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Food, wine, beyond the city of New York

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I bet you, 99.9 per cent of Nigerians are unaware of other cities and towns beyond New York City. When you think of New York, you most likely think of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, the Hamptons, and in some rare cases, Long Island. Even many Americans are not aware of the amazing vineyards, craft breweries, distilleries, and farm life of the people beyond the city. You tell an American that you are visiting New York, and most presume you will be visiting the six areas I mentioned.

This summer, I decided to explore somewhere more familiar, yet outside the norm of the average Nigerian summer vacationer – Upstate New York, The Finger Lakes. For Nigerians that love to travel for food and explore the art of wine, beer, and some amazing liquor, you need to add a week of driving through the wine and food trail of Finger Lakes the next time you visit New York. I should confess that there are lots more to do beyond the food and wine like hiking through Watkins Glen for its epic waterfalls, or kayaking on one of the many lakes. To hopping on a glider plane, riding a horse, racing on tracks, and loads more for the outdoor adventure-seeking Nigerian, but this girl spent an entire week stuffing her face with amazing food and wine and feels zero guilt about it!

The Finger Lakes are a group of 11 lakes in central New York State, but of the eleven, I only had the time to visit the local restaurants, wine and a couple of breweries in Keuka Lake and Seneca Lake.

Keuka Lake – The Y-shaped 20-mile long lake with its fabulous wineries surrounding it cemented the Finger Lakes, New York, as an amazing area to get really good Riesling from. I got on a group wine tour with Experience the Finger Lakes and every one of the four wineries visited stood out in its own special way. We started our tour learning the craft of wine making and trying out the first American Rose I genuinely like at Pleasant Valley Wine. And then listened in a mixture of awe and inspiration as the remarkable tale of the late Walter S.

Taylor was told by his son in how he fought for his company against Coca Cola and smarted his way when alcohol was prohibited in the United States. After learning the history of Bully Hill winery and the story of Walter Taylor, we ate a delicious home cooked-style meal by Walter’s wife and tried out a couple of their wines.

The bar of wine tasting experience was then set at a near impossible high at Dr. Konstantin Frank winery with their 1886 Adventurous Wine Lover Experience menu. They work with a local chef that creates an entirely new menu every month to pair with the selected wines for their tasting experiences and it made for a pretty special experience. Last, but not the least, we went in to Weis, a one year old winery run by Hans Peter where we tried about thirteen types of wine. In his enthusiasm in telling the story of each wine, I found myself in rapt attention and falling more in love with the art of wine making.

Seneca Lake – The wine tasting experience here was a bit more casual and mixed in with trying out arguably the best foods I have ever had in New York. As someone that used to live in New York City and has been blessed with eating amazing food around the world, the down to earth casual experimental take on food at Flx Wienery is no joke. A lot of the food on their menu made absolutely no sense to me, but with every bite, I found myself moaning embarrassingly loud. Who slathers on peanut butter on a toasted bun to compliment a beef burger?! From the peanut burger, to taking on a flight of beer to pair my food tastings with, and topping it off with bacon and butter finger milkshake, I legit had to seek out the chef to thank him for blowing my mind. They also have a vegetarian burger with black bean patty speckled with yum goat cheese that made so much sense. If I ever find myself in Seneca Lake area again, I will probably just find a hotel that’s a walking distance from this very unassuming restaurant and take a more focused tour of the entire menu.

Besides gorging on the amazing food at Flx Wienery, another stand out for me in Seneca Lake was a family run gourmet creamery, Spotted Duck. With ice cream and custards made using the eggs from their flock of ducks roaming in their backyard pen, I found myself going the glutton route of trying out four different types of ice cream and a glass of coffee smothered in salt caramel mousse.
In short, I pretty much destroyed my fitfam goals this past week.

Next stop, adventure time in Adirondack!


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