"M" is for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which starts off the week — but it's also for mole, menus and market boxes and animals, all of which also make appearances. Here are the ten most memorable food and drink events for the week, plus some upcoming ones you'll want to mark on your culinary calendar.
Monday, January 21
Anyone who's ever made mole at home knows the strong temptation to leave it to the pros when they're craving the ingredient- and labor-intensive sauce. While the multi-hour process of frying, pulverizing and straining (and straining and straining and straining) chiles and spices may result in the best dish you've ever eaten, it also leaves a path of destruction and dirty dishes in its wake. But from now through Sunday, March 31, you can satisfy your mole craving with ease as Tamayo, 1400 Larimer Street, adds four new dishes to its menu for its Mole Festival. Red and black mole may be familiar to Denver diners, but the Distrito Federal's green pipian mole (made with pumpkin seeds) and Oaxaca's unusual white mole (prepared from skinned nuts, banana and golden raisins) make appearances as well. Entrees range from $22 to $27, or you can get a sampler of all four glossy sauces for $15; visit Tamayo's website to see the full menu.
Tuesday, January 22
Put down the milk, all you cookie monsters. Tart and dry ciders make a surprisingly fitting foil for cookies, especially when those ciders are being poured at Stem Ciders' RiNo taproom at 2811 Walnut Street. On Tuesday, January 22, nibble on four cookies baked by Good Sugar Baking with four ciders. These will be far from standard sugar cookies, so ready your tastebuds for tomato cookies with chile guava cider, white chocolate cranberry cookies with spiced black currant cider, butterscotch pecan cookies with pear cider, and triple chocolate cookies with coffee cider. The quartet runs $20 per person, starting at 5 p.m. until the cookies run out.
Wednesday, January 23
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 will be up on Visit Denver on Wednesday, January 23; be sure you book your first choices right away, before someone else nabs your table.
What's an avid eater to do in the depths of winter, when the days are short and Colorado farms aren't producing? Start dreaming of the return of spring markets and CSA boxes, of course. And even though veggies haven't been planted yet, the deadline to sign up for north Denver's winter CSA (that's Community Supported Artisans of Denver) is Wednesday, January 23. The eight-week commitment will cost you $480 and includes a weekly box of goodies from Colorado Craft Butchers, cafe and bakery the Noshery, Call to Arms Brewing and excellent cottage business Raleigh Street Bakery. Stop by the Call to Arms taproom at 4526 Tennyson Street (where you'll also pick up your box every Monday from 4 to 7 p.m. from January 28 through March 25) to sign up, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to snag one of the thirty available spots. Get all the details on the Call to Arms Facebook page.
While the Inventing Room Dessert Shop, 4431 West 29th Avenue, is closed for the winter, fans of owner Ian Kleinman's whimsical creations can still get a mouthful at the Gobblefunk dinner on Wednesday, January 23. This is the ninth version of Kleinman's monthly dinners — which often sell out, so hopefully you've already reserved your spot. The meal's theme is "Galaxy," and diners will definitely be transported with otherworldy "Moon Pies" of pumpkin-seed cake stuffed with goat cheese and crab, and an entree of smoked tenderloin with gravlox and charcoal potatoes dubbed "The Black Hole." The four-course dinner starts at 6 p.m. and includes paired nitro cocktails for $100. Call 303-885-2802 to reserve your seat on the spaceship; details are online at the dessert parlor's website.
Thursday, January 24
It's a few weeks until Valentine's Day, but do yourself (and your bae or bestie) a favor by planning ahead — way ahead — and booking a seat at The Bindery's His & Hers dinner on Thursday, January 24. The "his" (chefs Bo Porytko and Dan Lasiy of the late, great Rebel Restaurant) and "her" (Linda Hampsten Fox, chef/owner of the Bindery, 1817 Central Street) are each taking on the same ingredients for seven courses, resulting in an epic fourteen-dish spread that's sure to capture the straight-up weirdness of Rebel, the refined creativity of the Bindery, and the magic that happens when the trio takes to the kitchen. Dinner runs from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., and tickets ($109 on eventbrite.com) include one cocktail, tax and tip.
