Ellie Eats Ithaca #2

Gorgers Taco Shack

I’d heard that if I go to Gorgers, I have to get the Blueberry BBQ sauce. On anything. Why go against solid BBQ sauce advice? I was the only person in the shop, as it had dumped a bunch of snow on us that morning. The guys working were very friendly and my burrito was made quickly. I have to rave about the wrapping of the burrito. It was perfect. Seriously perfect burrito roll. I am a stickler for that, because a successful burrito keeps its ingredients inside. The burrito was also covered in tin foil, another necessity, so you can unwrap as you go.

The burrito itself was very good. Nice flavor, equal ingredient distribution. I’d have like a bit more sauce on the side to dip. Not inside, because then you risk a wet burrito. I got the blueberry BBQ vegetarian burrito with rice and beans and no sour cream. It also had lettuce, tomatoes and pepper jack cheese. Everything worked together well. I left full.

Nikki Green

I’ve been here three times since it opened less than a month ago. I really like it, it just has foods I feel good eating and are also delicious. Nikki Green is the second vegan restaurant in Ithaca. While Ten Forward is more comfort vegan food, Nikki Green is a bit more healthy, but just as delicious. The first time I went I got the Tangi bowl, rice topped with tofu, broccoli, ginger, green peas, sesame seeds and a turmeric dressing. I got a small size, and it was actually enough! I was so surprised, but they did it correctly. The only off putting thing was the big hunks of ginger. I ate one and immediately regretted it. But since they were on there, I just didn’t eat them. They didn’t add to the dish, so many it was a garnish?

The second time I went I got the Nuttin’ But Nuts bowl. It is a peanut butter and banana creamy base topped with cashew cream, macadamia nuts and cacao nibs. I was in heaven, that’s all I can say. Just read the ingredients and you know this was my jam. Everything was perfect. The base was thick, the toppings were perfect. I could eat this everyday.

The third time I went I got the chocoholic bowl. A chocolate and banana base topped with chocolate sauce, cacao nibs and granola. Another great choice. It just tasted so good! I have a hard time not going more, but I’ve got all of Ithaca to eat so…

Sammy’s Pizzaria

Sammy’s was what you expect a pizza place to be or, what you hope it will be. A few customers, great pizza, and a nice staff. I got the white garlic pizza topped with ricotta and mozzarella and tons of garlic. It wasn’t too salty or greasy. The pizza is just the way I like it, thin and foldable and huge slices. The bottom was crispy and not burned and it came out wonderfully melted. I also got another free slice for reviewing them on yelp, so I cannot hate on that!

Ithaca Coffee Company

I must confess all I got here was a scone and I had to take it to go so I didn’t truly immerse myself in the environment. The scone was good. It was cinnamon chip, and had some crunch on the outside. I cannot rave about it because I’ve had better scones in Ithaca. The shop was really cute and I will go back for lunch someday, but I wasn’t blown away this time. The guy also said their most popular scone, the chocolate raspberry, was sold out. Next time!

Press Bay Cafe

I had never been over to Press Bay Alley outside of once when the Star Truck was there. Press Bay Cafe is a hipster coffee shop. It has a small menu, and does one thing well. I got the vanilla maca latte, in decaf. It was actually very good! For great coffee drinks (not just drip) I would recommend it. Would I go there everyday? No, because I really only like drip coffee, but I wanted to try it. Great vibe, quiet, just not my style.

Almost done with my third post! I’m making my way through Ithaca and it’s delicious 🙂

Ellie Eats Ithaca #1

My 2018 goal is to try all the different Ithaca restaurants. I’m talking restaurants unique to Ithaca, not the random Taco Bell on the corner. This might sound like an easy goal, however let me tell you my history with money.

Quite simply, I’m a saver and highly frugal. I don’t like to spend money on things like eating out when I can make food or get food from work very cheaply. It is a big mental block in my mind to pay for something that has no value after one use. We can deep dive into that later if anyone cares, but long story short, since the beginning of the year, I’ve decided to treat myself to lunches out on my days off. I have a bit more expendable income now, so I figure it’s a good expense.

And you know what? I really like taking myself out to eat!

I do reviews on Yelp, but figured I could post a photo and a little bit about what I’ve been eating here in 2018.

Agava Restaurant

Disclaimer: I work as the social media manager for Agava.

I took my coach here for brunch a few weeks ago and had a pleasant experience. I know everyone and so they were very charming. I got the huevos rancheros and he got the veggie burger and fries. Mine was delicious, his was underwhelming in appearance, but he said it was good.

