This week, pair beer with sushi, get messy with polenta, enjoy a local's TV debut and learn how to mix a mean drink in a free, ladies-only class — and that's just the start. Here are the best food and drink events on the culinary calendar this week, plus nine more events coming up.
Monday, January 27
Don't just get on board with Meatless Monday so you can have more alliteration in your life; do it because it's delicious. At least that's the case at Famous Original J's Pizza, at 715 East 26th Avenue. Starting Monday, January 27, the Five Points pizza joint will be serving vegan pies on the last Monday of every month through the end of 2020. Choose between the Veggie, with assorted veggies and almond ricotta; the White Pie, with garlic sauce, artichoke, spinach and coconut bacon; the Margherita, with tomato, basil and almond ricotta; and the Cheese, with Violife mozzarella and almond ricotta. All of these will be served by the slice at the shop from 5 to 10 p.m., or as whole pies for delivery; order at famousoriginaljspizza.com. Vegan ice cream from Sherry's Soda Shoppe (a new ice cream shop from Famous Original J's owners, opening soon right next door) will also be available.
Tuesday, January 28
Old-school pairing rule: Don't serve red wine with fish. Modern pairing rule: Nothing goes better with Scotch ale than sushi. Or so says Ratio Beerworks, 2920 Larimer Street, which is hosting Brewshi, a sustainable sushi pop-up from chef Blayne Ochoa (formerly of Bamboo Sushi, currently of Uchi) on Tuesday, January 28. The sushi knives come out at 4 p.m. and will stick around until 9 p.m., so come early for the best selection of fresh, jewel-toned aquatic eats. Visit Ratio's Facebook page for event details and @brewshi1 for pics of the mouthwatering morsels.
Wednesday, January 29
If you've been white-knuckling it through Dry January with nary a thought to the rest of your 2020 resolutions, you're in luck: The torture ends in a just a few days, and on Wednesday, January 29, Stir Cooking School, 3215 Zuni Street, has just the thing to distract you for a few hours. At 6:30 p.m., the Highland kitchen kicks off its three-part Learn to Cook series, with the first session equipping you with techniques needed to whip up white cheddar mac and pork chops with cider jus, among other delights. Future classes on February 5 and 12 will cover a whole roasted chicken (a deceptively difficult but nevertheless attainable feat) and pot pie with from-scratch crust. Learn more and sign up for the class ($230) on the school's website and you'll be cooking in no time.
Thursday, January 30
In Colorado, the idea of a "pot-to-table" dinner conjures images of something that's most certainly not a cooking vessel (even if you can get baked with it). And while there are plenty of pairing meals for diners who'd rather smoke than sip in the Mile High City, White Pie's pot-to-table polenta feast on Thursday, January 30, is definitely not of that ilk. Instead, creamy, cheesy polenta will be poured directly from its pot onto one of the restaurant's marble community tables, where it will be topped with goodies like bone marrow, meatballs and roasted veggies and accompanied by a handful of sauces, including pesto, romesco and olive oil. The $45 price tag also includes a small starter, dessert and a glass of house wine; the messy, mouthwatering fun starts at 7 p.m. at the pizza place at 1702 Humboldt Street. Ensure you don't miss out — there are just twenty seats available — by snapping up your ticket on Eventbrite or Facebook.
Denver chef Elise Wiggins is known primarily for her Italian fare, thanks to an extended stint at Panzano before she opened her own eatery, Cattivella. But she grew up far from Italy, in West Monroe, Louisiana, and the premiere of her new PBS cooking show, Roots to Ranches, focuses on an ingredient she hunted and cooked as a child: squirrel. On Thursday, January 30, the series debuts at 8 p.m., and prior to the show, Wiggins is hosting a three-course meal to celebrate at Cattivella, 10195 East 29th Drive. Starting at 6:30 p.m., the menu includes truffled shirred eggs with polenta; breaded, fried veal chop and prosciutto; and chocolate zeppole with hazelnut gelato (no squirrel, sadly, as the wily critters aren't USDA-approved). Tickets, $50, include a prosecco toast and viewing party; call 303-645-3779 to book your seat.
