Ithaca, NY: Wine Tasting and the Supermoon

11 Dec

Our first full day in Ithaca, after an incredible dinner the night prior, brought us some of the most incredible weather.  Sunshine and blue skies greeted us at our incredible Airbnb rental in the middle of the woods (with a bonus porch and hot tub, which we thoroughly enjoyed with some wine on both nights!).  We had booked a private wine tour with Grapevine Country Tours with the plan to have them use their expertise to pick the wineries for us, with a stop for lunch at one of the wineries along the way, and not have to make any decisions all day long besides which wines to try.

They picked us up at our Airbnb right on time and our tour guide, a jovial middle aged man, immediately started asking us all sorts of questions and telling us all sorts of funny stories. He proved to be a very entertaining part of our day.

He took us to the next door Seneca Lake (Ithaca is on Cayuga Lake) because he said he thought we would enjoy their wineries more.

The first stop he chose for us was J.R. Dill Winery.  This wound up actually be our favorite wines of the day and had a beautiful view across the river.


Tastings were about $3-$5 for 5-8 tastings and our driver would peek in when we arrived to make sure we got special treatment, which usually included extra pours, if not unlimited tastings.

We stopped at Hazlitt, which is one of the most famous wineries and their wines were pretty good. They also have a slushie tiki area which we didn’t try, but apparently it’s quite the attraction.
We also stopped at some crazy hippie winery that smelled like pachouli and had questionable cleanliness… but we embraced the present and tasted some wine and bought some hippie dresses and were on our way.
Wagner Valley has both a winery and a brewery on the same property, and both were very good.  They also had one of the largest areas and beautiful views.


Our lunch stop was at Red Newt Cellar and both the wine and the food were very good.



The bride to be even showed off her sobriety as we took photos of the sampler plate.


The sampler had some salad, charcuterie and cheese samplings, grilled cheese, and tomato soup.


We also ordered the gnocchi special.


And the special grilled cheese.



And… this… wtf was this?  Oh the wine.


And of course the brownie sundae for dessert!


On our way out of the Seneca Lake wine region we stopped at Chateau Lafayette Reneau.  The wines were pretty good but we all agreed that our first stop was best.


Though I simply loved the view across the street.


That night, we drove around the lake looking for a view of the “Super Moon.” We finally found it by sneaking into the Ithaca Yacht Club.  (shhhh… don’t tell)


During our trip, we also stopped at a few of our old favorites, including Purity Ice Cream, Collegetown Bagels (twice), and DP Dough.  Ahhh college. We also stopped on campus where we hardly recognized it with all the new buildings.

It was a fantastic trip and we all thoroughly enjoyed NOT being broke in Ithaca.  A great place to have a bachelorette party.

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Ithaca, NY: Just a Taste

9 Dec

This summer, I went with my two college roommates, Vicki and Kim, on a roadtrip to Ithaca, NY. We went back to Ithaca, where we went to school, to celebrate Vicki’s Bachelorette Party.  We had juggled a few ideas for where to go, but Ithaca won out because of the nostalgic factor and the fact that we all spent 4 years there but basically did so broke. So we were excited to go back to eat at some of the good restaurants and visit the wineries.

On our first night, we dropped in to Just a Taste and put our name on the list.  They said it would be about 45 minutes, so we took them literally and went to kill time by grabbing a cocktail at a nearby restaurant.  Twenty minutes later, our cocktails were just being delivered when they called us to say they were ready.  So we chugged the cocktails as quickly as we could and returned to find that they held the table for us.  Phew!


Just a Taste had been on my radar for some time, and then I randomly read an article on the way up mentioning how they were a fantastic restaurant, so we were excited to try it.  We were presented with an extensive tapas menu and we went to town.


And we did some wine flights to get our party started.



We started with the warm brie with melon and crostini. Loved the blend of warm brie with the perfectly ripe melon, and the crostini was a nice added crisp.


Squash blossom hush puppies with maple butter and zucchini-herb salad. Great dish and unlike anything I have had before.


We asked our waiter what dish we should definitely get, and much to our surprise, he recommended the garlic braised greens with walnuts, stilton blue cheese, and sherry vinegar.  Sure enough, it was incredibly delicious and we never would have ordered it from the menu description.  It didn’t sound all that exciting, but all the flavors were just perfect together.


We also tried the deep fried salt cod fritters with garlic aioli and mixed greens.


These were perfectly crispy on the outside and the salt cod was really perfectly flavored on the inside. Not at all greasy and very enjoyable.


Basque style lamb (local) braised with tomatoes, peppers, onions, and paprika on toasted orzo.  I couldn’t try this due to my allergy, and my sweet friends very kindly told me it was awful (HINT: they LIED!) to make me feel like I wasn’t missing out.



We also go the summer squash sautéed in brown butter with garlic, pecans, and romano cheese.  I really enjoyed this dish. The squash was cooked perfectly and the flavors were great together.


And we also got a plate of the charcuterie.


This came with duck liver mousse, smoked duck breast, shaved ham and pate maison (pistachios) with crostini, wholegrain mustard and pickled garlic scapes.  We loved everything on this plate and all had trouble deciding our favorite bite amongst the selection.


Our meal was absolutely fantastic from start to finish.  We loved all the dishes and there wasn’t a dud to be had.  This rivaled some of the best tapas I’ve had in New York City and there it was, in upstate, New York. But even the cheap food was good in Ithaca when we were there, so really it was no surprise.

If you are in the area, I highly recommend stopping in to Just a Taste.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

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