As far as I'm concerned, fall can't come fast enough -- and it's not just because I'm looking forward to cooler temperatures, the peak of my chile crop, the rustling of leaves and my favorite holiday, which happens to be Halloween. The foray into fall also signals one of my favorite local events of the year: EatDenver's Harvest Week, a series of communal, family-style pop-up feasts inspired by Colorado's bounty, all of which take place at the GrowHaus, itself a thriving epicenter of locally grown produce.
This year's Harvest Week, in which 37 independently-owned restaurants participate, all of which are members of EatDenver, takes places over six days, beginning on September 22 with a Praise the Lard Barn Dance brunch -- a pig-focused revelry that will showcase swine from Snooze, Beatrice & Woodsley, The Lobby, Lou's Food Bar, Denver Deep Dish and The Fort. The nights that follow will feature themed dinners devoted to everything from a vegetarian blowout to the Feast of Hunters and Gatherers, the last dinner on September 27.
"The chefs worked together to come up with a lot of the themes for this year's Harvest Week brunch and dinners," says EatDenver executive director Elizabeth Woessner. "It's a great opportunity for them to throw a party, hang out with each other and mingle with guests, but more important, it all unfolds under the twinkling lights of this amazing indoor urban farm, and it gives the chefs the opportunity to work closely with local ranchers and farmers and use the best of Colorado's bounty, all under one roof, she adds," noting, too, that EatDenver partnered with the Colorado Brewer's Guild and CAVE, the Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology.
Woessner says that the addition of a vegetable-focused dinner, in which no animal proteins will be present, is a new theme for this year -- and one that makes perfect sense. "People were asking for it, and growing vegetables is a huge part of the Growhaus, so the goal is to try to source as many vegetables as possible from the farm -- that's about as fresh as it gets, plucking ingredients straight from the Growhaus and putting them on the plate."
The other dinner themes include the Hedonist's Guide to Tailgating, the Platte River Luau and Pig Roast and a dinner devoted to grapes vs. grains; guests are encouraged to dress to embody the theme (I except to see lots of Bronco gear for the tailgating party and an equal number of farmer overalls and pig masks at the barn dance brunch). Bringing your own place settings and wine glasses is a must -- and there are some awesome prizes, too, for those who strut the best costumes or saunter in with the most creative place settings.
In addition, every spread will be paired with craft beers and wines from local breweries and vintners, and each event will begin with a cocktail prelude highlighting locally-made spirits.
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Prices range from $50 to $75 per person, depending upon the event, and that's an all-inclusive price tag. "The price includes the works -- food, beverages, tax, gratuity -- everything," says Woessner. And take my word for it: You definitely won't leave hungry or thirsty. To purchase tickets, go to eatdenver.com/harvest-week-2013/. And I suggest snatching up those tickets sooner rather than later, because each event is capped at 100 guests and they sell out incredibly quickly.