Fantastic Foodie Weekend (Part 2)

After we left the Ithaca Farmer’s Market, we went into downtown Ithaca to lunch at the world famous Moosewood Restaurant.. The Moosewood was named one of the thirteen most influential restaurants of the 20th Century by Bon Appetit magazine and has been a real icon for vegetarian eating and cooking since the 1970s when it opened. I have been to Ithaca many times, but this was the first time to make it to the Moosewood.
moose sign

I started my lunch with a grapefruit-basil martini. martini
Grapefruit juice, vodka and a muddled basil leaf. It was very refreshing and will be recreated at home! I also got some ideas for other herbs, like…maybe rosemary? Definitely some testing to do!

For lunch I has pastitsio which is a greek pasta dish. I have had it served as a lasagna type dish, but at the Moosewood it came as a casserole. It was very rich and tasty with lentils standing in for the traditional lamb. I could only eat half!

I definitely saved room for dessert which was such a luscious summery treat with a really dense moist piece of pound cake served with juicy, ripe peaches and a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Oh was that good!
All in all, it was a wonderful foodie field trip in Ithaca with some great friends!
lunch friends


A Fantastic Foodie Weekend! (Part 1)

This past weekend I had the pleasure of spending time in a lovely lake home of a friend and fellow chef with 8 other personal chefs. We had chefs from Boston, Maryland, Delaware, Michigan, Ohio, and Georgia all congregating for a weekend of fun and food here in the Fingerlakes!
One of the highlights of our gathering was spending Saturday in Ithaca, NY. After a late night on Friday and an early wake up call on Saturday we all piled in the SUV and took a road trip. First stop….the Ithaca Farmer’s market.
Now we have farmer’s markets here in my town, and a great public market in the city of Rochester, but the Ithaca Farmer’s Market was a really spectacular foodie find!
One of the first stalls we passed on the way in was a flower stall. The bouquets were just unbelievable!
A few doors down were these gorgeous veggies.
Rainbow chard and baby carrots. How to choose? (The chard won, we are having chard and gnocchi again!)

One of the great things about a farmers market is talking to the farmers and vendors. This is Duane.
He is a beekeeper from Interlaken, NY. I have a real love of bees. Not only are they important for the entire world…no bees, no food! But they are also fascinating creatures. Duane and I talked bees for about 10 minutes and he was so sweet to answer all my questions. I asked in particular about bees here in upstate NY during our cold winters. Duane told me that he wraps his hives with special insulation and that the colony huddles together in a mass the size of a softball or a cantaloupe and keeps the queen warm. When the outer bees begin to get cold, they burrow deeper into the mass of bees to warm up and let others take their turns on the outside. How cool is that? Some day I will be a beekeeper!

This is Jane North from Northland Sheep Dairy.
She had the MOST DELICIOUS cheese I have eaten in a long time. We sampled the bleu cheese which was piquant and creamy, but the cheese that I swooned for (and brought home!) was a hard, aged cheese that was nutty and delicious. Soooo good! (I still have part of a chunk left in the fridge for later this week!) Sadly her cheese is not available in stores and she lives several hours away so I will need to make it back to the market to get another fix!

And as I close out this chapter of the Ithaca Farmers market, I had to include these photos.. warning, they will make you want to lick your screen!
Mixed berry scones that were so tender and delicious, and cinnamon rolls!
I didn’t eat either of these delights, but chose a biscotti instead (which was delicious by the way) because we had lunch plans and I needed to save room!

Grilled clams! Happy Birthday America!

A simple trip to Wegman’s this afternoon to get dog food, some corn on the cob for our dinner and cereal turned into a real treat for the family today. I have to hand it to Wegman’s, they know how to market their stuff!
In the front of the store was a big bin of corn on the cob (shipped in from Maryland and surprisingly good for being shipped!) I got my 8 ears and turned my cart to continue shopping when I saw it… the Littleneck Clams! A bag of 50 clams for $15.99. I did the mental math and knew that 2 bags would cost me a little over $30, and for my family of 5 it’d mean 20 clams apiece (give or take a few).
I showed restraint and walked past. I had a sirloin steak ready to grill for dinner, we didn’t need clams! But then I walked past the fish counter on my way to get the cereal, and there they were again, and this time I couldn’t pass them up! I stopped and talked to Don, the fishmonger, and he bagged up two mesh bags for me and off I went.
We would have clams AND steak! Surf and turf! Hey, it’s the birthday of America, this would be a great way to celebrate!!
Oh clams! Yummy, yummy clams! I was as happy as a kid in a candy shop!

My love affair with steamed clams began when I was a little kid going to the Webster Fireman’s Carnival every July. My folks would take my brother and I to the Firemen’s booth where they sold “steamers” and we’d eat them with drawn butter and desserts from the Lady’s Auxilliary. Our neighbor Mr. Ryan was a firefigher, and I always remember him being there while we sat at picnic tables eating clam after clam! It was a highlight of my summer!

I got these guys home and put them in my dishpan in the sink with cold water and plenty of Kosher salt. You have to clean them or you get a mouthful of sand and grit which is not pleasant, but a simple soaking for a few hours will work wonders! I have seen other folks recommend adding cornmeal to the water, but the salt water is how my mom always did it and I’ve had better luck with the salt so it’s how I always clean the clams.
I changed the water about 4 times in 2 hours, and with each change of water more grit washed away.
Tonight I decide that since I was cranking up the grill for the steak, I would just grill my clams. I’ve never done it before, but I will do it again! Just preheat the grill to 400º, pour the clams on the grate, close the top and wait about 8-10 minutes. Open the grill and….
This picture is of the last few on the grill, I just heaped all 100 clams on the grill at the beginning, but they all opened quickly so I was pulling them off at lightening speed! The neat thing about doing the clams on the grill was that I could see the clams open. It was sort of cool to see a tight little shell, crack open a bit and then like magic just open wide!
Another benefit… my house doesn’t smell like clams!
Here is the bounty~

Don't they look good!

Don't they look good!

And here is the first course of our July 4th dinner
What a treat!

What a treat!

They were delish!
And by the way… I forgot the dog food! I hate when that happens!