Years ago when I was thinking about colleges, I found out about a town in New York called Ithaca. It may seem strange that a girl from Houston who had never spent time around snow would pick a random town in New York. However I had my eye on Ithaca College which is known for their theater program not to mention Cornell is also in the city. Long story short, it’s a college town.
I finally made it to Ithaca while on a press trip through the Finger Lakes Region. I was rather excited to explore the city that I was so curious. The city is on Cayuga Lake and near several waterfalls. While it’s a small town, it’s quite charming and offers quite a bit of cultural activities with a bustling social scene. Some famous people from the city are Alex Haley, Carl Sagan, and Rod Serling.
I had the pleasure of staying at La Tourelle Hotel and Spa while on my visit. The family owned hotel is on 70 acres just a few minutes from downtown Ithaca. The room was cozy and quaint. They make a a wicked breakfast. I didn’t have time to go to the spa, but did get a tour. It looked and smelled amazing. They make their own aromatherapy products. It’s the perfect place to stay when in the the area. Great for romantic getaways and girlfriend getaways, both things we need more of.
What you may be surprised to find out is that Ithaca is a city for foodies. I had the chance to taste some of the delicious food in the city by going on a food tour with Ithaca Is Foodies. We went to some of the hottest spots, including Moosewood, the iconic spot that made eating vegetarian food a big deal.
Check out the tour situation:
Chef-owned Ethiopian restaurant serving authentic ancestral recipes cooked to order.
Doro Tibs (chicken sauteed with berbere spice mix)
Yater Kik Alicha (split peas stewed with onions, garlic, ginger, and turmeric)
Keysir Alicha (beets cooked with onions, garlic, and ginger)
Injera (fermented Ethiopian “flatbread” made with teff)
Pairing: 2017 Perry Pear from Eve’s Cidery in Van Etten, NY
*Not offered for public tours (yet); available for private experiences.
World-famous natural food restaurant renowned for their James Beard award-winning cookbooks. Founded in 1973; operated as a collective.
Creamy Herbed Carrot soup
Thai Rice & Black Bean soup
*Soups change daily.
Thai Peanut Noodle (house Thai peanut dressing, udon noodles, jicama, red bell peppers, carrots, served on a bed of tatsoi and topped with microgreens and crushed peanuts)
*Third course tasting changes seasonally.
Specialty culinary boutique featuring Extra Virgin Olive Oils, balsamic vinegars, custom spice blends, and Finger Lakes local gifts.
Single varietal Coratina EVOO (from Chile, harvested & pressed in May 2018) tasted in an official blue shaded glass.
Tuscan Garden EVOO (sage, garlic, oregano, rosemary) and Felix Oliver’s Special Reserve 18-year aged balsamic vinegar.
Basil EVOO and Peach white balsamic.
Cocktails: Seneca Drums Gin from Finger Lakes Distilling in Burdett, NY, Grapefruit white balsamic, tonic water, fresh basil, over ice.
*Not offered during public tours; available for private experiences.
Mocktails: Grapefruit white balsamic, seltzer, fresh basil, with or without ice.
Any flavored balsamic may be used. Popular flavors include wild raspberry, peach, lemon, and ginger spiked blackberry.
Farm-to-Bistro restaurant and event space which serves as the culinary center for Tompkins Cortland Community College’s culinary arts, wine marketing, & hospitality management programs.
Chorizo Flatbread (chorizo, roasted red pepper, Yancey’s shredded cheddar, red onion, fresh scallion garnish)
Grilled Vegetable Flatbread (herbed NY ricotta, heirloom tomato, garlic scapes, summer squash)
*Flatbreads change seasonally.
Pairing: Cascazilla Red Ale from Ithaca Beer Company in Ithaca, NY; 2016 Semi-Dry Riesling from Wagner Vineyards in Lodi, NY; Root Beer or Ginger Beer from Saranac Brewing in Utica, NY.
Star Trek-themed plant based cafe.
Dilithium Crystal milkshake (banana, cocoa powder, peanut butter, agave syrup, soy milk)
Tammie’s special panini (Heidelberg Cracked Wheat bread, Susie’s Seitan, Daiya cheese, vegan mayo, Tammie’s homemade coleslaw, tomato)
Ice cream shop offering small-batch hard ice cream with a from-scratch base in a rotating array of flavors.
Chocolate Milk Milk Stout ice cream bars made with Milk Milk Stout craft beer from Lucky Hare Brewing in Hector, NY.
*Ice cream flavors change daily
Basically I was stuffed by the time the tour was finished. If I had to pick a few favorites from the tour it would be Hawi, Moosewood, and Sweet Melissa’s. Those were the spots that were more laid back and chill. Though if I wanted to go for a romantic dinner Coltivare might be my first choice. It’s a beautiful restaurant and they pay attention attention to detail which is what one wants on a dinner date. I recommend visiting any of the easteries on the list, they would be happy to have you. Of course, you can go on a Ithaca Is Foodies tour and go to all of them or customize your own tour.
This is all to say that Ithaca has it going on. While I love NYC, exploring other cities in New York state offers so much to the senses. Make sure you don’t sleep on Ithaca. The city has a lot going on and it’s only getting better.