It’s time for strawberry picking.  Listed below are some area strawberry growers.   Call ahead to get the latest news on picking.


Grisamore Farms:  Ready for picking June 20th
Who: Mary Ann Grisamore
Where: Goose Street Road, Locke
Phone: 315-497-1347
Web site: www.grisamorefarms.com
Cobblestone Valley Farms:  Probably JUNE 20th
Where: 2023 Preble Road, Preble
Phone: 749-4032
Web site: www.cobblestonevalley.com
Church Street Produce:  OPEN now 8-12  Longer hours later
Who: Val and Jerry Carocci
Where: 4045 Church Street, Burdett
Phone: 546-2557
Silver Queen Farm:  OPEN NOW FOR PICKING
Who: Gordy & Liz Gallup
Where: 5286 Stillwell Road, Trumansburg
Phone: 387-6502
Iron Kettle Farm:  Not Good picking this year
Where: South of village, Route 96, Candor
Phone: 659-7707

Indian Creek Farm:  Light picking has begun
Who: Alan Leornard and Stephen Cummins
Where: 1408 Trumansburg Road (1/2 mile past hospital
Phone: 273-9544, 592-2801 and 227-6147






With our abundance of sheep, goat and cow dairy farms, talented entrepreneurs have created some wonderful and unique cheeses.  Some of the cheese producers of the Finger Lakes have come together to form an alliance known as Finger lakes Cheese trail.  They offer special events and promote themselves in order to put out the word that great cheeses are made right here in the Finger Lakes.


A great way to visit a couple of cheese farms and  wineries on Cayuga Lake is to take an excursion with EXPERIENCE! THE FINGERLAKES.  Their newest tour is called, “WINE, CHEESE AND “MOO”, A FARM to BARREL EXPERIENCE”.  Laura Falk, the co-owner and our guide provided the intimate group of 8 of us with an informative, fun and delicious afternoon. 




                                                              Keeley’s aging racks


At the first stop we met Keeley McGarr owner of Keeley’s Cheese Company.  Keeley decided to branch off from  the family dairy business in King Ferry by pursuing a career in cheese making.  As part of her training she travelled to Ireland to learn the technique of washed-rind cheese production.  The basement of the family farmhouse was converted to into her cheese production plant and she was off and running.   I was first introduced to Keeley’s cheeses this past summer and was immediately impressed with her Pondhopper Cheese.  This is an aged cheese with considerable depth and character and a great snacking cheese. 


Keeley provided an excellent overview of cheese making and allowed us to tour her facilities before we headed up to the living area of the farmhouse for some cheese tasting.  

Later, at the wineries, we were able to pair the wines with the cheeses, and discover how nicely, with proper pairing,cheese can enhance the wine and vice versa.  Laura had done her homework and the pairings worked very well. 


We also visited Finger Lakes Dexter Creamery which produces farmstead kefir cheese cultured with living kefir grains and handcrafted with raw milk from their grass fed Irish Dexter cows.  Rose Marie Belforti, the owner allowed us to meet and schmooze with her special Dexter cows which provided some wonderful photo opportunities.

From Rose Marie, we learned that Dexter Creamery is the first and only producer in the western hemisphere to offer an authentic, probiotic kefir cheese.  Kefir grains are friendly symbiotic micro-organisms that culture and flavor the cheese. Somewhat like a “sourdough starter” the kefir culture has been handed down for generations and was thought to have originated centuries ago in the Caucasus Mountains .

Because they contain this special probiotic bacteria, kefir is considered to be very beneficial to the digestive system.  For more information about Kefir, visit: Dom’s website

I particularly liked their blue variety which was strong enough to pack a real spicy kick: this is not a cheese for the faint of heart.


Terry Kristensen, fellow tour guest, with Dexter calf


The two wineries we visited on our tour were LONG POINT WINERY and KING FERRY WINERY which produces TRELEAVEN WINES.   

