Thursday, September 09, 2004

Ithaca, NY - an adventure described via food - part 2

After sleeping in, enjoying the quiet country morning, we headed down to breakfast. Now, I've found every B&B to be pretty diverse with what consists of the Breakfast end of things. While a place like Robin's Nest, in Toronto, will serve eggs with brie and other fancy bits of food goodness, others will go for something as simple as pancakes and bacon. Since Brookton Hollow is vegetarian run, we knew we could count on at least one thing: there'd be no bacon or sausage for Genevieve to politely decline. Instead, for morning #1, we were treated to: homemade granola served with yogurt and fresh fruit, as well as French (Freedom!) toast with a fruit sauce (the latter of which an experiment on the part of the cook). The other people staying there had declined breakfast, so we were faced with more food than we could possibly eat. But, we managed and it was all very good.

We then headed out to the Ithaca Farmer's Market. Now, my only real market experience is with City markets, like our West Side one. And, great as it is, it's a whole different animal than what we had there. First, the "Farmer's" statement is a bit incorrect. Yes, there were alot of people hawking produce fresh from their gardens. But there were also small booths selling premade food, pottery, jewelry and soaps. It's a statement to the mouth-watering delights they had there, that, just barely an hour after we'd stuffed ourselves with breakfast, we were already being harkened by the food there. In all, we walked out with some *amazing*, (as in, if I had to live on something for a year, this would be *it*) Corn Fritters, served with chipotle aioli and soy dipping sauces, a bunch of perfectly sweet/tart/crunchy apples (which I am still working on) and, unfortunately, a bland bland bland mix of various Southern Indian curries. We also vowed to return for lunch, having only tried a small fraction of what was available.

We made true on that promise, after a few hours of hiking in some beautiful gorges. This time, we grabbed an order of Peanut Noodles (excellent) and a Thai Stir Fry plate with Basil rice (and more Corn Fritters!). The Thai Stir Fry was another disappointment though. Okay, here's the thing. We love Thai food. But, it feels like you're always taking a chance with the coconut milk content. Coconut milk, used in appropriate quantities, adds an awesome creamy and distinct flavor to the food. Used wrongly, as it was here, it overpowers the dish, masking any other item with it's pungent flavor. It's also upsetting to ye olde stomach.

Our next culinary adventure was later in the day, for dinner, at a local restaurant called Pangea. This was our one fancy dinner of the trip and, to celebrate, Genevieve got dolled up in a beautiful black dress and I did my best to not appear as the slouch I am.

Pangea took a unique view on the dining experience. Instead of offering appetizers & entrees, you could get every (well, almost) item on the menu in three sizes. Appetizer, medium/shared plate or entree. So, if you wanted, you could have a whole meal of small plates or mix and match, all from the same section of the menu. The food style was fusion, which seems to dominate the restaurants we go to. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. For our main dinner, we opted to sharing a variety of plates. Started things off with a corn salad with balsamic vinaigrette and frisee, which was very good, if not a bit much vinaigrette. We then got a sun-dried tomato risotto (freggin AMAZING!) and a plate of grilled squid, which I, obviously, could not share. The squid was well prepared and not too chewy. Dinner was finished off by a pair of awesome deserts: a chipotle chocolate cake with chili ice cream and a chocolate lava (think warm, gooey chocolate goodness encased in solid cake). Both desserts were outstanding. But, unfortunately, that ends
Day 2 of Ithaca, NY. More to come...

If you'd like to check out a sample menu from Pangea and find out more of what they're all about, head here:
http://www.pangearestaurant.com/ginkgo.html

Until tomorrow.

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