Sorry, Vermont. You’re not the only tree-loving hippie destination in the hood anymore.
The Adirondacks in Upstate New York is gaining a reputation as a haven for foodies who want to eat and travel greener. Craft beverages and organic, sustainable, and market fresh food dominate many of the region’s restaurants and bars. On our recent trip, we scoped out some top farm-to-fork foodie experiences:
Soft Shell Crab at the Turtle Island Cafe (Willsboro)
The Turtle Island Cafe may seem like small potatoes to city folk, but actually chef and co-owner David Martin is kind of a big deal. He’s been profiled in The New York Times for best restaurant in the area and has appeared on the Rachel Ray TV Show twice. After sampling his restaurant’s “eco-gastronomic” dishes, you start to understand why. Aside from being delicious, the cafe thrives on the newfangled idea that “food should be good, clean, and fair.” Everything is locally and ethically sourced, produced with green and fair trade practices, and gives consideration to animal and human welfare.
Apparently, “fair and ethical” are appetizing. You’ll need reservations and patience to dine here because things move a little slower. But good things come to those who wait — everything on your plate is made from scratch and is farm-to-table fresh.
“All I care about is when you get your plate, it’s the best you’ve had,” says Chef Martin. “And the only way to do this is to get it fresh.”
If you’re visiting in mid-May, try the soft shell crab, only available for four weeks of the year, starting around Memorial Day weekend. The crab is ethically sourced from the Boston Market, and then fried in house-made tempura batter until it’s tender. Unless you have an allergy, don’t bothering asking what’s in the sauce – the chef’s response is always the same: “love, care, and dedication.”
The locals are nuts about craft soda – homemade fizzy beverages with fresh ingredients and real extracts, but without the artificial flavours in mass produced soft drinks. Maine Root produces an organic root beer with intense and distinguishable flavours of vanilla, wintergreen, clove, and anise. If herbal drinks aren’t your thing, a Saratoga Springs sparkling water (bottled nearby) with a wedge of lime or splash of juice is a refreshing option.
The Adirondacks region is known for its craft breweries. Otter Creek Brewing Co. in Middlebury Vermont, a 30 minute drive from the Lake Champlain region, has been in the market of craft beer for over 20 years and is a local favourite. The Copper Ale, like its name suggests, has a mild metallic quality. The ale is light which would appeal to most people, yet is much more distinguishable than a standard ale.
Locals recommend Lake Placid Pub & Brewery — in fact, some like it so much that their homes were retrofitted with Lake Placid taps. The Wolf Jaw Wit is a Belgian style wheat beer with very strong citrus notes and fruity taste. The Ubu English Strong Ale has a strong, bitter, and boozy flavour. A must-try for beer enthusiasts. This brewery is located right in Lake Placid and a good choice for a tour and lunch.
Beer/Soda Sampling at the Dogwood Bread Company
For a quick weekend trip, the Dogwood Bread Company is an excellent restaurant and market that specializes in locally made food and drink, with much prepared in house. If you don’t have a lot of time to explore the surrounding breweries, sample the local craft beers and sodas here — or even take some to go.
HOW TO BOOK:
To plan your visit to the Adirondacks, check out the Visit Adirondacks website or the Lake Champlain Region website for information about accommodation, hiking, scenic drives, shopping and restaurants, as well as information about the best fishing spots and paddling routes.
The website also has sample itineraries with practical tips on where to go for leisurely exploration or extreme adventure, and where to find celebrated art museums and cultural exhibitions in the Adirondacks.
The writer was a guest of Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism. The sponsor did not review or approve this article.