Apres ski NYC at Baita (177425)
Credit: Kysha Harris photos

Though the current weather might not be preparing us, the official beginning of winter is less than two weeks away and three days before Christmas. Chances are it will not be a white winter wonderland in time for Papa Noel. “Tant pis” (“too bad”). Perhaps “une petite jaunt” to the Alps might provide the appropriate atmosphere to set the mood, “non”?

The good people of New York City’s Eataly (@EatalyNYC, 200 Fifth Ave., 212-937-8910, www.eataly.com) have re-imagined their rooftop Italian beer garden, La Birreria (@EatalyBirreria), into an Italian Alps pop-up restaurant, Baita (bye-tah). Named after the small wooden ski lodges that dot the mountain range, Baita aims to bring a little bit of the European apres ski life to the Big Apple.

Walking into the adorned space instantly brought a smile to my face. It could have been the snow-lined runway from the door culminating in a hearth of holiday trees adorned with antlers and lights surrounded by a wreath of Adirondack chairs. It also could have been the intermittent heat lamps and individual plaid throws that dressed every chair, when the retractable roof is open, weather permitting. I was transported.

With some friends in tow, I sat to take in the whole atmosphere while servers passed samples of the menus. However, my eyes were drawn to the center of the room to a device created to do only one thing: melt cheese. And not just any cheese, we’re talking about Raclette! It’s a Swiss cow’s milk cheese that is sweet but pungent. The device melts the top layer, which is then skimmed off to eat with housemade bread or for one of Baita’s three menu items, pickled vegetables, roasted potatoes or smoked pork loin. All were a delicious pairing with that gooey goodness.

Other morsels of note were cotoletta (fried veal), stangolapreti (housemade bread and spinach dumplings with butter and sage) and probusto (housemade pork and veal sausage). We couldn’t stop eating the cotoletta—thin, breaded, pan-fried veal topped with just the right amounts of fontina and prosciutto and perfumed with sage. It inspired my friend to make his version for dinner later in the week.

I mustn’t forget about the hot cocktails that warmed our cockles. The mulled wine is a staple for any winter moment. However, it is the Bombardino and the Gnomo Cioccolato that will become your new favorite eggnog and hot chocolate of the season. The first is a combination of brandy and zabaglione (a pudding made with egg yolks, sugar and Marsala wine) topped with whipped cream and nutmeg. The second, a thick and rich chocolate drink with Frangelico and topped with whipped cream and crushed candy cane. Both will get you right as rain and make you glow like snow!

So after a long day of hitting the black diamond trails of these mean New York City streets and the unexpected moguls of life, leave your skis (read: troubles) at the door of Biata way up in the Alps of Eataly. You are sure to get your urban mountain high on!

Happy eating and thanks for reading!

Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations? Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl and on Facebook www.facebook.com/SCHOPnyc. For even more recipes, tips and food musings, subscribe to her blog at www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com.