Kilpatrick’s Publick House

I went here with two coworkers on Saturday afternoon. I was really excited because this is the only place in town serving the Beyond Meat Impossible Burger! I am not a big burger fan, but I was curious to try it. I was impressed. The burger was juicy and flavorful. I got it on a toasted brioche bun with lettuce, tomato and gouda cheese. My one coworker got the fish and chips and the other got shrimp scampi. We were all satisfied.

Ten Forward Cafe

Ten Forward is my favorite Ithaca cafe simply because I love the women who own it and it’s the first all-vegan place in our city. They have great scones, milkshakes and desserts. I went here for lunch alone on a negative degree temperature day. The special was sausage biscuits and gravy…which absolutely hit the spot! It was comforting, warm and very filling. The biscuits were most and tasty and the sausage gravy could probably food a meat eater.

Pita On The Street

I took my lunch from here to go as it is really “on-the-street” and not much seating. I was also doing some work for Agava, so I wanted a bit more space. I got the hummus pita with all the toppings. I really wanted the roasted eggplant pita, but they hadn’t got their eggplant delivery yet, so they couldn’t make the dip. No big, the pita bread itself was excellent. I enjoyed everything except I wish the hummus had a bit more flavor. The tzatziki sauce made it.

Cafe DeWitt

I was beyond impressed with the Eggs Florentine I got from this place and with their service. It was another sub-zero day with tons of snow. I had wanted to try this place for a long time, and I figured it wouldn’t be busy. I was correct and was seated immediately. The specials all sounded good, but I the hollandaise sauce on the Florentine spoke to me. No regrets everything was perfect. The eggs were poached exactly correct (I think this is my favorite way to eat eggs now). The hollandaise sauce is something I want to carry in my bottle at my next race. The spinach and focaccia bread were both fresh and delicious. I will be back soon!

Stay tuned for the next 5 restaurants!

The First Van Crisis

This morning, I had my first van crisis. Although that sounds extreme now looking back, it definitely was challenging.

To set the scene, it has been frigid here in Ithaca the past few days. Snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures. I was lucky to be able to park in one spot all weekend, which meant I didn’t have to drive my van in the slush and ice. Well, parking in one area meant I didn’t move my plug-in cord at all. It also meant I didn’t rev the car battery at all, yet still used a light inside.

Being new at this, I didn’t think of it, I was just thankful I had a warm place to stay the weekend without much hassle.

This morning I woke up and tried to start my van to move it to it’s “day spot”. The engine didn’t start, the battery was dead. To make matters worse, my cord was under two inches of ice. I immediately started to de-ice my cord using hot water and salt from work. This involved hauling 40 gallon buckets in and out for about an hour…at 5:00AM, I had to work at 6:15AM.

During this time, I am racking my brain as to what to do about the van. I have to move because people park there during the day. That’s the deal. It was so early, I didn’t know of anyone who could give me a charge. I’m thinking about all the explaining I’ll have to do, how much trouble I might get in and also about cutting my cord because it’s not out of the ice and I have to work.

I called my dad. I started working and my coworker finished the last few inches of ice I hadn’t gotten to (it took him 2 minutes, thank God!)

My dad saved the day. He answered the phone at 6AM when I was at my wits end. I didn’t know who else to call, and I knew he would be up and have what I needed. He came.

I de-iced my wet hands and feet while waiting for him, changed shoes and we got to work. He gave me a jump, then gave me his old battery charger for if it happens again.

He taught me what to do next time and told me I did the right thing, I did what I could and then asked for help.

We got my van going, I let it run for 45 minutes, then drove it to it’s spot. I plugged the battery charger into it, and it’s back working now.

First van crisis: averted.

My dad has been really helpful in this transition. I cannot stress that I have benefited from numerous sources for help. I am not alone, and that is so comforting. I’ve been in the van for a week, and I do like it, but it’s a learning curve. My dad simply stepped up to help. He could have said no. He could have told me that this was my bed I had to lay in it. But he didn’t. He helped me.

My dad is someone I want to be like. He has his opinions, his ways and just how he thinks…but he always stops to help. I called him in tears because I didn’t know what else to do. After I got off the phone and when I saw him, I was crying again, but they were tears of overwhelming joy. I was so overwhelmed that he was coming to help. I should have known he would, that’s in his character, but for some reason, I still doubted.

First van crisis: averted. I love you dad.

Oh, I made a YouTube video which you can view here: https://youtu.be/eTtPP9Q0MGE

How I Cook and Eat In The Iron Lady

I used to love cooking and baking. I still do enjoy those things, but as my living situations change, I realize that I can go for long periods of time not doing it and be ok. It will be there when I want to do it, and I enjoy it when it happens.

