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Cheese Lovin’ Vegan: The Finger Lakes Cheese Trail (Ithaca Blog)

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Finger Lakes Cheese Trail Open House

Take a Tour and Experience the Different Varieties on the Finger Lakes Cheese Trail

Cheese. Photo courtesy the Finger Lakes Cheese TourI have a friend who swears that those with food “allergies” (the quotes are said friend’s, not mine), as well as vegans/vegetarians are just picky eaters who’ve now found an excuse for their high maintenance dietary biases. I say friend here to protect his/her identity. I know most vegans typically fall high on the scale of “those who do not wish to inflict harm on others,” but still, when was the last time you pissed off a vegan? Really pissed off a vegan? All the rage of a saliva dripping, oversized incisor possessing, rabid carnivorous beast except in a hemp shirt with plant based, non-leather, fair-trade, living wage qualified, made in a local shop, shoes.

I would disagree with this friend; I do disagree with this friend, but I have trouble arguing the point as I am guilty of all these food transgressions. I have a nut allergy (just cashews really). I’m developing a reaction to tomatoes and I try not to, as a measure of health, eat too much white bread/pasta (though they are, after chocolate, my primary dietary weakness).

I am also a (mostly) vegan who does not like mushrooms. Or olives.  I don’t like brussel sprouts, never have. Or cauliflower. My transition to vegetarianism was fairly easy, as I never did like most meats. But I did like cheese. Loved cheese really: Cahill’s Porter, Gouda with basil and garlic, a very ripe Camembert, a triple cream Brie, Manchego, Double Gloucester. It’s really quite an impressive deviation from my American or Muenster only childhood. And some time ago, when I worked at a gourmet food store in Ithaca, I was exposed to some amazing local cheeses, both cow’s milk and goat.

It’s why, even as a vegan, I looked forward with great anticipation to the Finger Lakes Cheese Trail, recruiting several cheese loving friends to go along with me and provide me with a full report on flavor. We took a look at the trail map, decided on our route, and hit the road. It may be the most excited a vegan’s ever been about cheese.

The Finger Lakes Region. Photo by Jennifer B. BrownWe headed on our way, only to discover that as the site says, we should have called ahead, as the farm was closed for the season. Since Finger Lakes Distilling was on the way to the next farm, we decided to stop in there for a tasting along the way (strongly recommended), but sadly, we never made it back to the cheese trail, fearing that we hadn’t called ahead anywhere, and frankly, enjoying the wine trail perhaps a bit too much.

Sadly, my friends missed out on a few of my local favorites: Finger Lakes Farmstead (try the “Red Meck”), Lively Run, and Sunset View Creamery, but we did, as usual, have a fantastic time. You, however, don’t have to miss out on any of these, and many more.

This Saturday, November 19, from 10am-5pm, the Finger Lakes Cheese Trail will be hosting an Open House event with 12 farms being open for you to sample their goods from English style raw milk to feta and sheep’s milk. It’s really an experience you don’t want to miss, I sure wish I hadn’t and am looking forward to getting this group together again, if only so we can pair some of the wines we’ve purchased with the wonderful cheeses available locally as well. If you come across anything good, please let this picky vegan know (so I can pass the word along…I really don’t eat cheese!).

Visit for more information.

Jennifer B. Brown is a Contributor to The Free George.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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