The Best Farm-Fresh Local Cuisine in The Finger Lakes

New York State, Restaurant Reviews — By on November 16, 2010 at 2:00 am

By Holly C. Corbett, Lost Girls Executive Editor

The Finger Lakes region in Upstate New York is getting a lot of attention for its hundred of scenic wineries making award-winning Rieslings and Cabernets. In fact, it just won Budget Travel magazine’s Reader’s Choice Award for “the most beautiful wine region in the world.” Only about a five-hour drive from New York City, the Finger Lakes is the place of red-and-gold leaves that light the hills on fire in autumn, the land where apple trees and grape vines thrive, the area where old barns are converted into antique stores. It is the place that I call home.

And while the Finger Lakes is getting recognized for its refreshing Rieslings and pretty landscape, it’s still off-the-radar as a center for agritourism. One of my favorite restaurants to take advantage of the abundant farms in the area is the Bistro at Red Newt Wineries. Run by husband-and-wife team Deb and Dave Whiting, they change the menu monthly based on  based on whatever farm-fresh ingredients are in season. Deb creates the dishes, while Dave makes the wine.

The food is so fresh that every bite tastes bolder, more pronounced. The couple has partnered with dozens of local producers such as Autumn Harvest Meats, Lively Run Goat Dairy, and Red Jacket Orchards to take those just-farmed ingredients and turn them into comfort food, such as with their house-made wheat ravioli with pumpkin, chevre, dried cranberries, and nutmeg cream sauce. I had the local free-range chicken breast with dried cherries and roasted fennel bread stuffing with roasted garlic and sage smashed potatoes. It was drizzled with dried cherry wine sauce to perfectly marry sweet and savory flavors. Dessert was pumpkin cheesecake, and I could tell with every bite that owner Deb was trained as a pastry chef.

Another thing that makes the Bistro at Red Newt unique is that you can taste wines from all over the region—not only those from Red Newt’s cellars. Many times, wineries that serve food sell only their own bottles. But at Red Newt, it’s like a commitment phobic’s dream, because you can try so many different varieties (especially convenient if you don’t have time to visit as many of the more than 100 wineries in the area as you’d hoped). They even offer wine flights at dinner so you can sample various Gewurztraminers, dry whites, Pinot Noirs and more without ever having to decide upon a single glass. Don’t miss the 2008 Shalestone Pinot Noir, 2008 Atwater Pinot Gris, or the Red Newt Chard Sauvignon. If you’re planning on doing a wine tour in the Finger Lakes, add Red Newt to your tasting list.

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