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Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Trip to Ithaca

Cascadilla Glen at the base of Cascadilla Gorge

EARLY Sunday morning I boarded an Ithaca-bound Greyhound bus to visit David, who was to perform in a concert at Ithaca College later that afternoon. After a cup of organic coffee from GreenStar Natural Foods Market, a taxi picked me up to transport me to David's apartment located off the border of Cornell's campus. David greeted me with a spread of baked goods from Collegetown Bagels (ironically, only good for things other than bagels) with butter, jam, tea and chocolates. Later that evening, post-concert, we ended up at Maxie's Supper Club & Oyster Bar.

shrimp & grits with grilled andouille sausage

Even though I'd had my heart set on tasting some local "Ithacan fare," Maxie's "southern comfort" was a welcome taste on my palate (I'd found myself in a discussion with some foodies at our table to whom I'd proclaimed that my two favorite cuisines are French and comfort food)! I started with a tasty, seasonal cider sidecar followed by a selection of oysters and a half order of shrimp & grits topped with grilled andouille sausage. It was definitely up there with the best I'd ever had!

THE following day David and I walked to one of the nearby gorges, Cascadilla Gorge, where I was able to experience the colloquialism "Ithaca is gorges" firsthand.

overlooking Cascadilla Falls

We walked through the four-hundred-foot-high gorge which has a trail running from Cornell campus, at the top, down to downtown Ithaca. At the foot of the gorge, David and I were able to closely examine the exposed sedimentary rock from 400 million years ago when they were once the muddy floor of an ancient ocean! Once we'd reached downtown, we walked to the commons and browsed through a handful of rather intriguing antique and vintage shops. Soon, getting hungry, David and I stopped at Shortstop Deli--current home to Hot Truck's famous pizza subs (the original Hot Truck, located just off the Cornell campus on Stewart Avenue, seems to be currently defunct).

Had I known that what we were ordering was somewhat of a piece of history, I would have documented it with a few photos. Bob Petrillose, who opened the Hot Truck in 1960, was the inventor of French bread pizza (later licensed to Stouffer's) which he dubbed "PMP" (poor man's pizza). In 2004, having been successful for over forty years, Hot Truck's pizza subs were famously written about in Gourmet magazine. Later in 2008, Serious Eats posted an obituary of Mr. Petrillose. David and I ordered the "MBC" sub, with crushed meatballs and added onions, which I gathered must have stood for "meatball-cheese." 

green zebra tomatoes

Early evening, David and I had to part ways briefly so he could attend studio class; we later reconnected for a quick dinner before heading back downtown for birthday cocktails with a fellow schoolmate of his. With a few of the ingredients we'd picked up earlier that afternoon at GreenStar Natural Foods Market, David whipped up a lovely dinner while I opened a bottle of Jaume Serra sparkling wine! With a fresh head of Boston lettuce (roots still attached), David made a simple salad with feta dressed in a freshly made Dijon mustard vinaigrette. It was the best Boston lettuce I'd ever had! There were also apples, some cheddar and a bowlful of freshly roasted almonds (unfortunately, I have a slight intolerance for the raw variety).

simple, yet delicious!

But David's pièce de résistance was the green zebra tomatoes served on crispbread! It was my first time having zebra tomatoes and I can't believe I've missed their entire season! Our mutual love for (heirloom) tomatoes has led David and I to many an experimentation with them. According to David, he's come to discover that the best way to serve tomatoes of the heirloom variety is to serve them simply sliced; on Wasa crispbread dressed with mayonnaise seasoned with a bit of dried garlic; and a sprinkling of sea salt atop the tomatoes. Some breads are just too strong (in flavor) for the heirloom tomato's delicate flavor. As is most often the case, good food (real and fresh food) doesn't require much ado to taste that way!

Can't make it to Ithaca to try a Hot Truck pizza sub? Try this Hot Truck recipe provided by foodnetwork.com!
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