Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Destinations: Finger Lakes Sweet Treat Trails

Destinations: Finger Lakes Sweet Treat Trails - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

There are a lot of foodie trails in the Finger Lakes - wine, cheese, chocolate, beer. Did I forget one? Probably! But one of my favorites is the Sweet Treat Trail, which is based in Cayuga County (Auburn, Aurora, Fair Haven, et al) and takes you to some of the smaller, more off-the-beaten-path places. Many of the farms and stands we visited are women-owned and operated businesses, and you know how that makes my little heart sing.

We kicked things off with breakfast at New Hope Mills - homemade pancakes! (OK, OK, and a donut) - and then headed to Bee Attitudes Honey, where I learned more than I ever thought I would about bees from owner Stephanie Williams. Years back, Stephanie received an empty bee hive as a Christmas gift and now she's operating her own 3-acre farm with 23 hives and fields of some of the most beautiful, most deliciously smelling French lavender. Besides honey, she makes and sells tonics, essential oils and salt scrubs from her crops.

Oh, and she does it all from her family's garage. Her kids are learning all about the trade and her daughter even does some of the company's design work. It's all very adorable and inspirational. I loved chatting with Stephanie. She's extremely passionate about the role bees play in nature and about healthy living in general.

Destinations: Finger Lakes Sweet Treat Trails - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Destinations: Finger Lakes Sweet Treat Trails - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Next it was on to Strawberry Fields Hydroponic Farm, where I fell in love with the mother-daughter duo who run the roadside operation. Yes, you read that correctly: A hydroponic strawberry farm. Linda's strawberries were the sweetest I've ever tasted. You can pick them fresh or buy jam, honey and olive oil made from the fruit. The barn store was decked top-to-bottom in Halloween decorations and full of great gift items like wine, cheese and handmade jewelry.

Destinations: Finger Lakes Sweet Treat Trails - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Destinations: Finger Lakes Sweet Treat Trails - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Destinations: Finger Lakes Sweet Treat Trails - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

The tour de desserts ended at Owen Orchards with some homemade cider donuts. (More donuts!) Besides being an apple orchard, Owen's is also a farm stand where you can pick up fresh eggs, cheese and produce. We toured the grounds on a tractor and went home with a bushel full (I think? What's a bushel, any way?) of Empires, Cortlands and Jonagolds. It was a quintessential fall experience...I'll honestly never forget it.

Two other places I want to mention that aren't technically a part of the Sweet Treat Trail, but are in the area and absolutely something I'd recommend: Long Point Winery for its attentive tasting room staff and unforgettable vineyard views of Cayuga Lake (I think you can even do a guided boat tour of it and other nearby wineries!), and Springside Inn as a place to stay. Springside is another one of those really special family-owned places where hospitality just courses through the owners' veins. Its grounds are mesmerizing at sunset and the restaurant, Oak & Vine, is delicious and so cozy.

Destinations: Finger Lakes Sweet Treat Trails - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Destinations: Finger Lakes Sweet Treat Trails - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Destinations: Finger Lakes Sweet Treat Trails - Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

PHOTOS BY: Stjepan Alaupovic
MORE INFO: Tour Cayuga

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