New England is a dream for seasoned skiers and snowboarders, attracting visitors from all over the country. After long days spent shredding the slopes, the comfort of a warm drink and decadent baked treats is a welcomed prospect. At the February 1st edition of Eataly’s Apres Ski Festival, Bostonians can indulge in traditional post-skiing activities from Italy that include consuming hallmark dishes and beverages, such as polenta, hazelnut cannolis, and vin brulè. Although a day at a ski resort in the the southern Alps is not included in the admission ticket, spending a few hours eating, drinking, and dancing still provides an authentic Italian experience.
Eataly was founded in 2004 by Oscar Farinetti, an Italian businessman and entrepreneur. In January 2007, Farinetti converted a factory in Turin, Italy into its first Eataly location. The New York Times raved about Eataly, saying it “combined elements of a bustling European open market, a Whole-Foods-style supermarket, a high-end food court and a New Age learning center.” Soon after, Farinetti opened more locations across Italy and in New York. In November 2016, Eataly made its way to Boston and set up shop at 800 Boylston Street in the Prudential Center.
Après Ski Festival kicked off on January 25th, where approximately 75 to 100 people attended, according to one of the event’s coordinators. While many people ordered tickets online prior to the festival, most people bought tickets the day of as they stumbled upon the event while walking through Prudential.
The marketplace was divided in three sections based on types of food and drink: the polenta counter, the cannoli cart, and the bar where live music played. At the polenta counter, for the price of two tickets, the main course was a creamy and rich polenta served with either Brasato di Manzo, a slow-braised beef brisket with porcini mushrooms and red wine, or Radicchio Grigliato, a grilled cabbage and endive with rosemary and grana padano DOP cheese. Sides of mozzarella and bruschetta were also served at the polenta counter for the price of one ticket.
The longest line throughout the night was the one that served the beloved Italian tube-shaped pastry, originating from the Sicilian region, filled with ricotta and topped with candied oranges, pistachio, hazelnut, or chocolate. The cart offered two mini cannolis for one ticket, although most people seemed to slip in line more than once over the course of the event.
The DJ at the bar played American hits in R&B and rap, while people danced and mingled with friends and coworkers over vin brulè, a warm mulled wine from Piemonte, and bombardino, an eggnog-based drink with brandy, whipped cream, and cinnamon. Along with the mulled wine and eggnog, other Italian imported wine was served from Eataly’s “Vino Libero” collection: a consortium of 12 wine producers from Italian wine regions that are committed to producing high-quality wines free of chemical fertilizers and herbicides and practice sustainable farming that respects the environment.
Many attendees took the escalator down to Caffè Lavazza to conclude their night with a cup of coffee. Through its authentic culinary offerings and themed events like the Apres Ski Festival, Eataly is bringing a taste of Italy to the snowy avenues of Downtown Boston.
Featured Image by Jenna Rosenthal / Heights Staff