Cazenovia The Finger Lakes region is more recognized every year as a hotspot for culinary and enological innovation and greatness, and the region boasts 4 million food and wine tourists a year. With an awareness and appreciation of this local gourmet success, Central New York natives Karl Zinsmeister and his children, Kate Harvey and Noah Zinsmeister, have compiled a new storytelling cookbook to share the stories and secrets of this regional flavor.
The book, “Finger Lakes Feast: 110 Delicious Recipes from New York’s Hotspot for Wholesome Local Foods,” features culinary delights and regional narratives, boasts 110 recipes, 28 essays highlighting quirks of the Finger Lakes food culture and 126 color photos of both the gastronomic combinations and the bucolic region that produced them. It was recently released by McBooks Press of Ithaca.
“Whereas in many regions, exceptionally good food and drink have become costly — and pompous
— indulgences, the Finger Lakes spirit is to make good eating casual, simple, unintimidating and relatively inexpensive,” writes author Karl Zinsmeister in the introduction. “The restaurants are never stiff or starchy. Many of the chefs wander among the tables. Farmers and producers deal directly and closely with their customers. It’s an enormously fun place to explore the craft of food.”
To create the book, the authors invited chefs from about 30 of the best restaurants in the Buffalo-to-Utica corridor — chosen by professional reputation and the authors’ personal experiences — to submit recipes. Nearly all agreed to submit. These, along with traditional regional and ethnic favorites, family recipes and contributions from local farmers serve as the backbone of the cookbook.
Local author Karl Zinsmeister, who grew up in Baldwinsville and now lives in Cazenovia, conceived the book “as a kind of love letter to his home region,” he said. His career has been a mixture of journalism (magazines, books, and films) and politics (including time as a Senate aide and a senior advisor in the White House), and the short discourses scattered throughout the book — ranging from how the last Ice Age created today’s Central New York flavors to why Penn Yan is the buckwheat capital of the world — are his work.