Category Archives: Event

Potato Day & Potato Fest

Celebrating the spud nationally and in Colorado.

Today, August 19, is National Potato Day — right between National Fajita Day (yesterday) and World Humanitarian Day (tomorrow).  Potato promoters offer up statistics and recipes galore, but for Coloradans, the real celebration is Saturday, September 9 when the annual Colorado Potato Festival takes place in the San Luis Valley.

Monte Vista in the southern part of the valley hosts the festival in Chapman Park (4 Chico Camino, Monte Vista), 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The day is filled with mostly FREE fun activities and events like the Tater Trot 5K Race, music, crafts, guided tours, kids’ games, chef demos using freshly harvested Colorado potatoes, the infamous Mashed Potato Dunk Tank and more.

There’s a free four-hour bus tour of the valley’s potato farms  and shipping centers and two one-hour train tours, also free  courtesy of the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad.  Contact the Colorado Potato Assn. (719-852-3322) to reserve spots on the bus. but you can just show up for the train. It departs from Fullenwider Park, so there’s a free tractor-pulled shuttle between the two parks.

At 5 p.m., a concert by country star Brooke Eden takes place at the Ski Hi Park Arena, 2331 Sherman Ave., Monte Vista. Tickets are just 15. Purchase on-line before August 25 and be automatically entered into a drawing for four tickets to Coors Field for the Rockies versus the Diamondbacks and parking.

Buy Tix Now For Denver Burger Battle

Burgers, brews and more sing the song of summer.

The eighth annual Denver Burger Battle on Thursday, August 3   features  craft beer, boozy milkshakes, bite-sized desserts and 16 of the best burgers in Colorado. It takes place on the Tivoli Quad Park in Denver. VIP entry begins at 5:30 p.m. and general admission at 6:30. Prices are $69.99 and $124.99 respectively. This event tends to sell out. Click on the website link to purchase tickets.

2017 Competitors

Stoic & Genuine (‘2016 judges’ champ)

Cherry Cricket (2016 people’s champ)
TAG Burger Bar
Parkburger 
Highland Tap & Burger
Crave Real Burgers
Uber eats 
American Grind 
Stanley Beer Hall 
Pig & Sprout 
Concourse 
Prohibition
Departure 
Marczyk Fine Foods
My Brother’s Bar 
Bully Ranch 

Slow Food Nations Coming to Denver

Major food event adds to Denver’s culinary luster.

The international Slow Food movement was founded in Italy in 1989 as an antidote to the corporatized fast food that was engulfing the world. The concept of Slow Food is a growing movement that has gained increasing momentum over the years, spawning the farm-to-table restaurants, home gardens and sustainable agriculture. Denver hosts Slow Food Nations, a weekend celebration of sustainable foods raised with respect for animals, the environment and farmers.

It comes to Denver this weekend with informative, inspiring and mouth-watering events. Some are only for Slow Food delegates, others have paid entry but many of them are free. Organizers expect some 10,000 chefs, policymakers, farmers and food lovers from all over the world to participate in this confab whose theme is “street food-festival-meets-sustainability and policy discussion.”

I missed out on the media application (was I away, or was it just my brain that was on hiatus?), but I am volunteering on Sunday the 16th. I probably won’t be able to rub elbows with the likes of Alice Waters or Rick Bayless, but I will be a small cog in the wheel of this wonderful event that includes free demos on the Larimer Square culinary stage.  Click here for a full schedule of paid and free events.

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.