11 Must Try Food and Beverage Pairings at the Taste of the Finger Lakes

On Tuesday evening June 13th, scores of fabulous Finger Lakes food and beverages producers will be coming to the Ithaca Farmers Market Pavilion to share their creations at the Taste of the Finger Lakes celebration.

By Laura Winter Falk, Experience! The Finger Lakes. Photos provided.

On Tuesday evening June 13th, scores of fabulous Finger Lakes food and beverages producers will be coming to the Ithaca Farmers Market Pavilion to share their creations at the Taste of the Finger Lakes celebration. This annual special event supports local organizations working to address food insecurity and promote food justice in our community. 100% of the ticket sales go to funding these organizations, and last year it raised over $26,000! People come throughout the region to enjoy the flavors and festivities of the event. With over 50 producers of amazing Finger Lakes fare, there is an abundance of deliciousness awaiting you. 

This year’s event organizers partnered with Laura Winter Falk, certified sommelier and owner of Experience! The Finger Lakes, to suggest some featured pairings for event patrons to seek out and try during the course of the evening. Consider it a fun scavenger hunt to find the food and the beverage producers paired below and bring these items together for the perfect bite! There’ll be a QR code at the registration desk and participating vendor’s booths for guests to scan and bring up the list to peruse. So, get ready to experience Taste of the Finger Lakes with a new added twist of culinary adventure.

10 Food & Bev Pairings at Taste of the Finger Lakes to try:

At the CFCU Welcome Reception 5:30-6:30pm (Full Experience ticket holders):

Maxie’s Supper Club Shucked Oysters paired with Damiani Wine Cellars Bollicine

Freshly shucked oysters love mineral-driven crisp white wines, especially when they are sparklers made in the Traditional Champagne method! Bollecine, like most Finger Lakes sparkling wines, have a classic minerality that pairs perfectly with the salinity of the oysters. Additionally, since the wine spends 7 months bottled on the lees, the yeast impart earthy and creamy notes that integrate with the oysters and enhance the overall richness of the pairing. The result is just heaven for oyster fans.

Gola Osteria Roasted Summer Squash with Sungold Tomatoes, Calabrian Chilies & Cacio Di Roma paired with Damiani Wine Cellars Bollicine

Do you know why sparkling wines are the perfect beverage for kicking off any food event? Sparkling wines’ high acidity and bubbles both work to wake up your palate and prepare it for food. But this Bollicine also has a number of other aspects that are going to make this pairing delicious. The classic citrus notes will brighten fresh flavors of the tomatoes. Its lees aging will complement 1) the roasted flavors of the summer squash, 2) the creaminess of Cacio Di Roma cheese, and 3) the smokiness in the Calabrian Chilies.  Who would think that simple one-celled organisms could have such an impact on our happiness?

At the Main Event 6:30-9pm (General admission ticket holders):

Luna Inspired Street Food Tenderloin Crostini paired with Forge Pinot Noir Classique 2021

These crostini feature marinated beef tenderloin and herbed chevre on crispy baguette.  The marinade and the chevre add acidity to the overall bite, so while a red wine is in order, you don’t want to go too big to overwhelm the more subtle flavors of this lean slice of beef. Finger Lakes Pinot Noir is naturally a lighter and brighter red, and the Forge Pinot Noir delivers the natural acidity needed to lift the flavors of the meat. In addition, the Classique has distinctive herbaceous notes, which should be accentuated by the marinade and goat cheese. Together, this pairing is like a little bite of Burgundy.

Luna Sweet Corn Fritters paired with Liquid State Brewing Surf Guitar Sour Gose

Luna serves its savory corn fritters with a charred lemon crema, which calls for something tart to raise all the flavors in this mighty bite. Liquid State’s Sour Gose is tailor-made for this task. Gose is a beer that incorporates salt and coriander in the brew, and a lactobacillus fermentation afterward, to create its signature sour lemon, salty and herbaceous characteristics. Look for this beer to bring out some of the sweet notes in the corn, lots of ripe lemon flavors, and hopefully even accentuate some of the char in the crema. Fried foods with acid-driven beverages are like a slam-dunk in the world of pairings. 

Luna Sweet Potato Roll paired with Finger Lakes Cider House Fruit of the Bloom

Luna’s sweet potato roll is a handmade maki roll with sweet potato and avocado. Its beautiful collection of flavors: umami from the nori, sweetness from the sweet potato, and the earthiness of avocado. There are a number of ciders that could play nicely with these contrasting flavors, but the Fruit of the Bloom from the Finger Lakes Cider House will really deliver! It is a cider blend of apples and pears and a touch of hibiscus, that naturally will enhance those beautiful baking spice flavors inherent in sweet potatoes.  However, I am expecting the real star of the pairing to be the ginger in the cider.  Envision a party in your mouth when it dances with all the components of the roll, creating a true explosion of flavor. 

