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Waid’s Honey and Candles

 

The Ithaca Farmers Market is in full swing! It’s a true feast for all the senses: beautiful kaleidoscopes of tulips and lilacs, wonderful sounds of laughter and music and exotic smells from all the world’s best street food. The competing aromas beckon you to their stalls, and you are left with grueling choices to make. The first vegetable crops are sold in wonderful displays: baby lettuce, spinach and other greens. Wineries and cheese makers, jam and honey vendors proudly display their wares and offer samples. And foods from Cuba, Tibet, Nepal, Greece, South America, Japan, India and China, Thailand and Laos are a representation of the feasting on hand for hungry customers. Everyone has their favorites and many vendors attract long lines of repeat customers. Over the years I have many favorites and I’ll touch on just a few here. Some of the newer offerings such as French crepes and Greek Gyros looked and smelled wonderful and are quickly attracting loyal followers. If I need to sustain my weekly craving for healthy gourmet food I’ll wait in line at Macro Mamas. There you don’t need to make a choice. They’ll sell you a platter with all their salads and hot items loaded together. Many people (and I am one of them) bring containers to bring home Macro Mamas for the rest of the week. It’s worth the visit just to feast your eyes on the huge bowls of salad and the mile high cakes and luscious desserts. My recommendation is to bring some friends and buy an assortment of goodies to be eaten in communal picnic style. That way you can sample a variety of cuisines.

 Here are some of the highlights to try:

Ø From Macro Mamas: Try Peggy’s corn fritters: served with two great sauces and sample her side order of peanut lime noodles. You can order these in the left “express lane” rather than waiting in the longer whole meal lane.

Ø Just Desserts at the North end makes breads and pastries. Try their crispy flatbread pizza cooked while you wait in their portable pizza oven.

Ø Cuban foods also at the North end of the Farmers Market has authentic Cuban sandwiches: a delectable panini of roast pork, ham, cheese, mayo, mustard and pickles made by Roy Josef who also serves beans and rice, a vegi medley and delicious succulent chicken.

Ø The Gyros at On the Street are their biggest seller and it is hard to go past that vendor without being drawn in by the wonderful aromas. They also sell souvlaki and falafel.

Ø Nearby is Gimme Coffee which all Ithaca coffee lovers know and love.

Ø Towards the lake is Osakaya is one of the original vendors. We brought our children there 20 years ago for chicken Yakitori and sushi. The hot noodle soups and cold salads are also authentic and delicious.

Ø Cactus Head has also been around a long time. Their “made to order” waffles with fresh fruit are not to be missed. And I love their citrus food juice.

Ø One of the very popular vendors for breakfast is Solaz on the Southern end. Long lines form for the made to order breakfast burrito. My favorite is the Calabacitas : a burrito stuffed with zucchini, mushrooms, corn, cheese and homemade salsa.

Ø Across from Solaz is Littletree Orchards which has great fruits in season and also great cider. Now check out their homemade donuts which are perfect with the Gimme at the other end of the lane.

Ø Moving on to one of my many other favorites is Khmer Angkor: traditional Cambodian street food. As you wait you can watch huge woks in action frying up various vegetable fritters. My favorite selection is the Kmer Pan Cake. It is a large omelet filled with your choice of ground meat or vegetables and perfectly seasoned with basil, garlic and chopped peanuts. On the side is a sweet sauce and also an optional VERY hot sauce. You are guaranteed to love this!

Ø Robert Berkley’s Daily Soup offers some wonderful homemade selections. My favorite is the mushroom barley soup, but he will give you a sample to try if you need help deciding. Robert also makes wonderful granola and ice-cream.

Ø Sunrise Samosas fries up either savory curry samosas which are really terrific served with their selection of chutneys that you add to your preference. They also make sweet fruit samosas

Ø Next to Macro Mamas is a wonderful Chinese vendor: Jung Ching Foods. They have a cold noodle salad with a variety of toppings to choose from including tofu, kimchee, peanuts, sprouts, cucumbers, tomatoes etc. This makes a great lunch and I’ll often take a serving home. The tamarind sauce is fantastic. People crowd around to buy egg rolls, steamed buns and dumplings. They offer a huge selection complete with several sauces.

 

I’m a regular Saturday customer and have been for ever; even before Steve Gibbion designed the new covered Market. I can truthfully say that I’ve loved all the food vendor products. I’ve listed some of my favorites but try everything! The bakeries sell top notch European style pastries as well as top of the line American favorites like cinnamon buns. The honey, the cheese, the wine and jams all need sampling. Stay local and buy all your meat, and eggs from several local farms. Many of these Market goods are staples in my home.

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