Denver Restaurant Week, beer and bacon, and chili on the culinary calendar this weekend

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With Denver Restaurant Week starting tomorrow, there's plenty of activity on the culinary scene. Over 300 restaurants are participating in the tenth annual edition, and reservations are becoming scarce. But even if you can't get into your favorite eatery, there are still other appetizing options around town. Keep reading for more events on this weekend's culinary calendar.

See also: Hungry for Denver Restaurant Week? Win a $50 gift certificate

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Masa Asian Kitchen: a Pacific Rim shot

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Mark Antonation
In A Federal Case, I'll be eating my way up Federal Boulevard - south to north - within Denver city limits. I'll be skipping the national chains and per-scoop Chinese joints, but otherwise I'll report from every vinyl booth, walk-up window and bar stool where food is served. Here's the report on this week's stop...

What is it about restaurant menus hawking the cuisines of multiple countries that makes us cringe a little and step on the gas pedal so that we cruise on past? We're all food adventurers here, right? When I was a kid, I loved the idea of topping off my plate of cheesy enchiladas with a sticky wedge of baklava or sitting wide-eyed before a towering mound of those whacky Irish nachos. But as adults, we mostly turn up our noses in scorn; surely no one chef and staff can turn out quality plates of Greek, Mexican and Italian from one kitchen. And just forget any notions of authenticity when a menu features Asian cuisine from more than one country. But this is exactly the mission of Masa Asian Kitchen: filling bellies with a variety of specialties from the vast quadrant of the globe that encompasses Japan, China, Vietnam, and Thailand.

See also: At J's Noodles Star Thai, rice dishes also shine

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Guess where I'm eating pork belly and pickled mustard greens?

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Lori Midson

Our server is incredulous. "Really? You want the pork belly? Most Americans don't order the pork belly. You're positive you want the pork belly?" she asks, entirely positive that we'd prefer kung pao chicken instead. When we assure her that yes, we want the pork belly, which is listed on the "secret" Chinese menu, she breaks into a wide smile before rushing back to the kitchen to give our order to the cook, who sends out a complimentary scallion pancake in apparent gratitude. But it's we who should be thanking him, because the fatty strips of pig crack are fantastic, as are the pickled mustard greens below it.

Can you guess where I'm eating?

Special bonus: Anyone who gives the first correct answer to a Guess Where post is entered into a pool -- and every Monday, we select one lucky winner who'll receive an EatDenver dining deck, worth up to $520 in discounts at independent restaurants. Read all about EatDenver dining decks here.


Tarasco's New Latino Cuisine: Tamales on my mind

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Mark Antonation
In A Federal Case, I'll be eating my way up Federal Boulevard -- south to north -- within Denver city limits. I'll be skipping the national chains and per-scoop Chinese joints, but otherwise I'll report from every vinyl booth, walk-up window and bar stool where food is served. Here's the report on this week's stop...

Did I just eat the best tamale of my life? The masa -- moist, fluffy and steaming -- did not conceal a meat filling, but instead hid gems of sweet corn. It wasn't slathered in a flamboyant, fiery sauce, but only a generous drizzle of Mexican crema, enough queso fresco to add a mild tang, and the barest inkling of chile verde that whispered from a sauce so light I at first mistook it for melted butter. The tantalizing touch of green and a demure heat that tingled like a first kiss had me scraping the husk for every last clinging drop of it. Simplicity. Magic. Perfection. The kitchen at Tarasco's New Latino Cuisine had once again delivered a plate of restrained and effortless beauty, this time in the form of an inglorious lump of dough wrapped in a homely dried maize leaf that Tarasco's had treated with the same affection that many upscale restaurants devote to trios of expensive proteins or exotic ingredients fawned over by the easily impressed. But this was just corn: earthy and humble masa, candy-sweet kernels, and a waft of woody, farmland perfume from the steamed wrapper.

See also:
- Between the Mississippi and the Mekong at Vietnam Bay Seafood and Grill
- Every day is like Tuesday at T-Wa Inn
- Baker's Palace Vietnamese sandwiches and craft beer: a match made on Federal


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Between the Mississippi and the Mekong at Vietnam Bay Seafood and Grill

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Mark Antonation
In A Federal Case, I'll be eating my way up Federal Boulevard - south to north - within Denver city limits. I'll be skipping the national chains and per-scoop Chinese joints, but otherwise I'll report from every vinyl booth, walk-up window and bar stool where food is served. Here's the report on this week's stop...

