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Long gone are the days when Denver’s culinary calendar overflowed with five wine dinners at five different restaurants. But is the wine dinner roaring back?

We’re cautiously optimistic: This month there are two real live, pants-required wine dinners coming up. Keep reading to find out more about both of them, as well as a chance for free soup, a lecture on Colorado’s Mexican food, a progressive dinner and more.

Emily Griffith (center), whose tradition of feeding the hungry hasn't stopped, even during a pandemic.

Emily Griffith (center), whose tradition of feeding the hungry hasn’t stopped, even during a pandemic.

Courtesy Emily Griffith Technical College

Tuesday, February 9
Denver chef Dave Hadley (formerly of Biju’s Little Curry Shop and the Food Network’s Chopped, currently of his own Samosa Shop) is returning to the cable channel on Tuesday, February 9, in an episode of Supermarket Stakeout. The cooking competition involves open-air cooking in a parking lot and sticking up shoppers for their recently purchased groceries, but the real reason to tune in at 8 p.m. is so you can nosh on Hadley’s samosas, which have been popping up at markets around town and will be available to order on the Samosa Shop website the same day.

Educator Emily Griffith began giving out a free bowl of soup every night to her evening students after one of them fainted during class, presumably from hunger. That was in the early 1900s (last century, if there’s actually anyone over the age of 21 reading this), and the tradition has survived in the form of a free soup giveaway every year on February 9 (Griffith’s birthday) at the technical school that bears her name. On Tuesday, February 9, masked guests can walk or drive up to Emily Griffith Technical College at 1860 Lincoln Street between 10:30 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. (or until supplies last) and receive a serving of beef and barley soup. And if you’re interested in culinary education, you can always get info on EGTC’s culinary and Culinary Quick Start programs online. 

Stoic & Genuine is pouring Colorado wine this week.

Stoic & Genuine is pouring Colorado wine this week.

Danielle Lirette

Thursday, February 11
Food historian and writer Gustavo Arellano (perhaps best known in these parts as the Mexican from his “Ask a Mexican” column) has a lot to say about Mexican food in Colorado — which should be a surprise to no one who’s heard him talk about Den-Mex and Pueblo-Mex food. (He knows “Colo-Mex” is too broad a term to describe the variety of Mexican dishes in the Centennial state.) Listen to him wax poetic about all the Mex (though we’re guessing he won’t be that interested in, say, Highlands Ranch-Mex) during a livestreamed talk on Thursday, February 11. From 6 to 7 p.m., he’ll chat about the history of south-of-the-border cuisine in the north-of-the-border United States (as if arbitrary borders can contain the spread of one of the world’s greatest cuisines), and especially in Colorado. Tickets for the Zoom event are $10; find out more on the event’s Facebook page and purchase your seat on History Colorado’s online storefront.

The Dairy Block, 1800 Wazee Street, is hosting another progressive dinner in advance of Valentine’s Day — albeit one that’s stationary for you (the diner) and pretty far removed from the original ’70s-era experience of going door to door in the suburbs to eat with your neighbors. This progressive dinner includes five courses that will be served to you while you sit inside one of the Dairy Block Alley’s bubble tents: charcuterie board and Rosé from Blanchard Family Wines; ceviche from Kachina with a cocktail from Poka Lola; braised pork belly and a cocktail from Foraged; yakitori skewers from Bruto with a Seven Grand cocktail; and opera cake from Denver Milk Market with Irish coffee. Dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 11, or Friday, February 12; the cost is $175 per person, with the heated tents seating a maximum of four people. Read more details and purchase tickets through Rebel Experiences.

Everyone knows there are vineyards in Colorado, but it’s not that common to find the fruits of the Western Slope’s labor on wine lists around Denver. On Thursday, February 11, at 6:30 p.m., Stoic & Genuine (1701 Wynkoop Street) is hosting a feast pairing Palisade’s Colterris Winery’s juices with five courses. Think scallops in citrus beurre blanc with Sauvignon Blanc; crispy black bass and sunchokes two ways with Malbec rosé; seafood cassoulet (octopus, mussels, seafood sausage and pork belly) and Petit Verdot. If you want to dine in (the restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating), the price tag is $100; if you want to take out, it’s $65. Reserve your meal on Tock.

