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Food For Thought: Monthly Food Column in Tompkins Weekly

Posted on January 31, 2019 |

Ithaca has more restaurants per capita than New York City – which means even if we wanted to take you to all of our favorite establishments, there wouldn’t be time. We pick a variety to showcase during our tours to give you a sense of what Ithaca has to offer, then hope you’ll adventure further on your own! But that just wasn’t enough, so in December 2018 Owner & Guide Sarah (that’s me!) began writing a monthly food column for local publication Tompkins Weekly. “Food For Thought” explores the hidden culinary gems of Tompkins County – whether a restaurant, bar, farm store, pop-up dinner, or food-focused conference. This column publishes in on the 3rd Wednesday of each month, so pick up a free Tompkins Weekly in newsstands around town, or scroll down to read past articles online.

All That’s Old is Nouveau Again

The Hotel Groton & Akemi Food

Yuko Jingu

Executive Chef Yuko Jingu serving izakaya (casual Japanese-style tapas) at The Hotel Groton. Photo credit: Nydia Blas Boyd.

At the northern end of Groton’s Main Street, The Hotel Groton is still a commanding presence 166 years after its construction. At the moment, the hotel and accompanying café and bar are not open for regular business – but the kitchen has been full of activity.

Over the past few months, Executive Chef Yuko Jingu has prepared multi-course private dinners at the Hotel while working with Owner Jeff Toolan to re-envision the menus. They both share a desire to expand upon the local understanding of Japanese cuisine. “What people first say is ‘oh, Yuko, can you do sushi?’,” said Jingu. “But I’m not focusing on sushi at all… In Japan, you might be surprised but … sushi is [for] special occasions.” Continue reading…

A sweet new addition: Mead comes to Ithaca

Little Leaf Meadworks & Lionskull Mead

A glass of Mane, a single-varietal goldenrod flower wine-strength mead from Lionskull Mead.

A glass of Mane, a single-varietal goldenrod flower wine-strength mead from Lionskull Mead.

Fifteen years ago, homebrewer Nathan Arnold was volunteering with the grassroots organization Free The Hops to change Alabama’s regressive alcohol laws to support the sale of craft beer. Today, he’s hunkered down at his adopted home in the Finger Lakes designing a 22.5-acre integrated farm and meadery. Arnold, along with business owners Mike and Lucy Rowell, has ambitious plans for Little Leaf Meadworks: a fruit farm, apiary, meadery, and tasting room to open on Ithaca’s South Hill later this year. Continue reading…

 

Agricultural and Culinary Tourism: The Perfect Pair

Agriculinary Tourism in and around Ithaca

Wine and chocolate. Milk and cookies. Cheese and apples. The most successful pairings enhance both components for a more delicious experience overall. Such is the case with Agriculinary Tourism, a term coined to describe the intersection between agricultural and culinary experiences. These experiences link visitors in a tangible and delicious way to our local foodshed; offer regional farmers, producers, and restaurants a new source of revenue; and are the focus of a one-day conference occurring on March 5 in Downtown Ithaca. Continue reading…

From Farm to Box to Table

Carriage House Cafe & The Loft

The daily special pancakes often feature a local fruit compote, such as these pecan meal buttermilk pancakes topped with a cranberry and apple compote and NYS maple syrup.

The daily special pancakes often feature a local fruit compote, such as these pecan meal buttermilk pancakes topped with a cranberry and apple compote and NYS maple syrup.

In Tompkins County there is no shortage of farms utilizing the CSA model, with over 20 farms offering an array of options – including both meat and vegetables, in summer and in winter. According to a 2017 survey conducted by Monika Roth, Ag Extension Educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension, about 10 percent of county residents participate, allowing local farmers a degree of economic freedom not normally seen at their small scale. While a home cook might enjoy the challenge of incorporating these unpredictable crops over the course of a week, it’s hard to imagine a restaurant doing the same – but not only do the chefs at the Carriage House Café in Collegetown and the bartenders at The Loft rise to the challenge, they relish it. Continue reading…

 

The Odyssey ends with a Cosmic Cocktail

Bar Argos & the Argos Warehouse

A bartender at Bar Argos prepares two cocktails: a Saturn (left) and Solar Flame (right).

A bartender at Bar Argos prepares two cocktails: a Saturn (left) and Solar Flame (right).

If you were faced with a choice of cocktails between the Solar Flare – the name an indication of a technique used while making the drink – and the Pale Blue Dot – a rum and pear homage to our home sweet home – which would you choose? This was the question I considered one weekday evening in December while lounging in a chartreuse upholstered turn-of-the-century chair at Bar Argos. Musing over the pearlescent menu I couldn’t help but think that while I love each seasonal cocktail release at Argos, the fall/winter theme – Cosmos – might yet be my favorite. Continue reading…

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