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Photos: Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival in Keystone

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All photos by Lori Midson.
The unmistakable scent of bacon permeated the air this past weekend in Keystone, as thousands of swine fanatics congregated in Keystone Village for the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival, a two-day pig fest that sizzled with everything from strips of bacon and bacon-tatted underwear to a bacon-pelted sheet cake.

There were plenty of bacon-centric T-shirts in the crowd and even more plastic pig snouts at the festival, which pimped thousands of pounds of bacon from several different vendors and purveyors, including Denver Bacon Company and Tender Belly. Even dogs had their day: bags of bacon treats were being carted out by the dozens. "Bacon is the best food in America -- for kids and dogs," yapped one kid, who couldn't shove the rashers in his mouth fast enough.

If you missed the bacon bonanza, check out our photos of the festival on the next page. For more photos, visit our full Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival slide show.

See also:
- Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival slide show
- Bacon freaks will unite at the Blue Ribbon Bacon Tour in Keystone
- Denver Bacon Company launches in Denver


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Seven signs that Denver is obsessed with bacon

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Christopher Morgan
A scene from this year's Bacon and Beer Festival.
Several years ago, Purina started broadcasting a line of commercials featuring a dog awakened by the scent of Beggin' Strips. Not knowing the odor didn't belong to real bacon, the dog frantically ran through the house, then finally found a strip and exclaimed, "It's BACON!" But while dogs may not know it's not bacon, Denver diners certainly know when they've got a dish that contains the genuine article.

Here are seven signs that this city is obsessed with bacon.

See also:
- Photos: Denver Bacon & Beer Festival 2013
- Denver Bacon Company launches -- and sizzles at the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival
- Five fast-food trend fails of 2012 -- including the ruination of bacon!


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Denver Bacon Company launches in Denver -- and sizzles at the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival

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Denver Bacon Company

Judging from the sentiments posted on the Denver Bacon Company's Facebook page -- emotions like the accolades below -- chef Justin Brunson's maple slabs of hog should have brought home the blue ribbon at last week's Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival, which took place in Iowa's capital city.

See also:
- Exclusive sneak peek: Old Major, opening on February 22
- Bacon, beer and Justin Brunson: Porky photos from Denver's kick-ass Bacon and Beer Festival
- Justin Brunson will open Old Major -- a swine, wine and seafood restaurant -- in Highland

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Bacon, beer and Justin Brunson: Porky photos from Denver's kick-ass Bacon and Beer Festival

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Lori Midson
Porchetta po-boys with bacon jam; bacon and cashew caramel corn; bacon macaroni and cheese; bacon fat potato chips; bacon chocolate chip cookies; bacon and pork belly Reuben; bacon and ramen; bacon and oyster chowder; bacon fat duck sliders; bacon-strangled flying pig belly; candied bacon; bacon, goat cheese and kale tarts; bacon strips; bacon boardgames; bacon onesies for babies; bacon costumes; bacon gyrating -- and a pig necklace -- from Mark DeNittis; bacon deviled eggs; and Justin Brunson's bacon.

See also:
- Denver Beer and Bacon Festival slideshow
- Justin Brunson will open Old Major -- a swine, wine and seafood restaurant -- in Highland
- Do bacon and beer really go together? Find out at the Denver Bacon and Beer Fest
- Top five reasons why bacon will never be over

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Do bacon and beer really go together? Find out at the Denver Bacon and Beer Fest

Categories: Bacon, Beer Man

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Fred and Ginger; baseball and hotdogs; sunsets and walks on the beach; Bella and Edward. Some things are meant for one another. But beer and bacon? The jury is still out on that one. Event planning company Eat Boston, along with Forkly and Denver Off the Wagon, hope to deliver a guilty verdict on December 9, though, when they host the Bacon & Beer Festival, a greasy, hoppy fiesta that will include 25 Denver/Boulder area chefs, who will make bacon-based dishes, and an equal number of breweries.

See also:
- More than 75 homebrewers will compete to create Mountain Sun's next Stout Month beer
- Four of the best bacon-friendly wines you've never tried
- Top five reasons why bacon will never be over


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