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Christmas in Ithaca

It’s Christmas Eve, and I am writing from Ithaca, NY. My brother and his wife settled here recently and invited the rest of the family down to celebrate Christmas in their new house. So for the first time in years, we’re having Christmas away from my parent’s house.

I’ve wanted to visit Ithaca for a long time now and was very excited to have the opportunity to do so. So far, the town is living up to my expectations. We arrived last night and were immediately greeted with a wonderful feast. My sister-in-law is a fantastic and deeply passionate cook. Dinner began with a delicious lentil soup, followed by coq-au-vin, and ending with pears poached in a white wine and vanilla bean sauce. De-lish!!!

My brother and sister-in-law have only been here a few months but already are buying a lot of local food. Eating local, and shopping local, is a big thing around here. In fact, Ithaca is currently holding a “buy local” challenge to encourage people to support local, independent businesses.

We did our best to support one such business today, the famous Moosewood Restaurant. The Moosewood has been around for 33 years, and is still in its original location. It was named one of the 13 most influential restaurants of the 20th Century (by Bon Appetit) and “has been acclaimed as a driving force in the world of creative vegetarian cooking.” Naturally it was the first place I wanted to visit upon arrival. Perhaps not coincidentally, my sister-in-law’s family gave our family a gift certificate for the café, so this is where we enjoyed our Christmas Eve lunch.

Lunch definitely met my expectations (although, surprisingly, no one could tell me if my egg salad sandwich was made from free range eggs). We each ordered something different, and everything was fabulous. Service was friendly, the atmosphere was cozy, and prices not too bad. Definitely worth the visit!

After lunch, we explored the pedestrian mall or Ithaca Commons.

Not many cities have a commons or pedestrian area in their city centers anymore. I love the idea of a commons as a way of building community. Today, Ithaca’s commons was quiet with only a few people puttering around doing last minute shopping in the drizzling rain. At each end of the pedestrian area stood an ice sculpture. I was not at all surprised by the theme:

Once back at the house, I piled the dogs (yes, all three came with me) into the car and off we went to find a place to stretch our legs. I only had to drive about a kilometer before finding a trail. It turns out the land belongs to Ithaca College and was a nature preserve area. As there were no signs saying we couldn’t hike there, off we went. It was lovely and the dogs had a great run.

The landscape around here is hilly and heavily forested. Since loosing my sheep access for training, I have been thinking about relocating. I have been focusing on eastern Ontario, but after today, I am considering widening my horizons…

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