This week brings a progressive dinner, a Rasta dinner series and a Slow Food Nations memorial meal of sorts, and it will end with Colorado Restaurant Day, a special celebration of the industry on September 12 as declared by Governor Jared Polis.
Keep reading for the best food and drink events this week, plus future events you'll want to mark on your calendars.
Tuesday, September 8
If wings are your thing, you've probably explored metro Denver's many saucy options — and you know that two of the best wing slingers around are the Piper Inn, at 2251 South Parker Road, and Crush Pizza & Tap, at 1200 West 38th Avenue. But how are you going to sample them head to head at their sizzling best when a dozen or so miles separate the two eateries? All this month, you'll only need to make one stop, because Crush is starting up a monthly sauce swap, and the Piper Inn's Golden Goat sauce (a Carolina-style honey mustard barbecue sauce) will be available on Crush's wings from now through the end of September. The pizzeria recommends reserving a table, or you can order the wings for takeout or delivery. And if the Piper is more your style, sample Crush's honey sriracha sauce on a basket of wings while you're there.
Wednesday, September 9
Everything old is new again: drive-in movies, anti-mask organizations, even progressive dinners. Revisit the latter on Wednesday, September 9, with the RiNo restaurant crawl Sip, Snack and Stroll. Choose your starting time (every hour on the hour from 4 to 7 p.m.) and your starting place: Ironton Distillery & Crafthouse (3636 Chestnut Place), Blue Moon Brewing Co. (3750 Chestnut Place) or Bigsby's Folly (3563 Wazee Street). Enjoy bites and a beverage at each location, then move to the next venue on the list at your leisure. The route between restaurants is an easy one-mile loop, and of course you'll be stopping for hydration and sustenance along the way. In a year that feels like a forced march through the worst of times, this is one trek that will only leave a series of good times in its wake. Get tickets, $65, on Eventbrite.
Thursday, September 10
Rastafarian cooking, known as Ital, isn't a foodway that many Denverites are familiar with. Diners can rectify that starting Thursday, September 10, when chef Taj Cooke (formerly of Mother Tongue and the late, lamented Biju's Little Curry Shop) kicks off his two-month-long Ital Dinner Series at Bruto (inside the Dairy Block at 1801 Blake Street). While Ital cuisine isn't particularly standardized among Rastas, most practitioners adhere to a vegetarian diet, with emphasis on whole foods that come directly from the earth. Cooke will create three courses (all vegetarian) with produce from Denver's Acres Farm as well as fellow chef Chris Starkus's Lost Creek Micro Farm. Seats ($75 per person, minimum of two people per booking) are available starting at 5:30 p.m. on Tock; both zero-proof and boozy beverage pairings will be available for $25 to $35. Mark your calendar for future dinners, which are scheduled to take place September 17, October 15 and and October 22 (all Thursdays).
Tonight, you can also cook dinner with famed chef Thomas Keller as he teams up with Niman Ranch and Marczyk Fine Foods for a master class that supports Niman’s Next Generation scholarship fund, which helps young farmers further their educations. The kit, which will be available for $200 (for two) at both Marczyk locations, includes Niman pork chops, applewood-smoked bacon, and Thomas Keller-produced veal stock for his pan-roasted pork chops; the menu will be completed by crushed potatoes, blistered cauliflower and spiced apple cider gastrique. For an additional $29.99, Marczyk is offering a mise en place kit, which comes with all the additional ingredients called for in these recipes. Sign up, pick up the goods, and then cook up a storm with Keller in your kitchen; he'll be offering tips and answering questions. Reservations are limited; find out more here.
Friday, September 11
The massive Slow Food Nations festival was scheduled to take over Larimer Square the weekend of September 11, but Mother Nature had other plans, in the form of the coronavirus. While the festival has long since been canceled, the Bindery, 1817 Central Street, saved the dates anyway and is instead offering a Summer Slow Down takeout menu from Friday, September 11, through Sunday, September 13. The three-course, $75 meal includes pickled peaches with goat cheese, chilled zucchini-tarragon soup, puttanesca panzanella and lemon chicken scaloppine. For those who don't want chicken, the Bindery is also offering a vegetarian substitute that's a roasted red pepper relleno with green mole (this is noteworthy because mole can lure even the most strident carnivore into plant-based eating, and we expect the Bindery's version to be outstanding). Place your order on Tock no later than 5 p.m. on Wednesday, September 9, for pickup between noon and 2 p.m. and 5 and 7 p.m. all weekend long.
And mark your calendars...
