The last few days of February bring us closer to spring, closer to sunny summer patio dining, closer to getting your COVID vaccination and (theoretically) closer to "normalcy" — if you can even remember what that looked like. In the meantime, there are still food and drink events to keep you busy both in-person and in your house this weekend.
Keep reading for the best events on the culinary calendar, as well as more in the weeks ahead:
Friday, February 26
Close out the month of February with a celebration of Black beverage producers at the Fade 2 Black weekend. The festival includes three-course wine dinners on Friday, February 26, and Saturday, February 27, each with four wine pairings from Black winemakers ($115). Adrian Miller, who appears to have the preternatural ability to be in seventeen places simultaneously, will be talking about historical contributions of Black Coloradans, including Barney Ford, a restaurateur, hotelier and civil rights activist in the late nineteenth century. Sunday, February 28, brings a virtual wine party with two bottles of juice, nibbles, music, a guided tasting and a chat with the producer ($75). Get tickets on the event website; dinners and wine kit pick-up are at Peak Beverage, 4375 Brighton Boulevard, though the wine kit can be delivered within Denver.
Saturday, February 27
From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, February 27, get cozy at RISE Westwood, 3738 Morrison Road, during its Festival del Pozole. Ten chefs will be making their own recipes of the brothy, spicy, hominy-y dish. You'll be able to get rojo, verde, negro and blanco versions of the iconic soup, studded with familiar proteins like pork and chicken and less-common ingredients like soft-shell crab; Oaxacan-style pozole with mole; and two vegan versions, one with jackfruit and the other with mushrooms. Visit the RISE Westwood Instagram page to read about all of the chefs and see what they'll be making, then go to the organization's website to purchase tickets, either in-person ($27 for ten 4-ounce samples) or to go ($75 for ten 12-ounce servings). A limited amount of food will be available to walk-in guests for $2 admission and $3 to $8 per serving. Note: As of Friday morning, pre-orders and reservations were sold out for this festival.
Sunday, February 28
Your dad — yes, Sergio Leone stan and king of Dad jokes — apparently got a job creating events at Brass Tacks. The bar is offering a spaghetti Western dinner on Sunday, February 28. For $30 per person, you'll get a spritz to start, then garlic bread, green salad and entree; choose from spaghetti Bolognese, spaghetti and meatballs with red sauce, chicken Alfredo, sausage and peppers or pasta primavera. Book your table on Resy (required) for seatings between 6 and 9 p.m.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
Thursday, March 4
The annual Great Chefs of the West is usually a gala fundraiser for the National Kidney Foundation, but this year it looks different. For one thing, it's happening on two nights: Thursday, March 4, and Thursday, March 11. And for another, it will also benefit participating restaurants: the Bindery, Woodie Fisher, Guard and Grace, Jovanina's Broken Italian, Hop Alley and Four by Brother Luck. Purchase tickets ($125 per person or $225 per couple) on the event website, and choose from prix fixe menus from the above eateries (all offer on-site dining as well as takeout options), cocktails and wine. You'll also get a cookbook of the restaurants' recipes and access to a silent — really silent — auction and awards ceremony.
Sunday, March 7
Starting Sunday, March 7, chefs Bo Porytko of Misfit Snackbar (inside Middleman at 3401 East Colfax Avenue) and Royce Oliveira of To the Wind Bistro (at 3333 East Colfax Avenue) will trade kitchens and characters for Freaky Sunday, a pop-up swap that spans two weekends. On Sunday, March 7, from 3 to 10 p.m., Oliveira will take over Misfit's tiny food-service window inside Middleman and channel Porytko's frankly unhinged and fiercely delicious style as he turns out bar snacks like whiskey-boiled peanuts with five spice, and mole duck nachos dusted with crema powder and fermented black bean powder. Service is first come, first served. Sunday, March 14, will find Porytko cooking a six-course meal with beer pairings in To the Wind's relatively spacious kitchen. For $85, you'll get refined and beautifully plated courses, including tandoori duck à l'orange (curried duck confit, orange chutney, garam masala creamed spinach) and winter Waldorf salad (pickled apples and celery, apple butter, candied walnuts). Seatings are at 5 and 8 p.m. and reservations are required; make them by emailing email@example.com. Check Misfit's Instagram page for upcoming details.
