Apple Fest 2k14

     Here’s 25% of the reason I studied abroad in the spring instead of the fall: Ithaca Apple Harvest Festival. Here are all things fall and festive, appl-y, pumpkin-y, yummy, and generally happy.

     On my usual list of things to find are maple cotton candy, kettle corn, a baked good from the Mennonite community, lunch, an apple ice cream sundae from Purity Ice Cream, and, of course, an apple cider doughnut or two. Unfortunately, this year was a bit of a disappointment. First off, Purity Ice Cream wasn’t there this year 😦 I was very upset by this. And maybe the rest of my disappointment came from being at Apple Fest for the fourth year in a row, as well as the construction in the Commons, where the vendors usually stay. But it was a lovely day out of an awfully wet and cold week. I started off with lunch from Star Truck, celebrating their grand opening as Ithaca’s first vegan food truck.

     If you were wondering, I did not in fact know “Star Truck” had an all-vegan menu until I ordered the Mac n’ Chili with cornbread. All things that should have some animal product in it, right? Well I was pleasantly surprised by the mac and “cheese” and the soy proteined chili. The cornbread could definitely have been less dry. But this is saying a lot coming from the last person to sacrifice her meats for beans, and dairy for…other.

     They could do with some remodeling of the truck, but vegan joints beware! There’s a new truck in town and they’re coming to ball.

It may look kinda green, but it filled me right up, and I’m sure it was way healthier for me. And not bad at all.

     Though I went with some hearty food for lunch, I didn’t pass on the opportunity to chat with the server behind “Collegetown Crêpes”. This is another new cart in Ithaca that hangs out by Cornell during the second half of the week for lunch. I think there’s been a law passed recently in town allowing food trucks to slowly come back to the streets. They had been previously prohibited, because politics. Will keep you posted on that one.

     Little Tree Orchard’s good ol’ stand with their good ol’ cider doughnuts. You can’t leave without getting at least one.

     Never forget them. Always worth it. Unless there’s a 30 minute wait, in which case just find them next week at the farmer’s market.

     For the last couple years, I had heard about this one thing that everyone was trying and loving. So I added to my list one more treat. The new go-to apple fest carnival food: pumpkin funnel cake. Consensus: a most poor life choice. I split this with Danielle, and I felt quite awful very soon after. I should have known it was a bad idea when I noted the powdered sugar discolored by the grease seeping through. Not worth it, ya’ll. Sorry.

Pictured: Two pairs of earrings from a couple of the many crafts and artisan booths, kettle corn from a new place because my usual place wasn’t there, some pumpkin whoopie pies.
Not pictured: cold cider.

 Maybe once the Commons is back in action, I will return for round five.

Ithaca Farmer’s Market

      It may not be at a large ferry plaza, but Ithaca’s weekly farmer’s market at the steamboat landing (always water vessels) has everything you need and most things you don’t, but want to put in your house anyway. I have vivid memories of this farmer’s market from when I was wee Laddette visiting my grandma. She, my parents, uncle and I would walk around and look at the photographs and paintings from the local artists. I’m sure we looked at the food too, but somehow I really remember the artists. Maybe it’s because there was a stand with and old man who did Chinese calligraphy and painting. At the time, I was enrolled in martial arts etc. classes, the “etc.” including Japanese calligraphy, and I couldn’t have been older than seven. My dad was showing some interest in one of his scrolls with a painting of a cliff with a plum tree, and a poem in Japanese. He read us the text from a different scroll and seven year-old me applauded when he was finished. He told my dad that if he bought the plum tree-cliff scroll, he’d add my new favorite artwork for free. And we did walk away with both scrolls.
     Needless to say, this farmer’s market is no new development. In fact, I’ve seen the same man with the scrolls since starting at Ithaca College. But now, my eyes are just as focused on apple cider doughnuts, crêpes, and Cambodian food. For what’s seeming to be the last nice weekend of the year, I went to the farmer’s market, grabbed lunch, and had a good gander.

Much to feast on for breakfast/lunch/both.
Pretty cupcakes
Carriage House Wood Crafters

Always the heirloom tomatoes

     These apple cider doughnuts are the best doughnuts I’ve ever had, easily. Better than Krispy Kreme. That may be partially because I know they’re so much…less…unhealthy. These are so popular at the Apple Harvest Festival every year, and at certain points throughout that weekend, there will be hour long lines for these doughnuts. These doughnuts, which you can purchase at the same price of 75 cents at the farmer’s market on any given weekend around Apple Fest, or at the orchard. If you go to the orchard early enough, you can get them right out of the oil, too hot to eat for a minute or two.

