Ithaca is Gorges
After Mike finished cider school (read about his experience there), I flew out to meet him for a quick weekend of cidery tours. This post is not about those tours, but for good reason — we loooooved Ithaca! The non-cidery part of our visit included a Friday night trip to The Piggery and a Saturday morning jaunt to the farmers market, and those two outings are enough to write about in themselves! Of course, we love the pig and we can’t get enough of farmers markets so if you find yourself in the same camp, read on . . .
The Piggery wins on three counts as far as we’re concerned: it sources from local farmers; its owners also own a pig farm (!); and its food is so, so delicious. We loved it. We gushed while we were there. We were giddy with pig. We had ribs, a reuben, and a pulled pork sandwich, all of which were the most delicious versions we’d ever had. The level of smoke was so perfect I can still imagine its taste in my mouth. They do butchery classes, they compost almost everything (like all of Ithaca does), and they sell at the farmers market. We’ve got some good pigmongers in this town, but no one’s doing quite what The Piggery does — even sans pig farm. We need our own local Piggery. Please.
We dreamt of pig and local brew that night, but we knew we had good food coming up the next day with our plans to visit the farmers market. All we knew going in was that Ithaca had a good market, a strong market tradition. But we never expected it to be as good as it was.
Of course, since we had plans to get to Bellwether around mid-morning, that didn’t leave us much time for the market with its late out-of-season starting hours. So yes, we were those people — tourists at the market early. “Tourists” means we weren’t there to do our grocery shopping (speaking from experience, produce vendors aren’t too keen on the tourists) and being there early meant that if we actually talked to anyone, we were impeding their set-up. We tried to be good, but in our enthusiasm it was so, so hard to not poke our noses into the stalls being set up.
First of all, the market is located in a permanent, open-air structure. We were gaga about the place and loved that the pavilion let farmers back right up to their stalls. Ah, heaven, especially after Mill City and Kingfield. The central aisle was wide, the stalls all had elements of personalization to them that worked best for whatever the vendors were selling, and the whole outfit was right on the lake. Again, heaven.
We were so tickled by the whole setup we just had to see what the fees were. We found this handy sign next to the market office that included running water and a toilet. Could this type of set-up be in Minnesota farmers markets’ futures? We sure hope so.
We did end up imposing on Liz and Matthew from Muddy Fingers Farm. They were all set up and I decided I had to have a watermelon radish and we talked about tourists and people who come to the market early. Well, we talked about other stuff too, like their farm and our orchard. They were great and they seem to be doing really tasty things at their farm.
We bought our breakfast and lunch at the market and took it on the road so we weren’t late for our appointment at Bellwether. By the way, both cideries we were visiting for the day had booths at the market where they sold their hard ciders. I have pics, but I’ve already posted too many so I’ll save them for subsequent postings.
Believe it or not, I took even more photos of the market than what I posted here. If you want to see them all, visit us on Flickr.
Bellwether and Eve’s Cidery reports yet to come . . .