Friday, January 31
Women who know that relaxing with a good whiskey cocktail isn't just the purview of 1960s-era husbands, who return from the office each night just to loosen their ties and slump grumpily into an armchair to sulk while nursing a tumbler of booze for a few hours, will want to consider Women Who Whiskey's Old Fashioned class on Friday, January 31. The High Lonesome, 3360 Navajo Street, welcomes pro whiskey taster Jackie Zykan to teach a class on mixing the classic spirit; starting at 5 p.m., the free class welcomes women over 21 to learn how to make three different varieties of the drink. Ladies, learn more on Facebook, then RSVP to email@example.com to ensure your spot in class (seating is limited); gentlemen, try not to brood too much about being excluded, and try mansplaining the difference between whiskey and whisky to some of your buddies for a change.
Keep reading for future food and drink happenings...
Saturday, February 1
Now that the holidays are behind us and your mind is unclouded by merriment, cheer or the desire to chug as many drinks as quickly as possible to mitigate the awkwardness of family gatherings and work parties, you'll recall that you drank some very regrettable champagne during December (or maybe you don't remember, but trust us — you did). Bubbly may be celebratory, but that doesn't mean it's all good. Luckily, you can start honing your champagne-tasting skills now so you know what to serve, order and avoid like the plague in eleven months' time. Hotel Teatro, 1100 14th Street, is hosting a tasting class on Saturday, February 1, from 2 to 3:30 p.m., with a pair of the Nickel's sommeliers guiding you through tastings of capital "C" champagne and other sparkling wines and giving advice on pairings. Tickets, $45 on Eventbrite, include a charcuterie plate with nuts and fruit, and invaluable knowledge that will help you avoid a bad bubbly hangover the next time someone decides to pop a cork. NOTE: This event was previously scheduled for Sunday, January 19.
Wednesday, February 5
Pre-Valentine's Day, you can still treat your sweetie (even if — especially if — your sweetie is yourself!) to something explosive at Bistro Vendôme, 1420 Larimer Street. Throw off the shackles of the Gregorian calendar and pricy prix fixe menus and book a table on Wednesday, February 5, for a sparkling wine dinner. The five courses include delights like a progressive oyster trio with quince-guajillo jelly, spicy cranberry mustard and gooseberry mignonette; fried chicken served with cucumber and caviar crème fraiche; and banana cheesecake in a peanut-panko crust. Five pink and white sparklers accompany the $125 meal; the corks come out at 6:30 p.m. Take a look at the complete menu on Bistro's Facebook page, then call 303-825-3232 for reservations and be prepared to win(e) Valentine's Day a week in advance.
Saturday, February 8
Rats aren't all bad — especially if they're talented and adorable (Remy from Ratatouille), meme-able (Pizza Rat) or the first animal of the zodiac, bringing rebirth and renewal (Lunar New Year). And on Saturday, February 8, you can celebrate the Year of the Rat (which admittedly begins a couple of weeks earlier, on January 25) at the Chinese New Year party put on by the Nathan Yip Foundation. From 5:30 to 11 p.m., ballrooms at the Grand Hyatt Denver, 1750 Welton Street, will be transformed into an expansive night market, with food stations, games, palm readers, calligraphers and traditional clothing; this year, there will also be a formal Chinese banquet where guests can enjoy traditions such as yu sheng, a salad composed of auspicious ingredients that are mixed at the table by diners to ensure a prosperous new year. Tickets ($250, or $150 for young professionals under 36), along with details and colorful pictures of the event, are available now on the foundation's website.
