SUNDAY — ROSEBARB FARM, Caroline, New York
What a joy to finally settle in to our homey cottage.
Downstairs: living room/small kitchen/sofa (pullout)/futon/small table and chairs/windows galore/bathroom.
Upstairs: bedroom/bathroom/another sofa/3 walls with windows and views.
Beneath a large picture window in the bedroom, with a panoramic view of grassy fields, rolling hills and the sunrise every morning, was a vintage wood desk. What a perfect spot to write.
A delicious breakfast prepared by our hosts, Rita and Don (the Rosenberg and Barber of “Rosebarb” Farm), in the protected warmth of their delightfully cluttered country kitchen, jumpstarted our first day at the farm. We sat around a large island in the center of the kitchen chatting and drinking our coffee and tea as Rita busily placed before us a bowl of fresh-picked fruit (Don had gotten up early — well, he always gets up early; they both do — to pick raspberries for the fruit medley); pumpkin muffins, made by Rita from scratch; and a tasty baked egg dish, courtesy of Don — and the chickens, of course.
The Rosebarb’s massive antique, gun-metal gray iron wood stove was a marvel. Stoked by Don, and in which Rita baked the delectable butternut-molasses casserole — the surprise dish that capped off our wonderful meal — the stove’s radiating heat kept us warm the chilly morning air.
Equally, the friendliness and warmth of Rita and Don, their interesting life stories, which they shared freely, made for continual lively conversation. They are two of the nicest people on you’d ever want to meet.
You might be wondering what brought us up to the Ithaca, NY area in the first place. Well, we’ve always wanted to eat at the famous Moosewood Restaurant — which is in downtown Ithaca.
Shortly after our arrival, we picked up the keys from Rita (they were on their way to see a Cornell hockey game), we dropped off our suitcase and headed into downtown Ithaca.
Not long ago, I’d come across an article on the Moosewood in a “new age” publication. Often, it is the only place you will find a feature article on a primarily vegetarian restaurant (which also happens to serve a daily fish special — perfectly okay with me). Reading the article, I thought it would be fun to build our vacation around the Moosewood.
We didn’t want to wall ourselves up in an apartment-style hotel in Ithaca. Googling, I discovered several “cottage” rentals online on the outskirts of Ithaca (one was actually a yurt — intriguing, but, no thank you — I like a nice bathroom). And then, Rosebarb Farm popped up on the iPad.
I searched a bit longer, but kept coming back to Rosebarb Farm. The planets were most definitely in alignment. The only weekend available in October on Rosebarb’s reservations calendar was very same extended weekend we’d set aside for our vacation. The rest of October at Rosebarb Farm was totally booked. We lucked out.
Following up a sightseeing tip from Rita and Don, our first stop after breakfast was the Farmer’s Market. Outdoors, under the protective covering of a peaked wood canopy, a vast array of vendors were selling fresh from the farm vegetables, eggs, baked goods, artisan products and so much more. All LOCALLY made. Not local, as in N.Y. State local – but local, as in the next -town-over local.
Our next stop was Taughannock Falls near lake Cayuga. Talk about breathtaking:
We gazed for a long time at this mesmerizing waterfall.
Our next adventure was a drive up Rte. 153, which runs alongside the Lake Cayuga, east of Rte. 89. On the way, we passed by lovely Sunrise Hill Vineyard:
We followed the river up to Trumansburg, where we dropped in at the local T-Burg Shur Save supermarket to use the facilities (to which we were kindly directed by a cashier) and pick up a bottle of water. When I first entered the store, I noticed a sign that said: THANK YOU FOR NOT SMOKING WHILE SHOPPING
People actually smoke while pushing their shopping carts around a supermarket? LOL
We looped back and headed into downtown Ithaca to have lunch. Ithaca is a college town with all the smarts and liveliness you’d expect to encounter in the vicinity of Cornell University. We stopped for a “DeWitt Melt” sandwich in the Ithaca Bakery. Lots of laptops on tables, heads swathed in beanies, tattooed people and coffee mugs filled to the brim.
We browsed around the village for a while. Ithaca is smallish and charming with a wealth of lovely Victorian homes. We stopped at Buffalo Street Books, the local independent bookshop located in the DeWitt Mall (also home of The Moosewood). The DeWitt Mall, the eponymous “Melt,” as well as a park and a school also have incorporated DeWitt into their name, in honor of the town’s founder, Simeon DeWitt.
The slogan on the bookstore’s website is: “Hundreds of Owners. Thousands of Books. One great bookstore.” The store stocks dozens of local authors (in keeping it “local,” like most Ithacans) and is cooperatively owned and operated with hundreds of owners in the Ithaca community and beyond. I could not leave such a worthy establishment without buying something. So I picked up T.C. Boyle’s latest, San Miguel.
On the way back to the parking garage, we passed this sign on the sidewalk (these signs are ubiquitous downtown):
Back in the car, we headed to the campus of Cornell University, perched high on a small mountain overlooking downtown. Following the suggested must-sees of Rita and Don, on our list were:
1) the Johnson Museum ofArt, adjacent to Cornell’s “Arts Quad”:
…with its eclectic collection of Asian art and spectacular views of the Ithaca valley:
and the visually stunning 2) Sage Chapel:
Definitely worth seeing. Cornell’s campus is just beautiful. My boss attended Cornell. Lucky guy.
I look forward to returning in Spring to visit Cornell’s botanical garden, waterfall (yes, they have their own) and ornithology center. Since it was Sunday, it was easy to park on campus (although limited visitor parking is available on site during the week).
The clouds had rolled in and it was starting to rain. We were getting hungry. Rather than return to The Moosewood (and thereby wear out the newness of its appeal), we decided to head back downtown for a veggie burrito in a Mexican place. Okay, not as good Los Angeles Mexican (the best Mexican food anywhere, much better then New York), but we were hungry and the burrito fit the bill.
Stay tuned for Day 3: Soaking up the Local Color….
Tags: Buffalo Street Books, Caroline, cornell university, fresh eggs, Ithaca, johnson museum of art, Lake Cayuga, locavores, NY, rose barb farm, Rosebard Farm, Sage Chapel, Taughannock Falls, the moosewood restaurant