Category Archives: Event

Upcoming Food Fests in Denver

Two alliterative competitions to find the best tacos and burgers.

Attendees at the massive Top Taco coming on Thursday, June 22 may sample unlimited taco tastes from and signature tequila cocktails  from 45 popular Denver restaurants. They can also vote for favorite in Top Creative Taco, Top Traditional Taco, Top Vegetarian Taco and Top Cocktail categories. Add live music, creative tequila lounge areas, and Top Taco is a hard to beat summer event.  Hours are 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. with early entry for the two most expensive tickets. General admission is $69, 1st Tasting is $90 and a VIP ticket is $125. Click here to purchase.

Last minute tickets available:
$10 OFF USE DISCOUNT CODE “LASTCHANCETACO” WHEN BUYING TICKETS AT TOPTACODENVER.COM FOR $10 OFF. OFFER GOOD THROUGH MIDNIGHT, WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21, 2017.

Four local burger-meisters compete in the annual Denver Burger Battle on Thursday, August 3. They have to impress a picky and knowledgeable panel of judges — all chefs and restaurateurs — with their creativity and skills. Each chef prepares four types of burgers. Contestant restaurants are The Cherry Cricket, Stoic & Genuine,  and Park Burger. Heavy-hitter judges are Josh Wolken (Steuben’s, Ace, Vesta), Elise Wiggins (Cattivella), Bryan Dayton (Oak on Fourteenth, Acorn, Brider) and Bradford Heap (Salt, Colterra, Wild Standard), and attendees get to vote on the People’s Choice too.

General admission ($69.95) gets unlimited burger tastes from all competitors, open bar with craft beer, wine and samples of premium spirits and desserts from Little Man, Glazed & Confused, Happy Bakeshop & Sweet Action. VIP admission ($124.99) buys all that plus early admission to the event at 5:30 p.m. and reduced lines, exclusive VIP area with covered lounges, extra seating and private bars and specialty VIP cocktails (High Noon Vodka, Rebel Yell hiskey, Cane Rum, Fireball, Exotico Tequila, Buffalo Trace Bourbon or Tuaca), plus  unlimited desserts from Little Man, Glazed & Confused, Happy Bakeshop, & Sweet Action. The event is rain or shine, 21+ only and takes place at Tivoli Quad Park, Denver.

Weekend Options for Foodies and Wine Lovers

Food & Wine Classic and more on Colorado calendar this weekend.

The 35th annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen is America’s highest-profile culinary event — a place for culinary stars to see and be seen, for wine folks to dazzle their palates and each other, and for the well-heeled “rest of us” to breathe the same mountain air as the stars and learn some  of their secrets. Even if you just won the lottery, this star-studded weekend sold out months ago. What else to do?

Far more casual is the 24th annual Frisco BBQ Challenge, Friday, June 16, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday, June 17, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m..  More than 70 barbecuers are expected, along with seven bands, pig races, kids’ activities and the 3rd Annual Fire Fighter Cook Off on the BlueStar Kitchen Stage. There’s food to sample and cooking demos, the Breckenridge Distillery Whiskey Tour, the Bacon Burner 6k and what could just be the best BBQ in Colorado. Buy Hogback tickets at the event for $1 each. Most street food costs between $5 and $12. Proceeds supports local non-profits.

The granddaddy of food-oriented festivals is the 120th Annual Strawberry Days Festival in Glenwood Springs, June 16-18.
​It features live music and main stage entertainment, a FamilyFest area with interactive, entertaining and creative experiences for the kids; a Fine Arts and Crafts Fair, food court, an old-fashioned carnival and a parade down Grand Avenue.  Organizers serve free strawberries and ice cream on Saturday after the parade, a tradition for more than a century.

What about staying around Denver? If you, like me, favor rosé wines in summer, the third annual Drink Pink Vino International Rosé Wine Competition is the place go. Spend three hours in the Omni Interlocken Resort’s Outdoor Pavilion in Broomfield, sample wines, nibble on light fare and listen to live jazz. The event on Friday, June 16, 6 to 9 p.m., is one of the world’s few professional double-blind wine competitions dedicated to all styles of rosé wine. Judging are some of Colorado’s top sommeliers, master sommeliers and wine critics. VIP tickets are sold out, but general admission tickets remain at $70 per person or $200 for four. Click here to purchase.

“Train” for that competition with the Do at The Zoo, a fundraiser for the Denver Zoo on Thursday, June 15, 7 to 10 p.m. More than 55 of the city’s best restaurants and breweries provide sample dishes. Bartenders  pour unlimited drinks, including the region’s best beers, wines and cocktails (have a designated driver or take Uber, Lyft or RTD home, please). And there’s live music and entertainment.

A New Spin on New Mexican Ingredients

Hotel Andaluz chef cooks out of the culinary box.

As award-winning Cordon Bleu-trained chef Marc Quinones was cooking his way around some of the top restaurants and resorts in the Southwest, he prepared a lot of excellent versions regional favorites. But when the recently appointed executive chef of downtown Albuquerque’s historic Hotel Andaluz was asked to cook for a Denver media reception on behalf of New Mexico travel interests, his imagination took wing, and he offered contemporary dishes from various traditions but using New Mexican-grown and -raised ingredients.

