Strike a balance between the mind and body this week with a pair of food talks designed to stimulate your intellectual appetite, a night at the museum that will quench your thirst for knowledge, and dinners to feed your belly. Here are the six best culinary events in town over the next few days, plus a trio of happenings worth marking on your calendar for the weeks to come.
Monday, February 4
Ensuring all Americans have access to quality food can be perceived as an apolitical stance, but all it takes is one look at the Yelp reviews for Lou's Italian Specialties or a quick Google search for "Ink Coffee Denver" to reveal there's much more going on when the conversation turns to food and who eats it. Joshua Sbicca, a sociology professor at Colorado State University, published his first book, Food Justice Now!: Deepening the Roots of Social Struggle, last year; it explores the relationship between food and social-justice movements as well as urban food politics in California, and argues that organizations hoping to bring change to American food systems must also be engaged in righting structural inequalities in other arenas. Sbicca will talk about his work and sign copies of the book on Monday, February 4, at 7 p.m. at the Tattered Cover LoDo, 1628 16th Street. Find out more about the free event on the bookstore's website.
Alternation Brewing Company, 1539 South Broadway, doesn't proselytize about being a vegan brewery. It doesn't have to; the beers speak for themselves. If it weren't for the ever-changing lineup of vegan food trucks parked outside the taproom, there's a good chance most craft-beer lovers wouldn't give the brewer's dietary habits a second thought. But on Monday, February 4, the taproom is celebrating Lunar New Year's Eve at 7:30 p.m. with a vegan beer dinner dedicated to the Year of the Pig. Mu Denver will be providing the four-course menu, which includes vegan versions of Chinese favorites like egg rolls, sweet and sour soup, sesame chicken and mapo tofu, paired with dairy-free brews including a rice beer aged on jasmine tea, a brett saison and a salted caramel almond-milk stout. Tickets, $50, are on sale on Eventbrite. Don't squander your luck; make sure you get yours before they go the way of the Year of the Dog.
Tuesday, February 5
Get ready for some Big Easy eating at Jax Fish House in February. Founder Dave Query and culinary director Sheila Lucero are bringing in New Orleans chef Ryan Prewitt for two five-course dinners, one at Jax in Boulder (928 Pearl Street) on February 5, and the second in LoDo (1539 17th Street) on February 6. Prewitt, director of operations for the Donald Link Restaurant Group, won a James Beard award for Best Chef South in 2014, and one of his restaurants, Pêche, won Best New Restaurant in America from the JBF the same year. These mark the first in a series of guest dinners with New Orleans friends of Query and Lucero's coming to Jax to cook. The five-course dinners are $85 each ($125 with wine pairings); reservations can be made by calling the Boulder Jax at 303-444-1811 or the LoDo Jax at 303-292-5767.
Wednesday, February 6
Andy Clark, baker and owner of the delicious Moxie Bread Co. in Louisville, is taking to the stage with University of Colorado media studies professor Andrew Calabrese on Wednesday, February 6, for a free discussion about food and community. They'll cover the local food movement as well as notable national issues, and break down how individuals' food choices are impacted by these changes. Doors at the Louisville Center for the Arts, 801 Grant Avenue, open at 6:30 p.m., giving you time to indulge in bites from the bakery before the talk starts at 7 p.m. Get details on the City of Louisville's website.
Thursday, February 7
When was the last time you visited the Children's Museum of Denver? If you grew up here, it was probably when you were a kid yourself, or possibly when you took your own tyke there. Either way, odds are you were surrounded by squealing children and didn't get to play with the exhibits as much as you wanted, since you were getting hurried along by your harried mom or were doing the rushing yourself. But on Thursday, February 7, the Museum is opening its doors to grownups — and only grownups — with Ales, Apps & Barrels of Fun. For $40, you can build rockets, create a thunderstorm and get down and dirty in the ball pit while sipping beer from local breweries like Horse & Dragon, Epic and Comrade. There will also be bites on hand to keep your strength up as you race from exhibit to exhibit like a toddler on a sugar high. The event runs from 7 to 10 p.m., giving you plenty of time to try all the toys; get details and tickets on the Children's Museum website.
Friday, February 8
Whether you use macaroni, rigatoni, penne, farfalle, fusilli, orecchiette, cavatappi or cavatelli — or cheddar, Gouda, provolone, mascarpone, Monterey Jack, muenster or mozzarella — there's really no wrong way to construct mac and cheese. On Friday, February 8, you can sample more than fifteen creamy, crusty and cheesy creations from local restaurants at the Denver Mac & Cheese Festival, which runs from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at 3560 Chestnut Place. Tickets start at $59 (which includes unlimited mac and wine, beer and spirit samples) and top out at $109 (5:30 p.m. entry, a T-shirt, unlimited mac and an open bar). The most intriguing part of this fest? The commemorative spork that comes with each ticket purchase. We're a fan of commemorative flatware: It takes up less space than beer glasses, and if you're resourceful enough, you can scrounge up a full set for next Thanksgiving. Ensure your entry to the extravaganza by snagging tickets on Eventbrite.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
Thursday, February 14, through Sunday, February 17
Fans of Ian Kleinman's doughnut pop-up shops have been waiting a long, long time to get their hands on the confectioner's breakfast creations; the last time the pastries made an appearance was more than two years ago. But from Thursday, February 14, through Sunday, February 17, the Molecular Donut Shop returns to the Inventing Room Dessert Shop, 4431 West 29th Avenue, from 6 to 11 a.m. Ten flavors will be on the menu, ranging from $5 to $8; we're most excited for the Buttermilk Fried Chicken, a take on chicken and waffles that includes fried bird, coffee gravy and hot sauce caviar.
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Friday, February 22, through Sunday, March 3
Denver Restaurant Week is coming, so clear your calendar from February 22 through March 3; you'll want to visit a different eatery every day. Hundreds of Denver’s top restaurants will offer multi-course dinners for three tasty prices ($25, $35 or $45) during the fifteenth year of the wildly popular week. Participating restaurants and menus are up on the Visit Denver site; be sure you book your first choices right away, before someone else nabs your table. Find out more here.
Sunday, May 19 and Monday, May 20
Chefs and aspiring charcutiers will want to plan ahead for a Denver visit from the maestro of meat, Brian Polcyn, who will lead a butchery course next spring at Stir Cooking School, 3215 Zuni Street. Polcyn and author Michael Ruhlman will spend two days teaching students how to break down hogs using both USDA and European seam butchery techniques; how to work charcuterie into menus; and how to properly dry-cure and smoke cured meats. Recipes for pâté, fresh sausage and offal will be provided, as well as a copy of one of the duo's books (their third title, Pâté, Confit, Rillette, will be released May 19), a private cocktail hour and dinner with the pair. Tickets are $800 and are on sale now at Eventbrite.
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