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Mulled wine, vegan eats, and Piatti says arrividerci

Peyton’s Plate: Snack Bag 

Hey City Casters! It’s Thursday, and usually that means I have a yummy local restaurant recommendation for you. But my plate was pretty full of other stuff this week (literally and figuratively). Instead I’ve come up with this “Snack Bag,” if you will, of tasty news morsels from around the Denver dining scene.

In the spirit of the holiday, I’ve got mulled wine on the mind — sweet, warm, and rich, there’s nothing quite like wrapping your hands around a steamy mug of the stuff on a cold Christmas Eve. Though it’s a tradition that hails from Europe, you can find it in Denver if you know where to look. Or better yet, it’s pretty easy to make at home with a cheap bottle of cab sav and a handful of mulling spices, like cardamom, ginger, orange, and cinnamon.

If you’re not into wine, Breckenridge Distillery was kind enough to gift Denver party hosts seven of their favorite holiday-inspired craft cocktail recipes. I’m a sucker for something creamy and sweet, (particularly this time of year) so the “Merry Flipmas” with spiced whiskey, nut liqueur, creme of coconut, toasted almond milk, and egg is what I’ll be trying out this weekend.

In less cheerful news, Italian restaurant chain Piatti has announced it will be closing its lone Colorado outpost permanently sometime this month after 27 years of serving the Cherry Creek North community. The restaurant’s general manager Susan Klos told The Denver Post that the news came unexpectedly and with 14 years still left on the lease. She speculates the landlord has sold the building. Sigh, I only ever ate there once, but I ordered the most delectable cacio e pepe spaghetti I’ve ever had.

But when one door closes, another one opens. And the door — or doors, I should say — that I’m eyeing are those of the Easy Vegan. This pandemic-born pop-up concept promises no-fuss, veggie-forward, vegan-friendly food packed with flavor and sans pretension made to fulfill your hankering for familiar dishes. “We too often feel like we are compromising our dining out experience by eating plant-based. The options can be slim, boring, or feel like an afterthought,” co-founder Alexi Mandolini told 5280. “We don’t just want to be a great vegan restaurant in Denver, we want to be a great restaurant. Period.” For now, you can find Easy Vegan pop-up dinners hosted around the city and get excited for a standalone Easy Vegan restaurant slated to open next summer.

That’s it for now! May your day be filled with all the deliciousness you can dream of.

— Peyton Garcia, City Cast Denver Writer and Local Food News Tracker

Other Denver Odds and Ends

📣 Hot political goss: Dive into all the juicy speculation over who’s running for Mayor Hancock’s seat in 2023 (at least according to Denverite’s Ben Markus). 

  • Our take: We were disappointed to see that Chef Frank Bonanno didn’t make the list, despite the hint he dropped to us during an interview back in March… Either way, he’ll always have my vote for best Beef Wellington in town. 

🦠 Omicron spreads in Boulder: Recent wastewater testing shows that the omicron COVID-19 variant is present in Boulder and apparently spreading. 

🐾 A showdown of epic proportions: Watch this video of a little tiny Shih-Poo named Dash standing his ground against a massive mountain lion that is clearly trying to eat him, and tell me your hands don’t get sweaty.

😷 Mask Tug-of-War wages on in Douglas County. And the rest of us continue to watch the saga like a high-stakes game of Ping Pong that just won’t end. Allow me to try to simplify the timeline: 

  • Back in September, the Tri-County Health Department ordered that masks be mandatory at schools. 
  • In response, DougCo left Tri-County, made its own standalone health department, and by October, issued an order making masks optional at schools. 
  • Almost immediately, the DougCo school district sued and a federal judge made masks mandatory again. 
  • Then, during the November elections, DougCo voters flipped the school board to a conservative majority (4-3). And now, on Tuesday night, the new board narrowly voted to make masks optional again.

🎧 LISTEN: Celebrate La Posada with a rock show. A traditional holiday celebration in Spain and Latin America, La Posada has never really taken root here in Denver. But maybe that should change? Local musician Miguel Aviña, and his bandmates in iZCALLi, certainly think so. And we asked why.