In the spirit of Valentine's Day, this week's food and drink calendar is full of things we love: broads behind the bar, smoky mezcal, fancy doughnuts and power ballads from the 1990s. Here are six great culinary events over the next five days, as well as three more to mark on your culinary calendar.
Monday, February 11
On Monday, February 11, go where the girls (and the cocktails) are: Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom, 2637 Welton Street, for the Speed Rack bartending contest. From 6 to 10 p.m., Denver's best female bartenders will whip out their muddlers and shakers to see who can mix the fastest and tastiest drink. Spectators will get cocktail samples and apps, and 100 percent of ticket sales ($25 in advance on Cervantes' website, $30 at the door) will go to breast cancer charities.
So Derek in your office — you know, the one who wears short-sleeved Madras dress shirts — noticed your scowl today and asked if you had a case of the Mondays before laughing uproariously at his own joke. Chances are this did not improve your mood, but on Monday, February 11, Adelitas Cocina y Cantina, 2609 West Main Street in Littleton, aims to improve your mood with another "M" word: mezcal. Starting at 6:30 p.m., the kitchen will turn out five courses, each paired with a cocktail sample or neat pour of agave spirits (mezcal, tequila or rarer raicilla). The menu promises succulent roasted bone marrow, lamb stew and a short rib tamal with mole (a vegetarian menu is also available) for just $69.95; call 303-778-1294 for a reservation. Can't quite get over your case of the Mondays for a nice dinner out? Adelitas' Denver location, 1294 South Broadway, is serving the same menu on Thursday, February 14; visit the Facebook event pages for more details, including the full menu and list of drink pairings.
Tuesday, February 12
French wine can be a mystery, especially if you're not an expert in French geography. For most Americans, learning the ins and outs of Gallic juice of the grape is a losing proposition. But on Tuesday, February 12, you can learn about the country's famed wines — specifically, wines from female winemakers and vineyard owners — from real experts on France: les belles femmes de l'Alliance Française de Denver, 571 Galapago Street. Taste your way through a selection of wines paired with France's second-favorite export: cheese. The fun runs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and will cost you $75; reserve your spot on the Alliance Française website, and get ready for a tasty evening.
Wednesday, February 13
Offering to make a fancy Valentine's Day dinner for your honey at home in the hopes of 1) saving some coin and 2) getting some action, is a time-honored tradition — but what's a scheming sweetie to do when the big day rolls around and you realize you have no idea what to whip up? An unlikely source, ViewHouse Centennial, 7101 South Clinton Street, is here to save the day with its Aphrodisiacs and Cognacs Cooking Demo on Wednesday, February 13. From 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., chef Jose Guerrero will create a spread of bites traditionally thought to stimulate the...ahem...senses: oysters with chile-saffron mignonette; fried artichokes; figs and arugula in olive oil; and pomegranate, strawberries and chocolates. Sample the goods, sip cognac cocktails and take home recipes to try out on your crush. Reserve your spot for $35 on the eatery's website, and if you can't score with this menu, well, it's not them; it's you.
Thursday, February 14
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 like a lovesick widow, our deep devotion and unquenchable love for the fantastical doughnuts has never wavered, making Valentine's the perfect day for their return. From Thursday, February 14, through Sunday, February 17, the Molecular Donut Shop returns to the Inventing Room Dessert Shop, 4433 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.
Friday, February 15
Like many joints around town, Citizen Rail, 1899 16th Street, is offering a prix fixe menu for Valentine's Day — but we're more interested in the restaurant's Lonely Hearts Club, its late-night, ’90s-themed happy-hour happening on Friday, February 15. From 10 p.m. to midnight, singles (lonely or not) can partake in strawberry and Champagne Jell-O shots, mezcal and Campari punch, and bites from the restaurant's regular happy-hour menu, including sourdough garlic bread with burrata, and a dry-aged hot dog. There will also be giveaways of CDs with ballads from the era; hopefully, it will be a better effort than what Chris in Biology burned for you freshman year.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
Tuesday, February 19
February is a fine month for celebrating tasty morsels of joy with a hidden surprise inside — the kind of food that fills your heart with love. No, not chocolate bon bons, silly: We're talking about Asian dumplings. Station 26 Brewing Co., at 7045 East 38th Avenue, is hosting A Night of Dumplings and Beer on Tuesday, February 19. Chef Penelope Wong, most recently of Glenmoor Country Club, and chef Blaine Baggao of the Adobo Food Truck will present a four-course dumpling dinner paired with four beers from Station 26. Wong has been hard at work perfecting her dough folding and pleating, so be prepared for exquisite bites all evening; the dinner runs from 6:30 to 8 p.m., and tickets, available on eventbrite.com, cost $50.
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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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