I accepted a weekend invitation to visit friends in the Ithaca area and decided to make myself really welcome by bringing along lots of goodies.
First, I stopped at the Grapevine in the Sheridan Plaza and picked up a couple of bottles of wine and a bottle of limoncello, that wonderful Italian lemon liqueur.
Then directly to La Gioia Italian deli where I picked up homemade macaroni, homemade meatballs, a couple jars of passata (diced San Marzano tomatoes in juice from which to make great marinara) and some freshly grated cheese.
From there, I went to Villa Italia, the patisseria on Broadway, where I purchased cannoli and other pastries.
My only regret was that I got started too late in the day to get some bread from Perreca’s.
In case you didn’t know, all those delectables travel very well, even the frozen pasta and meatballs. We had a fine Italian meal on my second night at my friends’ great country house, and I have an open invitation to return whenever I can. I’m just not sure how I’m going to top the culinary gifts I brought the first time.
My friends took me to a wine tasting at Six Mile Creek Vineyard’s retail outlet just outside Ithaca. For $2 we got to taste six different wines — about two sips per “taste.” It’s a great way to inexpensively sample a variety of wines.
My overall favorite was Ithaca White, which had a delicate melon bouquet and a crisp apple flavor. It’s a blend of Cayuga White and Chardonnay. Also enjoyable was the Vignoles 2008, which smelled of vanilla and lemon and tasted of ruby grapefruit.
We brought home several bottles, including a couple of the Pasa Tiempo, a red wine redolent of honey and flowers with citrusy flavors. It’s a semisweet wine that would be great with cheese.
What food gifts from Schenectady would you bring to a friend's house? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.