August in the Finger Lakes region of Western New York is the ultimate Fall preview. The days are still sunny and hot but dry and breezy and the nights are crisp and cool. This is the closest we get to Napa on the East coast and it’s just a few hours away by car. I took the time away to reconnect with good friends over a long weekend and it was well worth it! While I stayed at the home of one of my friends I saw there were many Bed and Breakfasts housed in old Victorian homes (Like the Sutherland House in Canandaiga or Belhurst Castle in Geneva or the Quinta Rosa Estate just outside Ithaca) that just had me envious for a four-poster bed weekend! The Fall is a very busy season for the vineyards and a favorite of foliage hunters so book early!
I have been trying for years to get to Watkins Glen State Park. The cabins are forever booked and the photos I have seen made me determined that I would not miss this opportunity on my visit. I have to say it was worth the wait. Within two miles, the glen’s stream descends 400 feet past 200-foot cliffs, with 19 waterfalls along its course! The gorge path winds over and under waterfalls and through the spray of Cavern Cascade. Every moment was simply breathtaking (literally- the trails in some areas are no joke!)
Being someone who loves to cook I was drawn by the allure of the Ithaca Farmer’s Market. While the market operates year-round it is an absolute delight at the height of summer. In addition to soaps, candles and local crafts there was a bounty of produce so fresh the dirt from the fields still clung to their roots. My favorite summer treat- garlic scapes- were available in abundance. I spied a beautiful display of greens from Oxbow Farm in Erin, NY which turned out to be Callaloo- a mineral-rich dark green similar to mustard or collard greens. I learned from the farm owners Noelia and Tim how to cook them and did so that evening. I found a similar recipe here and highly recommend it as a change of pace from spinach!
It wouldn’t be a girl’s weekend without alcohol. We visited the Dr. Konstantin Frank vineyard in the beautiful town of Hammondsport. Dr. Frank was responsible for a revolution in the Finger Lakes wine industry using European grape rootstock to create wines that rivalled the ones from overseas. The vineyard, situated on a steep bluff at the edge of Keuka Lake, houses The Terrace at 1886 which offers the experience of tasting four wines from the vineyard with an assortment of seasonal cheeses. It was a glorious way to speand an afternoon.
I know there is so much more to discover in this part of the world but, for that moment, it was better to savor it one sip at a time.
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