I was talking to a friend from Zimbabwe about food. We both agreed that exploring new places, meeting people who come from different backgrounds and trying foreign food are all essential aspects of studying abroad. She recalled a story which gets the point across effectively.
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country, so seafood is very rare in the country. When some students from Zimbabwe were going to a coastal region in Mozambique, an advisor said to them, “The last time we organized this trip, one student went to Mozambique and ordered beef dishes at every meal there. Don’t be that student. You can find as much beef as you want in Zimbabwe, so try something different there.”
How does this relate to my spring break food experience? I have pretty much been ordering food on the basis of how the name sounds, at restaurants with unfamiliar cuisines. So here are my top three non-Indian food experiences in Ithaca (not in order):
I went to Sahara for early dinner and I was the only customer there. The restaurant was warm in its design, decor and ambiance. Reading the quote – “The best memories are made when gathered around the table” above the door in Sahara made me happy because I really value great food and company.
Spanakopita and Salad
I ordered a Spanakopita plate although I had never heard of it before. I received a huge plate with a fresh looking salad, lots of hummus and pita bread and of course, spanakopita! The girl who served at my table didn’t think I could finish the entire plate. And then she was impressed by the time I was done. All credits go to the amazing food.
I must confess that I am not a fan of pizza. Atleast not Domino’s or Papa John’s or the dining hall kind of pizza. So when I first had pizza at Pizza Aroma, I was pleasantly surprised. Although it is more expensive than the first category of pizza, the price is worth the taste.
This place also serves El Salvadorean food, which is much cheaper than its pizza. Having tried a couple of dishes from their El Salvadorean menu, I don’t think it’s as good as their pizza. But I guess you only what you pay for.
I was raving about this place even before going there. They’re vegetarian and source their products locally. How could that not be great? When I finally went for lunch there one Saturday afternoon, my fondness for Moosewood was enhanced.
The entree whose name I don’t remember
House salad and veggie juice.
I don’t even remember the name of the entree I ordered, but it was like a filo pastry with spinach, mushroom and fancy cheese in it. I also ordered a vegetable juice, which was flavoured with spices. Entrees come with a house salad and I choose a ‘creamy spinach basil’ dressing for mine. All of it tasted wonderful. Being a vegetarian and loving my veggies has never been more rewarding.On my way out, I flipped through one of Moosewood’s popular cookbooks. It felt more like a story book than a cookbook, in the best way possible. I’m getting a copy sometime soon!
In terms of price, a fulfilling lunch for one is possible under $15 here. Dinner is slightly more expensive, but I believe the portions are also likely to be larger.
As much as I love trying new food, nothing makes me happier than a full Indian meal. Here are my insights on the three Indian restaurants in Ithaca, each of which I’ve visited quite a few times now. Fun fact: they all offer a $10 (including taxes) all you can eat lunch buffet, every day of the week. That actually works out to be cheaper than a Cornell dining meal plan!
New Delhi Diamonds
This restaurant is in the commons and is my personal favourites. The restaurant itself is minimalistic in design and the food is delicious. The flavor is as authentic as I could have expected and the price is very reasonable. On my list, this is the best of the three Indian restaurants in Ithaca.
Mehak and Sangam
Both of these restaurants are located in collegetown, very close to each other. Although the food at Sangam is priced slightly lower than that at Mehak, I think they are more or less similar in quality. Their lunch buffets are also very similar.