Thursday, March 11
Chef Tajahi Cooke, who's recently been popping up with his Jamaican cuisine at places like Bruto and Pony Up, is launching a new monthly dinner series at downtown spot French 75, 717 17th Street. He'll be taking over the kitchen — sort of; French 75's owner Frank Bonanno will be turning out food alongside Cooke — on Thursday, March 11, with 5:30 and 8 p.m. seatings. Menu details are still forthcoming, but with just thirty seats available for each time slot, you don't want to sleep on reserving your table; do it now on Tock. There will be six courses and drink pairings from Mythology Distillery (which is suddenly everywhere, all at once — see below). March already scheduled to the max? You can also book your seat for future feasts on Thursday, April 8 (with Natascha Hess of the Ginger Pig and Carrie Baird, formerly of Bar Dough), and Thursday, May 13, (with Jesusio Silva of Misaki Sushi and the upcoming Golden Mill). Find out more on the Supper Club website.
On Thursday, March 11, Mythology Distillery is joining forces with the Crescendo Society, a group of dysfunctional siblings endowed with superpowers and raised by an emotionally distant, demanding father as a vigilante...oh, wait, wrong press release. In any case, the Crescendo Society (which we prefer to think of as a super-secret, under-35, militant cheerleading troupe rather than the "young professionals society" of the Colorado Symphony) will be joining symphony musicians as well as Mythology for a virtual cocktail class with live musical performance at 7 p.m. Purchase your cocktail kit for $35 ($25 for a second kit) and you'll get four ounces of three different spirits, plus the rest of the drink ingredients, the cocktail demo and a chat with musicians after their performance. The deadline to order is Friday, March 5; cocktail kit pick-up is at the distillery's tasting room, 3622 Tejon Street, during regular business hours (4 to 8 p.m.) from Monday, March 8, through Thursday, March 11. Get details and tickets on the Colorado Symphony website.
Tuesday, March 16
Tuesday, March 16, marks twelve months since the first time Denver restaurants were shut down to indoor dining because of COVID-19. On that date, celebrate at least one eatery that's managed to survive the past year: American Elm, 4132 West 38th Avenue, is hosting a Duck COVID dinner. The $85-per-plate meal includes four courses of duck preparations, including deviled duck eggs, seared foie gras with maple gastrique and cherries, duck confit with blood orange jus, and duck egg custard. See the full menu and reserve a spot on Resy.
Sunday, March 21
It's been a long time since any of the famously fancy James Beard dinners were held in a Denver restaurant (and it will probably be a while before any are held again). But on Sunday, March 21, you can join the James Beard Foundation's virtual Taste America event along with nine other major food cities around the country. Denver residents will pick up a three-course meal from Spuntino, 2639 West 32nd Avenue, that consists of chef/co-owner Cindhura Reddy's always-fantastic focaccia with ricotta; rabbit confit with saffron cavatelli (a vegetarian option with turmeric-roasted cauliflower is also available); elk tartare; and vanilla and mango custards topped with cardamom-pistachio crumble. Cocktails, wine and Spuntino's housemade amaro will accompany the meal. You'll also get access to online cooking demos and the JBF's national broadcast at 6 p.m. Order your ticket ($95 per person or $175 per pair) on the JBF website.
Wednesday, March 24
On Wednesday, March 24, EatDenver is resuming, ED Talks, its version of TED Talks, after it was canceled in 2020 because of (gestures broadly)…all this. And for the first time ever, the lectures are open not only to restaurant and bar owners and employees, but to the public as well. Log in to Zoom from 9 to 11 a.m. to see six short presentations (just ten minutes each!) from industry insiders and experts. Three speakers have already been announced, with Marcus Samuelsson — familiar from stints on Top Chef Masters as well as his cookbooks and his own show, No Passport Required — headlining. Other topics of conversation include mental health in the restaurant business and how avocado toast is related to anxiety (the $16 price tag might have something to do with it). Find details, including the full lineup as it's announced, and register for the free webcast on EatDenver's website.
Denver's Staenberg-Loup Jewish Community Center generally hosts its expansive JAAMM (Jewish Arts, Authors, Movies and Music) Festival over several months in the fall, with live cultural events across the city. In 2020, of course, that was upended. The silver lining: The fest is going on for a full twelve months (starting last year and well into 2021), and all programming is virtual. On Wednesday, March 24, James Beard Award-winning author of The Cooking Gene, food historian and deeply engaging Instagram presence Michael Twitty will discuss the holiday of Passover. Tickets for the 7 p.m. lecture, $18, are on sale now at the festival's website, where you can also see previous events on demand.
Know of an event that belongs on this calendar? Send information to firstname.lastname@example.org.