Book Review: Finger Lakes Feast

FLX Feast

Put Finger Lakes Feast (McBooks Press, 2012, ISBN: 978-1590136607) on your Christmas list. This beautiful book is a keeper. Written by a father-daughter team with photographs by the son-brother, it features recipes by well-known Finger Lakes eateries, such as Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and Moosewood Restaurant, as well as family recipes and others from area restaurants.

Although it’s one of many gorgeous cookbooks that Locavore carries, Finger Lakes Feast is unique in several wonderful ways. First, it is Locavore’s only recipe book that focuses specifically on Finger Lakes cuisine. We have a couple books about FLX wine and spirits, but no cookbooks. So that’s cool. Second, and related to the first, it highlights the region’s history in a way that appeals to my inner academic. How many cookbooks are attentive to the religious history of a region? Well, this one is. In brief segments that correspond to recipes in the book, the authors highlight two historic places at the center of nineteenth-century reform in New York: the Chautauqua Institution on the far western side of the state, and the Oneida Community, some thirty-five miles east of Syracuse. I once shuttled a rather bored group of students all the way from Geneva to the Oneida Community Mansion as part of a senior seminar I was teaching on 19th-century religious movements in New York. (You should visit it, too. They had some, er, unconventional ideas about sex and marriage that you’ll find interesting!)

Although I might quibble a bit with some of the authors’ historical commentary (because historians can be ever so snarky!), I have no arguments with the recipes. I love that there is a nice mixture of traditional regional dishes along with inventive recipes that nod to international cuisines. In Finger Lakes Feast you will find Syracuse Salt Potatoes and Yorkshire Pudding—which I must confess to never having eaten, despite my Mayflower roots—and Three-Sisters Soup, attributed to the Iroquois peoples of the region, along with Moosewood Restaurant’s less-British recipe for Black Beans and Coconut Rice with Mango Salsa. It includes recipes for breakfast dishes, appetizers and soups, main dishes, salads and sides, and desserts, and a helpful chart of different types of apples and their uses, adapted from a Cornell University publication. And in addition to these, there are delicious-sounding recipes for a Tomato Cobbler and Orange Riesling Sorbet.

You will be able to sample one of the recipes from Finger Lakes Feast if you come to Locavore’s Holiday Launch Party on Saturday, November 17th, because I will be making something for our customers using some Locavore products. It’s a sweet surprise, so you’ll have to come to find out what it is. And when you do, pick up a copy of Finger Lakes Feast. You won’t be disappointed.