Included in Long Point’s offerings are Zinfandel wines which aren’t typically produced in this area. Gary Barletta, the winemaker and owner, has a passion for Zinfandel, but must transport his grapes from California, since Zinfandel grapes don’t grow in the Finger Lakes. His AmaZin’ 2007 is a Port style Zinfandel:  a rich and wonderful wine that I highly recommend. It pairs beautifully with blue cheese.  Gary also offered us a barrel tasking of his Cabernet Sauvignon which allowed us to compare the wine at various stages of its aging process.  If you are interested in trying some of Gary’s wines, Long Point Winery is collaborating with the Clarence Hotel in Seneca Falls to offer a wine pairing dinner on Saturday, the 12th of February.  


Treleaven has long produced one of our favorite dry Rieslings as well as one of our  favorite local un-oaked  Chardonnay called Silver Lining. The semi-dry Riesling is also excellent and one of the best values in the region.

The Falks offer other wine and food pairing tours and I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy several, all of which are  fun and a great way to learn about the wine industry of the Finger Lakes.

Following are some of the other cheeses in the area that I can recommend.


The two area goat cheese farms are Lively Run and Side Acres Dairy Goat Farm. They both  offer a variety of goat cheeses and all are mild and delicious.  I usually have a log of the plain in my fridge to use whenever I need to fix up a salad, or add a special topping to a pizza, or make a special appetizer with sundried tomato or pesto with goat cheese.  They both offer logs covered in a spice blend such as dill or pepper/garlic or herbs de Provence.  Lively Run also makes a wonderful blue goat cheese.  Both have feta varieties and Side Acres also makes a goat cheese fudge which is creamy and delicious.  I’ve had a great time bringing groups of students to tour these farms, pet the goats, learn about cheese making and sample their many varieties.

Both Lively Run and Side Acre goat cheeses can be found at GreenStar Natural Food Market in Ithaca, and Lively Run cheeses can be found also at Wegmans.





Northland Sheep Dairy Farm sells lamb meat, sheep fur products and cheese at the Ithaca Farmers Market.  My favorite of their many excellent cheeses is their blue cheese:  Bergère Bleue which has been aged 4-12 months.  This slightly crumbly blue Roquefort style blue cheese rivals many of the best European varieties.  All of their cheeses are made from raw ewes milk which has been aged a minimum of 4 months.  Folie Bergère is a firm, nutty washed curd sheep cheese with a natural rind which has been aged 12-15 months and Tomme Bergèr is a rustic, Alpine-style sharp cheese with a natural rind which has been aged 4-12 months. I strongly recommend a visit to their booth at the Farmers Market, or you can visit their farm by appointment.  Their herd is 100% grass fed and they use sustainable farming practices They use draft horses and mules for the majority of their work to cut down on fossil fuels.


Another area cheese producer that I have come to appreciate is Finger Lakes Farmstead Cheese located two miles West of Mecklenburg towards Watkins Glen. They produce several varieties of raw milk cheese.  My favorite is the Bier Meck, a Gouda like cheese.  The cheese is soaked in a brine made from Ithaca Beer Company’s Smoked Porter Ale. 


There’s an upcoming event planned for the Cayuga Wine Trail called, “Say Cheese” :

 March 26 & 27 10:00 am -5pm
"Say Cheese" along the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail
Savor the spectacular tastes of artisan cheese and fine wines along the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail. Receive a special gift token at your first starting point winery and travel along the way for an experience of creamy milky sensations paired specifically with the wines from our wineries. 


Advance tickets: $ 15.00 per person. 
Tickets at the door: $ 20.00 per person. 
Designated Driver: $ 10.00 per person. 





