobes, no word on whether the full-body honey was utilized in distillation). The event takes place at Grow & Gather, 900 East Hampden Avenue in Englewood, from 4 to 7 p.m., and your $80 ticket includes a full-sized bottle of Nectar Jones, small bites, cocktails, bee education and a silent auction. Buy tickets now on the Family Jones website.

Keep reading for future food and drink happenings.

Blanchard Family Wines' newest bottles will be available starting May 25.EXPAND

Blanchard Family Wines’ newest bottles will be available starting May 25.

Courtesy Blanchard Family Wines

Tuesday, May 25
Tuesday, May 25, is National Wine Day (as if you needed another reason to uncork a bottle). For Blanchard Family Wines, 1855 Blake Street, it’s the perfect day to release four new bottles — and, of course, host a launch party. From 5 to 9 p.m., join the winery and taste its newest products (viognier, rosé of grenache, zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon) paired with bites like sliders, marinated melon salad and steak kabobs. Tickets are just $25 per person on Tock, with proceeds going to nonprofit Colorado Youth for a Change, which works to reduce the dropout rate among high school students. Another perk of the party that will last well beyond National Wine Day? All bottles are 10 percent off during the event, so it’s a great opportunity to stock your cellar for a rainy day.

Sunday, May 30
If your idea of brunch is less “I need some hair of the dog” and more “I’ve been partying since Friday night — why stop now?,” Munchies and Mimosas is the event for you. After over a year on hiatus, the party is returning to the Hangar at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas Street in Aurora, for a brunch event with bottomless bubbly and a banger vibe. For $40, from noon to 6 p.m. you’ll get a brunch spread, all the mimosas you can drink and over a hundred people dancing to tunes from DJs KScott, Simone Says and KDJ Above. Visit the Munchies and Mimosas Instagram for details, then snag tickets on Eventnoire.

For a weekend celebration that will be just as messy as a bottomless mimosa brunch (but in a very different way), go west — to the VFW Post 4171 at 15725 West Tenth Avenue in Golden. Chef Jeff Stoneking (formerly of ChoLon and LeRoux) is putting on a seafood boil from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 30. The main attraction is the aquatic spread — mussels, clams, shrimp, oysters, crawfish, crab cakes — but there will also be burgers, hot dogs and chicken to nosh on, drinks from the VFW bar (no $13 cocktails here), live music and a guitar raffle. Local vendors including Moon Raccoon Baking Co., Mama Sue’s Kitchen (chili oil), DittyPop Smoothies and Sasta’s Shroom Shack (mushroom tacos and quesadillas) will also be on hand. Admission is free, though you can pre-order a plate for $30 that includes seafood, slaw or salad, a glass of booze and a raffle ticket on Stoneking’s website.

Carboy is pouring exclusively pink drinks at its Rosé La La La event on June 4.EXPAND

Carboy is pouring exclusively pink drinks at its Rosé La La La event on June 4.

Danielle Lirette

Friday, June 4
Nothing says summer like pink patio pounders — and Carboy Winery’s Denver outpost, 400 East Seventh Avenue, is bringing together a pack of producers for its Rosé La La La festival on Friday, June 4. In two sessions (3:30 to 5 p.m. and 5:30 to 7 p.m.), you can sample rosé wine from thirteen Colorado wineries, including the Storm Cellar, Sauvage Spectrum, BookCliff Vineyards, Jack Rabbit Hill Farm and Chill Switch Wines. Admission is a steal at $38 — which includes apps and a stemless wine glass to take home — but finding your perfect post-COVID summer wine is worth its weight in gold. Visit Carboy’s website to learn more and secure your spot.

Thursday, June 17
If you’re bereft because, for the second June in a row, Aspen Food & Wine isn’t happening (it’s taking place in September this year), you can stop clutching your pearls. Another über-extravagant, ultra-expensive food festival is taking place in Aspen from Thursday, June 17, through Sunday, June 20: the Little Nell Culinary Fest. The event includes a sommelier lunch, Dom Pérignon dinner, Champagne breakfast, Father’s Day rosé brunch, sustainable seafood dinner and more. Individual events run from $100 to $450; an inclusive pass will cost you $1,100 and gets you 40 percent off a room at the Little Nell hotel, 675 East Durant Avenue in Aspen. Visit the Little Nell website for details about the weekend, then purchase your tickets on Eventbrite.

Korean fried chicken at chef Gregory Gourdet's now-closed Departure; Gourdet is returning to Colorado on June 17.EXPAND

Korean fried chicken at chef Gregory Gourdet’s now-closed Departure; Gourdet is returning to Colorado on June 17.

Bridget Wood

Chef Gregory Gourdet left town when his Cherry Creek restaurant Departure shuttered in 2019, but he’s back (for one night, at least) on Thursday, June 17. Gourdet is taking over the kitchen at Frasca Food and Wine, 1738 Pearl Street in Boulder, as a guest chef. The four-course menu includes recipes from his latest cookbook, including slow-cooked salmon with jerk plantains and sos ti malice (a Caribbean sauce made of habaneros, lime and onion); short rib curry with cauliflower-cashew purée; and coconut custard with strawberry jam, pickled rhubarb and soursop sorbet. The cost of dinner ($145) includes a signed copy of Gourdet’s cookbook, Everyone’s Table: Global Recipes for Modern Health, and both non-alcoholic and wine pairings are available for an additional $25 or $55. Reservations start at 5 p.m. and they’re going fast; snag your spot now on Tock.

Restaurant and bar workers need a party after the last eighteen months (hoo boy, do they ever). Enter Drink Red Wear Red, an industry bash on Thursday, June 17, that is even more impactful in 2021. That’s because the event, put on by the Colorado Restaurant Association (CRA) and Foundation (CRF), benefits the CRA Mile High Chapter’s Hardship Relief Fund as well as the CRF, which administers the statewide Angel Relief Fund. (Both assist hospitality workers facing hard times.) This year’s party is an open-air celebration at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, 2001 Colorado Boulevard, and includes wine (red, or course), cocktails, bites from a dozen Denver restaurants (including the Bindery, Esters, GQue Barbecue, Maria Empanada, the Pig & the Sprout and Comida) and live music from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Tickets are currently $45 or $125; VIP tickets include 5:30 p.m. entry as well as a rooftop reception with views of City Park and downtown Denver. Get your tickets on the CRA’s website before prices go up on June 1.

Last year's Vail Wine Classic gave attendees plenty of room to spread out.EXPAND

Last year’s Vail Wine Classic gave attendees plenty of room to spread out.

Team Player Productions

Thursday, August 12
Treat yourself to a long, boozy weekend in Vail from Thursday, August 12, to Sunday, August 15, at the Vail Wine Classic. The fest — which was one of the very few events that didn’t go digital or “postpone” (aka cancel) its 2020 iteration — is putting on a pair of two-hour grand tastings at 1:30 and 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Tickets will run you $99 for GA; $129 for thirty minutes early entry; or $225 for the aptly named “double trouble” pass, which gets you into both sessions at the early entry time. The tastings are an outdoor affair at Vail Athletic Fields, 646 Vail Valley Drive. Details about wine dinners, seminars and the inevitable day-after brunch are yet to be announced, but you can visit the event website for complete info and Eventbrite for tickets.

Know of an event that belongs on this calendar? Send information to [email protected]

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