If you've already aced Cooking 101 and can wow your friends by not lopping off your fingers while mincing an onion, can fry an egg without it sticking to the pan at least 50 percent of the time and have a spice cabinet that consists of more than salt, black pepper and Mrs. Dash, the Seasoned Chef's class on Monday, February 3, might be for you. From 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., Toby Prout (chef de cuisine at [email protected]) will be at the front of the classroom at 999 Jasmine Street, teaching you how to craft cuisine a step above pan-fried pork chops. The menu includes karaage (Japanese fried chicken) with nori waffles and togarashi syrup; seared scallops with tangy coconut-citrus broth and red curry potato cake; and crab and asparagus topped with silky grapefruit Hollandaise. Tuition is $85 (a small price to pay for tips from one of the best kitchens in town); enroll on the school's website.
DiFranco's, 955 Lincoln Street, is criminally underrated in our books; the cozy Italian joint was making its own pasta for years before RiNo was a viable restaurant destination, and — even more amazingly — it offers free parking just off one of the busiest streets in town. If you haven't taken a seat at this casual joint, jump on Eventbrite and snag a ticket for a Tuesday, February 4, tasting dinner. The four-course menu is a steal for just $30 (which includes a glass of wine or beer and tip, but not tax) and promises luscious fare like a braised beef shoulder sandwich with jus, perfectly al dente fettuccine Alfredo, and ricotta cookies for dessert. The meal starts at 7:30 p.m. and makes battling the crowds along Larimer Street a moot point.
Pre-Valentine's Day, you can still treat your sweetie (even if — especially if — your sweetie is yourself!) to something explosive at Bistro Vendôme, 1420 Larimer Street. Throw off the shackles of the Gregorian calendar and pricy prix fixe menus and book a table on Wednesday, February 5, for a sparkling wine dinner. The five courses include delights like a progressive oyster trio with quince-guajillo jelly, spicy cranberry mustard and gooseberry mignonette; fried chicken served with cucumber and caviar crème fraîche; and banana cheesecake in a peanut-panko crust. Five pink and white sparklers accompany the $125 meal; the corks come out at 6:30 p.m. Take a look at the complete menu on Bistro's Facebook page, then call 303-825-3232 for reservations and be prepared to win(e) Valentine's Day a week in advance.
Thursday, February 6
If you must buy sweets for your sweetie come VD, at least make sure you're not giving a box of chalky chocolates you purchased from some rando selling half-wilted roses, giant pink teddy bears and cut-rate truffles on the street corner. Although that's one way of buying local, we recommend Finkel & Garf Brewing Co.'s free beer and chocolate pairing on Thursday, February 6, instead. The taproom, 5455 Spine Road in Boulder, is welcoming Gunbarrel confectioner Lift Chocolate from 4 to 8 p.m., when you'll be able to partake in sweet and sudsy combos and even purchase some chocolate truffles or candy if you're so inclined. Single (or just don't have a sweet tooth)? Even better: Take home a six pack. Visit the brewery's Facebook page for more info.
Just in time for Valentine's Day, Westwood's Re:Vision, 3800 Morrison Road, is debuting an art exhibit that's sweet not only for lovebirds, but also the entire neighborhood. The launch party for All You Need Is Love and Chocolate runs from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday, February 7; guests will get a sneak peek of goodies from the Cultura Chocolate Factoría & Café that will soon be opening on site, as well as appetizers from chef Edwin Sandoval's Xatrucho and Mayan street-food truck, X'tabai Yucateco. Tickets are just $10 on the community development organization's website. While you're there, dive even deeper into the flavors of the season by signing up for one of Cultura's cooking classes over the next two weeks: a chocolate mousse kids' class at 2 p.m. on Saturday, February 8 ($5); mole class from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, February 12 ($25); and chocoflan class from 10 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, February 15 ($25). There are still spaces available for all classes, but they're going quickly (as chocolate tends to do).
We haven't even put Lunar New Year celebrations or Valentine's Day behind us, but Denver Central Market and Il Posto are already looking forward to Carnival. Countries around the world revel in that debauchery in February and early March, before the deprivation of Lent; RiNo's version runs Friday, February 7, through Sunday, February 9, with a trio of events. Il Posto, 2601 Larimer Street, is serving a Carnival tasting menu on Friday for $60 that includes items like beet risotto with gorgonzola and balsamic vinegar; duck, ricotta and spinach inside flaky puff pastry; and tuna crudo with green cabbage and dill. Reserve your seat on OpenTable. Saturday brings the DCM After Dark at the Market, 2669 Larimer Street, with exclusive bites and cocktails, DJs and dancing from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.; your entry is $15 on Eventbrite and includes one drink and a festive feathered mask. Finally, Sunday is family day with an all-ages party from noon to 2 p.m. that boasts jugglers, face painters and more off-the-menu food items. The best part? In addition to $5 from the ticket price for DCM After Dark, all profits from the weekend will be donated to the World Wildlife Fund Australia.
Keep reading for future food events to fill up your calendar....