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Variety is the spice of life

Mike Mercatoris is hoping food really is the key to a man’s – and woman’s – heart at Saturday’s Sixth Annual Culinary Arts, Wine and Brewfest.”I’m just there to make new friends,” said Mercatoris, co-owner of Zheng Asian Bistro, who will open a second location of his popular El Jebel restaurant in Glenwood Meadows in January. “It will be laid back – we’ll hang out, drink some wine and meet some new people. It will be a lot of fun to see people who are already customers and meet new people.”Mercatoris will attend his first Culinary Arts, Wine and Brewfest – Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts’ largest fundraiser of the year – from 4-7 p.m. Saturday in the Devereux Room of the Hotel Colorado.”This will be my first time participating. We’ve donated food a couple of years, but I’ve never been there,” said Mercatoris, whose partner is Ming Zing Zheng, a Culinary Institute of America graduate and sushi chef. “We definitely want people to wet their whistles, so to speak.”The annual event, which will feature cooking demonstrations, live music and art, is also an opportunity for Zheng customers to try dishes not typically on the restaurant’s menu.”They can sample a couple of things we do different than on our menu, like our Vietnamese shrimp roll and Thai shrimp ceviche,” Mercatoris said. “Ming is also making a calamari salad with a pickled ginger-wasabi dressing.”A highlight of Saturday’s event will be the pairing of Zheng’s Asian cuisine with crisp, dry, fruit wines, said Mercatoris. Wine afficionado Ken Robinson, owner of Roaring Fork Liquors, chose six wines guests can pair with dishes from more than a dozen restaurants, especially for the occasion.”I call it the ‘Roaring Fork six pack,'” said Robinson, a Culinary Arts, Wine and Brewfest committee member. “You’re going to be exposed to a variety of wines from a variety of regions. If you ever wanted to pair wines with food, here’s your chance.”For the culinary demonstrations, which begin at 4:30 p.m., Robinson will pair a Beringer Viognier with Hotel Colorado chef Case Bricker’s seared scallops tandoori with orange anise sauce, fire-roasted sweet potatoes and pineapple. He chose a Belle Pente pinot noir to accompany 8th St. Deli owner Jason Higens’ lobster Newburgh on a puff pastry shell.”We’re doing ABC wines -anything but chardonnay and cabernet,” Robinson said with a smile.Along with Robinson’s chosen vinos, selections from Jack Rabbit Winery, Australia’s Fosters Wine Estates, Washington state’s John Salamanski vineyards, Synergy Wines, National Distributing Company, Two Rivers Winery, Maxwell Wines and a few small Italian vineyards will be available for tasting. “There will be over 50 wines, easily,” Robinson said. “It’s a fun night for a fair price.”Along with Zheng, Hotel Colorado and 8th St. Deli, participating valley restaurants include Rivers Restaurant, Stock Pot, Fin’s Grille and Raw Bar, Russo’s Pizza, the Riviera, Siamese Basil, Redstone Inn, Exclamation Point, Mi Casita and Daily Bread. Microbreweries include the Glenwood Canyon Brewing Company, New Belgium and Breckenridge.Arts and entertainment set to the event’s “Autumn in New York” theme will feature Marty Martinez’s Big Band 1930s-era five-piece ensemble, Bob Heart’s old standards and artist Diane Seabrook’s sidewalk paintings.To accentuate the event’s old-time theme, dressing up in vintage clothing is encouraged, said Sinda Wood, of the Center for the Arts. She said expect a festive atmosphere with a surplus of food, wine, microbrews and entertainment.”It’s not just a sliver of food on a toothpick and a sip of wine,” she said. “With over 12 of the valley’s finest restaurants bringing their specialties, you can be assured you will have exquisite tastes to complement the vintners and microbreweries present from all over the globe. Munch a bunch of everything, and as long as you drink responsibly, you can spend the whole afternoon quaffing, indulging in all things culinary and bidding on every single item in the super silent auction.”Proceeds from ticket and auction sales benefit the center’s year-round programming. Tickets are $40 in advance and $45 at the door, and can be purchased at the Center for the Arts and Roaring Fork Liquors in Glenwood Springs and the Artist’s Collective in Carbondale, or by calling 945-2414.Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext. 518aclark@postindependent.com


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