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Jul 9, 2007 04:15 PM

Seeking unique foods/markets/experiences - Syracuse to Rochester

Our annual trip to Syracuse and Rochester is coming up, and I am looking for delicious, unique, typical, local. Can you suggest Farmers' Markets (and the days they happen), bakeries, farms to visit, food festivals this month, etc? For example, we love Columbus Bakery in Syracuse and Cowlick Farm on Seneca Lake. I wanted to love the Salt Museum!

Someone mentioned Elderberry Pond near Auburn - worth a visit with or without eating in the restaurant?

Suggestions for wineries appreciated too. We've visited Lamoreaux Landing and Atwater. We live in Napa and have done a lot of wine tasting, so are looking for unique NY flavors and experiences.

Thanks very much.

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  1. To me, the most spectacular market in Syracuse is Wegmans. It is gigantic with many interesting departments. There is a Farmer's Market on Saturdays in Syracuse, out near Carousel Mall (slightly south).

    I like the wine at Glenora, out near Skaneateles. Bluewater Grill is really good for lunch with a spectacular view of the lake. It is on the north end of Skaneateles Lake, in the town.
    I have heard that Rosalies is also very good for dinner.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Fred19

      Wegman's is spectacular, I must say even as an avid "buy local"/farmers market devotee. The store in Dewitt (just east of Syracuse) is great. But the mothership in Rochester will knock your socks off!

      The farmer's market in Syracuse is sadly heavily non-local -- you can find some organic local farmers, but for most check the boxes and you'll see they're trucked in.

    2. There is an excellent restaurant in Weedsport called The Old Erie. The owners are CIA graduates and they know what they are doing. Excellent crab cakes, fried chicken and the best home made coconut cream pie.

      In Syracuse Lombardi's Grocery on Butternut is a great old fashioned Italian specialty store. Great for vinegars, oils, olives, aged Italian cheeses and pasta.

      If you have not yet tried Dinosaur barbecue (Syracuse or Rochester), it is good food and a fun place.

      I am not a big fan of New York wines. I much prefer Californias, French, German, Italian, Australian, Chilean and even Ontario wines, all of which, IMHO, provide much better quality for the price. Knapp Vinyards is located on the West side of Cayuga Lake. They have a very nice restaurant. I have had excellent lunches there, and I hear dinners are also good. Weather permitting, you can sit outside on the patio and look out on the vines. They do some champagne coctails with their champagne and a variety of flavors (peach is my favorite) of what they call armangac. These are very tasty.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Jimmyg

        Thanks Fred19 and Jimmyg! Yes, we have been to and enjoyed Dinosaur.

        Any thoughts on Elderberry Pond? Farm stands we should know about?

        Also, what are the prices like at Old Erie?

        1. re: Junie D

          I would describe the prices at Old Erie as "Moderate". My recollection is appetizers in the $6-$8 range, and most main courses under $20 (I think the fried chicken was around $11.95). I think it is very reasonably priced for the quality.

      2. Rochester has the BEST Public Market ever. It's on Thursday mornings and Saturday mornings, although I have never been on Thursday. Aside from great produce and cheese, here are the best eateries:

        Rich Port Bakery - Check out their quesitos and chocolate croissants. SINFUL

        Next door to that, look for the sign that says Monterey Tacos. Great breakfast tacos (all their tacos are great really.)

        The Empanada Stand - A LONG time Rochester tradition. Yum.

        Java's - Excellent crepes.

        DO NOT drive into the market- you WILL regret it. Too much traffic. Go down Union St and park int he very first Free Public Market Parking Lot that you see and walk there. Believe me on this one.

        2 Replies
        1. re: CindyK

          Elderberry Pond is an excellent restaurant! I've eaten there many times and the food is always outstanding! The restaurant is located in in a semi-hidden spot off a country road. It's definately worth a visit to eat and to enjoy a great bottle of wine with your meal.

          1. re: CindyK

            Definitely go on Sat. morning - thursday just isn't as fun, and much less going on. The cheese shop is only open til 1 or 2 for example. Be sure to have an empanada!

          2. Believe or not, I am in the area now, visiting from DFW. Every year we try to do a wine/food vacation, and this year we chose the Finger Lakes. Been here since Sunday night. I will post all of my experiences later, but for now, I would highly recommend two restaurants and two different wineries that you didn't mention. In Trumansburg, there is a new restaurant, opened just since April, Hazelnut. It was a terrific find and well worth the detour. The other restaurant is Olivia in Ithaca. They are huge proponents of the whole "local" thing. It works well for them. Great space as well. Not busy,(because of the college season) and great staff. I think tomorrow night that we are going to try the restaurant in the hotel on the Cornell campus. It is a training restaurant for students of the hospitality program at Cornell. Our server at Olivia, said her husband is the chef de cuisine for the program and the food is very good. Northern Italian. I will let you know. Should be and interesting experience. Two wineries that you didn't mention...Hermann Weimer on the west side of Seneca and Hosmer on the west side of Cayuga. Wiemer is a transplanted German making excellent wines, and the facility is very cool. Rustic looking on the outside, but once you slide open the door, you are in a striking architectural space. Hosmer Winery is not fancy, and I not sure that I even liked any of their wines, but the experience is truly what I imagined an upstate rural New York winery experience to be like. They weren't fussy, didn't pretend to be sophisticated and acted as if they were just as interested in selling the quilt off the wall as they were any wine. BTY, don't even bother with Knapp. The dining room will remind you of the breakfast area at an interstate hotel. And they have no AC in the tasteing/retail area and it was about 90 degrees. I think all the wines were cooking in there. I'll post more later after I return home.

            1. If you are driving from Syracuse to Rochester, you should stop at the New York Wine and Culinary Center in Canandaigua. It's located at the north end of the lake. There is a tasting room which features wines from allover New York (not just the Finger Lakes). There is also a restaurant with an outdoor deck overlooking the lake which serves New York products (meat, cheese, fruits and vegetables). There is also a large kitchen/classroom where you can take cooking lessons and another classroom for wine tastings.