April 11, 2012

Critic’s Picks: Best of Farm-To-Fork Eating

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Locally grown foods have become a huge part of daily living here in Ithaca. No longer are the hippies the only ones looking for fresher, healthier, and less traveled produce. The restaurants and eateries we love the most have incorporated this trend into their routine cooking as well, providing their customers with guaranteed satisfaction and the ultimate benefit of healthy living. The farm-to-fork trend has penetrated all walks of the eating world, coming to you in a wide range of delicious options.

The Classic Market: The Ithaca Farmer’s Market. Everyone loves a farmer’s market, and Ithaca’s is no exception to the rule. Even if a Saturday morning trip to the farmer’s market doesn’t sound like your thing, I assure you’ll enjoy feeling earthy with the rest of the granola bunch. Blissfully strolling along the waterfront while listening to live music, not to mention the market itself can never disappoint. The Ithaca Farmer’s Market is a cooperative of 150 vendors who promise to source their delicious produce within 30 miles of the market. Providing the freshest offerings  veggies, humanely raised meat, artisan cheeses, wines, baked goods and dozens of Southeast Asian and other international cuisines, the market guarantees a delightful weekend foray and belly full of fresh and healthful nutrition. Not only will your body benefit, but your mood will too, knowing what good you’ve done to support local farmers and vendors. Probably one of the cooler benefits of the market is that you can speak directly to the people who grow and produce your food, as they are happy to share advice on how best to use their items. The vendors are proud of their products and love sharing their farming secrets with consumers. So, whether you’re dropping in to pick up that night’s dinner greens or spending the morning for some breakfast, the Ithaca Farmer’s Market promises to give you the best.

Your Favorite Brunch Place: Carriage House. No local restaurant serves brunch like the Carriage House, and no one loves brunch more than Cornell students. Not only do we pine for this menu that’s packed with decadent items, from the brie-stuffed French toast, crafted from in-house brioche, fresh local eggs, and served to perfection with local Delevan Farms maple syrup and homemade raspberry coulis, but we reap the benefits of local and regional ingredients used in the omelets, salads and sandwiches. The delectable dishes are based on the availability and quality of ingredients, ensuring optimum health and taste results.  Some of the local farms whose products stock the menu include: Stick & Stone, Remembrance Farm, Indian Creed Orchard and Three Swallows Farm. The poultry items on the menu come from humanely raised chickens and the beef for the Carriage House Burger comes from the grass-fed cows of High Point Farms in Trumansburg. Apart from utilizing local sources, the Carriage House also cares about using the finest ingredients, baking its own breads in its stone-deck oven and whipping up even the most basic sauces (like ketchup and mayonnaise). When dining at the Carriage House, you know that the most love, care and effort have been put into your meal to preserve your happiness and health.

Your Shamelessly Heavy Meal Place: The Piggery. With barely anything that doesn’t come from a pig, The Piggery’s menu boasts the freshest and most delicious pork around with local greens and freshly baked bread to accompany. The Piggery pledges to work by three guiding principles: sustainability, convenience and deliciousness, all words that sing luxury to my ears as I sit down for a meal. The Piggery was founded by two Cornell graduates, who, after some inevitable post-grad soul searching, finally decided to start a pig farm and give us this lovely eatery. They raise heirloom breeds of pigs on pasture, with a focus on minimizing their carbon footprint to create pork dishes that are good for people, the land and as much as possible, the pigs. The pork is then turned into charcuterie on their own farm and then made to serve at The Piggery. All of their food can be eaten quickly (because it’s outstandingly tasty) — so that takes care of convenience. The Three Little Pigs are a perfect example of the quality of pork at The Piggery: A pulled pork slider, a pig dog and a carnitas taco.  Each is delectable in its own way: the taco is one of the best tacos around, and the pig dog is my personal favorite hot dog of all time. Not only does the food deliver with the utmost deliciousness, but the space itself is also sunlight-filled and catered by refreshingly pleasant employees.

Eateries like these are popping up everywhere, and more places are trying to incorporate local ingredients into their menus. Whether or not we truly care about the health benefits or the support for local economies, the local foods movement is making its way into our hearts and into our stomachs.

Original Author: Carolyn Scheinberg