There are an infinite number of ways to construct a martini; the flashy versions that most catch our attention (and ire!) are the ones that combine random liquors — not gin or vodka — with an off-the-wall flavor and then tack "tini" onto the end (popcorn-tini, anyone?). For the discerning though, a martini is gin and vermouth; vodka is acceptable, but only in a pinch. On Saturday, February 8, see how Denver bars build their drinks at the Shaken, Not Stirred Martini Party. The annual fundraiser for Boys Hope Girls Hope, a nonprofit organization that provides mentoring, tutoring and scholarships to academically motivated kids from disadvantaged backgrounds, takes over the History Colorado Center, 1200 Broadway, from 7 to 10 p.m., with appetizers and dancing to accompany bartenders' creations. Tickets are $75 or $125 on the Boys Hope Girls Hope website.
Sunday, February 9
Accio pint glass! On Sunday, February 9, all you have to do is swish your wand about to summon good times and cheer at the generically named Wizard's Beer Festival (the wizarding world has become significantly more litigious, it seems). Diebolt Brewing Co., 3855 Mariposa Street, is the site of the shenanigans, with four two-hour sessions throughout the day, beginning at 11 a.m. and 1:30, 4 and 6:30 p.m. There will be tarot card readers, DJs and wand-making classes; your $45 ticket will get you a welcome beer and tickets for five further potions. Just remember: You can't evanesco your hangover the next day. Pick up your tickets at Eventbrite before those sneaky Slytherins find a way to steal them all.
Saturday, February 15
The folks that brought you November's mac and cheese festival are doubling down on dairy with a grilled cheese and beer festival on Saturday, February 15. Yes, after stuffing yourself on ooey, gooey, creamy mac, you can now get your cheese and carb combo in the form of crispy, crunchy sandwiches washed down by craft beer. Show up for unlimited bites from Blake Street Tavern, Maine Shack and Cheese Love Grill, among others; bottomless brews are courtesy of Horse and Dragon, Mockery, Spice Trade and Zuni Street. Tickets are currently on sale on Eventbrite or Facebook for $54 or $89 (the Big Cheese option gets you early entry and full-sized beers instead of samples), though prices are set to increase as the event approaches. Choose from the afternoon (12:30 to 3:30 p.m.) or evening (5 to 8 p.m.) session at Runway 35 Park, 8863 East 47th Avenue.
Friday, February 21, through Sunday, March 1
For ten days in late February, Denver eateries are going to be crammed with diners seeking great deals. Yes, Denver Restaurant Week returns on Friday, February 21, and runs through Sunday, March 1; both longstanding institutions and trendy hot spots will be serving multi-course prix fixe menus offered at just $25, $35 or $45. Visit the event website, where you'll find scrumptious pics of some of last year's most delectable dishes, as well as over 200 participating restaurants and their 2020 menus (some of our favorites include AJ's Pit Bar-B-Q, Il Posto, Vesta and Denver Milk Market). The race for reservations is on! It's you vs. the rest of Denver scrambling to book the best tables in town.
Thursday, March 5
The annual kickoff to the Boulder International Film Festival, CineChef, returns on Thursday, March 5, with a literal battle of the sexes (there are knives involved, after all). It's the men versus the women as the chefs go head to head at Boulder's Rembrandt Yard, 1301 Spruce Street; each team will turn out film-inspired fare, with guests voting on the most scrumptious cinematic bites. Participating chefs include Linda Hampsten Fox (the Bindery), Becca Henry (ChoLon) and John Platt (Riffs Urban Fare). Further details and tickets for the 5:30 p.m. event ($100 or $145) are up now on the festival's website.
Thursday, March 12
A wealth of Denver's A-list restaurants are uniting under one roof on Thursday, March 12, to raise money for the National Kidney Foundation at its annual feast, Great Chefs of the West. Starting at 6 p.m., Exdo Event Center, 1399 35th Street, will play host to talent from Death & Co., Mercantile, the Bindery, American Elm, El Five, Woodie Fisher and over fifteen other restaurants and bars serving their most extravagant bites and beverages. And while tickets aren't cheap ($200, though you can save $20 by purchasing before January 6), you'd spend that much on Lyft rides alone trying to navigate from one end of town to another to hit up each and every eatery. Find out more about the event on the NKF website.
If you know of a date that should be on this calendar, send information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.