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The Six Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This Weekend

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

Is Denver's food and restaurant scene slowly returning to normalcy? While it's definitely not time to ditch the masks and cozy up next to a stranger at a communal table (seriously, if you plop down next to a hot girl at a table, don't be surprised if she smashes her beer bottle and brandishes it at you), we can savor the illusion that a pair of pop-ups, a rare whiskey release, and beer and wine dinners herald the slow return of the Before Times. Take advantage of these six food and drink events over the weekend, then continue reading for activities worth adding to your calendar for the future.

Remember, Harvest Week continues through October 4, so be sure to patronize your favorite restaurant and order the Harvest Week special to help support the GrowHaus and EatDenver, a coalition of independent metro Denver restaurants. See the complete list of participating restaurants, then dine out or order takeout.

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, either by pre-ordering on Tock starting Thursday, September 24, or on site via QR code. Visit Tock to reserve your table — and here's hoping Bruto continues to host hard-to-find cuisines like Jamaican and West African.

The Six Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This WeekendEXPAND
Stranahan's

Ah, 2010. It seems like a lifetime ago, a year when the worst that happened was that Bristol Palin appeared on Dancing With the Stars, Lost botched its series finale and BP spilled over 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico (okay, that last one was pretty bad). But in sum, it was an innocent time. It was the year that Stranahan's put a batch of whiskey into new barrels. Now — because 2020 is a total shit show and we all need something, anything good to happen — the distillery at 200 South Kalamath Street has released 500 (and only 500) bottles of the ten-year-old whiskey. But even though you'll have a tough time getting your hands on a full bottle, you can still sample the spirit at Stranahan's weekly Mountain Angel guided tastings that launch Friday, September 25. For $55, guests will sip four different whiskeys from the brand: 4- and 7-year-old versions, single-barrel cask strength, and the elusive Mountain Angel itself, now the oldest whiskey the distillery has ever released. You'll also get bites of chocolate, caramel and cheese to nibble and note how they change the flavor of the whiskey. Tastings run from 6 to 7 p.m. and are limited to eight participants, so snag tickets ASAP on the distillery's website.

The subterranean Osteria Marco may not be your first choice for indoor dining during a pandemic; luckily, the Italian joint has access to a lofty Larimer Street rooftop, which is where it will be hosting the tenth annual Hooves and Hops beer dinner on Friday, September 25. The rooftop patio and garden, called Larimer Uprooted, perches above the Larimer Square Parking Garage at 1450 Larimer Square, and from 7 to 9 p.m., it will be the site of a five-course feast paired with Great Divide Brewing Co. beers. Think maple and chile crispy pig ears with Oktoberfest lager; a ham and cheese "hot pocket" with hoppy Titan IPA; ribs and caramelized cabbage with a barrel-aged Belgian ale; and other tempting eats. Doors open at 6 p.m. if you want to show up to watch the sunset. Tickets are $65 plus tax and tip on Tock, where you can also find the full menu.

Diners will be spread out on the Wewatta bridge for Coohills' upcoming wine dinner.
Diners will be spread out on the Wewatta bridge for Coohills' upcoming wine dinner.
Coohills

Saturday, September 26
Note: As of September 25, this event has been postponed, according to the organizer. A new date (most likely in October) will be announced pending permitting approval from the city. 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 a GA session ($65) from 2 to 4:30 (the 5:30 p.m. GA session is already sold out). 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.

Saturday, September 26, promises to be a perfect day for al fresco dining, as temps aren't forecasted to exceed 90 degrees and Denver's air quality is finally beginning to improve. Coohills, 1400 Wewatta Street, is taking advantage of the bridge that spans Cherry Creek for another wine-pairing dinner. This one comprises two cocktails, three wines and four courses that include lobster bisque with brandy cream, Colorado bison short rib,  and Alamosa striped bass with butternut-squash ceviche, shallots and sherry vinegar. Visit the restaurant's website to get a glimpse of the full menu for the 6 p.m. dinner, then call 303-623-5700 or email events@coohills.com to secure your seat.

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. While preorder has now closed you, can still book a table in the dining room at 1575 Boulder Street — or take your chances with walking in starting at 4 p.m. — on Sunday, September 27.  For $45, you'll get enough saffron rice, mussels, shrimp, crab, chicken and chorizo to feed two; you can also snag a bottle of wine for $25 or less, or batched sangria and coin margs ($25 or $30) to go with the spread. Quantities are extremely limited, so reservations are recommended. Visit Tock to book your table. Note: As of Friday, September 25, this dinner has sold out. Check back with Lola for cancellations.

And mark your calendar....

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.

Somebody really likes cinnamon rolls.EXPAND
Somebody really likes cinnamon rolls.
LeRoux

Sunday, October 4
Start out Sunday Funday at LeRoux, 1510 16th Street, which is unveiling a new brunch menu along with some goodies for giveaway on Sunday, October 4. Reserve your seat on LeRoux's website or by calling 720-845-1673, and you'll get to listen to tunes from DJ Manos while scarfing brand-new dishes like lemon ricotta pancakes or short rib eggs Benedict. In addition, every table will get a complimentary cinnamon roll, and if you can convince five friends to join you, you'll score a free bottle of champagne.

An impressive of array of Del Maguey mezcal bottles, several of which will be poured at Santo's upcoming mezcal class.
An impressive of array of Del Maguey mezcal bottles, several of which will be poured at Santo's upcoming mezcal class.
Santo

Friday, October 9
If you still think most mezcals have a worm lurking at the bottom of the bottle, or that the spirit is good for shooting instead of sipping, you need to sign up for Santo's virtual Mezcal 101 tasting ahora mismo. On Friday, October 9, the New Mexican eatery is teaming up with reps from Del Maguey (one of the most recognizable mezcal producers, thanks to its colorful labels) for a webinar from 7 to 8:30 p.m. You'll get 2-ounce tastings of three different selections, each distilled in a single Oaxacan village (Chichicapa, Minero and Santo Domingo Albarradas), three copitas (adorable handmade cups commonly used to sip the spirit in Oaxaca) and a bag of Santo's green chile popcorn to munch on while you learn about the mezcaleros and terroir that influence each bottle. The kit runs $55 and can be picked up at Santo, 1265 Alpine Avenue in Boulder, on October 9 prior to the start of the online event. Visit Tock to secure your spot (where you can also order from the regular dinner menu if you don't consider popcorn a complete meal) or the restaurant's website for more info.

Chef/restaurateur Jen Jasinski outside Ultreia, which is donating 10 percent of sales on October 14 to the National Sports Center for the Disabled.EXPAND
Chef/restaurateur Jen Jasinski outside Ultreia, which is donating 10 percent of sales on October 14 to the National Sports Center for the Disabled.
Linnea Covington

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 Vendôme (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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