Battle of the Weekend Culinary Events

September 5 2008, 10:59 AM

I tend to think of the weekend after Labor Day as catch up time, but this weekend is shaping up to be an Iron Chef –like showdown of two of the Denver area's most revered restaurant associations. Denver Independent Network of Restaurants' Harvest Week, a weeklong celebration of Colorado ingredients, begins Saturday. And Sunday, the Colorado Restaurant Association opens the doors for its forth annual Denver Food and Wine Classic, an afternoon of copious wine drinking and decedent noshing. While both events are sure to out do last weekend's A Taste of Colorado, each has its pluses and minuses. I look a quick look at the basic line-ups of both and have some precursory guesses as to who will win the weekend's (unofficial) culinary battle. The Restaurants Winner: Harvest Week Many of the 39 independent restaurants participating in Harvest Week are Denver's top restaurants (think Duo, Barolo Grill, Mizuna, Table 6). Each of these restaurants has created special dishes or even pre-fixe menus featuring Colorado products (lamb, corn, goat cheese, honey, striped bass) that they'll serve through next Friday. The Chefs Winner: Tie Undeniably Harvest Week showcases the work of the city's best chefs. But while you, the diner, are in the dining enjoying corn soups and poached peaches, those chefs will be working on the fast-paced kitchen lines. At the Denver Food and Wine Classic, though, Matt Selby (Vesta Dipping Grill), Troy Guard (formerly of Nine75 and Ocean), Goose Sorenson (Solera), Tyler Wiard (Elway's), and Keegan Gerhard (D Bar Desserts) host a live cooking demonstration. The Food Winner: Harvest Week Wild Picked Watercress Soup (Solera). Rocky Mountain smoked trout croquet (Black Pearl). Colorado Lamb Loin, Feta & Garden Cucumber Salsa, Olive Tapenade & Tomato Vinaigrette (Tables). Palisade Peach Bread Pudding (Steuben's). Need I say more? The Drinks Winner: Denver Food and Wine Classic The Classic's grand collection of wine and spirits makes it possible to taste wines from Chile (Terra Andina) and Minnesota vodka (Prairie Organic Vodka) all in the same place. The Venues Winner: Harvest Week When the call is between an intimate candlelit dinner and the Metro campus, I don't even hestiate. Overall winner: Harvest Week