Tea Time

What is Matcha?

Unlike most green tea, where the leaves are steeped, matcha is the whole leaf ground into a powder and whisked into water.

This superfood has ten times the antioxidants and double the caffeine of a cup of green tea. It has been dubbed the “healthy espresso.”

The greener the better

Like other teas, there are distinct grades of matcha. Younger leaves are ground and best used for fresh, sweet tasting cups of tea. More mature leaves, however, are best used for blending in power drinks or smoothies. The younger the leaf, the greener the powder. Continue reading “Tea Time”


Kiwi season

Spring has sprung in Tompkins County. And so have the kiwi vines.

That’s right, kiwi. 

Although the fruit is not native to these parts, kiwi grows well in the Ithaca area and is harvested during the late summer and early fall months. You can find this delicious fruit at the Farmer’s Market.

The hardy kiwi

You may be familiar with kiwi, the large, fuzzy oval fruit with bright green flesh and black seeds. It has a sweet but unique flavor, and is usually grown in warmer climates, such as California and New Zealand.

It’s cousin, the hardy kiwi, is smaller and sweeter. And it’s grown right here in Tompkins County.  Continue reading “Kiwi season”


New Ethiopian Restaurant spices up Ithaca food scene

Nestled along the backside of The Ithaca Commons sits Hawi, a quaint and dimly lit hole-in-the-wall. The walls are embellished with woven baskets and African sketches of women and children. Ethiopian flags hang from the bar. As her afternoon customers polish off their plates, Citra Mohammed sets fresh glasses and napkins on the wooden tables. She smiles and thanks her customers for stopping by, inviting them to come again soon.

Hawi Ethiopian Restaurant, an eatery that specializes in Ethiopian cuisine, opened last week in downtown Ithaca. Located on South Cayuga Street, the restaurant offers traditional dishes and authentic Ethiopian culture to its visitors.

“We wanted to introduce Ithacans to Ethiopia,” said owner, Citra Mohammed, 24.

Mohammed, an Ethiopian native, moved to the United States three years ago. Since then, she has been working as a waitress in two Ethiopian restaurants in New York City. Here, she met fellow Ethiopian-native Dadise Degebasa, 32, and the two decided to team up and open a restaurant.

“You have to dream something to do something,” Degebasa said.

Continue reading “New Ethiopian Restaurant spices up Ithaca food scene”


Ithaca’s Copper Horse Coffee wins “America’s best espresso” award

Copper Horse Coffee, a new roaster that opened in Ithaca last fall, won “America’s best espresso” award during Coffee Fest in Atlanta, Georgia, last Sunday.

Owner Jesse Harriott has been roasting for almost a decade, beginning in his graduate school days in Louisville, Kentucky. Here, he worked as a barista for Sunergos Coffee and credits his time as an apprentice in preparation for starting his own business.

Harriott decided to return to Ithaca to launch a coffee roaster in his hometown. Located off Route 79, Copper Horse Coffee opened in September 2014.

“We wanted to start out as lean as possible,” says Harriott. “And we want to stay lean and flexible and fill in niche areas.”

Continue reading “Ithaca’s Copper Horse Coffee wins “America’s best espresso” award”


Ithaca’s Chili Cook-off

Last weekend was the 17th Annual Great Downtown Ithaca Chili Cook-off. Despite the chilly weather, a few hundred people decided to leave the warmth of their homes for some warmth in their stomachs.

Every year, the Chili Cook-off features chili prepared by approximately 30 local restaurants as they compete for the titles of Best Meat/Overall Chili, Best Vegetarian Chili and People’s Choice Chili. The Downtown Commons offers tents with live music for local wineries, breweries and farmers to sample their goods.

My friends and I wandered along the crowded sidewalks, ten tickets in hand, scouting out perspective chili stands. I tried a cup of sweet barbecue chili, seafood chili and vegetarian chili. My favorite? The spicy mexican chili from Viva Taqueria. Muy delicioso.

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The Chili Cook-off brings together a unique combination of flavors for chili-lovers to enjoy with a side of chips or corn bread. This year, Agava Restaurant took home The People’s Choice Chili. Inspired by the flavors of the cook-off, I decided to make some myself.

After all, there’s no better way to warm up than with a hot cup of chili.


Crazy for Kava

Ithaca’s Mystic Water Kava Bar is quirky, dim and relaxing. Last semester, I produced a video package of the kava bar for my Visual Journalism class. You can check that out here.

I’ve returned to the kava bar a few times since then. For those of you unaware of kava, here’s what it is:

  • Kava is a plant native to the Pacific Islands
  • The root of the plant is chewed, ground or pulverized to make drinks and tea
  • When consumed, kava can induce feelings of relaxation, sociability and euphoria

For many, kava has a mellowing effect on the mind, putting the drinker in a place of peace. I decided to try it out myself. It tasted terrible.

Avigdor Weber, owner of Mystic Water, told me I had to have at least four “shots” of the kava before I would feel its effect. After a few shots, a person becomes rooted, or more sociable. It’s similar to having a few shots of alcohol, he said, only without the negative effects. I had five shots of kava and boy, was I feeling rooted.

I sat next to a regular as he tossed back kava shots and listened to an insomniac swear that a glass of kava was the only thing that allowed him to sleep. I chatted with a girl about the stress of her new waitressing job and we sipped tea in between her frequent cigarette breaks. After a few drinks, I felt welcomed into this eclectic bunch.

Mystic Water provides a relaxed, calming atmosphere for its community to come together to drink kava and experience its natural properties. Furthermore, it offers live music, local art showings and a yoga studio to its customers. Check out their Facebook page for more details.

I know I’ll be making a trip back soon.