Don't let the romantic lighting fool you. At Burns, the bartenders are prepared to listen to lonely hearts pour out their sob stories in a cheeky I-might-murder-my-darling themed event.EXPAND

Don’t let the romantic lighting fool you. At Burns, the bartenders are prepared to listen to lonely hearts pour out their sob stories in a cheeky I-might-murder-my-darling themed event.

Courtesy Burns Family Artisan Ales

Friday, February 12
Until now, fans of Comal Heritage Food Incubator’s excellent Mexican food had to make it to the restaurant’s dining room, 3455 Ringsby Court, for weekday-only lunches. But this month the kitchen, which doubles as a training ground for entrepreneurial cooks, has started offering weekly Comal at Home dinner kits for pick-up and (coming soon) delivery. For $60, you’ll get kits that serve four to six people, plus instructions for prepping and finishing the spread at home (there’s actual slicing, dicing and cooking required). Orders must be placed on Comal’s virtual storefront no later than Wednesday for pick-up between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. each Friday. The menu for Friday, February 12, includes mixiote de pollo (marinated chicken drumsticks, nopales, potatoes, onions and carrots steamed in banana leaves and served with rice, beans and handmade tortillas); a vegetarian version is also available. Future offerings include tostadas de pata (tostadas with trotter and pickled carrots, red onion and habanero) and pork or vegetarian mixiote.

Burns Family Artisan Ales, 2505 West Second Avenue, is no Johnny-come-lately when it comes to making beer. The combined decades of the owners’ professional and personal experience have resulted in complex, high-alcohol brews as well as a mental Rolodex of TV commercials — you know, back when your viewing choices were network or cable. From 7:30 to 9 p.m. on Friday, February 12, the brewery is hosting a pre- and anti-Valentine’s event called “What Do You Want on Your Lover’s Tombstone?” For $10 per person on Eventbrite, you can reserve a seat at a table along with a personal pizza, which will be served to you with a sympathetic ear. (The beer in which to drown your sorrows is extra.) Pre-orders are due by Wednesday, February 10.

Keep reading for future food and drink happenings…

Noble Riot is going balls to the wall (perhaps literally) this Valentine's Day.EXPAND

Noble Riot is going balls to the wall (perhaps literally) this Valentine’s Day.

Armando Martinez

Sunday, February 14
Yes, we’ve already published our annual Valentine’s Day list, but there are plenty of places to spread your love around on Sunday, February 14. Here are a couple more (ahem) unusual offerings we’ve come across:

Noble Riot is offering a Valentine’s Day wine pairing from 4 to 5:30 p.m., but it’s not with chocolates (even fancy confections) or flowers. Instead, sign up on Tock (for $69, naturally) and you’ll get a half-bottle of Champagne, a half-bottle of red, a virtual lesson in BDSM from domme Mistress Nicci, and a Noble Riot-branded blindfold. You can add on a heart-shaped paddle or a black riding crop (but you can’t add on extra wine, you greedy slut). While pick-up details on the wine bar’s Instagram page are scarce, we assume you’ll be filled in on the info when you’ve done enough to deserve it.

In a less, um, intense, V Day experience, chef Taj Cooke is turning out a Jamaican menu at Pony Up, 1808 Blake Street. Reserve your spot for one of the three seatings (4 to 6 p.m., 6 to 8 p.m. or 8 to 10 p.m.) on Eventbrite, then show up and get your island on with umbrella drinks from the bar, both sweet and savory fritters, ackee and saltfish, jerk chicken, jerk shiitake sandwiches, escovitch snapper, rum cake and more.