Eating in my van has been a bit different, but largely not a huge struggle. I eat the same things, I just have a smaller space to prepare them.

I am using an electric hot plate and electric kettle to cook the majority of things that need to be hot. I steam my veggies (I love broccoli and snap peas and was not about to give that up!) while I go to my work and make dinner.

Let me explain my work situation and how I have taken advantage of that to eat relatively easy in my van.

Anyone who has worked in food knows there is simply a lot of waste. That’s the nature of building a business where your product goes bad after a few days. At the end of the night, we throw away any food that is past the sell-by date. In the past I have usually taken bread (which gets tossed everyday) or food both because it’s delicious and because it would get tossed anyway. Now, I just do it every night. I make a sandwich or take an entree, heat it up there and bring it back to my van to eat with my veggies. I usually set my veggies to cook on my hot plate, then go get dinner from work and then when I get back to the van the veggies are still steaming.

For breakfast, I make oatmeal with my electric kettle and put peanut butter and banana on it. I also get coffee from work.

Lunches are either eaten at work or I take myself out for lunch. I quite enjoy this actually. I plan to try all the Ithaca restaurants in 2018, and I’m 4 down already!

The biggest pain has been spilling stuff or dropping things. It’s a small space, and I am a big person, so I forget my appendages hit things often times. I spilled ketchup on the floor the other day, and thankfully I think I got most of it out of the rug. I need to be more careful about that.

Another bonus I got this week was CHIPS! My brother’s wide Cassidy is best friends with the co-owner of Off The Cob Corn Chips, an Ithaca based company that was on Shark Tank. At their wedding, I met Molly, the co-owner, and she comes into CTB everyday for lunch. She hooked me up with a box of bags of their famous chips.

Let me tell you, I couldn’t be more grateful. I love these chips. The corn is grown locally at Early Bird Farm, the chips have a sweeter taste and are perfect for snacking and dipping. I have been eating a lot of these in the van, they are perfect!

So that’s it, how I eat. Any questions?

The First Few Days of Living In A Van

I moved into my van on January 7th. Today is January 9th so I have survived the first two days.

Saying “I survived” sounds much more dramatic than it really turned out to be. I think I’m cut out for this life.

Here’s how the first night went:

I moved in officially at about 4PM after getting the rest of my stuff out of my apartment. I turned on The Office and started trying to put things away and organize, though it proved a bit futile because, being so new, I still am figuring out what things I need near me and what I don’t.

I made a good effort at it though 🙂 My space heater worked, although two of them do not work together at the same time. It proved not necessary to have two, so I will most likely return the second…or not and use it as a back up…decisions.

I have not used the table under the bed yet as it has proved unnecessary to do so. I have a different table that is easily storable and makes it so I don’t have to move the bed. I’ll figure it out better later, I’m only two days in.

My toilet system works rather well. It sucks that I know this, but I eat so much and it has to come out sometime. At least it works and it doesn’t make my van smell. Thank you kitty litter 😉

After I organized what I could, I started making dinner: steamed broccoli and oatmeal. It seemed simple.

It was, just a bit cumbersome to steam the broccoli. My electric hotplate takes longer that a flame to steam the veggies, but that was ok, I just kept watching The Office. The oatmeal was easy. I used quick oats and my electric kettle. Plopped some PB and banana in there and we’re done.

I ate dinner, clean up, did a crossword and went to sleep. That’s kind of what I did at my apartment, so not much has changed, just the movements.

One thing I noticed was that I slouch more because I am so tall. The next day I went to Ithaca ReUse and got a stadium chair (some guy definitely made it because man it says DIY all over it) to help with this. I think it’s working…

Sleeping has been ok. I don’t fall asleep immediately yet, but I have gotten good sleep. To be honest, last night I was too hot, so I might exchange my mummy sleeping bag with some blankets and see how that goes tonight. I also sleep in spandex and a tank top for reference.

Breakfast the next morning was more of the same: oatmeal and an apple. Perfect. I had errands to do that morning, and my only 2018 goal is to try all the Ithaca restaurants, so I took myself to On The Street Pitas for lunch. Definitely great and good service to boot.

I worked at Agava that afternoon, then came back home (TO MY VAN!) and ate dinner. I made a pesto pizza melt at work and had more veggies. Did a crossword and went to bed.

This morning was kind of different because I park outside my work at night, then I park at a different place during the day. So after my run I moved my van, then came into work. It all went well and smoothly so I am grateful.

That’s all I’ve done since moving into the van.

Any questions?