Does this ever happen to you? You take a single bite of something and, boom, you fall in love with a place.
This doesn’t happen to me often, but when it does, I can’t shut up about it, I can’t stop thinking about it, I may even dream about it.
I stumbled upon Spotted Duck by accident. My husband and I were headed home from Penn Yan after biking our favorite bike trail in upstate New York: the Keuka Outlet Trail, a glorious, mostly flat trail that runs between Keuka and Seneca lakes.
If you like to hike or bike, you will wish this multiuse trail was in your backyard. Built on an old railroad track bed, the 7-mile trail follows the towpath of the historic Crooked Lake Canal that once connected the two lakes.
We have biked this trail many times and each time we marvel at the trail’s unforgettable and ever-changing scenery — from the lush woodlands to the colorful wildflowers, the sparkling stream to the cascading waterfalls, the abandoned historical buildings to the petite village of Dresden on Seneca Lake where we enjoy a picnic and thank our lucky stars we ever discovered this New York wonder.
Biking between two Finger Lakes? On a well-maintained path that is wide enough in most sections to pass those going at a slower pace? It’s a must-do if you like this sort of activity! After the ride last summer, I suggested to my husband that we head east on Route 54 so we could travel north along the western shore of Seneca Lake. Although a tad out of the way, we were up for some new scenery on our return to Rochester.
Lucky for us, the diversion was what led us to Penn Yan’s Spotted Duck. A folksy establishment with wooden picnic tables, a spacious deck, and roaming ducks, chickens, guinea hens and more, Spotted Duck — and its unique premium frozen custard — is the brainchild of husband-and-wife team Elizabeth and Daniel Hoover.
The name, Spotted Duck, represents what differentiates the Hoover’s frozen custard from any others in our area: the use of Ancona (spotted) duck eggs versus chicken eggs to make their award-winning products.
According to the Hoovers, the increased yolk size makes a much richer flavor while the firmer whites are a better suspender, giving their frozen custard its signature creamy texture.
The Hoovers grow and raise most of their ingredients, from the duck eggs to the delectable fruits to the spices. What’s more, over 95% of their ingredients are certified organic (or grown in a similar manner), and they shun the use of preservatives, corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and anything artificial. Also commendable — they make a concerted effort to use local sources for ingredients they can’t produce. Yay to supporting upstate NY!
But enough about what makes their frozen custard so unique, and on to what made my husband and I stand with our mouths agog for minutes on end: their flavors! Stymied, we finally went with the Hollywood — 4 scoops of any flavor — and selected strawberry rhubarb, Fleur Bleu (lavender and blueberry); Seneca salted caramel and Black Button Brunch (bourbon cream, maple and bacon). All were so delicious, we seriously thought about getting four more.
This year, we intend to bike to Spotted Duck after our picnic on Seneca Lake. It only adds about a mile to the 14-mile round-trip, and it’s a pretty straight shot from Dresden’s Main Street, heading west on Route 54.
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Anne Palumbo writes this column for Messenger Post newspapers. Her email is