Friday, September 18
Wine festivals have a bit of an advantage over beer festivals in the age of COVID: Harvest season falls in autumn, so a handful of mountain wine fests are still on. One of those is the Wine Classic at Vail, which is offering four — count ’em, four — grand tastings on Friday, September 18, and Saturday, September 19. More than thirty beverage producers from around the globe will be pouring samples for guests to enjoy on the lawn of Ford Park (adjacent to the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, 522 South Frontage Road East). Each ninety-minute tasting session is limited to 175 people to encourage social distancing. Find out more on the fest's website and nab tickets, $69, on Eventbrite; tastings start at 2 and 4:30 p.m. on Friday and noon and 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Saturday, September 19
As event producers cautiously dip their toes back into the murky waters of large-scale gatherings, they're forced to be creative about how to ensure that safety, social distancing and summer fun are all on tap in a single afternoon. Seltzerland, a traveling hard-seltzer fest that's landing in Denver on Saturday, September 19, is taking an approach as intriguing as any: Vendors and guests will tee off on Erie's Colorado National Golf Club, 2700 Vista Parkway, for nine holes of drinks. Leave your clubs at home (long metal sticks are generally frowned upon at any gathering where booze is the main attraction) for your walk along the fairway with a cohort of up to fourteen other attendees. Entry is timed in ten-minute intervals, and social distancing is required between groups as well as between vendors. While we're not sure how you'll get your seltzer samples if you're maintaining six feet from the seltzertender (is that the right word?), you're promised more than fifty different beverages and ninety minutes of fresh air and drinking with friends. Tickets are $39 for general admission, which runs from 1 to 4:30 p.m. (participants are given an entry time during that window), or $79 for VIP, which goes from 11 a.m. to 12:50 p.m. and includes one cocktail, a full can of seltzer, free parking and bites in addition to samples. Visit the event website for details and to purchase tickets.
April 21 — the day government officials from Bavaria and Munich announced the cancellation of Munich's iconic Oktoberfest celebrations — was a sad day for beer drinkers around the globe. Denver's Oktoberfest was not so quick to follow, but finally put the kibosh on the Mile High City's annual dunkel drinking and dachshund racing festivities on July 31. So while large-scale gatherings have been given das Boot this year, you can still enter Breckenridge Brewery's drawing for a mini-Oktoberfest through September 12. Visit the brewery's website to throw your name in the hat to receive a private performance by the Rhinelanders (okay, as private as a Jeep hauling a three-piece band on a trailer and parking in your driveway can be), steins, brats and pretzels — all free. The beer, sadly, is not free (due to legal restrictions), but that means you can furnish whatever brews you prefer. Seven mini-bashes will be provided in Denver and Colorado Springs on Saturday, September 19, and Sunday, September 20.
Monday, September 21
Start your week off really, really, right at Bettola Bistro, 10253 East Iliff Avenue. The sweet Italian dining room is launching the first of its monthly dinner series themed around a wide-ranging list of inspirations: friends, colleagues, ingredients, geography. On Monday, September 21, Bettola is teaming up with one of the original meat men in Denver: OG charcuterie expert Mark DeNittis, whose Il Mondo Vecchio was way ahead of its time. DeNittis will be turning out a four-course feast focusing on Duroc pork; the evening will also include a short butchering and coppa-making demo. Seatings are available at 6 and 8 p.m. and will run you $125 plus tip (tax is included). Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 303-750-1580 to reserve your spot, and follow Bettola's Instagram page for mouthwatering pics and details on upcoming installments.
Wednesday, September 23, through Sunday, October 4
Denver's Harvest Week is a beloved tradition — if you've been fast enough to snag a seat at one of the wildly popular dinners under the roof of the GrowHaus, the nonprofit organization providing food and food education to residents of Denver's Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods. This year, things look different, both because of COVID and because the GrowHaus building was shuttered as a result of severe structural issues. The upside? Harvest Week is being revamped as a citywide celebration of Colorado food and drink. More than thirty Denver and Boulder eateries (including Cart-Driver, Ace Eat Serve, Ultreia, Santo, Jax, Blackbelly and Tap & Burger) will be using local ingredients to create uniquely Colorado dishes and cocktails. Visit the event's Facebook page or website for a complete list of participating restaurants, then start making reservations. Meal planning has never been easier.
Remember what we said about progressive dinners? Here's another throwback to the 1960s tradition (albeit with a thoroughly modern price tag). On Wednesday, September 23, $350 will put you and a friend in the thick of things at the Dairy Block, 1800 Wazee Street, for a cocktail crawl that includes bougie bites along with beverages. Expect Gruyère fondue with a boozy punch from Poka Lola Social Club; a quartet of smoked things — salmon, cauliflower, short rib and mac and cheese — alongside a whiskey flight from Seven Grand; Colorado lamb three ways with syrah from Blanchard Family Wines; and passionfruit pavlova served with Run for the Roses' final cocktail of the evening. The event goes from 6 to 9 p.m.; nab your spot (there are only ten left!) at event planner Rebel Experiences' website.
Saturday, September 26
Everybody loves bubbles (unless they're of the economic variety)! Pour some sparkling wine into a glass and it's an immediate celebration. And on Saturday, September 26, you need to celebrate the fact that you have survived the first 269 days of this year (hey, we need to take our happiness where we can get it in 2020). Enter Spark!, a sparkling wine festival highlighting effervescent wine styles from around the globe. Champagne and prosecco will make appearances, naturally, but you'll also get a chance to sample lesser-known styles like sekt and cremant. More than twenty producers will be pouring at Peak Beverage, 4375 Brighton Boulevard, for three tasting sessions: a VIP session ($100) from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. that includes exclusive tastings from five champagne producers, a cheese and charcuterie box, a tasting book, a branded face mask, a raffle ticket and more; and two GA sessions ($65) from 2 to 4:30 and 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. There are also virtual tastings for anyone who wants to treat themselves but would prefer to do so in the comfort of their own home (and their sweatpants); packages range from $120 to $200 and all include at least three half-bottles of wine or champagne, snacks, and four forty-minute workshops. Visit the Spark! Instagram page for details, then nab your tickets on Night Out.
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