     My French friend Ben who studies at IC told me that the crêpes at the farmer’s market are truly excellent, so I had to try one for lunch. I tried the “strawberry sweet cheese vanilla” crêpe with some cream cheesey substance on top, and the same of the strawberry variety on the inside. It was almost too sweet for me (which is VERY sweet), but I was satisfied with my choice. I took a picture of Shyla’s Cambodian lunch, which sounds really good. If I defeat my sweet tooth, I’ll try for that next time.

     A recent development at the farmer’s market is this popsicle stand, which is quite reminiscent of San Francisco in that the flavors of popsicle are unconventional and awesome.

Xine got a spicy Mexican chocolate popsicle
Shyla got a strawberry lemonade popsicle
And Liz got a blueberry lavender popsicle.
I heard they were all good.
We met someone who bought these cool looking artichoke flowers. She
wasn’t sure what she was going to do with them (cook or decorate).

     The farmer’s market is a lovely place to go on a weekend morning before you start further work procrastination, to listen to live music, grab a bite to eat, run into friends, and pick up some kale.

Ithaca Dining Installment #4: The Northstar Pub

     A lot of Sundays ago, I went to Brunch with Emme at The Northstar in Ithaca, off Tioga Street. It’s deceptively quaint during the day for a pub with a questionable curb appeal.

     Their menus are paper because they change so often, though they could keep it in a menu holder of some sort. Anyway.
     Due to my sweet tooth, I had issues once again choosing between a substantial egg breakfast or French toast. You can probably guess what I went for…

      It was really good, though! French toast soaked overnight, with peaches and what I think was caramel sauce (goes to show what happens when you wait to write a blog post). I probably could have eaten one more piece. I tried really hard to like eat the soy meat patties…I really tried! But to no avail…the combination of starchy texture and taste was pretty unfortunate. Then again, I’m good at eating meat.
     Emme got some form of egg with home fries and sausage…also good!

Done & done (ignore the cardboard left)

     There was probably a two-minute wait for our outside table at 11:30 on a Sunday, and the food was not too expensive for an Ithaca brunch place. I might be back, Northstar.

Ithaca Dining Installment #2: Sushi O Sake

To celebrate Danielle’s birthday, I took her to Sushi O Sake, the Japanese restaurant across from the commons that I have yet to see crowded. It could only have to do with their above average prices, because their dishes are quite nice. We started with the crispy shrimp dumplings, which could have stood to be 50 cents less, but they eliminated my hunger until the rest of dinner came. I bit into it wondering if we received the right order because the shrimp was chopped into bits resembling an unfortunate encounter with a steamed pork dumpling. But it was definitely shrimp and definitely acceptable. Then came picking the sushi rolls, which probably took over 10 minutes. We finally decided on the Key West,  Salmon Lovers, and Atlantic. We’re fairly confident that the Key West had crab in it (kinda chewwy…), for I could not recall quite why I ordered it and the mayo covered most everything, the Salmon Lovers was more or less salmon on salmon, literally, and the Atlantic had more salmon. Past experiences with legitimate sushi/raw fish did not bode so well for my palate, but I could stomach this raw salmon – heck I had a bunch of it! Next time I’ll probably shoot for something in Collegetown with student-friendlier prices, but we had a successful night nonetheless.
Fried dumplings with a side of pickle ALL the veg

Work=cut out…and what’s under that spicy mayo/scallions/caviar

No dessert, thanks.

Ithaca Dining Installment #1: CTB

     Epicures of Ithaca can have a field day when it comes to eating out; there are more restaurants per capita here than New York City :O! If you want Italian, Korean, Thai, Mediterranean, Indian, Mexican food, or just a superb burger, you can find all that and more within the city limits. Saturday night, I introduced Danielle to the Ithacan classic Collegetown Bagels (CTB). If we don’t count Ithaca Bakery, there are a total of three CTBs in town. Ithaca College has their bagels in the dining halls (hooray), and CTB bakes their bagels fresh every day. CTB makes more than 20 varieties of bagels, including classics like cinnamon raisin and poppy, and “specialty options” such as apple walnut and sun-dried tomato. The kicker of this place for me is what one can put on their bagel of choice. They have 5-star breakfast bagels to satisfy any breakfast snob’s needs. There’s the California Sunrise, with scrambled eggs, avocado, red onions, and pepper jack cheese – melted, of course. Then there’s the nutella-banana combo on any bagel (preferably cinnamon raisin), or the plain and simple cinnamon-sugar & butter.
     If you’re not in the mood for a bagel, CTB also has soups, salads, sandwiches and wraps. They put anything you can think of on or between one or two pieces of bread-like substances, and it will be excellent.
   This time around I went with the Mexican bagel, with jalapeño cream cheese, fresh salsa and melted cheddar on each slice of a plain bagel, since they ran out of the jalapeño ones :P. Danielle got a Danby sandwich with turkey breast, avocado, tomato and homemade parsley-garlic dressing…fancy! I think she’ll be returning.

I finished with no stomach space to spare
Glad she liked it