By Marcus Hill | CSMNG Staff Writer
Few things unite a family during the holidays like food.
Of course, there are gifts, games and sharing stories — and an occasional barb at a family member that, hopefully, doesn’t lead to an altercation.
But when it’s time to throw down in the kitchen, on the grill or wherever it is one chooses to do their meal-making during the holidays, rest assured, most people can’t wait for that moment when dinner is presented.
Picture it: that scrumptious turkey coming out of the oven with the fancy covers on its legs, resembling something you may have seen on TV. Except this is real life, and you have the privilege and the pleasure of eating it!
Or maybe your thing is that savory sweet potato pie that your grandma makes. The kind that makes you change from jeans to comfy pants because you know extra room will be needed after a few extra slices.
Food is the gift that doesn’t need to be wrapped and comes from the soul. Not to mention it provides people energy to make it through the holidays.
Local restaurateurs and management discuss a few of their favorite traditions during the holiday season and how they use food to keep their loved ones happy.
Owner, Bingo Burger
While the restaurant is known for its mouthwatering burgers, its use of local ingredients and local brews, Richard Warner, owner of Bingo Burger, said he loves to go the extra mile during the holidays.
Warner said this time of year is a big deal for his family and he enjoys preparing meals during the season.
“We like to have friends and family over for a light dinner on Christmas Eve,” Warner said. “It’s a nice way to cap off one of our busiest times of the year. We also generally prepare a traditional holiday dinner on Christmas.”
As he does with Bingo Burger, Warner said he makes sure his holiday meals are all locally purchased.
“(We have) locally sourced, pastured turkey, San Luis Valley potatoes and sweet potatoes, Pueblo chilies as well as lots of heavy cream and butter in the mashed potatoes,” Warner said. “We’ll finish the feast, even though we are all usually stuffed, with a delicious pumpkin and fresh apple tart from my wife Mary’s Hopscotch Bakery.”
Those smiles on the faces of their family and friends after that apple tart is an experience Warner attempts to share with customers.
While patrons of Bingo Burger don’t receive that savory dessert, Warner said they spread that joy in other ways.
“We’re currently featuring a Boozy Shake made with rum from Springs’ own 1350 Distillery and Colorado City Creamery ice cream,” Warner said. “Both (Bingo Burgers) are located directly on the path of Springs’ and Pueblo’s Parade of Lights. Those nights are incredibly busy, but we work hard to make certain everyone has a great time and leaves with a smile on their face and extremely satisfied.”
General Manager, Oskar Blues
Oskar Blues not only knows how to craft a brew for its customers, it knows how to celebrate the holidays.
Oskar Blues General Manager Jenn Cancellier said she and her family go for the traditional meal during their Christmas feast, “with all the fixings.” But there’s more to the meal than just food, she said.
“It reminds me of home,” Cancellier said. “It reminds me of the things you’re thankful for: family, friends and good health — to have everybody together in the same room. It makes you feel grateful and appreciate that you have that time together with everyone.”
As with Warner, Cancellier said the folks at Oskar Blues like to make the time festive for patrons.
Cancellier said, “We go all out in decorating the restaurant” to give it that holiday feel.
“We have a Christmas tree upstairs and downstairs and have Christmas lights all over the place and there are snowflakes everywhere,” Cancellier said. “We try to make it feel very Christmas-y when you walk in our venue. It’s a Southern, Cajun explosion of multiple things. So really you’re getting a lot of comfort food.
“For people coming from the South who don’t have that to come home to, they can come into our restaurant and have that gumbo or jambalaya that they might not be able to get when they go out for Christmas dinner or at home.
General Manager, Paninos
While Paninos crafts longtime favorites at its multiple locations in Colorado Springs, Bobby Lashwood, general manager, knows how to venture outside the box as well.
Lashwood, who’s been in the food industry for more than 15 years, said he loves to make prime rib for a holiday meal for his family.
“I’ve been doing that for about 10 years,” Lashwood said. “The previous restaurant I was at, we cooked it on a regular basis and it worked during the holidays, so I stuck with that.”
Lashwood doesn’t get too fancy with the meal, but makes sure the prime rib is moist and succulent when his family is ready to eat.
“I wrap it and bound it in rib rope and make sure that’s tight in a circle,” Lashwood said. “That way the juices flow properly and equally. And I just put salt and pepper on it and roast it for six hours.”
Whether it’s at home with loved ones or visiting a local joint during the holidays, making the most of that time with family and friends is important, he said.
After all, people tend to connect over food and drinks. And what better time to give thanks and connect than over the the holidays?