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Ithaca Week

Ithaca's Ham & Lamb Easter Market Delights with Artisanal Treats

Some of the products available at the Ham & Lamb Easter Market (Mila Phelps-Friedl/Ithaca Week)

A slight breeze ruffles through the tents along Press Bay Alley, lined with chalkboard signs that detail prices of cured ham and rabbit meat. People crowding through the narrow space picked up necessities for an Easter Weekend feast.

Ithaca’s very first Ham & Lamb Easter Market took place on Thursday, April 18 from 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. While the market was named  “Ham & Lamb,” a lot more was offered than just products of the meat variety.

Local treats included:

While many of these local vendors are familiar to the Ithaca markets – Bespoke Apothecary sells their honey and herbal based goods in Green Star Market – there were a few new faces as well. Steve Daughhetee of  New York Cider Co. says it was his  first time being invited to an Ithaca market. Looking up and down the stretch of vendors he smiles jovially, “It’s a lot of good food for the coming holidays…”

On the sweeter side of Easter feasts, Steinhaus Farm brought bottles of its Amber Maple Syrup for sampling and the local chocolate company Hi Bar Chocolate had tastings of each of its  “melt-in-your-mouth” chocolate bars.

Hi Bar stood out for its unique background and illustrative branding. Sisters Mya and Michelle Menter run the company together. They are a charismatic pair, with matching brilliant blue eyes and a loving sibling rapport as they describe the start of their bean to bear, organic, vegan and gluten free chocolate company. Mya makes the chocolate and Michelle creates the packaging.

“I wanted to help my sis and I like making art,” said Michelle as she looked to Mya, who explained her process for creating the delicious bars.

“I get whole cacao beans from various places and regions in the world and I roast it and process it, crack it and winnow it, which means separate it from the hull — and then I blend it with only local ingredients,” added Mya.

Mya combines a certain percentage of cacao nibs with maple sugar, grinding them and adding other flavors like, Mexican vanilla beans, salt crystals and hazelnuts.

She prefers not to go lower than 78% cacao except for when she’s testing new kinds of chocolates. “It seems like a good launching point,” said Mya.

Each bar has a character to its name. Mya’s favorite is “Hi Standards,” which clocks in at 78% cocoa nibs. Hi Standards is joined by her friends “Vanilla Varla,” at 72%, and “Fil Leotardo” with hazelnuts, also at 72%. All of the illustrations on chocolate bars’ packaging are done by Michelle and printed against elegant papering.

Vanilla Varla, a character created by Michelle for Hi Bar Chocolate (Mila Phelps-Friedl/Ithaca Week)

Hi Bar Chocolate is a labor of love, the process of bean to bar an extensive one — but Mya wanted to find a chocolate that was good enough for the family birthday cakes and thought,

“Well why not do it myself?… I’ve loved chocolate forever. I like to get really extreme and really into something and so why not bring this to the town that doesn’t have it?

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