I am a spoiled child. Mark’s parents arrived on Wednesday, and as per our usual custom with them, food and wine co-starred in our little four-person show. They leave tomorrow, and I can confidently say that we’ve sipped, nibbled, and chomped our way through a good deal of the Syracuse area.
From kale and pasture-raised chicken in Trumansburg (the post you’re reading) to slow-smoked ribs at Dinosaur BBQ, our tastebuds have not been left wanting.
First I must share this incredible nook in the nearby town of Trumansburg (15 minutes North of Ithaca) that our good friend Jennifer suggested. We’d spent a long day wine touring on Seneca Lake, and by the time 7 o’clock rolled around, we were hungry for something more substantial than wine-tasting crackers.
Enter the Hazelnut Kitchen, where eating local simply means eating well. Buzzing with life on a warm Friday evening, we could tell immediately that it was a popular place.
With pinots and rieslings still dancing in our heads, we chose cheese as a further amuse bouche. The cheese selections (along with nightly specials and desserts), were etched in chalk on the wall next to us — urban flair meets rural comfort.
The selections had changed but the time ours came, and they were all superb. My favorites were the Point Reyes blue and another soft type whose name I can’t recall, but that was perfectly tinged with lavender. A pat of balsamic strawberry jam sat in the middle, and the plate was drizzled with honey from a local apiary.
Choosing a main was difficult, but thanks to their realistic menu, not as stressful as it is in places with too many choices. I ended up with pasture-raised chicken wrapped in bacon with a green peppercorn jus. It was served over warm bread salad (a Tuscan thing, I think), and crispy-roasted local ramps and asparagus.
I’ve been known to exaggerate once in a while when it comes to food, but it’s Sunday and I’m still thinking about that food. I haven’t had a meal out this good since 7¼.
Mark ordered an unusual cut of beef called a hanger steak. Beef is not something I usually eat, but he entreated me to try it. Two small bites of velvety rareness were enough to satisfy the next half a year of cravings. It came with fries and a house made aioli that I could’ve spooned directly into my mouth until my arteries complained.
I also got to try my mother-in-law’s meal, which would’ve been my second choice: a porcini and mushroom and kale raab phyllo streudel, served over French lentils swimming in a thick green curry cream. Green curry usually makes me think of bottled Thai marinades at grocery stores, but this one surprised me with its lemony subtlety and gentle heat.
As my blog’s tag proclaims, I eat for many reasons, place among them. It delights me to find nooks like this, tucked away in the small towns of America, their staff toiling away at representing their neighbors and their land.
With clean white tablecloths, mismatched antique cutlery, and warmth that radiates from its open kitchen, Hazelnut Kitchen excels at kitschy-class. Their peasant-inspired fare is fit for royalty; the company I shared it with this past Friday definitely fit (as well as footed!) the bill.
Entrees: $13-$25, varied wine list with local favorites, good beer selection, and homemade desserts.
53 Main Street