Monday, February 15
Food access and advocacy group Front Line Farming is now accepting applications for 2021’s beginning farmer apprenticeship. The program, which runs from May 24 through October 8, is designed to educate apprentices about composting, planting from seed, irrigation systems, pest management and harvesting (among many, many other things) through twenty hours per week of hands-on farm work as well as classes and seminars. Stipends will be paid to those who are selected for the program. The apprenticeship is open to aspiring BIPOC growers. Applications are due by Monday, February 15; find the application and more details here.

Frasca (pictured here pre-COVID) is offering at-home wine education this winter.

Frasca (pictured here pre-COVID) is offering at-home wine education this winter.

Courtesy Frasca

Sunday, February 21
If your love affair with boxed wine is waning at the same time your income is soaring, enroll in Frasca’s series of wine classes. Each lesson includes six bottles of wine, a workbook, a pre-recorded course video and access to a live Q&A. Visit Tock to choose from one of three classes (or sign up for them all, though at $350 a pop, you’d better be one loaded learner): the Rhône Valley (Q&A scheduled for Friday, March 19); Reisling (Q&A takes place on Friday, March 26); and soil and minerality (Q&A on Friday, April 2). You’ll pick up your course materials on Sunday, February 21, so you’ll have a month to sip, study and mull over questions before the Q&As (all of which are scheduled at 5:30 p.m.). Pick-up locations in both Denver and Boulder are available; visit Frasca’s website for details.

Thursday, February 25, through Sunday, February 28
If you’ve been itching to attend a beer or wine festival (sitting on your couch surrounded by dead soldiers from the last week doesn’t count), you’ll want to snag tickets to Fade 2 Black now. Like, right now. Like, go buy them on the event website and then come back and read the rest of the description of the weekend devoted to drinking beer and wine made by Black producers. The festival launches Thursday, February 25, with a beer dinner from 7 to 9 p.m. with brews from California brewery Crown and Hops. The four-course wine dinner is Friday, February 26, and includes five different wines. Saturday, February 28, brings the grand tasting, with over twenty beers and wines, appetizers and live music, from 2 to 6 p.m. And this all takes place outside your house, at Peak Beverage, 4375 Brighton Boulevard. And if you’ve truly grown roots in the past twelve months, you can still opt for virtual beer and wine tastings on Sunday, February 28. Tickets for the in-person events run from $75 to $125 and are very limited (just thirty are being sold for each dinner and fifty for each grand tasting session). Find out more on the event website.

Mythology Distillery and Colorado Symphony, unite!EXPAND

Mythology Distillery and Colorado Symphony, unite!

Emily Sierra

Thursday, March 11
On Thursday, March 11, Mythology Distillery is joining forces with the Crescendo Society, a group of dysfunctional siblings endowed with superpowers and raised by an emotionally distant, demanding father as a vigilante…oh, wait, wrong press release. In any case, the Crescendo Society (which we prefer to think of as a super-secret, under-35, militant cheerleading troupe rather than the “young professionals society” of the Colorado Symphony) will be joining symphony musicians as well as Mythology for a virtual cocktail class with live musical performance at 7 p.m. Purchase your cocktail kit for $35 ($25 for a second kit) and you’ll get four ounces of three different spirits, plus the rest of the drink ingredients, the cocktail demo and a chat with musicians after their performance. The deadline to order is Friday, March 5; cocktail kit pick-up is at the distillery’s tasting room, 3622 Tejon Street, during regular business hours (4 to 8 p.m.) from Monday, March 8, through Thursday, March 11. Get details and tickets on the Colorado Symphony website.

Wednesday, March 24
Denver’s Staenberg-Loup Jewish Community Center generally hosts its expansive JAAMM (Jewish Arts, Authors, Movies and Music) Festival over several months in the fall, with live cultural events across the city. In 2020, of course, that was upended. The silver lining: The fest is going on for a full twelve months (starting last year and well into 2021), and all programming is virtual. On Wednesday, March 24, James Beard Award-winning author of The Cooking Gene, food historian and deeply engaging Instagram presence Michael Twitty will discuss the holiday of Passover. Tickets for the 7 p.m. lecture, $18, are on sale now at the festival’s website, where you can also see previous events on demand.

Know of an event that belongs on this calendar? Send information to [email protected]

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