Some of the dishes:

Pineapple, watermelon and grape salad with Marcona almond crumble and pimenton. oil.
“Peas & Carrots,” a whimsical name for toasted corn and white Balsamic/sambal chile dressing.
New York strip steak (two levels of doneness) with jalapeno butter. Thick slices of toasted sourdough were in a separate dish. Since it is New Mexico-raised cattle, perhaps it should be called New Mexico strip steak.
Hatch Green Chile Hummus on Broken Lavash with cilantro oil and red pepper gel.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with caramelized onion ragout and Cascabel chile Romesco sauce.
For sheer creativity, my ad hoc award goes to the Pinon Brittle, a clear sugary rectangles topped with oreango gremolata and lemongrass yogurt.

I think I was too busy eating and sipping cocktails made with Colkegan single malt whiskey or gin from Santa Fe Spirits, a craft distillery, to take pictures of two terrific dishes: the Berkshire pork belly with Anasazi bean ragout, yellow corn and harissa-sherry reduction  and the super-fab Mew Mexico ceviche — Bay scallops in tangerine, Maldon salt, pickled red onion and Chimayo chile vinaigrette.

Then there was the chocolate — the wonderful chocolate from Cacao Santa Fe,  which produces fantastic chocolate bars, beautiful and interesting bonbons, workshops led by master chocolatier Melanie Boudar and Factory tours with owner Derek Lanter.

Then there was Clear Light, the Cedar Company, which has been producing Cedar Essence and other aromatic potions since 1971, giving complimentary hand and forearm massages. The boss’s business card is a thin slice of cedar.

It was wonderful to have New Mexicans bring their eats and drinks  (and more) to Denver. High time to head south to eat in situ.

Morel Fest in Michigan

Fabulous fungus celebrated in May.

I have no plans to visit northern Michigan later this month, but a little corner of me wishes I could go. The 57th Annual National Morel Mushroom Festival taking place May 18-21 in Boyne City, on beautiful Lake Charlevoix is enough reason. Petoskey is the city you might have heard of. I know the area in winter for its Boyne Country ski areas. I’ve eaten morels, but not in situ, and I do know they are a potent lure for foodies.

Organizers invite people to come forage the woods in search of the rare morel mushrooms. They even schedule a guided practice hunt on Friday the 19th for newbies. There’s a Wine & Dine dinner that evening, and  a morel breakfast on Saturday the 20th, followed by the National Morel Mushroom Hunting Championship. Yes, there is such a thing, with prizes in a variety of categories.

There’s a carnival with rides and games for the kids, mushroom seminars and the “Taste of Morels” where visitors can sample the best mushroom recipes from area restaurants. Click here for a full schedule.

Boulder Area Kitchen Tour Today

Annual Dream Kitchens Tour this snowy weekend.

The weekend snows are something of a nightmare for participants in Boulder’s annual Dream Kitchens Tour to support the I Have a Dream Foundation of Boulder County. Those who bought the $20 tickets in advance might tough it out, but I’m afraid there won’t be too many same-day sales. Nine fabulous Boulder County kitchens are open to view today, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and tomorrow, 12 noon-4 p.m., with a demonstrator on duty at each and samples available.

Project Angel Heart Fundraiser Today

250 Denver-Boulder eateries participate in Dining Out for Life.

I’m en route back from South Asia today and am not certain I will be back home in time to eat out — or, if I will have the energy after three flights across eleven time zones, but if I do, it will be at one of the 250 of so participating restaurants and breweries in the Denver/Boulder area that are donating 25 percent of their day’s sales to Project Angel Heart’s Dining Out for Life. This wonderful organization prepares and delivers medically tailored meals to people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, kidney disease and other life-threatening illnesses. Funds raised from the Dining Out For Life event are used specifically to support clients living with HIV/AIDS.

Here’s how you can help:

  1. Select a participating restaurant or brewery.
  2. Make plans to dine out for breakfast, lunch, or dinner (or drink a pint!) with friends, family, or colleagues. If possible, make a reservation at your selected restaurant or brewery. (Bonus points for letting them know you’ve selected their establishment because they’re participating in Dining Out For Life!)
  3. Enjoy a great meal or beverage, knowing you’ve made a difference for people in need.

Colorado Natural Wine Event

Organic and biodynamic wines showcased.

I’m in China and have been unable to attend any of the events of Colorado Natural Wine Week, but I turn your attention to the event’s Grand Showcase coming right up on April 19, 4:30 to 8 p.m.. It features more than a dozen winemakers and importers including winemakers, winery owners, importers and winery representatives from Artadi, Domaine Marcel Deiss, Fattoria Poggerino, Jack Rabbit Hill, Cooper Hill, Ovum, Scribe Craft Wine Company, Kermit Lynch, Rosenthal Wine Merchant, Becky Wasserman & Co, Louis-Dressner Selections, Jenny & François, Domaine Select and more in partnership  with Slow Food Denver. Cost is just $39 per person, $75 per couple. Location is the Space Gallery,400 Santa Fe Drive, Denver. Click here for tickets.