October is far and away my favorite month in Colorado -- and it really has nothing to do with marshmallow pumpkins, goblins or watching the original Halloween for the umpteenth time, although I do enjoy all of those distractions.
October signifies bounty in Colorado, with farmers' markets, farm stands and farmsteads overflowing with autumn's abundance of crops, and therein lies my obsession -- an obsession shared by local restaurants that celebrate fall's fortitude by showcasing stunning ingredients and products from the state's fields, farms and vineyards. And from October 14-19, 36 restaurants, all of which are members of EatDenver, a coalition of local, independent food temples, are paying homage to Colorado's rich bumper crop as part of Harvest Week, an annual event that began in 2008.
"Harvest Week continues to evolve every year, and this year's collaboration of chefs shines through in fun themes and innovative menus," says Elizabeth Woessner, executive director of EatDenver.
All of this year's soirees, which include five dinners and a Sunday brunch, will take place at the GrowHaus, a 20,000 square-foot indoor urban farm and greenhouse that provides fresh food for the low-income Elyria-Swansea neighborhood in northeast Denver. "The Elyria-Swansea neighborhood has no grocery store, and it's almost impossible for residents to find fresh fruits or vegetables, but the GrowHaus has made a real commitment to making healthy, organic food available to its neighbors and educating them on how to grow it themselves," notes Woessner.
The chefs participating in the pop-up parties, which take place around large community tables, are offering multi-course feasts, and each themed party (you can view them on the next page) includes handcrafted cocktails, locally brewed craft beers and wines.
Guests are required to bring their own place settings, including a plate, cutlery and wine glass, and the person who trots in with the most creative setup each night, reveals Woessner, will get a prize. In addition, says Woessner, there will be live music, games and other contests. "More than a community dinner party, each event will be a real celebration with costumes, great music and contests, and we really encourage everyone to take part. But most important, we hope that these parties will also introduce our diners to the local ranchers, farmers, brewers and winemakers who support our restaurants every day."
Tickets to the Harvest Week parties are now on sale, and prices range from $50 to $80 per person. The themed menus all look terrific, but "Feasts of Hunters and Gatherers," a dinner that will be entirely foraged by chefs from Vesta Dipping Grill, Steuben's, Linger, Root Down, Duo, Olivea, Restaurant 1515 and Coohills, sounds absolutely remarkable.
For a list of themes, prices and dates, flip the page.
"Praise the Lard" Gospel Brunch Chefs + Bacon = Hallelujah! Sunday, October 14 $50.00
The Hedonist's Guide to Tailgating Watch the Broncos take on the Chargers and enjoy how chefs tailgate Monday, October 15 $50
Platte River Luau Luau Colorado style - Grass skirts, ukeleles and a Kahlua pig roast Tuesday, October 16 $65
The Denver Globetrotters Source Local: Eat Global - The chefs bring you their favorite dishes from around the world Wednesday, October 17 $65
The Feast of the Hunters and Gatherers Your entire meal will be foraged by our chefs: They pick it, kill it and grill it, you eat it Thursday, October 18 $85
Million Dollar Cowboy Put on your diamonds and cowboy boots and two-step your way through the Wild West Friday, October 19 $85
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You can view the menus and purchase tickets at eatdenver.com/events/.