The following cheese producers will have open houses at their farms:
  • Finger Lakes Dexter Creamery
  • Northland Sheep Dairy
  • Side Hill Acres
  • Sunset View Creamery
  • Finger Lakes Farmstead Cheese
  • Cowlick Farms
  • Lively Run Goat Farm
  • Muranda Cheese Company
A Benefit to support Share Our Strength: Operation Frontline
Tuesday October 13th at the Carriage Toni House
1330 Danby Road
Ithaca, NewYork 14850   
Tuesday October 27th at La Tourelle Resort and Spa
Thursday November 12th at Celebrations
$75 per person or $185 per person if you sign up for all three
Sunday October 25th 2:30-5:30 At the Women’s Community Building
Admission: $5 per person
  • Meet farmers
  • Learn about the farms
  • Taste Samples
  • Purchase Meat
  • Recipes and Demonstrations
Contact Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County at 607-272-2292



The Ithaca Farmers Market is definitely the “happening place” on Saturday mornings. You can still buy wintered over vegetables like parsnips and leeks but the fresh veggies are also springing up . Asparagus and spinach and lettuce greens are abundant now, as are every kind of flower and herb
Some new and many of the old favorite prepared food vendors are making the choices even more difficult. One great way to maximize the enjoyment is to have a picnic.  With a wonderful selection of wine, bread, cheese and cold cuts , you can have yourself a feast.  THE PIGGERY, which was a sometime vendor last year now have their own stall at the North end of the long arm. They are the only meat purveyor that sells fresh meat. The various cuts of pork are displayed much as you would see it in a European charcuterie. Charcuterie is the French word for both a pork butcher and the products of his labor. A charcutier takes pork and makes sausages, hams, confit, pates, terrines, etc, all of which comprise charcuterie. Charcuterie is the prototypical convenience food. A jar of pate and a baguette is lunch.
For this husband and wife team, Peggy Sanford and Brad Marshall, the Piggery is a labor of love. Brad says his work is the charcuterie business and in his hobby is taking care of his pigs. In other words he works all the time. 
Often they have little samples and I’ve tried several. The smoked sausage ("smoked grillers") are really wonderful as is the liver pate and the sliced ham. I’m hoping to see some more pates varieties made with nuts, prunes and liquors and with a little more assertive spicing.
The Piggery takes good care of their pigs. These are pasture raised heritage breeds who also get fed locally grown organic grain. Peggy and Brad are committed to sustainability and prepare their products in a specially designed off grid kitchen. 
SO….to take the European feasting one step further….buy some charcuterie from the Piggery, some cheese from one of the other vendors and a crispy baguette, and a bottle of wine and what more could you want?
FAT BOYis one of my favorites among several top notch European style bakers. Their plain and semolina baguettes are what you’d expect to find in Paris. They sell out of these treasures quickly. They also have many other varieties of bread including epi, pain rustique, mixed grain, rye  whole barley, sourdough, wheat walnut and Bavarian farm bread.   All are beautiful to behold and worthy to serve at the finest meal. Their pastries, cookies and scones are hard to pass up so my advise is to make your way through a sample of every delicacy they prepare.
And to round out your picnic, stop by NORTHLAND SHEEP DAIRY where Maryrose  Livingston makes European quality cheese. She and her partner Donn Hewes are a team; he working the farm with his team of draft horses and mules and she holding the job of  shepherd and cheesemaker. They sell several cheese varieties and always have samples to taste. I like them all and am very excited to try the Torta de la Serena which Maryrose will begin making soon. Maryrose spent part of her winter interning in Western Spain in the region called Extramadura with one of the few cheese makers left making this cheese with his own herd of grass fed sheep. If all goes well we should be sampling a young cheese in August. This is my all time favorite Spanish cheese.
The Ithaca Farmers Market is open Saturdays 9-3 and Sundays 10-3 
Check out last year’s post for some of other great food vendor tips:  ITHACA FARMERS MARKET POST MAY 08




