Category Archives: Festival

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.

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.

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.

Taste of Vail This Weekend

Delicious almost-end to epic ski season food and wine event.

The early-April timing of the annual Taste of Vail couldn’t be better. Spring  conditions are great — whether on late season corn or after a spring snowstorm.  I’ve written about the Taste of Vail before. This year’s dates are April 5 to 9. Be there if you can.

For locals, a trip up to the mountains for a day or a weekend of wine, bites and more. is restorative and delicious. The 27th Annual Taste of Vail Festival features more than 30 guest chefs, restaurants and sommeliers as well as more than 55 top wineries from around the world—it is one of the nation’s top food and wine festivals named by Forbes.com and the Travel Channel. The five-day festival includes such in-town and on-the-mountain signature events such as The Mountain Top Tasting, Debut of Rosé, and of course, The Grand Tasting. Click here for tickets.

A Feast of Food Films in Boulder

These showings will make foodies hungry.

One Evening, One Feast, One Film

CineChef is a food-focused evening (Friday, March 3, 5 to 7 p.m.) during the acclaimed Boulder International Film Festival. Taking place at the Rembrandt Yard Event Center, it features fabulous eats by some of Boulder’s best known (and best) chefs: Steven Redzikowski (Oak at Fourteenth), Daniel Asher (River and Woods), Salvatore Prola (PMG), Kevin Kidd (24 Carrot Bistro, Erie), Lauren Mechin (Jill’s, St. Julien Hotel), Sam Perrett (Jax Restaurant), John Platt (Riffs Urban Fare) and Jen Bush (Lucky’s Bakehouse & Creamery). Mechin won the 2016 Best CineChef competition. Wine: Francis Ford Coppola Winery. Local beers: Boulder Beer, Post Brewing Company.

Continue reading A Feast of Food Films in Boulder

Cochon 555 Returns to Denver

Reprise of chef competition featuring heritage breed pork.

The ninth annual Cochon 555 is back on Sunday, March 19, this year at The Curtis Hotel.  Pork lovers flock to this event, Denver’s tribute to “the other white meat” and what leading local chefs do with it. In addition to chefs, winemakers, distillers, farmers, brewers and bartenders bring their best products and creations.

At last year’s event, chef/restaurateur Troy Guard won the Prince of Porc title. Next, the five following chefs compete for the same title for 2017:
Bill Miner, il Porcellino Salumi, Denver
Will Nolan, Eight K, Viceroy Snowmass
Darrel Truett, Barolo Grill, Denver
Hosea Rosenberg, Blackbelly Market, Boulder
Burton Koelliker, Osteria Marco, Denver

Each chef is given one whole heritage breed pig of 200 pounds and one week to prepare the whole animal. Each chef must present a “Judge’s Plate” of six dishes that a panel of 20 “notable” judges score on utilization, global influences, cooking techniques and overall flavor.  The winner is crowned the “BBQ Prince/Princess” of Denver — even though not all dishes are barbecue items.

For the price of admission, attendees sample 30 chef/competitor- created dishes,  plus beef tartare with the wines of Antica Napa Valley; farmhouse cheeses; baked goods from a La Brea pop-up bakery; bites from a salami snack bar from Creminelli and Divina; ramen noodle soups paired with wines from Twomey and Silver Oak Cellars wines; organic pâté from Les Trois Petit Cochons; Sabatino truffle butter and more; and an innovative take on classic pastry presented by Perfect Puree of Napa Valley.
For beverages, Buffalo Trace and DRY Sparkling, Smoked Old Fashioneds with Breckenridge Bourbon, a Tiki Bar featuring Angostura Rum; a Courvoisier Cognac ‘neat’ tasting with hand-crafted caramels and a Heritage Rum Cart.

Tickets for general admission start at $125; VIP tickets (early admission + exclusive sommelier and cocktail competition tastings) are $200. A portion of all proceeds goes to Cochon555’s sister charity, Piggy Bank. To purchase tickets, visit http://www.cochon555.com/2017-tour/Denver and scroll down.

 

Restaurant Weeks in the Rockies

One in Denver, three in  northern New Mexico.

All of us who love to eat treasure restaurant weeks. The format is similar: a limited menu of several prix fixe courses (usually three) at very affordable prices. These promotional weeks have become low-season staples in some of the most interesting food cities in the land.

Denver

Denver’s 13th annual Restaurant Week from February 24 through March 5. That’s 10 days of great dining options. Visit Denver is now organizing the promotion The DRW format has evolved over the years. This year, instead of one price point, restaurants have the option of three: $25, $35 and $45 per person. That also gives diners the option of how much to splurge — or not. The bottom line is that some 150 restaurants are participating. The website enables diners to find restaurants by cuisine or neighborhood with just the click of a mouse.

New Mexico

Northern New Mexico’s three main dining destinations have their individual restaurant weeks: Santa Fe Restaurant Week, February 19 – 26; Taos Restaurant Week;  February 26 – March 5, and Albuquerque Restaurant Week,  March 5 – 12. Restaurants offer prix fixe dinners for $15, $25, $35 or $45 per person. Many offer value-priced lunches as well.