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Slow Food Nations (July 17 – 21) returns to downtown Denver for its third annual festival this week—and there are more fun, educative events to attend than ever before. The entire shindig is being thrown by Slow Food USA (the domestic arm of the 33-year-old Italian-based organization Slow Food), which is based in Denver thanks to Colorado’s innovative culinary community and dining scene which continually bolsters the organization’s mission of “good, clean, and fair food” for all. So, this weekend, you have the chance to join hundreds of local and international chefs, activists, farmers, producers, and thought leaders as they put on nearly 100 workshops, demonstrations, meals, culinary exhibitions, educational summits, and tasting parties in Larimer Square and all over the city. It’s an overwhelming lineup, for sure, but you can start by prioritizing the 10 events in this handy guide.
Rooted in its mission to develop new varieties of plants and grains to strengthen global biodiversity, Row 7 Seed Company will showcase the, well, vegetables of its labor in an exquisite three-course dinner. New, experimental produce including Row 7’s 7082 cucumbers and sweet Badger Flame beets will anchor the meal, prepared by Annette chef-owner Caroline Glover, Coperta chef-owner Paul C. Reilly (also of Beast & Bottle and Pizzeria Coperta), and award-winning Atlanta, Georgia, chef Steven Satterfield. Menu highlights include potato risotto with ratatouille, goat milk feta, and chervil; a Badger Flame beet cocktail; and cherry pie with lemon balm ice cream. $90 for dinner only or $120 for dinner with wine pairings; seating available on Thursday, July 18 at 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St., Ste. #108, Aurora
Colorado Fare Block Party| July 19
Voracious foodies will be in heaven at this celebration, where they can cross more than 15 top Colorado restaurants off their dining bucket list in a matter of hours. Try bites from Comida, Citizen Rail, Beckon, and Q-House, among many others. Colorado’s masterful beverage industry will also be on show, with libations from local makers as well as cocktails crafted by participating restaurants. Tickets start at $65; Friday, July 19 at 7 p.m.; 14th St. and Larimer St.
Taste Marketplace | July 20 & 21
Spanning the four city blocks around Larimer Square, this free open-air market showcases the wares of sustainable producers from near and far. Sample and buy a range of treats, from Cooper’s Small Batch Hot Sauce to Emerald Gardens’ microgreens to Italian cheeses from Monti Trentini. Free; Saturday, July 20 from 10 a.m.–8 p.m. and Sunday, July 21 from 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; Larimer Square
This is Cider | July 20
Deepen your appreciation for this fruit-forward drink with the help of four master cider makers and a fourth-generation apple grower. The lineup includes Daniel Haykin from Haykin Family Cider and Eleanor Leger from Eden Ice Cider Company, who will lead a tasting and a participate in a discussion moderated by regenerative agriculture leader Kathleen Finlay. $60; Saturday, July 20 from noon–1:30 p.m.; 1317 14th St.
Food Over Fire| July 20
Explore the history and culture of cooking with fire as you sample flame-kissed fare from incredible chefs, including Woodie Fisher’s Franco Ruiz and Super Mega Bien’s Dana Rodriguez. The catch? Every single dish and drink must be prepared with innovative techniques using—you guessed it—fire. Tickets start at $65; Saturday, July 20 at 7 p.m.; 14th St. and Larimer St.
Breakfast Bowls | July 21
You won’t have to book a sitter during Slow Food Nations: Each day boasts an assortment of events that cater directly to kids, including this educational workshop during which little ones will learn about the heritage of quinoa and the positive impact the grain has on the environment when grown and purchased locally. They’ll also learn how to build nutrient-rich breakfast bowls, topped with fruit like blueberries and dry toppings such as coconut flakes, brown sugar, and sunflower seeds. Free; Sunday, July 21 from 10:30–11:30 a.m.; 14th St. and Larimer St.
Coastal Flavors of Mexico | July 21
Learn all about the culinary movements coming from of the Baja and Yucatán coastlines of Mexico in this informative and delicious workshop. Baja chef Drew Deckman and Yucatán chef Regina Escalante Bush will focus on fresh shellfish, so expect goodies including a geoduck tiradito and grilled octopus with pumpkin seed salsa. After the demonstration, attendees can enjoy samples—and brag about their newfound knowledge of two celebrated cuisines. Free (general seating) to $40 (chef’s counter); Sunday, July 21 from 11 a.m–noon; 1430 Larimer St.
Injera 101 | July 21
The foundation of every Ethiopian meal—and this class—is “injera”: a slightly tart, spongy flatbread that soaks up the cuisine’s masterful stews. Learn about the origins of this ancient bread and how teff, a millet-like grain, is cultivated to make it. Then, dig into a traditional plate of injera loaded with the likes of spiced red lentil stew, Ethiopian collared greens, and beef tibs. Between bites savor sips of the country’s signature honey wine. $60; Sunday, July 21 from 12:30–2 p.m.; 1500 Larimer St.
Health and Wellness in Your Kitchen | July 21
Zero Waste Community Supper | July 21
Dig into a feast of re-imagined leftovers at this eco-friendly dinner party spectacular. Lead chefs Steven Satterfield (Miller Union) and Eric Lee (Acreage) will transform the festival’s culinary remains for a family-style meal with the help of nearly 20 more local chefs, including Daniel Asher and Nadine Donovan. $65; Sunday, July 21 from 5 to 8 p.m.; 14th St. and Larimer St.
For more information about Slow Food USA and this year’s festival, go to slowfoodnations.org.