Finger Lakes in the City
FOR MORE THAN A DECADE NOW, New York City has been swept up in the local food movement. Michelin-star kitchens and neighborhood cafes alike often prefer to source everything from buckwheat to bluefish from the Tri-State area. The Finger Lakes region—just a few hours’ drive north—is an important part of that equation. Many restaurants cite specific Finger Lakes farms on their menus and craft their weekly offerings according to the products those purveyors supply. Local markets and stores, likewise, sell a cornucopia of Finger Lakes products determined by season rather than an inventory list. The arguments in favor of this way of doing food business are numerous, from reducing greenhouse gas emissions, to supporting regional businesses, to ensuring that livestock is humanely sourced. “We go further than valuing local small family farms: we worship them,” says Allen Zimmerman, the primary produce buyer at Park Slope Food Coop in Brooklyn, a business that has been sourcing food from the Finger Lakes region for decades. “Many suppliers in the Finger Lakes region are within a radius of a five- to six-hour drive from the middle of New York City, so that’s pretty darn close.” Here’s a sampling of a few like-minded restaurants, bars and food shops in the city that carry Finger Lakes products.
1 . ASTOR WINES AND SPIRITS
This large East Village outlet stocks more than 20 Finger Lakes bottles from locations such as Cayuga Lake, Seneca Lake and Keuka Lake. Prices are affordable, from $14 to $30 for a bottle. “My first criteria, of course, is taste,” says Misaki Reinoso, who is responsible for buying New York wines for the store. “We also love supporting products that have great stories that we can tell our customers.”
399 Lafayette Street, Manhattan
2. FORAGERS MARKET
In 2005, Foragers became one of Brooklyn’s first independent sellers focused on locally sourced, healthy foods. People didn’t quite know what to make of the new store at first, but they soon caught on—especially as the concept of sustainable sourcing gained traction. Foragers carries Finger Lakes honey, juices, meat and dairy at its two popular locations in DUMBO and Chelsea.
56 Adams Street, Brooklyn
233 8th Avenue, Manhattan
3. KEUKA KAFE
This charming wine bar-cum-cafe caused a splash when it opened in Queens last year. “People were like, ‘Whoa! Forest Hills has a wine bar?’” says Steven Laws, a frequent patron. Keuka Kafe now has a devoted crowd of regulars who come to sip on the bar’s specialty: Finger Lakes wines, especially those from around Keuka Lake. “Long Island wines are interesting, but our heart belongs to the Finger Lakes,” says owner Ollie Sakhno.
112-04 Queens Boulevard, Queens
4. THE MEAT HOOK
This whole animal butcher shop specializes in local meat from small family farms, including beef and lamb from the Finger Lakes. “We like Finger Lakes products because the value is high, the prices are fairly low and it allows us to support an upstate economy that needs our help to promote sustainable agriculture,” says butcher Tom Mylan. The Meat Hook Sandwich Shop—a 10-minute walk from the store—includes offerings such as roast beef with cheddar and lamb gyros with white sauce.
Shop: 100 Frost Street, Brooklyn
Sandwiches: 495 Lorimer St., Brooklyn
This neighborhood favorite sells artisanal products alongside incredibly tasty sandwiches and the usual cafe offerings such as coffee and croissants. Finger Lakes Farms is a major supplier, providing meats, vegetables and the occasional unexpected offering, such as sunflowers. Additionally, the shop sells Davis honey from Cayuga, Red Jacket Orchard juices and berries from Geneva and Farmer Ground Flour from Tompkins County. “We have different odds and ends from all parts of the world, but we also like to have things from New York,” says general manager Megan O’Keefe.
242 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn
2. BROOKLYN OENOLOGY WINERY
Winemaker Alie Shaper fell in love with Finger Lakes vino during her student days at Cornell University. Now, she uses Finger Lakes grapes to make several of BOE’s wines, including the Shindig White, a single-varietal Riesling, an orange Gewürztraminer and a Cabernet Franc Rose—the winery’s most popular summer offering. “The lakes provide the perfect setting for growing cold weather fruit,” says TJ Provenzano, the general manager. “All of their different micro-climates can really produce some interesting wines.”
209 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn
3. NYC GREENMARKETS
Dozens of Greenmarkets— farmers’ markets organized by a non-profit called GrowNYC— pop up weekly in all five of the city’s boroughs. There, New Yorkers can pick up a range of Finger Lakes products—eggs, wine, preserves, baked goods, flour, cider, juice, fruit and mushrooms, to name a few— from more than 10 suppliers from the region. In December, Trumansburg Tree Farms in Tompkins County even trucks in Finger Lakes Christmas trees.
4. NORTHERN SPY FOOD CO.
This East Village neighborhood restaurant bases its menu around seasonal local fare, often sourcing ingredients from the Finger Lakes. On a recent visit, Finger Lakes farms supplied the pork for pork rinds served with tarragon ranch; the greens for a kale salad with cheddar; a duck breast entree; and the dairy used to whip up a batch of creamy chocolate pudding. The wine list also includes several bottles from the region, including one made with the indigenous New York Vignoles varietal, from Keuka Lake Vineyards.
511 East 12th Street, Manhattan
1. PARK SLOPE FOOD COOP
This Brooklyn coop is one of the oldest and largest food cooperatives in the country. It has been sourcing Finger Lakes products since it first opened in 1973, and those fresh foods change weekly. Finger Lakes Organic Growers recently supplied, for example, blueberries, red beets, Napa cabbage, Swiss chard, cilantro, cucumbers, garlic, chives, oregano, sage, kale, parsley, frying peppers, squash blossoms, zucchini and more. Labels in the store indicate where produce came from, and whether it was sourced within a 500-mile radius.
782 Union Street, Brooklyn
2. STINKY BKLYN
This neighborhood shop specializes in cheese but also a range of local artisanal products. Ithaca beers and bottled veggies from Brooklyn Brine—which use whiskey from Finger Lakes Distilling to make its pickles—are local favorites. Flour City Pasta offerings such as tomato basil fettuccine, autumn harvest orzo and Tuscan kale fettuccine can also be purchased here. “Flour City’s pasta is superior,” says Aiyana Knauer, the shop’s beer buyer. “I won’t buy pasta from the supermarket anymore.”
215 Smith Street, Brooklyn
3. MARLOW AND DAUGHTERS
This tiny butcher and grocer carries many Finger Lakes products on a regular basis, including produce, eggs, dry goods and dairy such as cream-top Jersey cow milk and goat milk. “Finger Lakes Farms provide the highest quality heavy cream and half-n-half that only our customers but also our staff treasure for their morning caffeine routines,” says Stephanie Reagor, the general manager. The fruit-on-bottom yogurts she adds, are “a righteous indulgence that we can barely keep in stock.”
95 Broadway, Brooklyn
4. GOURMET GUILD WILLIAMSBURG
This Williamsburg establishment is a relative newcomer to the neighborhood. In addition to a small bar and a cafe, it provides a highly curated collection of kitchen and food goods. Products circulate, but on a recent visit Stony Brook oils—including squash seed, pumpkin and acorn squash varieties—from the Finger Lakes were part of the collection. “We keep a massive database of small companies that we use,” says Jee Song, co-founder of the store. “There are so many great small businesses, all of which need a leg up.”
110 Broadway, Brooklyn