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Good day so far... - Mark's Journal
Good day so far...
Orecchiette & Sweet SausageGuess I'll start with last night, when I had an outstanding dinner with Jason at Mercato Bar & Kitchen, the new Italian place downtown. I'm really happy with it. The owner and chef, a Cornell hotel faculty member emeritus, has been in the restaurant business before, not just taught about it, and it shows. He also seems to have grabbed several top people from other local restaurants. Just a killer meal and a great experience. Downtown Ithaca hasn't had any Italian food (not counting pizzerias) since Giovanni's left, so it's long overdue.

Then this morning I got to enjoy a local Couchsurfing.com gathering; one of the locals decided to hold a pancake breakfast. I brought some local Piggery bacon and my Handpresso with some espresso pods. Fun to meet a few grad students and talk about food and drink. One of them is from (I think) Taiwan, and another was Muslim, so didn't try the bacon, but we got to talk about Kosher laws and Halal. The last participant was a Florida guy who's off to San Francisco next week. Great group. We had some Oolong tea from China, and tried some durian cookies. The Asian girls seemed surprised the American guys weren't repulsed by these.

And then on my way to the office I swung by a friend's to pick up some venison he's kindly sharing with me! A couple of roasts and some ground meat. I'll probably turn the ground into venison hash. Yum.

I'm expecting it to be a very quiet day at work. Hope you're having a good one. I'm not ready for lunch yet, but when I am, I have a salad I grabbed from Mattin's yesterday, knowing they'd be closed today and most of Collegetown would be closed.
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aregulardyke From: aregulardyke Date: December 23rd, 2010 05:48 pm (UTC) (Link)


OMG that looks Sooo good ! Asperagus on pasta meat sauce ? Wow ... I agree, there has not been a really good Italian place in town since I-certainly-can't-remember-when ... sometimes I get such a craving for Italian, but it's so labor intensive to make at home, and never tastes quite the same ... I'll look forward to going there !
Didn't find an on-line menu / web site, tho ...

mhaithaca From: mhaithaca Date: December 23rd, 2010 05:58 pm (UTC) (Link)


It was sweet sausage and broccoli rabe on my orecchiette. Stunningly good! Click through the link above; I've got a link to their web site and menu on 14850 Dining. The place isn't cheap, but the food is top notch and they have a great crew there.
aregulardyke From: aregulardyke Date: December 23rd, 2010 06:05 pm (UTC) (Link)


Ahhh, yes - looking closer, that is indeed broccoli rabe ... and it *still* looks incredible ! OK, will look for link & menu ...

aregulardyke From: aregulardyke Date: December 23rd, 2010 06:19 pm (UTC) (Link)


Found menu ... looks superb ! I didn't think the prices were all that high, considering the price of food keeps going up all the time. IF everything is made from scratch, with best available ingredients, this is how prices will be, IMO, for the forseeable future. And anyone who knows the difference between quality and food that's been 'cheaped down' will pay the price. My eye immediately caught the gonochi with shortribs ... and salivary glands kicked in. Betcha' that's a killer diller plate of happiness !

Thanks ! :-)

mhaithaca From: mhaithaca Date: December 23rd, 2010 06:25 pm (UTC) (Link)


I think you're right about the pricing. We spent a lot on dinner last night, but quite consciously so. It would be easy to get out of there for a lot less. I put it down as "moderate" instead of "pricey" in 14850 Dining, accordingly. One of the things that helps keep it from being too expensive is that they have a couple dozen bottles of wine priced at $25. There are some pricier, but a great selection at $25, not that much more than you'd find a good bottle in the store.

Jason had the gnocchi with shortrib ragout, and said it was the best gnocchi he's had in years, since dining in the Bay Area. He was really impressed with the place, too.
aregulardyke From: aregulardyke Date: December 23rd, 2010 07:06 pm (UTC) (Link)


Ahh, I am in envy of your friend Jason ... lol ... Lucky fellow ! Glad to hear it was so delicious, all the more incentive for me to go there :-)

blaisepascal From: blaisepascal Date: December 23rd, 2010 06:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
I found Mercato to be high quality, but ultimately disappointing as a vegetarian. It's not obvious from the menu, but they use lard in their pastry crusts, which eliminates a good portion of the deserts and their otherwise-vegetarian vegetable tart entrée. I am glad I mentioned I was vegetarian before I ordered.
mhaithaca From: mhaithaca Date: December 23rd, 2010 06:53 pm (UTC) (Link)

Ugh. That's a shame, and something I'll mention as I update their listing. What did you end up eating? For what it's worth, I heard last night that their scallop dish is exceptional but on the skimpy side, if you want to explore more scallop dishes before giving up on them.
blaisepascal From: blaisepascal Date: December 23rd, 2010 07:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
The one other vegetarian entrée, the butternut squash ravioli with brown butter. I also had the wild mushroom and goat cheese crostini and the fingerling potatoes. The deserts mostly use pastry, so I skipped it entirely.

I found the potatoes a bit dry, but otherwise the food was excellent.
aregulardyke From: aregulardyke Date: December 23rd, 2010 07:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Lard ? Wow ... for me lard is good news, having had a Grandmother who made all her heavenly flaky crusts with lard ... and my memories of that textural bliss ...

Thanks for the tip about the vegetarian concerns ! I doubt my housemate would be able to eat there.

voraciousapathy From: voraciousapathy Date: December 25th, 2010 06:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
looks tasty.
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