Best Denver Food and Drink Things to Do This Week – Westword

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You can savor dishes from Scotland and Ghana this week, as well as cinematic culinary creations from around the world as the Flatirions Food Film Fest kicks off; you can also get an early start on planning 2021’s garden with help from the staff at Hudson Gardens.

And after you’ve savored the week’s events, you can also start planning for other events to add to your culinary calendar in the month to come….

Monday, January 25
Yet another tradition suffering in the face of COVID: the Burns night supper. The meal includes a stuffed sheep stomach being paraded around a room and serenaded on the anniversary of poet Robert Burns’s birthday, on Monday, January 25, and it’s a wonderfully weird example of culinary quirkiness. This year, the only example of the (performance) art we can find in town is at Clancy’s Irish Pub, 7000 West 38th Avenue in Wheat Ridge. For $20, you’ll get haggis, whiskey, bread pudding and your choice of bangers and mash, fish and chips, salmon or shepherd’s pie. Reservations between 6 and 9 p.m. are required; make yours by calling the watering hole at 720-456-7320 and mentioning the dinner. Find more details on Clancy’s Facebook page.

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Smoked chicken and jollof rice from one of Modou Jaiteh’s past pop-ups.

Amy Antonation

Wednesday, January 27
Front Range fans of African food (a descriptor so broad it’s only useful if there are only a handful of restaurants serving it in the whole state) are being dealt a double blow with the recent closure of African Grill & Bar in Green Valley Ranch (luckily, the Lakewood location is still serving) and the departure of chef Modou Jaiteh of Jacaranda to South Carolina. At least Jaiteh is doing one last kitchen takeover of Arcana (909 Walnut Street in Boulder) from Wednesday, January 27, through Sunday, January 31, before he leaves. The West African(ish) menu will be available for dine-in, takeout and delivery. Make in-house reservations on Tock, and visit Arcana’s website for menu details.

It’s not too early to start planning for a garden this spring. Whether you want to sow seeds and nurture a garden as a meditative practice, or as a way to connect with nature, save money on produce or make sure you have a food source for the coming apocalypse, you can get a head start at Hudson Gardens’ online seedling class. Learn how to start your crop from seed on Wednesday, January 27, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Take a look at the Hudson Gardens Facebook page for details, then sign up for $18 on its website.

Thursday, January 28
Major props to the Flatirons Food Film Festival, one of the few food events that knows the true meaning of the word “postpone.” As in: The festival was actually postponed from October 2020 to January 2021, when it moved completely online. We implore other food event organizers to take a page out of FFFF’s book and stop claiming, “Our bacon-brownie-burger bash bash has been postponed from July 2020 to July 2021,” when what they really mean is, “We’ve canceled our overcrowded festival this year because the world is on fire.” From Thursday, January 28, through Friday, February 5, you can see films about about Los Angeles chef Evan Funke’s life after walking away from his restaurant, Bucato (Funke); indigenous chefs fighting to maintain their traditional food ways (Gather); the quest for elusive wild cacao and the perfect, sustainable chocolate (Setting the Bar); and a period piece about a cook seeking his fortune in the early nineteenth-century Wild West (First Cow). You can get an all-access pass to watch the complete festival schedule — ten features and three short films — for just $90, or two-, four- and six-packs for $22 to $80 on the Fest’s website.

Keep reading for future food and drink events….

Saturday, January 30
Vegan cheese lovers, rejoice! Saturday, January 30, plant-based eaters can dig in to the wonderful world of cheese-making with a virtual vegan cheese-making class. You’ll learn how to make three different varieties: tofu-based gorgonzola and feta as well as cashew-based ricotta. The 2 p.m. class is run by Longmont farm animal sanctuary Good Life Refuge, and the cost of the class ($15 or $20, depending what you want to pay) will go directly to the goats, cows, turkeys and pigs in its care. Sign up on the nonprofit organization’s website and you’ll receive a shopping list and a Zoom link.

The Pinot Posse has been putting on swanky wine dinners for fifteen years. As you’d expect, high-end pinot noir has always been the main event, and even in the Plague Times, that isn’t changing. On Saturday, January 30, all Jax Fish House locations are offering a three-course seafood meal to pair with wine from highly regarded Oregon and California producers. For $220, you’ll get Dungeness crab salad, salmon tataki and seared ahi tuna for two, along with two bottles of pinot (choose from five bottles from four different wineries, with vintages going back to 2015). Visit your closest Jax location’s Tock page to order no later than Wednesday, January 27; then pick up your goods on Saturday between 1 and 3 p.m. The ticket price also includes access to an exclusive webcast with winemakers from 5:45 to 7 p.m. Visit the Jax Fish House website for more details, including descriptions of each wine. 

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The Dairy Block calls these “bubble igloos;” you’ll be forgiven for thinking of them as Saran Wrap tents.

Jeff Fierberg

Thursday, February 11
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.

Sunday, February 14
Normally, we can predict with some degree of accuracy what a Valentine’s Day meal in a restaurant is going to look like (prix fixe menu, crowded dining room, harried servers). This year? Making any kind of prediction is a fool’s errand, especially when the world’s most beloved epidemiologist (call me, Dr. Fauci) can’t predict whether or not eateries are going to be open. So stay home and put your money toward a good cause at a Sunday, February 14, fundraiser for Denver Urban Gardens (DUG), a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the development of community gardens across the city. From 5:30 to 7 p.m., join chef Biju Thomas (of Mixn Match and the late, lamented Biju’s Little Curry Shop) making a cocktail or non-alcoholic beverage, fattoush, winter veggie roast with chicken, falafel or tofu, and a pistachio pastry for dessert. Order a VIP meal kit for two, $250, on DUG’s website and pick it up at the outfit’s offices, 1031 33rd Street. You can also opt to purchase your own ingredients with the Table for Two package (includes an ingredient list and access to the party) for $150.

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.

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 cafe@westword.com.

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