As a Finger Lakes first-timer, the area must have known that I, too, was a small town storyteller, welcoming me with open arms and eager to share their stories along with some sips.
Armed with just enough pre-trip research and a map, I gravitated towards my first line of business in any new place, getting the lay of the land…
Finger Lakes, New York
So off I went to the Corning Airport, where a local pilot and owner of Costa Flying Service, Joe Costa, personally tutored me on the Finger Lakes geography pointing out my future stops as well as sharing his story as a second generation pilot with over 57 years behind the controls.
From the cockpit, I got an explosion of pinks and oranges with the sunset over the lakes and then a beautiful tapestry of the yellow candle-like birches and the burnt orange of their neighbors the maples. I joked with Joe that this was the best leaf-peeping that I had ever done. He chuckled accustomed to the palate of colors.
Ready to regroup, I was off to the Black Sheep Inn just outside of Hammondsport. The owners, Debbie and Marc Meritsky, greeted me on the porch and showed me to my room. Before hitting the hay, Debbie who is also a chef made me an offer that I couldn’t refuse, a cooking lesson in the morning.
Bright and early, Debbie passed me an apron while Marc poured me a cup of Joe with an essence of cardamom. We were to make the specialty breakfast sandwich of the house with all local farm ingredients: squash, yellow tomatoes, raw jack cheese, broccoli and arugula pesto, prosciutto, organic eggs, and multi-grain bread.
Like any good teacher, she let me do most of the cutting, grilling, and frying. With a second cup of that outstanding coffee, I indulged in the gooey, hearty sandwich, taking half for the road.