I could sense that Fall was in the air as I arrived at Steamboat Landing. There was a slight chill and it was the kind of crisp evening that only comes in the autumn. The very first thing I noticed was the live music. Directly next to the entrance were two people playing what can only be described as the kind of music that is very Ithaca. Their music definitely made the market into an experience, rather than just a place to purchase food and crafts. By far the best part of the music was the fact that both the musicians’ hearts were clearly 100 percent in their music.
Although the music was definitely a fantastic addition to the market that you don’t always get to experience during the day, the Night Market felt like something was missing. There were only a handful of stands, notably woodfired pizza, Ethiopian food, coffee and baked goods. The large number of empty stands made the whole market feel almost haunted. It clearly lacked the hustle and bustle of a typical weekend afternoon. However, the environment was possibly even more beautiful than it is during the day. All of the lights and Chinese lanterns have an even more dramatic effect after the sun has set. The last remaining rays of sun were reflecting off of the lake making all of Steamboat Landing feel like something out of a fairytale.
Don’t get me wrong — the emptiness of the stalls did not take away from the culinary experience. The food was still absolutely fantastic. I first ordered from Enat Ethiopian Cuisine and Coffee, where they had a choice of mild meat stew, spicy meat stew, cabbage, beets and carrots and lentils with a side of rice or traditional Ethiopian bread. My dinner of beets, carrots, lentils and rice was positively delectable. The beets and carrots were perfectly cooked and just the right amount of tender, and the lentils came in a delicious sauce that had just a hint of spice. The only thing that I would have changed would be to have made the beets and carrots a little less oily. There was definitely more oil than necessary in these veggies, despite their fantastic flavor.
I next stopped by Bluebird Bakery, which as per usual did not disappoint. They were there with their usual assortment of scrumptious-looking goodies like German chocolate brownies, key lime cream cookies and s’more bars. In addition to their wide selection of creative desserts, Bluebird was selling gluten-free treats like gluten-free double chocolate brownies and vegan, gluten-free cashew almond bars. The bars might sound a little suspicious to all you gluten- and meat-eating people out there, but I have to say, they’re quite tasty. You definitely don’t realize that they are missing so many traditional ingredients, and you for sure don’t miss those ingredients while eating them.
All in all, the Night Market was a fun experience, but it is, without a doubt, inferior to the regular Farmer’s Market. I’m definitely glad I got to go and see it, but it felt more like the kind of activity that you would go to just once to see what it’s like — maybe not an every week kind of deal, like the weekend Farmer’s Market ought to be.