I made a quick trip to Ithaca last week, and had the pleasure of discovering a restaurant I had not been to before. It is not exactly undiscovered, the NYTimes included it in the places to go in their 36 Hours in the Finger Lakes profile last year. It is also not exactly in Ithaca, it is in nearby Trumansburg, just a 20 minute scenic drive away. What it is…is delicious!
A few highlights before our dinner though. After arriving, and checking in to the always cheerful, and incredibly convenient Statler Hotel, right on Cornell’s Campus,
I went to grab some coffee. Gimme Coffee is a chain with a presence all over Ithaca, as well as Brooklyn, and Manhattan (Trumansburg too!). Their coffee never disappoints.
A little walk around Campus, and then dinner time.
The weather was grey, but the Campus is gorgeous.
We loaded into the car and set out for Trumansburg. Hazelnut Kitchen is in the middle of their Main Street, and it’s storefront is colorful and inviting.
The interior is small, and the staff incredibly friendly. We were seated immediately, and handed menus.
The menu changes frequently, and takes advantage of all the bounty grown and produced in the surrounding area.
We arrived on the early side, and within a half hour the dining room had filled up, so reservations are a must.
The small kitchen was visible from our table, and we appreciated all the enticing smells wafting out of it.
As I was tired from driving all day, I ordered a Switchel, which was apple cider vinegar, ginger and water. It was surprisingly satisfying.
The restaurant accommodates all kinds of allergies, and eating preferences. They happily brought me a slice of gluten free bread (that tasted quite a bit like carrot cake- not complaining!), to go along with the tasty home baked bread for the rest of my crew.
One thing everyone agreed on was the need for a Charcuterie Board, which included amazing pickled vegetables, mushroom paté, NYS Cheeses, maple pork sausage and pretzel bread.
Next up for me was was the asparagus with crab, arugula, hollandaise and shaved turnips. It was the perfect combination of tastes and textures.
For my main I couldn’t resist the vegetarian Cassoulet with beans, mushrooms, squash along with three slices of beet “sausage”. Like traditional Cassoulet, only better! And healthier. I am still on a no meat kick since returning from New Orleans. I have been a Vegetarian/Pescatarian for big portions of my adult life, and I think I’m back on that lifestyle for the foreseeable future.
One of my sons decided to play along with the chef and order the entree which was billed as Let the Kitchen Decide. You basically entrust yourself to the whims of the kitchen, and hope you like what you get. In fact my son was in heaven! Duck Sausage, Duck Pierogies, I believe a cherry jam/chutney on top, and then some delectable greens. He gave it two thumbs up and wiped the plate clean.
We took a look at the dessert menus, but we were all stuffed! The food was so good, that we literally couldn’t even contemplate another morsel. Next time!!
We all agreed Hazelnut Kitchen was a major find. We will be back. We pointed the car towards Ithaca full and satisfied.
The next morning I woke early to one of my favorite hotel views. It always makes me smile.
We met for breakfast at The Carriage House Café which is a real favorite of students and locals alike. The secret is to get there precisely when it opens so you don’t have to wait. There is always a line. Their coffee is perfect, and their scones hard to resist.
From the Carriage House Café it was on to the Ithaca Farmers Market. It is a fabulous Market with an excellent assortment of vendors- produce, cheese, butchery, cider, flowers, baked goods, crafts… you name it, they’ve got it. The vendors and shoppers are passionate, friendly and happy. It should absolutely be a stop on your weekend agenda.
In a small shopping center across the road from the Farmers Market there is a shop called The Piggery. It is not only a shop specializing in all things Pork, but they have a great selection of groceries and local cheeses. Ithaca is a foodie’s dream. For a small Upstate NY town- you can find just about anything you want.
Shopping satisfied, car filled with produce, flowers, and cheese, I was on my way back home.