December was a good month for fine dining on Seneca Lake. Two of my favorite chefs put on great feasts. On December 6th Dano hosted a Turkish Night with his friend Oya Reiger working along side. She is a very talented Turkish cook and put on an elaborate spread of authentic dishes. Many of the ingredients needed to be special ordered and so there is little hope of every recreating this feast. Some of the highlights were a carrot dip made with cooked carrots, mint and yogurt that was unique and delicious. That was served at the table with homemade Dolma (stuffed grape leaves) and olives. Following was a creamy red lentil soup cooked with a special bulgur and mint butter. The only complaint was that it came in a tiny tea cup. It was perfectly spiced and flavorful.
The main buffet had an assortment of salads, a lamb stew and a chicken prepared in a walnut sauce. Everyone had favorites but I particularly liked the butternut squash borek with black sesame: a stuffed fried pastry which was creamy, sweet, salty and crispy all at once. Dessert was also buffet style, fortunately since it would have been impossible to decide. This way I could try everything and all were amazing and totally new taste experiences. My favorite was a semolina cake with orange and  lemon. The cake had been soaked in the citrus juice which resulted in a moist cake bursting with  flavor. I’m sure very few people have enjoyed a strudel of carrot, quince, chickpea and pine nut with orange honey. Not easy to describe but delicious nonetheless.
Dano and Karen really know how to throw a party. Their food is always delicious: creative and expertly prepared often with local seasonal ingredients. The original Turkish music was performed by Atakan Sari and friends and contributed nicely to the festive cultural experience. Keep checking their website and you’ll find that Dans’s Heuriger on Seneca offers several special dining events a year. 
Suzanne from Suzanne Fine Regional Cuisine also puts on quite a show at her yearly Winemaker Dinner. Last years’ was so good that I made sure to sign up early for her December 12th Dinner this year with guest winemaker Steve Shaw from Shaw Vineyard. Shaw’s is a relatively newcomer on the winery scene but he is certainly among the top winemakers and one to keep a close eye on. 
Suzanne offered some nice appetizers as we waited to be seated. The Old Townsend home was built in 1903 and has been lovingly restored into this elegant, warm and cozy restaurant with panoramic views of Seneca Lake. I was particularly enamored of the tiny crab cakes, some of the best I’ve every eaten. I asked Suzanne how they were made and she divulged the secret was a mousse of heavy cream, shrimp and a touch of gin is the binder that holds the crab together. No peppers or breadcrumbs to dilute the crab flavor. Once seated we were first served a creamy butternut squash soup that was poured into your soup bowl that had been adorned with ginger shrimp. The soup was outstanding and I will be posting a close version of the soup that I made at home a few days later. A 2005 Reisling was served with this course and though it was not a “dry” it actually was as dry as most of the dry Rieslings one finds in the Finger Lakes: a very good pairing and an excellent wine
     The next courses: a porcini dusted diver scallop with an herb potato crisp and cauliflower puree with a red wine butter sauce was a beautifully composed work of art, each element perfectly cooked. Scallops do not get better than this. Suzanne found extraordinary Baja diver scallops from California for this dish. The 2002 Chardonnay again was a very nice pairing.
The Pinot Noir (2002) was a wonderful surprise. It had body and complexity not usually found in Finger Lakes reds. It paired beautifully with the grilled quail with fig risotto, another elegantly prepared dish with a wonderful rich flavor. For dessert we had a warm chocolate cake with Belgian Chocolate Sauce and Vanilla bean ice cream. Suzanne’s desserts are all spectacular to see and to taste. This did not disappoint. 
I would strongly recommend keeping your eyes open for these special chef dinners. It provides an opportunity for chefs to showcase their talents and it makes for a special  evening of feasting.

Wine and Food Pairing Dinner at Dano’s Heuriger – 4/20

Dano’s Heuriger on Seneca Spring Wine and Food Pairing Dinner
Celebrating New York Wine Month


Join Dano’s and David Pohl and Jason Wentworth
our guest Someliers from North Side Licquors in Ithaca for a themed dinner
” Austria and the Fingerlakes Meet on the Plate and In the Glass”
Sunday April 20 4:00
75.00 not including tax and gratuity

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