It hasn’t been the greatest season for the Raptors; in fact, it’s been one of the worst yet. At eight games back of Chicago and with nine left to play, the players and coaches must already have their flights and tee times booked. What better time to thank the Raptors season ticket holders for enduring another year? And what better way to do so than with loads and loads of Northern Italian food and wine?
Just prior to last Wednesday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Raptors hosted a lavish season ticket holders’ event highlighting the tastes of Veneto, a northern region of Italy where Andrea Bargnani played prior to joining the Raptors in 2006. At the entrance to the practice court where the party was being held, a receiving line of Raptors management greeted each fan in turn—no small feat as there were hundreds in attendance.
Four separate food and wine tasting stations were set up around the court. Top-shelf cheesemonger Afrim Pristine from Cheese Boutique dished out dreamy cheeses along with honey scraped directly from the honeycomb. Another chef whipped up batches of fresh, creamy wild mushroom risotto laced with Grana Padano. Italian beignets, tiramisu, stuffed figs in pastry, and endless other desserts were served alongside sweet Buglioni Recioto wine. Legions of stylish, black-clad waiters replenished glass after glass.
During the course of the festivities, Raptors broadcaster Matt Devlin trotted out new-ish Raptors Shawn Marion and Roko Ukic to give personal thanks to the season ticket holders for supporting them throughout the year. (We guess Chris Bosh and resident Italian Bargnani were too important to spare?)
As the wine dwindled and the clock ticked, the fans made their way to their season seats to watch what would be a comfortable victory against the Bucks. But will the wining and dining be enough to lure them back next season?
All photos by Ayngelina Brogan.