Denver's culinary scene owes a lot to our neighbors south of the border: From mariachi and Mexican art to Mexican-inspired beer and nationally televised tacos, this weekend is full of events that wouldn't exist were it not for our hermanos mexicanos. Here are six of our favorite food and drink events over the next few days.
Friday, January 19
MCA Denver's final Black Sheep Friday of the season takes place on Friday, January 19, and it's sure to be a tuneful and tasty sendoff to one of the arts scene's most innovative events. At Hibachi Mariachi, guests can enjoy a live performance from a Colorado Youth Mariachi Program-trained band while perusing the MCA's collection and munching on grilled treats from strategically placed hibachis. The first hundred guests (21 and over) will also receive a complimentary brew from Ratio Beerworks, so we recommend arriving promptly at 5 p.m. at the museum, 1485 Delgany Street. The event also represents artsy Denverites' last opportunity to check out the Saber Acomodar exhibit. Museum admission is $5 (free for members), but there's no additional charge for Hibachi Mariachi. Visit mcadenver.org for more details.
Saturday, January 20
Everybody loves a Yeti. Denver's own imperial stout has been around for years and keeps turning out delicious variations: chocolate, vanilla, chai, barrel-aged. At noon on Saturday, January 20, both of Great Divide Brewing Co.'s taprooms (1812 35th Street and 2201 Arapahoe Street) will be tapping the newest iteration of its hairy beast, Mexican Chocolate Yeti. The cacao and coffee beer is modeled on champurrado, a steaming-hot chocolate beverage thickened with masa and spiced with cinnamon, anise or cloves. The beer is part of the brewery's Local Knowledge line, and as such will only be available at the taprooms, so get over there before this elusive creature vanishes into the wild.
One of our favorite upscale taquerias in town, Dos Santos, 1475 East 17th Avenue, is getting some well-deserved recognition on the national level; Travel Channel's homage to culinary excess, Food Paradise, stopped by last year to talk turkey (er...chicken) with the taco joint. The resulting episode, "Lots of Cluck," will air on Saturday, January 20, at 2 p.m., so tune in for a look at Dos Santos's tinga taco. Don't have cable? Just go to the restaurant and experience the decadent, piled-mile-high creation for yourself. Doors open at 11 a.m., and happy hour — the only time you can score the $4 chicken tinga chips — runs from 3 to 6 p.m.
The Mile High Swappers ride again! No, it's not that kind of swap, you pervert — this endeavor is strictly a homemade, homegrown trade. The Denver Food Swap is scheduled for Saturday, January 20, and is the place for gardeners, bakers, homebrewers, avid cooks, chicken ranchers and mad food scientists of all kinds to exchange their creations with others who are interested in bartering for handcrafted goodies. Register for the swap at eventbrite.com, then show up at Huckleberry Roasters, 4301 Pecos Street, at 2 p.m. with at least five portions of your delicious victuals. You'll meet like-minded folk and head home with new foodstuffs to enjoy and spark your own creativity. Find out more about the Swappers' monthly get-togethers at milehighswappers.com.
Sunday, January 21
You need a little sour with your sweet — both in life and in food. Baere Brewing Company, 320 Broadway, is sagely applying this principle to its Truffle and Beer Pairing on Sunday, January 21. Instead of relying solely on the classic stout and chocolate combo (though there are some of those, as well), the four-course pairing will include a more unusual Berlinerweisse with woodruff ganache in white chocolate and boysenberry table sour with a berry truffle. Copia Confectionary is providing the tasty and beautiful chocolates, and will have additional sweets for sale in the taproom. The pairing will be available from noon to 8 p.m. (or until supplies run out) for $18. Details are posted on Baere's Facebook page.
We're deep in the depths of winter (such as it is — thanks, global warming), and there's nothing as comforting during long, dark nights as hearty German grub. Uncorked Kitchen, 8171 South Chester Street in Centennial, will make you a prince of pretzels and a wizard of Wiener schnitzel at its Taste of Germany cooking class on Sunday, January 21. Grab your freundin or freund for a Deutschland date night, where you'll whip up a pretzel-wrapped sausage with mustard sauce, Wiener schnitzel with black-pepper spaetzle, roasted cabbage with crispy ham and Black Forest whoopie pies. Class runs from 6 to 9 p.m. and will cost you $210 per couple (you can't put a price on true love or really good pan-fried dumplings). Find out more at Uncorked's website.
Keep reading for upcoming events on the culinary calendar....
Thursday, January 25
Host Padma Lakshmi might be the most recognizable face on Bravo's Top Chef, but we think Gail Simmons has the better job — she gets to eat (and judge) the food in a no-nonsense manner without having to deliver awkward sexual innuendo. After fifteen seasons on the show, Simmons recently penned Bringing It Home: Recipes From a Life of Adventurous Eating, and will be hosting a dinner at Frasca on Thursday, January 25, that showcases recipes from the cookbook. Diners will get a five-course dinner with wine pairings and an autographed copy of Bringing It Home for $160 (a veritable bargain at the Boulder restaurant); seatings start at 5 p.m. Call Frasca, 1738 Pearl Street, at 303-442-6966 to reserve your seat for a dinner with true foodie royalty.
Friday, February 9
Lunar New Year isn't until February 16, but why wait to celebrate the Year of the Dog (obviously the best year)? The Nathan Yip Foundation, which funds educational projects for children in rural Colorado and China, is putting on the dog at the biggest Chinese New Year bash in town on Friday, February 9. From 6 to 11 p.m., three floors of the McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue, will be transformed into a Chinese night market; from the traditional (lion dancers, calligraphers, fortunetellers) to the modern (silent disco, karaoke), revelers will be treated to pawsome entertainment while wining and dining at mastiff food stations and enjoying the open bar(k). Tickets are $100 for those under 35 (called "young professionals" tickets) and $225 for everyone else; fetch yours at nathanyipfoundation.org and get ready to party your tail off.
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Sunday, February 18, and Monday, February 19
If you love cured meats — and we mean really, really love cured meats — you know who Brian Polcyn is. The George Clooney of salumi, James Beard Award nominee and author of Charcuterie and Salumi is coming to Denver on Sunday, February 18, and Monday, February 19, to teach a two-day charcuterie and whole-animal butchery course. The class will be held at Il Porcellino, 4334 West 41st Avenue, starting at 9 a.m. both days. And while this course isn't for the casual learner (Polcyn will cover topics like European vs. American butchery and how to purchase and break down whole animals and still turn a profit) or the squeamish (a whole pig will be used for demonstration), it's a unique opportunity for chefs and serious hobbyists. See Polcyn's Facebook page for more details.
Friday, February 23
Gentle readers who still get bent out of shape that Westword covers Boulder as well as Denver: CineCHEF 2018 is the event for you. The event's fourth iteration happens on Friday, February 23, 2018, at Rembrandt Yard, 1301 Spruce Street in Boulder, when Boulder chefs face off against Denver chefs to prove who can create the tastiest, most creative bite based on a beloved film. Last year's roster included Daniel Asher of River and Woods serving smoked scallops, ceviche and Peruvian chile in an homage to Up in Smoke, and Steven Redzikowski of Oak at Fourteenth tapping Mia Wallace to hand out miniature burgers and a $5 shake à la Pulp Fiction. Tickets, $95, are on sale now at ticketfly.com and include admission to the film Michelin Stars: Tales From the Kitchen. So, gentle readers, etc., purchase your tickets and start planning the long and dangerous trip up to The Town That Totally Isn't Part of Denver to support your hometown heroes as they compete in hostile territory.
If you know of a date that should be on this calendar, send information to email@example.com.