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Geneva a "Food Town"

Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013

A recent article in the Democrat and Chronicle featured Geneva as "a food town," noting the interconnectedness between food that is grown, raised, sold and prepared in and around the city. Among the many ways Geneva is connected to food, the article cites the Colleges' history:

"Geneva is also where a significant chapter in the history of institutional dining took place. When the Hobart College cafeteria teetered on bankruptcy in 1948, junior William Scandling, a Rochester boy, took it over with a couple of buddies. His senior year encore? Doing the same at Hobart's sister school, William Smith College.

The trio went on to form the Saga Corp., a vanguard in college and hospital food service. (The Saga Corp was bought out by Marriott Corp in 1986; Scandling died in 2005.)"

The article continues, "While Sodexo now runs food service at The Colleges, Scandling's namesake graces the Campus Center, where the buffet offerings are so diverse and well prepared that interlopers from outside the college (and that includes Brown from the Experiment Station) frequently eat there."

The full article follows.


Democrat and Chronicle
Geneva has become quite a town for foodies

Karen Miltner • Staff writer • June 21, 2013

GENEVA -Geneva is a food town.

Sure, there are some terrific restaurants and wineries here. But Geneva's food roots go much deeper.

No matter from which direction you approach the city that anchors the northwest end of Seneca Lake, you're bound to see a lot of food in the making. Dairy farms, orchards, family-run vegetable operations, livestock grain and, increasingly, vineyards make up the landscape that surrounds this small city and surrounding town of about 16,300.

It sounds quaint and bucolic, but Geneva is also headquarters to one of the country's most prolific agricultural and food science research institutions. Cornell University's New York State Agricultural Experiment Station has been studying ways to improve farming and food production since 1880. Without its various breeding programs, we would live in a world without Empire and Cortland apples, nutritionally superior orange cauliflower, the habanada pepper (a habanero that won't make your head explode with heat), virus-resistant beans, and the Whitaker, a summer squash able to resist three viruses and a fungal disease.

If Geneva is where new apple types are created, it's also a place where many of the world's oldest apple varieties are grown and studied. The National Apple Collection at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Plant Genetic Resources Unit is off limits to tourists and the general public, but researchers and industry insiders look to ancient apple varieties from Central Asia and other parts of the world to unlock secrets that will improve the apples of the future.

"A lot of the produce that people use here [in restaurants] was developed at the Station at one time or another," says Susan Brown, an apple breeder at the Experiment Station who assumes the associate director role next month. Producers, researchers and consumers have an interconnectedness that makes Geneva's foodscape unique, she adds.

If it weren't for the research of viticulture trailblazers such as the late Nelson Shaulis, who developed a vine trellising system known as the Geneva Double Curtain that has been used throughout the world, and Robert Pool, who founded Billsboro Winery, there would be no Finger Lakes wine trails and wine industry as we know it, Brown adds.

"Bob (who died in 2006) was the ultimate foodie," notes Brown. With some help from contractors, he and his son built the outdoor brick oven where Billsboro's current owners now hold their popular Pizza on the Patio events during summer.

Brown herself exemplifies that intertwining. As a Cornell scientist and Geneva resident since 1985, she has ushered in several new apple and cherry varieties to the market, and knows the history and lore of just about every restaurant and food store in town.

What has pushed Geneva from a food town to a foodie town? Wineries, says William Schickel, general manager of Geneva on the Lake, a century-old villa resort and restaurant where celebrities from Simone de Beauvoir to members of The Grateful Dead have dined and slept.

Post-harvest food production is also a firmly rooted part of Geneva's economy, from the Seneca Foods facility where vegetables grown in surrounding fields are canned and sold under various brand names to The Technology Farm, where entrepreneurs such as Stony Brook WholeHearted Foods discover innovative ways to use waste products, such as making delicious culinary oils from seeds that would otherwise be discarded from pre-cut squash.

Geneva is also where a significant chapter in the history of institutional dining took place. When the Hobart College cafeteria teetered on bankruptcy in 1948, junior William Scandling, a Rochester boy, took it over with a couple of buddies. His senior year encore? Doing the same at Hobart's sister school, William Smith College.

The trio went on to form the Saga Corp., a vanguard in college and hospital food service. (The Saga Corp was bought out by Marriott Corp in 1986; Scandling died in 2005.)

While Sodexo now runs food service at The Colleges, Scandling's namesake graces the Campus Center, where the buffet offerings are so diverse and well prepared that interlopers from outside the college (and that includes Brown from the Experiment Station) frequently eat there.

FOOD EVENT

Medley of Tastes will showcase Finger Lakes restaurants and wineries from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Monday at Hobart and William Smith Colleges' Scandling Center, 629 S. Main St. in Geneva. The cost is $45. Call (315) 781-5483 or go to thesmith.org/events.

Beef &Brew, 293 Main St. American, British and Irish food and more than 150 beers to wash it down with. Saturday pig roast dinners feature a Penn Yan oinker.

Dallywater's A Tea-Centric British Eatery, 68 Castile St. Two restaurants in one: contemporary tea room on one side, rustic dinner bistro on the other. Desserts excel here, as does the summer chicken pot pie.

Finger Lakes Gifts &Lounge, 60 Seneca St. Gift shop, cafe, ice cream parlor and wine/beer bar all rolled into one.

Halsey's Restaurant, 106 Seneca St. This is about as upscale as downtown gets, with no dress code. Diverse American cuisine includes wood-fired pizzas, steak, seafood, pastas and vegetarian dishes.

Maria's Flower Petal Cafe, 34 Linden St. Every small town needs a place with homemade pies. Maria's has those, as well as breakfasts and lunches.