Van Noble Farm Boudin Rolls with Suede Sauce Co. Liquid Gold Hot Sauce paired with Lakewood Winery Riesling 2021

Van Noble Farm’s boudin rolls are puff pastries filled with house-made boudin – a Cajun sausage made with pork, rice, onions, peppers and seasonings. Suede Sauce Co’s Liquid Gold is habanero hot sauce featuring tangy pineapple and a hint of ginger that carries medium heat and bright, punchy flavors.  Whenever I hear the words spice and tropical fruit flavor, it’s a Reveille call for semi-dry riesling. Riesling’s high acidity and ripe fruit profile is perfect for this dish. The protein and fat in the savory pastry roll will soften the acid in the riesling so that its fruit will really shine. While in turn, that acid will elevate the seasoning in the sausage and the pineapple notes in the sauce. Using a semi-dry riesling is key here, as the small amount of residual sugar is just enough to tone down the heat, and allow this pepper’s inherent sweet, fruity and floral flavors to take center stage with a vibrant pop!

Crosswinds Farm Rose’s Reserve aged cheese paired with South Hill Cider Goldwin 2021

Crosswinds Farm describes their Rose’s Reserve as a 12-month aged “mouthful of magic”, with a smooth and dense texture and a flavor profile of caramelized apple, toasted hazelnuts, and butterscotch. Cider is definitely the beverage of choice here, and it seems like South Hill’s Goldwin cider was made for this cheese. Its combination of lees and barrel aging, and natural mouth-watering acidity will accentuate the cheese’s creaminess, and bring its nut and fruit characteristics front and center when paired.  Get ready for that mouthful to become even more magical!

Crosswinds Farm Strawberry Rhubarb Gelato with Sheldrake Point Winery Dry Rosé 2022

Nothing speaks of June quite as well as strawberry and rhubarb.  Now take those ingredients, create a creamy gelato, and then pair it with a dry rosé, and you are creating your own personal summer moment. Sheldrake Point’s dry rosé has, for me, always evoked strawberry and vanilla cream in its flavor, and beautiful minerality in its texture.  When we pair it with this gelato, the strawberry fruit and the natural tartness of the rhubarb will combine with the fresh berry flavors and crisp acidity of this classic rosé.  Get ready, here comes summer!

Quincy Exchange Silky house-made Hummus with crispy capers, olive oil, and guajillo pepper served with local veggie crudité and paired with Barnstormer Winery Gruner Veltliner 2021

Savory, silky hummus, capers, olive oil, lots of local vegetables… get me a gruner, please!! Traditional gruner veltliner is a highly distinctive wine that will express itself with lots of herbaceousness and savory character like radish, lentil and white pepper.  Barnstormer’s ’21 Gruner hits these classic marks with savory, fresh garden herbs, lemongrass, and even some flinty matchstick aromatics. The acidity in the wine will lengthen all the complex flavors, so don’t rush through this pairing, enjoy and let it linger. 

Quincy Exchange House-made toasted Honey-Vanilla Marshmallows paired with Finger Lakes Distilling McKenzie Bourbon

Yes, this will be as amazing as it sounds. Quincy exchange will be firing up each individual marshmallow to toasted golden perfection. The McKenzie Bourbon with its minimum 4-years in new American oak barrels is loaded with toasty caramel and vanilla.  This pairing will definitely warm up the celebration! 

Dolce Delight Chocolate Baklava paired with Hazlitt 1852 Solera Sherry

Let’s read through the ingredients in Dolce Delight’s Chocolate Baklava: phyllo, walnuts, sugar, cinnamon, dark chocolate, heavy cream, lemon, honey, and lots of butter. We are going to need a beverage that can cut through the richness and complement all these flavors while simultaneously mixing in its own layers of deliciousness. Time to bring out the big guns. How about last year’s 2022 New York Wine Classic 98pt Governor’s Cup winner for Best Wine in New York State? This unbelievably complex wine has notes of raisin, toasted nuts, candied apricots, toffee and caramel. At 21.6% ABV and 21.2% residual sugar it is full bodied, yet beautifully balanced in sweetness, and alcohol. Together, I would expect all these flavors to just melt in your mouth. Yup, that should do it *mic drop*.

About the author: Laura Winter Falk, PhD, is Owner of Experience! The Finger Lakes, recognized for the past three years as one of the 10 best wine tour companies in the country. She is a certified sommelier with a WSET level 3 award in wines. She hosts wine events throughout the Finger Lakes and the US, is an adjunct professor for TC3’s wine marketing and culinary program at Coltivare, and a wine judge for the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition. Her passion lies in educating people about wine, food and beverage pairing, and the amazing Finger Lakes region. experiencefingerlakes.com

About the event: Taste of the Finger Lakes serves the dual purpose of showcasing the dynamic Finger Lakes food and beverage industry while raising all ticket sales for non-profits doing the important work of improving access to healthy food across the region. Tuesday June 13th from 5:30-9pm at the Ithaca Farmers Market Pavilion, tickets on sale now. For more information, go to tasteofthefingerlakes.com

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