Tacolandia: The fewer the sour cream squiggles, the closer to God.EXPAND
Tacolandia: The fewer the sour cream squiggles, the closer to God.
Danielle Lirette

The Seven Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This Week

Learn about the lesser known Arcana moon, chow down on some perfectly cooked steaks and enjoy yet another farm dinner this week. Here are seven food and drink events from Monday, August 12, through Friday, August 16, that should keep you in fighting form for Tacolandia, our celebration of the city's Mexican restaurants and food trucks, coming August 17. Keep reading for all the details about those events, as well as more to come.
Monday, August 12
Boulderites who don't want to drive to the Ballpark neighborhood and who are looking for place to blow a few Benjamins will want to visit Arcana on Monday, August 12. It's an auspicious evening: The night sky will be lit up with the super-blood-sturgeon-Arcana moon, and chef Duncan Holmes from Beckon will be doing a one-night-only dinner in the Boulder restaurant at 909 Walnut Street. Like the Denver restaurant, this dinner will seat only sixteen diners at the bar, and as of this writing, a few spots are still left for the eight-course tasting menu. There's no doubt it's a splurge — the food alone costs $175, with an additional $75 wine pairing — but you'd spend half that much on a Lyft from the People's Republic to the Mile High City. You can make your reservation on Arcana's website, or by calling the restaurant at 303-444-3885.

Tuesday, August 13
Just $20 for dinner from the one of the ten best barbecue joints in town, plus an interview with two renowned barbecue experts? Yes, please. On Tuesday, August 13, Cheluna Brewing Co., inside Aurora's Stanley Marketplace at 2501 Dallas Street, is hosting Adrian Miller, Denver native, author and certified 'cue judge, and Jim Auchmutey, author of Smokelore: A Short History of Barbecue in America. The always-entertaining Miller (who is currently writing a book about the history of African American barbecue) will interview Auchmutey about his experience as a founding member of Southern Foodways Alliance (a nonprofit that studies food cultures in the modern American South) as well as Smokelore and, of course, the merits of different styles of barbecue, while guests chow down on the real deal from Rolling Smoke Bar-B-Que. Cheluna's craft brews will also be available for purchase. The event starts at 6 p.m.; tickets are available now on Colorado Humanities' website.

Wednesday, August 14
According to Alex Prud'homme, his great-aunt, the inimitable Julia Child, once commanded him to "just speak very loudly and quickly, and state your position with utter conviction, as the French do, and you'll have a marvelous time!" She was talking about Gallic dinner parties, but the same could be said for public speaking engagements — and Prud'Homme will no doubt heed Child's advice when he takes to the stage on Wednesday, August 14, at the Mixed Taste lecture series to talk about the legendary cook. His counterpart? Jaakko Stenros, a game researcher, who will discuss Nordic live action role-playing, or LARPing. Imagine Julia Child sporting a breastplate and horned helmet and brandishing a spatula menacingly, and you've got the gist of the evening. Tickets to the 7 p.m. lecture are $20 on the DCPA's website, and if you show up at 5 p.m., you'll be able to enjoy drinks underneath the galleria at the Denver Performing Arts Complex before heading into the Seawell Ballroom for the fun.

This steak from Citizen Rail might take home top honors at RARE: The Denver Steak Championships.
This steak from Citizen Rail might take home top honors at RARE: The Denver Steak Championships.
Danielle Lirette

Thursday, August 15
Denver was long considered a cowtown — if not by snooty coastal types, then affectionately and somewhat defiantly by its own denizens. While we've (mostly) left that moniker in the dust, there's no reason we should turn our backs on our heritage, particularly when it's so tasty. On Thursday, August 15, RARE: The Denver Steak Championships, unites more than twenty of the top steakhouses in town (including Corrida, Guard and Grace, Citizen Rail, Hearth & Dram and Elway's) to fire up the grills and compete to sear the best steak in both traditional and creative categories; they're also hoping to win your vote by plying you with sophisticated cocktails designed to pair perfectly with meaty, medium-rare goodness. The Denver Performing Arts Complex is the site of the showdown from 6 to 10 p.m., and tickets ($130 to $150) are on sale on the event's Facebook page. So honor Denver's cultural history: It's as juicy as that steak you're about to sink your teeth into.

