September 11, 2003


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Summer’s almost over, as well as the growing season for some fabulous produce from the Finger Lakes. Though summer fare is very simple, it can encompass a wide variety of flavor combinations. At the Ithaca Farmer’s Market, where a number of farmers from all around the Finger Lakes sell their product each weekend, you can find all sorts of fresh seasonal produce, as well as local meats and cheeses. The product you’ll find there exceeds the level of quality which your local supermarket provides, and is also less expensive in many cases. A trip to the Ithaca Farmer’s Market on the weekend is well worth it. In addition to the produce, meat and cheese venders, there are varying groups of venders cooking all different styles of food, from Cuban to Cambodian.

Summertime is also one of the best times to drink the wines of the Finger Lakes. The wines of the Finger Lakes are generally lighter in style than the wines of California, for example. They’re mostly light to medium bodied, have high levels of acidity (which can translate to crispness and character in the wine), and pair very well with summer fare. These wines can be enjoyed without food too. The two most prominent wines coming out of the Finger Lakes are Riesling for the white wines and Pinot Noir for the reds. In the summertime, it’s great to come home after a long day, sit outside and drink a glass of Riesling or Pinot Noir from the Finger Lakes.

Below are some summertime recipes that are simple to prepare and which represent the season very well. All the ingredients can be found at the Ithaca Farmer’s market and the supermarket. Each recipe will include a suggested wine pairing of good value and quality from the Finger Lakes that can be found at Sparrow’s Fine Wines or Northside Liquors.

Peaches, Prosciutto & Basil (Serves 2)


1 Ripe white or yellow peach

6 Paper-thin slices of Prosciutto

6 Large leaves of basil

Extra virgin olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Cracked black pepper

Kosher salt

To prepare:

1. Slice the peach down the middle, around the pit, and separate into halves. Put the halves flesh-side down and slice into eighth-inch thick half moons.

2. Cut the basil leaves in half, then crosswise into quarter-inch squares.

To plate:

1. Lay three slices of prosciutto on each of the plates, covering the bottom of the plate and around the inner rim of the plate.

2. Scatter the peach slices over the prosciutto evenly. Then do the same with the basil.

3. Drizzle 2 teaspoons of the extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the plate.

4. Finish by sprinkling some salt and pepper over the plate and serve.

Suggested wine pairing:

Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard, Dry Johannisberg Riesling, Finger Lakes, New York 2002 – $12

Grilled T-Bone Steak, Roasted Baby Leeks & Sungold Heirloom Tomatoes (Serves 2)


2 T-Bone Steaks

1 Bunch baby leeks

7 Sungold heirloom tomatoes

Olive oil

Kosher salt

Cracked black pepper

3 Sprigs of fresh thyme

Extra virgin olive oil

1 Lemon

To prepare:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and fire up the grill.

2. Trim the ends of the baby leeks and then cut away the green part.

3. On a sheet pan (cookie sheet), rub the leeks with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place in oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the baby leeks are tender.

4. Slice the tomatoes in half and pick the fresh thyme. Toss with two teaspoons extra virgin olive oil and a generous squeeze of lemon. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

5. Season the steaks with salt and pepper and grill to desired doneness.

To plate:

1. Place the baby leeks in a bunch down the middle of each plate.

2. Place the steak on top of the baby leeks.

3. Spoon the tomatoes over the steak and serve.

Suggested wine pairing:

Dr. Konstantin Frank, Fleur de Pinot Noir, Finger Lakes, New York NV – $12

Archived article by Stephen Asperino