If there's one month that packs the social calendar, it's December, but there are a few truly special culinary happenings that shouldn't be missed. Here are 11 events — large and small — to celebrate the season.
Throughout the entire month of December, Humboldt Farm, Fish & Wine, one of Denver's top places for bubbles and bivalves, is running an "every day is a celebration" deal, which includes a dozen oysters (photo, courtesy of Lindsey Bartlett, pictured below) paired with a half bottle of effervescent Prosecco for $39. 1700 Humboldt St.; 303-813-1700
Beginning this week, Bistro Vendome chef de cuisine Adam Branz is trotting out a five-course vegetarian tasting menu on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights. “Our focus will be seasonal vegetables; sub-seasonal, in fact," says Branz, adding that he "loves French food, not just because of butter, butter, and butter — the three rules of French cuisine — but because of its laser focus on vegetables and seasonality." The menu, which changes weekly, is $40 per person with wine pairings available for an additional $25. 1420 Larimer St.; 303-825-3232
Skip the madness of the mega-mall and seek a culinary reprieve at this artisanal market featuring food-and-drink tastings from numerous Colorado-based companies, including Backyard Soda Co., Corvus Coffee, Giuliana Direct Olive Oil, Helliemae’s Handcrafted Caramels, Kassia’s Pasta Farm, Babettes Artisan Bakery, Spring 44, Ritual Chocolate and Teakoe Craft Teas, all of which will be serving and selling their wares from from 4-9 PM at the Wash Park Studio. There's free gift wrapping too, as well as food- and beer-centric books written by local authors. Attendance is complimentary, but you must be 21 to enter. Register at: Colorado Micro Market. 900 S. Pearl St.
Scott Parker, executive chef of Session Kitchen, is hosting a five-course dinner matched with beers from several local breweries, including Breckenridge, Elevation, Odell and Boulevard, plus a beer cocktail. A Christmas ale, plus an imperial saison, a strong quadrupel ale and a double black IPA are all part of the lineup, while Parker's dishes include a white bean and veal breast chili, grapefruit-and-ginger-cured smoked duck (pictured below) and grilled lamb. Seats are $60 per person, excluding tax and gratuity. 1518 S. Pearl St., 720-763-3387
Chef-restaurateur Frank Bonanno knows how to throw a killer party, and to kick off the holidays, Green Russell, his Larimer Square speakeasy, is throwing a Repeal Day celebration, complete with live jazz and burlesque performances, cocktail specials and prizes. Doors open at 6 PM, and there's a $10 cover. 1422 Larimer St.; 303-893-6505
Soak up the holiday spirit at the popular Denver Flea, which returns for a two-day winter wonderland extravaganza at The Bindery on Blake. Showcasing handcrafted Colorado-made goods, beer and food, including products from The Real Dill, Helliemae's Caramels, Red Camper, Puff's Preserves and more, the cheer starts at noon and continues through 6 PM, and those who register prior to the event will get a free drink (adult or otherwise) or locally roasted cup of Coda coffee upon entrance. Register at: Denver Flea. 2901 Blake St.; 303-884-9354
Okay, so the $895 per person price tag may cause immediate sticker shock but, hey, we're talking white Alba truffles, and Frasca Food & Wine's annual two-night tribute to the prized fungi is a holiday gift of indulgence. Take the splurge, and you'll be handsomely repaid with a five-course dinner showered with shavings of truffles (pictured below) paired with Barolo wines, courtesy of guest winemaker Elisa Scavino. Chef Ryan Hardy and sommelier Robert Bohr, both of Charlie Bird in New York City, will join Frasca exec Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson and co-owner and wine director Bobby Stuckey in what's bound to be one of the most memorable dinners of the year. Reservations (only 46 seats are available) are required. 1738 Pearl St.; 303-442-0608
Erik Peterson, co-owner of the Bull & Bush (and self-described Minister of Progress), knows more about beer than just about anyone, and every year in December, he rewards like-minded hops lovers with a joyous bash that uncorks a spectacular collection of holiday beers, winter seasonals, magnums, specialty brews from around the world and vintage beers that you won't find anywhere else. The $20 tickets (only available on the pub's website) includes tastings of upwards of 150 beers, and you'll be absolutely blown away by what Peterson pours. 4700 Cherry Creek Dr.; 303-759-0333
Leave the sprawl of Denver behind and head to Colorado Springs, where The Broadmoor (pictured below) is ringing in the holiday bells by rolling out its annual 12 Days of Christmas, a splay of culinary and cocktail demonstrations hosted by executive chef Bertrand Bouquin and his crew. The daily demonstrations, which feature everything from an education in classic French cooking to donut making and shaking up "partridge in a pear tree" cocktails, are $30, and each class includes a glass of Prosecco. Reservations are required. 1 Lake Ave., Colorado Springs; 719-577-5733
Billed as a "festivus for the rest of us," this annual holiday homage nods to the famous "Seinfeld" episode with beers from more than 35 breweries, a food court, live music and a photo booth. Held at the McNichols Building, the bash begins at 3 PM, and tickets, available here, are $40 for general admission and $70 for VIP, which includes early admission, food tickets, a T-shirt and a commemorative glass to raise a toast. 144 W. Colfax
Every year, Steuben's celebrates the season of giving by hosting a toy drive, a festive fundraiser that benefits The Denver Housing Authority. This year's theme is Comic-Con, and the staff encourages dressing up as your favorite comic character. Bring a toy (mark it "boy" or "girl") valued at $10 or less, and you'll get your first holiday cocktail free. After that, drinks are just $5. Guest bartenders, a DJ spinning tunes and snacks are all part of the fun, which kicks off at 9 PM. 523 E. 17th Ave.; 303-830-1001