My wife and I recently took the occasion of a wedding in upstate New York to give ourselves a short vacation. We were in the Finger Lakes region, a part of the state comfortably removed from the insanity of Manhattan and its surrounding boroughs and suburbs. It’s a beautiful part of the country with rolling hills, lots of trees and sparkling water at every turn. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of farmland we found, and even more excited to discover that Seneca Lake is surrounded by scores of vineyards and wineries, one of which is America’s first organic winery. Apparently this one lake (out of eleven) has a specific macroclimate that is well suited to growing grapes. The lake itself is 38 miles long and thin, like a finger, so the 30 or so vineyards that circle the lake popped up every few miles. That’s a lot of wine tasting.
Leaving from Rochester to the north, we were headed to Watkins Glenn on the south side of the lake. It was going to take a little under 2 hours. About halfway there we were getting pretty hungry so we pulled off at the first winery that caught our attention. This happened to be Fox Run Vineyards, and it had a little café that was full of wine and products from the surrounding farms. It was perfect. We ordered a cheese board accompanied by charcuterie, grapes, a steaming cup of farmhouse corn chowder and, of course, some selections of wine. With the exception of a fly that was trying to share the meal with us, the spread was incredible and I think it really completed our visit.
There are so many good things to say about eating local food. One of these is the deeper appreciation we get for the place where we are or, in this case, the place we are simply passing through. This country is huge, and differences in climate, geology, ancestry, and history all contribute to the palette of regional food and recipes available to us. The local food movement is about celebrating these differences and being thankful for them. These differences are what make a place, and the people who live in it, unique. They make them important. And they certainly make an impromptu vacation a whole lot more fun.
Thanks to all our growers and cooks who are working hard to make Savannah, and its food, wonderful.
photo by Starla J. King