Seafood may not come from anywhere near Denver, but craft beer certainly does. For a dinner serving both, Bamboo Sushi, at 2715 17th Street, will get the fresh fish to town, while Zuni Street Brewing will bring the beer — from just a few blocks away. On Thursday, January 24, enjoy four courses, each paired with a different Zuni Street beer, for $50. Tickets are available at Eventbrite for two seatings, the first at 6 p.m. and the second at 8 p.m. Don't be shellfish; bring a friend.
Two Los Angeles-area gang members from opposing factions found common ground over cooking, and the result was peace — and Trap Kitchen. Malachi "Chef Spank" Jenkins and Roberto "Sous Chef News" Smith are bringing their Compton brand of culinary magic to Rock Steady, 2100 Curtis Street, on Thursday, January 24. Two options are available from 8 to 11 p.m.: a buffet dinner for $30, or the Trap Kitchen Full Meal Deal Bundle, which includes dinner, the Trap Kitchen cookbook and a T-shirt for $75. Get your tickets on eventbrite.com. Menu details are limited, but expect a combination of soul food and LA street eats.
If you're the kind of person who doesn't even think about hitting the town until at least 9 p.m., Mister Tuna (3033 Brighton Boulevard) has your kind of event on Thursday, January 24. Starting at 10 p.m., chef Ryan Rau of Urban Farmer and chef Ian Wortham of Tavernetta will face off in a rapid-fire culinary showdown. After a secret ingredient is revealed, the chefs must prepare a number of dishes while racing against the clock. Tickets are $10 each at chefshowdown.nightout.com or $12 at the door. Small bites will be available with the cost of admission, but drinks (including sake from Colorado Sake Co.) are extra. A portion of ticket sales will be donated to We Don't Waste.
Friday, January 25
For the 74th year in a row, the Brown Palace Hotel is welcoming a very unusual guest to on Friday, January 25: the National Western Stock Show's 2019 Grand Champion steer. This cowtown doesn't roll out the red carpet for just any cow, though; in addition to being blow-dried and fluffed to within an inch of its life, the steer (as with most creatures that pass through the doors of the Brown, 321 17th Street) has some serious money behind him: Last year's Grand Champion sold for $140,000. The grand entrance into the hotel's atrium happens at 11 a.m., followed by photo ops and, if you're feeling flush, afternoon tea, before the steer of the show departs at 1 p.m.; secure your spot by calling 303-297-3111. Better straighten those pinkies and brush up on your Emily Post if you're going to spring for tea, which will run you upwards of $40; you don't want to look like, well, a bull in a china shop.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
Sunday, January 27
Il Porcellino Salumi, 4334 West 41st Avenue, expanded dramatically this year with the addition of a production facility in Basalt, and with its increased capacity, it's also bringing a slew of new products to market. One of those is the meat CSA the Berkeley shop is debuting in 2019. Just think of a typical summer produce CSA, but for carnivores. Each box comes with the makings for two meals for two people, such as polenta, shredded beef in chile sauce and a half-chicken marinated in white wine, butter and garlic. The program will run from January through March, with four boxes each month; customers for February (the first month of the CSA) must order by Sunday, January 27, and can pick up their goodies at the shop each Sunday, beginning February 3. A one-month commitment ($200) is required, so call 303-477-3206 to sign up, then say goodbye to hitting the grocery store and stop fretting about recalled ground beef for the next thirty days.
Friday, February 1
Before chef Carrie Baird took over the kitchen at Bar Dough, she was on a little TV cooking competition. You may have heard of it: season fifteen of Top Chef, which was filmed in Denver in 2017. Now Baird will join fellow competitors Brother Luck (of Colorado Springs's Four by Brother Luck) and mustachioed top three finalist Joe Sasto for a Top Chef alumni dinner on at the restaurant, 2227 West 32nd Avenue, on Friday, February 1. The six-course menu and wine pairings will run you $130 ($90 without booze), or splurge on a seat in the eatery's private room, which includes a change to chat with each chef, for $150. Expect Baird's signature fancy toast, two pasta courses from Sasto and dessert from Luck, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting victims of California's devastating Camp Fire. Call 720-668-8506 for your chance to channel Tom or Padma.
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Tuesday, February 5, and Wednesday, February 6
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.
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.
If you know of a date that should be on this calendar, send information to email@example.com.