Microclimate, 38 Linden St. This side street wine bar has a speakeasy feel and wine list that puts Finger Lakes vintages tete-a-tete with the rest of the world.

Mother Earth Natural Foods, 440 Exchange St. Since 1979, this health food store has been keeping Geneva vitamin-fortified and high on fiber.

Normal Bread, 111 Washington St. Artisan breads with robust combinations such as apricot-almond and spelt-rye.

Opus Espresso &Wine Bar, 486 Exchange St. A breakfast burrito worth getting out of bed for. Pretty sandwiches and salads for lunch, too.

Parker's Grille &Tap House, 100 Seneca St. If the yen for beer and burgers strikes after 10 p.m., Parker's to the rescue.

Pure Grille &Curry, 93 Seneca St. In a town where ethnic options are slim, this Indian eatery is a welcome addition to downtown dining. The daily lunch buffet is a good place to start.

Red Dove Tavern, 30 Castile St. Popular gastropub with devout locavore principles, a friendly vibe and no television. Specials are always surprising.

Whisper Chocolate, 444 Exchange St. Truffles, chocolate bark and dipped treats are made on-site.

Long Pier Ice Cream &Rentals, 47 Lakefront Drive. Scenic waterfront spot for cones, hots and bike rentals.

GENEVA OUTSKIRTS

The Cobblestone Restaurant, 3610 Pre-Emption Road. Beautiful historic building stuck in a not-so-picturesque intersection, serving upscale Italian, surf-and-turf and tapas.

Club 86 Bagels &Cakes, 476 Hamilton St. Affable deli and bakery offering breakfast and lunch sandwiches and desserts.

The Deluxe, 156 N. Genesee St. Old-school Geneva eats here. Bullhead dinners, chicken parm and cheap beer.

Leaf Kitchen, 266 Hamilton St. Earnest farm-to-table menu in casual setting. Leaf was the top winner at the 2013 Finger Lakes Foodie Awards.

Red Jacket Orchards, 957 Canandaigua Road. Fatigued by wine trail fermentation? RJO's award-winning fresh juice blends and ciders will be available for sampling when the newly remodeled farm market reopens in July. Actually, fresh fruits are the best reason to shop here.

Redman's Chicken n' Ribs, 777 Pre-Emption Road. Tasty soul food road shack with newly expanded seating and attitude.

Ronnie's Cedar Inn, 3583 Lenox Road. Sports bar that makes no apologies for its smelt dinners. Or team biases. If you aren't a Notre Dame fan, there is a picnic table waiting for you behind the building.

The Technology Farm, 500 Technology Farm Drive. This agricultural technology incubator is home to a few innovative food companies, including Cheribundi (the tart cherry juice sports drink) and Stony Brook WholeHearted Foods (squash seed oils). Small group tours available by appointment.

Uncle Joe's Pizzeria, 99 N. Genesee St. Neighborhood pie house with sit-down service and a lot of family history.

ON OR NEAR SENECA LAKE

Belhurst Castle, 4069 Route 14 South. This historic resort, a popular wedding destination, has two restaurants on-site. Edgar's serves old-school classics while Stonecutters is a more casual, contemporary tavern with fireplace. Both have spectacular lake views. Belhurst also has a wine tasting room.

Geneva on the Lake, 1001 Lochland Road. Dying to dine in that little black dress? Do it here, among marble columns and English gardens that frame your view of the water. Pick a patio table if you can.

Ports Cafe, 4432 West Lake Road. Colorful, clangorous and extremely popular among the locals and seasonal lake residents, Ports' supper grub is eclectic, from lamb ravioli to shrimp boils.

Seneca Brew Smoke Brick, 4156 West Lake Road. Opus Espresso &Wine Bar owners are poised to conquer hungry wine trail travelers with foods made in a wood-fired oven. Seneca should open soon.

WINERIES, BREWERIES

Billsboro Winery, 4760 West Lake Road. Great summer wines here, best enjoyed on Billsboro's Pizza on the Patio nights (check website for details). Al fresco pies made by local chefs. Live music to boot. Billsboro has a satellite tasting room at Rose Hill Mansion, 3365 Route 96A.

Lacey Magruder Vineyard &Winery, 462 Armstrong Road. A limited selection of wines, but the renovation on this 180-year-old barn is stunning, and the long, beautiful tasting bar could be the envy of all wineries.

Lake Street Filling Station Winery, 41 Lake St. Fill-er up with Lake Street's own Hot Rod Blush at this rehabbed Texaco station, which also has a full bar. This downtown newcomer also doubles as a convenience store for beer, gifts, harder booze and Italian groceries.

Ravines Wine Cellars, 400 Barracks Road. This highly regarded Keuka Lake winery purchased acreage from White Springs Winery and opened a hard-to-find Seneca Lake tasting room last year.

Three Brothers Wineries and Estate, 623 Lerch Road. Wines bottled under three labels and a microbrewery to boot, this is a party house stop on the wine trail, with live music and lively events such as the upcoming Winestock NY on June 29, featuring dozens of New York wineries.

Ventosa Vineyards, 3440 Route 96A. Tuscan-style winery draws in the limo and tour bus crowds. On-site cafe serves pannini, pizza, salads.

White Springs Winery, 4200 Route 14. Agricultural entrepreneur Carl Fribolin started this winery a decade ago at age 85. This year, he decided to add beer to his lineup. Generous with his gift of gab, Fribolin makes a tasting room appearance most Saturday afternoons.

Zugibe Vineyards, 4248 East Lake Road. This east-side winery has tasty reds, a comfortable patio with lake view. Starting in July, you can sign up for Sunday yoga and massage followed by a tasting.

 

 

 


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