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The Six Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This Week

Il Posto (pictured here in 2017) makes a stylish start to Denver's Harvest Week.EXPAND
Il Posto (pictured here in 2017) makes a stylish start to Denver's Harvest Week.
Danielle Lirette

Go whole hog this week with a porky dinner and pop-up, Denver's Harvest Week kickoff, a duo of Dairy Block events and a West African tasting menu.

After you've had your fill of fun over the next few days, keep reading for a bubbly blowout, inventive date night and more.

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 info@bettolabistro.com or call 303-750-1580 to reserve your spot, and follow Bettola's Instagram page for mouthwatering pics and details on upcoming installments.

The Ginger Pig's karaage (fried chicken) with smashed cucumber salad; on September 22, you can can get the salad with char siu at the food truck's Denver pop-up.EXPAND
The Ginger Pig's karaage (fried chicken) with smashed cucumber salad; on September 22, you can can get the salad with char siu at the food truck's Denver pop-up.
Michael Emery Hecker

Tuesday, September 22
Until this year, you had to go to Boulder County to chase down the excellent Asian street food served by the Ginger Pig food truck. The outfit had a brief stint at Boulder's Rosetta Hall, but now — in a shocking turn of events — something great is happening in 2020 (at least for Denverites): Chef/owner Natascha Hess is opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Denver's Berkeley neighborhood, so Queen City residents will be able to get their hands on her grub. In advance of the restaurant's opening, the truck will be doing a pop-up on Tuesday, September 22, at Pony Up, 1808 Blake Street, from 4 to 11 p.m. RSVP on the Ginger Pig Facebook page, then show up for Bangkok balls (Thai red curry rice croquettes), char siu pork, spicy-sweet chile-vanilla ice cream and more.

Bacon Social House (pictured here before the arrival of the coronavirus) is participating in this year's Harvest Week with food and drink specials.EXPAND
Bacon Social House (pictured here before the arrival of the coronavirus) is participating in this year's Harvest Week with food and drink specials.
Bacon Social House

Wednesday, September 23
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 from Wednesday, September 23, through Sunday, October 4. Visit the event's Facebook page or website for a complete list of participating restaurants, then start making reservations (or plan to order takeout or delivery!). Meal planning has never been easier.

Everything old is new again: drive-in movies, anti-mask organizations, even progressive dinners. Here's a  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 two left!) at the Rebel Experiences website.

Hit the Dairy Block for a pair of events this week, including a free cocktail tasting.EXPAND
Hit the Dairy Block for a pair of events this week, including a free cocktail tasting.
Jeff Fierberg

Thursday, September 24
If you want to taste tipples at the Dairy Block, 1800 Wazee Street, but don't have a small fortune to spend on a single evening of drinking (see above), wait just one more night — until Thursday, September 24 — for a Chopped-style cocktail competition that includes bartenders from Seven Grand, Poka Lola Social Club, Denver Milk Market, Run for the Roses and Foraged mixing up bourbon-based cocktails using Angel's Envy and a basket of mystery ingredients. A limited number of guests will be able to taste all five cocktails — for free! — and vote for the people's-choice cocktail. RSVP on Eventbrite, where you'll reserve your entry time (every fifteen minutes from 6 to 7:30 p.m.); you'll have ten minutes to taste and cast your ballot. Don't wait to register; spots will go fast. This event supports Angel's Envy, a reforestation advocacy group.

A Ghanaian po' boy from chef Modou Jaiteh of Jacaranda.EXPAND
A Ghanaian po' boy from chef Modou Jaiteh of Jacaranda.
Michael Emery Hecker

Friday, September 25
Bruto, located in the Dairy Block building at 1801 Blake Street, is hosting another fantastic pop-up on Friday, September 25, and Saturday, September 26. Hot on the heels of wrapping up the Ital Dinner Series from chef Tajahi Cooke, it's bringing in chef Motou Jaiteh of Jacaranda, which recently vacated Boulder's Rosetta Hall. Jaiteh will be offering West African-inspired tasting menus for both lunch ($30 from 11:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.) and dinner ($55 from 5 to 8:30 p.m.). The full menu includes a trio of flatbreads topped with Jamaican curried lamb, squash and brown butter with ricotta, and wild mushrooms with cauliflower, cheese and honey; domoda (African peanut stew) with rice; jollof rice with smoked chicken and schmaltz; lamb ribs; and greens with jollof rice, peas and fried plantains. Both zero-proof and boozy beverage pairings are available ($20 to $35). And those who'd rather skip Bruto's cozy dining room can opt to carry out their meal. Visit Tock to reserve your table, and here's hoping Bruto continues hosting hard-to-find cuisines like Jamaican and West African. 