Autumn is inexorably approaching, but we're betting there are still plenty of hot days left in the foreseeable future. So it's not too late to sign up for Cook Street's class, Summer Slammers: Reds, Whites and Rosés, on Thursday, August 15. Sneak out of the office a bit early to show up at 1937 Market Street at 5 p.m., when you'll be learn what makes a great summer wine of any color. Tuition is $65, and you'll get to taste a range of porch pounders that will do you right for the rest of patio season — and for plenty of summers to come. Sign up for the course (and find out about the school's wine classes for the rest of the year) on Cook Street's website. 

Likewise, you'll want to take advantage of the remaining long days of sunshine at a farm dinner, and if you haven't dined in the field among the dill and daffodils yet this summer, don't waste the opportunity. We've been fans of chef Robert Grant (who's worked under Thomas Keller and Barbara Lynch) since his days at downtown's short-lived Baur's; now he's grown roots at Boulder County's Greens Point Catering and will be serving up dinner al fresco on Thursday, August 15, at the picturesque Lone Hawk Farm, 10790 North 49th Street in Longmont. The multi-course meal starts at 6 p.m., with tickets ($80, excluding drinks, though you can BYOB) on Eventbrite.

Friday, August 16
Who knew perennially sunny singer-songwriter Jewel had waded into the ever-more-crowded waters of professional "wellness?" Not us, but the guitar-toting waif who ruled the airwaves for a few years in the mid-'90s founded the Wellness Your Way festival in 2018, and this year it's coming to Colorado. From Friday, August 16, to Sunday, August 18, the Denver Convention Center, 700 14th Street, will host an expo that includes cooking demos, fitness sessions, meet-and-greets and performances, including a Saturday night concert from the singer. The lineup includes the usual nutrition and fitness speakers, including Jillian Michaels and, inexplicably, blogger Perez Hilton. We'd love to know how many calories the prickly TV trainer and modern-day gossip columnist would burn sniping at each other; you may be able to find out when doors open Friday at 11 a.m. Tickets range from $10 for single-day passes to $75 for all-inclusive weekend ones on the festival's website.

Keep reading for future food and drink events.

Saturday, August 17
Tacolandia returns to Civic Center Park, Broadway and Colfax Avenue, for a fourth year on Saturday, August 17, from 4 to 7 p.m., celebrating food, art, music and culture. Join us in honoring that great Mexican invention, the taco, in its many forms as presented by the city's top cantinas (Adelitas Cocina y Cantina, Kachina Cantina), taquerias (El Aguila Azteca, Antojitos la Poblanita, El Coco Pirata) and food trucks (El Moreno, Taco Block, Pico Arepa), and even the odd grocery store and sandwich shop (Carniceria Aaliyah, Torta Grill). Tickets, $25 for general admission or $55 for VIP, are on sale at westwordtacolandia.com. Other attractions include a car show, Latino art, lucha libre wrestlers and a DJ.

2018's BrunchFest drew fans of sweet and savory breakfasts (and sunny centerpieces) to Civic Center Park.EXPAND
2018's BrunchFest drew fans of sweet and savory breakfasts (and sunny centerpieces) to Civic Center Park.

Sunday, August 25
More than 200 restaurants opened in Denver last year — and it seems all of them started serving brunch within a few months of opening their doors. For brunchophiles trying to work their way through all the restaurants in town serving the meal, that's a tall order. But on Sunday, August 25, you can make a significant dent in your to-brunch list at BrunchFest 2019. The McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue, is the site of the boozy shenanigans, with more than twenty restaurants serving brunch dishes, plus unlimited Bloodys and mimosas, from noon to 3 p.m. Tickets run $59 to $109, and you can pick them up, as well as see participating restaurants, on the event website.

