April: Amidst the hustle and bustle—the only trace of New York City here in Ithaca—it feels liberating to venture outside every now and then to explore Ithaca and recharge in the loving womb of nature. Don’t let the “there’s nothing to do, Cornell’s in the middle of nowhere” eye-roll mislead you. A welcoming, homey venue with polished rows of autumnal-colored bell peppers, the Ithaca Farmers Market at Steamboat Landing has been beckoning hungry travelers to its diverse selections, ranging from organic honeys to ginormous furnace-baked pizzas, since 1973.
April: Follow the adventure of two such hungry girls as they wow at one of the country’s best farmers markets, their eyes drinking in the homemade apple ciders, 5-person-job pizzas, and Thai-flavored ice cream.
Mango sticky rice and Thai tea
Grace: For an appetizer, we started off by splitting a mango sticky rice. The fresh mango glazed with condensed milk was sweet and tangy—a perfect complement to the mildly sweet aroma of purple rice. Paired with icy cold thai milk tea (~$2), the combo enlivened our taste buds and foreshadowed the food coma that had yet to come. If you ever get the chance to try this authentic Thai-cuisine booth, I would recommend getting your own portion of the mango sticky rice (~$6). You’ll definitely be wanting more as soon as you finish!
April: Icy Thai teas melting in hand, we strolled around the booths, pausing at the tower of stacked honey jars. Having only been exposed to the Costco wholesale honeys in bear-shaped plastic bottles, we couldn’t believe the myriad of different types of honey before us. Even the aggressively protective bees did not faze us as we explored the rainbow colored sticks of honey peach, honey watermelon, and honey apple—hands down the best quarter’s worth ever spent.
Grace: I guarantee that you’ll never find a pizza deal as good as the farmer’s market pizza booth. Ten dollars for a whole pizza? It was a no-brainer for us to buy one. And even cooler was that these pizzas had a personality. Irregularly shaped, oozing with cheese and sausage bits, and clearly handmade on the spot, they emphasized the local spirit of farmers markets. In case you’re curious about the taste and texture: the pizzas were relatively thin, the crust struck a great balance between doughiness and crunchiness, and the tomato sauce had a pretty strong presence—but the only way to test this review is to try them yourself.
April: Our fickle selves proved no deviation at the Thai ice cream stand. The friendly vendor laughed patiently as we sampled each flavor, mulling over the bitter-sweet versus tropical zing. Why choose when you can have them all? That settled it–we opted for the all-in-one-experience: a comprehensive Thai-original, coffee, and coconut conglomerate in a hollowed out coconut shell, complete with lychee jelly toppings and green sticky rice garnish. Total was only $6 for a momentary getaway to the other side of the world; if not all the way to Thailand, the novelty definitely whisked us briefly away from the thick Ithacan heat.
Grace: We wanted to take advantage of the abundant organic vegetables at the farmer’s market and bought two bundles of kale ($3 each) with the intention of making kale chips with friends back at our Cornell dorms. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find time to make them until the week after, by which time the kale had started to go limp. Regardless, the kale chips were still crunchy and tasted great! The process of making them was also fun, despite us lacking half the materials necessary and not really knowing the recipe…
Before the weather gets too cold, try to go off campus to explore Ithaca! We may not have the best concerts, but where else are you going to find such a friendly and down-to-earth community? The farmers market is a great opportunity to get to know new acquaintances, and of course to get a taste of the amazing, locally made food!
Grace Chen is a class of 2021 Biological Sciences major in the College of Arts and Sciences. She loves succulents and has both a cat and a dog at her home in California. Grace’s Grove appears every other Tuesday this semester. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
April Ye is a 2021 CS major in the College of Arts and Sciences. Besides traveling to unique, not-often-tourist-visited spots, she really enjoys catching up with a steaming latte with old friends, meandering walks without a set destination, and spontaneously long conversations. April hopes that trekking the slopes of Cornell will help check her bucket list item of becoming more fit. Coffee Thoughts appears every other Thursday. She can be reached at email@example.com.