And don't forget to mark your calendars...

The days of casually plucking champagne off a silver platter are long gone (thanks, COVID) but you can still celebrate at Spark!, a socially distanced sparkling wine fest.EXPAND
The days of casually plucking champagne off a silver platter are long gone (thanks, COVID) but you can still celebrate at Spark!, a socially distanced sparkling wine fest.
Danielle Lirette

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 sweat pants); 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.

Get all this good stuff — plus the pan — from Lola when you preorder by September 24.EXPAND
Get all this good stuff — plus the pan — from Lola when you preorder by September 24.
Lola Coastal Mexican

Sunday, September 27
If your only exposure to the art of cooking paella comes from watching Jason Schwartzman's Devon in Wine Country, you might think you need special equipment to make the iconic Spanish dish — like a canoe paddle. That's sort of true (the oar is optional, a paella pan is mandatory), but it's not as hard to make as you might think — especially if you order the dish from Lola's paella pop-up. Pre-order ($55) for takeout by noon on Thursday, September 24, and you'll get enough saffron rice, mussels, shrimp, crab, chicken and chorizo to feed two, plus a shallow paella pan (that you get to keep!) and instructions for finishing the dish at home. You can also snag a bottle of wine (all $25 or less) or sangria and coin margs ($25 or $30) to go with the spread; pick-up is from 3 to 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 27. Those who don't even want to turn on a stove can order the dish in Lola's dining room, 1575 Boulder Street, starting at 4 p.m., but quantities are extremely limited, so reservations are recommended. Visit Tock to book your table or takeout.

The Inventing Room's glow-in-the-dark room is filled with glow-in-the-dark cotton candy (among other phosphorescent goodies).EXPAND
The Inventing Room's glow-in-the-dark room is filled with glow-in-the-dark cotton candy (among other phosphorescent goodies).
The Inventing Room

Tuesday, September 29
The Inventing Room, 4433 West 29th Avenue, is closed for the fall and winter, but you can still get your mitts on the ice cream imaginarium's treats at its Science of Dessert Date Nights, which kick off at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, September 29. This is a grown-up version of the popular kids' series it hosted over the summer, in which chef/owner Ian Kleinman will host a demo on Really, Really Cold Cheetos, Nitro Space Foam and a rotating list of other goodies. You'll also get to stroll through the glow-in-the-dark room and sip on mocktails while having a discussion of booze and aphrodisiacs in dessert. Tickets to the one-hour presentation, $20, are available on the Inventing Room's online storefront; sessions take place at 6, 7 and 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday through October 28 (with a few exceptions). As each slot is limited to twelve people, a few sessions have already sold out, so get your date scheduled now.

Chef Jen Jasinski is offering an at-home feast that benefits the National Sports Center for the Disabled on October 14.EXPAND
Chef Jen Jasinski is offering an at-home feast that benefits the National Sports Center for the Disabled on October 14.
Mark Antonation

Wednesday, October 14
On Wednesday, October 14, chef/restaurateur Jen Jasinski is teaming up with nonprofit organization National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD) to raise funds for its mission of offering adaptive lessons in action, adventure and competitive sports for folks with disabilities. There are two ways you can join in: with an in-home experience as well as dining out. To enjoy a meal at home, order a four-pack of dinners ($125 per person, $500 total) and have your best friends over for a swanky dinner that includes cocktails; cauliflower-curry soup with poached pears and pickled carrots; roasted salmon (or beef filet) with corn and ricotta ravioli; squash stuffed with eggplant and pine nuts; and Japanese cloud cake. The meal kit will be delivered straight to your doorstep, and you'll also get access to a 6 p.m. live stream where you can prepare your feast along with Jasinski. If you'd rather eat out, make reservations at any of Jasinski's restaurants — Rioja (1431 Larimer Street), Bistro Vendome (1420 Larimer Street), Ultreia or Stoic & Genuine (inside Union Station at 1701 Wynkoop Street) — and make sure you mention the fundraiser both in your reservation notes and to your server to ensure that 10 percent of your bill is donated to the NSCD.

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