Sushi Den's always-stunning sushi will be at the Den Corner's Summer Rooftop Party.EXPAND
Sushi Den's always-stunning sushi will be at the Den Corner's Summer Rooftop Party.
Courtesy Sushi Den

Tuesday, August 27, and Wednesday, August 28
Den Corner knows how to throw a party, and its annual rooftop party and fundraiser only gets better with age. What started out in 2016 with a handful of chefs flown in from Japan has morphed into even more festivities, with twenty Japanese chefs hopping the pond to raise funds for Colorado's We Don't Waste and southern Japan's Kumamoto Castle Earthquake Relief Fund. This year, local chefs Carrie Baird, Ian Wortham, Caroline Glover, Dana Rodriguez, Elise Wiggins, Alex Seidel, Paul Reilly, Alon Shaya and more will join the shindig on August 27 and 28; beer, wine, cocktails and sake will be flowing, while ramen, hand rolls and Japanese street food will be plentiful. Tickets for the party, which runs from 7 to 10 p.m. both nights on the roof of the Den Corner parking garage at East Florida Avenue and Pearl Street, are $90 (includes three drink tickets), $110 (includes five drink tickets), or $135 (VIP early admission at 5 p.m., plus five drink tickets), and can be purchased on Sushi Den's website, along with a complete list of participating chefs and menu details. As with everything manned by Toshi and Yasu Kizaki, the party generally sells out, so don't delay in guaranteeing your entry.

What beer pairs with caramel? Find out at Chef and Brew.
What beer pairs with caramel? Find out at Chef and Brew.
Danielle Lirette

Wednesday, August 28
Brace yourself: Come Wednesday, August 28, you're going to need all your fortitude — intestinal and liver — to make it through the evening. That's because Chef and Brew, the sprawling summer bazaar of bites and booze, is returning to town. Starting at 7 p.m., the Exdo Event Center, 1399 15th Street, will host a wonderland of sweet and savory bites and local craft beers. Forty dishes (two from each eatery) will be paired with forty different brews, so it's statistically impossible for you to leave without finding something to tickle your tastebuds. And more than honor is on the line here: Cash prizes will be handed out, so chefs and brewers will be on their A game. Tickets are $49 or $69 on the event website, where you can also find a complete list of participants.

The Grand Tasting is Denver Food and Wine's capstone event.
The Grand Tasting is Denver Food and Wine's capstone event.
Troy Schieman for Denver Food + Wine Festival

Wednesday, September 4, through Sunday, September 8
September brings cooler temps (we hope!), as well as the return of the annual Denver Food and Wine Festival. From Wednesday, September 4, through Sunday, September 8, restaurants around town will be turning out immaculately plated food, and the wine will be flowing freely. There are annual events (the Riedel wine glass seminar, good for those who want to appear über-sophisticated while sipping — or just those who've broken the majority of their glassware, since you'll be going home with a set of four glasses); bougie events (Dinner Under the Stars, this year taking place at our favorite Italian restaurant in a brewery, Liberati); crowd-pleasers (a patio party at Cattivella and the Bartender's Bash cocktail competition); the marquee event (the Grand Tasting, with over 700 wines and spirits, chef demos and food from forty top Denver restaurants); and a Sunday brunch (again at Liberati) that's sure to pave your way smoothly from hangover to Sunday Funday. Tickets run from $45 to $150 and are available on the festival's website.

Thursday, October 24
Feast, Westword's annual celebration of the Denver restaurant scene, will make its delicious return to the McNichols Building on a new day and time: 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday evening. As always, though, Feast will be a true feast for the senses, with music, beverage samplings and dishes from more than forty favorite restaurants. Among those already signed on to sample their food are Uchi, Jackdaw, Milk & Cake, The Veggie Whisperer, Roaming Buffalo Bar-B-Q and more. This year, VIP ticket-holders will again be treated to a special menu, this year courtesy of the word-renowned Matsuhisa. Bites from Matsuhisa will include spicy tuna crispy rice, chicken gyoza, black cod miso in limestone lettuce, and more, as well as special VIP cocktails to complement the menu. VIP tickets also include early entry into the event at 6 p.m. and a VIP gift bag. Tickets are now on sale for $30 general admission, $55 VIP at westwordfeast.com.

If you know of a date that should be on this calendar, send information to cafe@westword.com.

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