Get a private cocoa-centric meal, enjoy an island-inspired barbecue in an urban oasis, ramp up the heat in the kitchen (and the rest of the house.....sigh) by cooking with chiles, and knock back twice the tequila for the same price this week. Here are five great food and drink happenings through Friday, with a pair to plan ahead for.
Monday, July 20
COVID-19 cases are once again on the rise in Colorado — at the same time, unfortunately, that many people have reached the limit of their willingness to stay home and away from restaurants. But the Chocolate Lab, the only restaurant we know of where every menu item — even the savory ones — include cocoa, has a solution to the dining woes of those who can't bear staying at home one minute more but aren't comfortable eating next to another table, even if it is six feet away. On Monday nights, a party of six people or fewer can book the entire dining room at 2504 East Colfax Avenue for a five-course tasting menu with drink pairings for $150 per person. For what you'd spend on a nice dinner out in the Before Times, diners can get an entire restaurant to themselves without having to ante up the thousands of dollars a restaurant buyout would usually cost. Call the Chocolate Lab at 720-536-5037 to book a safe and delicious evening out.
Tuesday, July 21
Parking downtown brings out the worst in people — especially now that the city has resumed enforcing meter limits, despite a glut of street parking — but on Tuesday, July 21, you can (literally) stay above the fray at Russell's on the Roof, a rooftop garden picnic presented by barbecue joint Russell's Smokehouse and its sister cocktail-and-swizzle-stick purveyor, Green Russell. From 8 to 10:30 p.m., Larimer Uprooted, the rooftop of Larimer Square Parking Garage, 1422 Market Street, will host the Royal Aces Surf Band while guests camp out amongst vegetable beds and native perennials and chow down on kalua pulled pork, Hawaiian rolls, Korean potato salad and barbecue sauce, kimchi, bottomless gelato and more. Reserve your picnic spot and eats for $40 per person on Tock (BYOB stands for "bring your own blanket"), where you'll also have the option to pre-order drinks and upgrade to a two-top.
Wednesday, July 22
Dallas-based chef Kent Rathbun has had a storied career covering more than three decades, nabbing four James Beard Award nominations and an Iron Chef America title and helming restaurants that run the gamut from modern American fine dining to barbecue to casual Asian eats. On Wednesday, July 22, Rathbun is bringing his skills to a wider audience as Westword's own Virtual Social Club hosts a live cooking webinar at 5 p.m. in which he'll draw inspiration from Colorado, Texas and Florida. Learn how to make a dish inspired by each region: barbecue pecan-crusted trout with grilled tomato butter sauce (Colorado); strip steak with rosemary butter and grilled onion (Texas); and snapper marinated in lime, cilantro and habanero (Florida). Register for the free online event on Eventbrite, where attendees are encouraged to make a donation to the American Heart Association in lieu of paying for the class. You can also amp up your cooking Rathbun-style by ordering his spice rubs, although they won't be shipped on time for this class.
Thursday, July 23
When it comes to green chiles, later is better. So those roadside tents you see shilling pale green peppers in early August? Hold your horses, partner; wait until September to procure your bushels and you'll be blessed with better flavor and more varieties. But learning how to cook with the spicy green and red veggies? That's a skill you can — and should — cultivate at any time of year. So we won't look askance at Uncorked Kitchen's Green Chile Extravaganza on Thursday, July 23. The cooking school/eatery at 8171 South Chester Street in Centennial runs from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. and includes a boozy welcome cocktail as well as instruction on whipping up chile-corn fritters, Hatch scalloped potatoes, calabacitas (a succotash-type dish made of squash, corn, tomatoes and chiles), chile-pistachio brittle and the star of the show: green chile. (Longtime Colorado residents will forgive Uncorked's curious and redundant reference to the dish as "pork green chile stew" as long as its recipe doesn't include carrots, celery, bell peppers or other European interlopers.) Sign up for the class on the Uncorked Kitchen website ($95 per person), and by the time chile season truly rolls around, you'll be an expert at cooking (and eating) fall favorites. Sold out, but there's a waiting list.
Friday, July 24
As far as we're concerned, there's never a bad time to drink tequila (Christmas Eve? Sí, especially if there are tamales in the steamer. The Friday after a week of pointless meetings with micromanaging bosses? Órale. For two months straight while being stuck at home in the midst of a plague? Claro.) The best time to drink the spirit, though, is when it's half price. And so we're highly anticipating Friday, July 24, when all Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant locations will be slashing the prices of tequila pours by 50 percent in honor of National Tequila Day. Peruse the eatery's tequila list and you'll find something at every price point, from $2.50 to $125. Reservations are encouraged — especially when drink deals are this good — and can be made on the Rio's website.
Keep reading for more food and drink events....
Sunday, July 26
Chef Taylor West has been bringing sushi to housebound Denverites since March, with live-streamed sushi-rolling classes, and since Colorado Sake Co. reopened in May, he's been shilling sashimi, maki and nigiri at its taproom. But come Sunday, July 26, West is welcoming diners with a five-course menu that focuses on a completely different style of Japanese cuisine: kushiyaki, or skewered and grilled meat. Denver Comedy Lounge, 3559 Larimer Street, is hosting three seatings, at noon, 2 and 4 p.m.; the menu includes wings in a strawberry and spicy chile glaze; miso salmon with Japanese curry; and koji-marinated steak served with togarashi potatoes and garlic-soy caramel. Secure tickets ($60 for a table for two or $100 for a table for four) on Eventbrite.
Saturday, August 8, through Sunday, August 16
October's Flatirons Food Film Festival has officially been moved online, and so have the events leading up to it. Instead of in-person fundraisers — which are replete with boozy shmoozing that has a way of torpedoing everyone's best social distancing intentions — the Fest is hosting a series of ten Zoom cooking classes from Saturday, August 8, through Sunday, August 16, where you'll learn how to turn out evergreen classics like sourdough bread and the perfect steak, as well as more esoteric topics like the folklore surrounding shiitake mushrooms and how to make shio koji (a fermented Japanese marinade) and tahchin (an Iranian rice dish with a deep golden, crunchy crust). Each ninety-minute class costs $30 (or buy all ten for $250); visit the Fest's Facebook page for the complete schedule, and Eventbrite to purchase your tickets.
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