In recent years, the commercial pizza game has seen a dramatic shift. Gone are the days when a gooey slice the size of your face will suffice. Pizza lovers have grown tired of the triangular-shaped grease stain left behind on a paper plate. Flour-dusted lips and oily fingers just don’t cut it anymore. Don’t get me wrong, there will always be an audience of cheese addicts to support establishments like Enzo’s and CollegeTown Pizza.
As empty restaurant tables continue to collect dust in New York City, 60 miles east in Brookhaven, Long Island, Early Girl Farm is bursting with life. Tomato, eggplant and pepper seedlings are beginning to extend their leafy limbs out into the world as employees carefully prepare the soil, adjusting its mineral levels and incorporating nutrient-rich compost to create optimal growing conditions for this summer’s crops. Patty Gentry, a former restaurant owner and chef turned professional farmer, owns and operates the small but mighty farm, which provides seasonal, organic produce to restaurants in the New York City Metro Area. 2020 marks Patty’s tenth year as a professional farmer. She is an expert in her field, who understands the science of organic farming down to the microscopic levels of soil composition.
Having trouble getting in your daily source of vegetables? Head to Coltivare, located on 235 South Cayuga Street, to have your mind blown away by a cauliflower dish that tastes so good you would never imagine it’s just vegetables! Before we get to the delicious meals, let’s take a look at what the restaurant truly stands for. Coltivare comes from the Italian verb “to cultivate.” The restaurant cultivates in various ways: The land, since 60 percent of their ingredients are sourced from the local area; learning, through its dynamic partnership and innovative ‘Farm to Bistro’ program; and community outreach programs such as fundraising dinners and charitable giving in Tompkins County. Each month Coltivare offers a “Student Special,” which sets aside $5 with every order and donates the accumulated money to local schools in order to combat child hunger.
Nestled amongst the maple trees off of Coddington Road, Priscilla Timberlake’s and Lewis Freedman’s cozy country house radiated warm light out into the chilly November night. For over twenty years, every Friday at 6:45pm about fifty people, an eclectic mix of friends, neighbors, colleagues, students and a handful of curious strangers, come together to share a home cooked, plant-based meal around candle-lit dinner tables. It’s best described as a giant, vegan, gluten-free family dinner, where the word “family” is employed loosely; in Priscilla and Lewis’s home, anyone and everyone is treated and fed like family.
In true Ithaca fashion, Apple Harvest Festival is something caught between a nostalgic, agrarian county fair and an eclectic, trendy Brooklyn food festival. It’s a celebration of all things apple — apple pies, apple cider and candied apples — but more than that, it’s a celebration of the Finger Lakes area and the people who shape it. With millions of acres of farmland (52,000 of which are devoted exclusively to apple orchards), Upstate New York is a mecca for farmers, chefs, bakers and wine makers who come together one weekend in late September to share their passion for food with the masses.
What Thompson and Bleecker has to offer surely goes beyond its creative artisanal pizza. Gazing around this vibrant Ithaca Commons spot on a Thursday evening transports me; I am no longer in Ithaca, but in New York City, almost. Perhaps this feeling is evoked since owners Milly and George named Thompson and Bleecker after the intersection of their first apartment in the city. The candles on each sleek, wooden table twinkle. Milly makes her rounds, ensuring all guests are having a wonderful time, which is an easy feat. Patrons sip on red wine while simultaneously biting into doughy crust and cheesy goodness.
On a breezy Thursday afternoon, I breathed in the brisk spring air as I took my routine walk across the Ag Quad to Trillium for lunch. With a hurried pace and pumping heart, I mentally prepared to re-enact the Hunger Games in order to secure a spot in the line for the burrito station and a highly coveted seat. Before I could reach Trillium, however, something peculiar stopped me in my tracks. Tucked in a corner of the Ag Quad were clusters of people bouncing between a row of small tents. I immediately recounted the dreamy, warm days of early September, spent having leisurely lunches with friends while sprawled across red checkered picnic blankets on the grassy quad. The Cornell Farmers Market was back for spring, and I could not have been happier.
The Northstar Plate, a dish that can satisfy both your sweet and savory breakfast cravings, comes with choice of French toast or pancakes, bacon or sausage and potatoes or grits with two eggs your way. Northstar’s French toast is soaked overnight, giving it a cinnamon-y flavor throughout to its center. Topped with New York maple syrup, this French toast outshines all other French toast options in Ithaca.
Conditions in Collegetown lately seem to echo a sentiment proclaimed by Jimmy McMillan, who ran for governor of New York in 2010: “The rent is too damn high.”
Humorous campaign slogan aside, this has become the mantra of Cornell students as well, as rent rates for apartments in Collegetown have increased substantially over the past several years. According to The Ithaca Times, in 2014, Ithaca was ranked 11th on The New York Times’ list of most expensive United States cities, just one spot behind the nation’s financial capital of New York. This accompanied a report released by the Urban Institute in 2015, which revealed that about 44 percent of American renters spent over 35 percent of their income on rent in 2010. The rent issue is a result of too many students searching for too few off-campus housing options. Over half Cornell’s 14,000 undergraduate students live off campus, and Cornell’s on-campus facilities cannot accommodate the demand for housing.
X Ambassadors and Young the Giant will headline the second annual Cayuga Sound Festival in Stewart Park. This year, however, the festival will last two days as opposed to the one last year and will take place September 21 and 22. Other artists performing will include Matt and Kim, Sofi Tukker, Talib Kweli, Buddy, Morgxn, Knew, Lady D and the Shadow Spirits and Cornell’s very own No Comply. More artists remain to be announced. X Ambassadors are the curators of Cayuga Sound Festival and were formed in Ithaca.