The Easter Bunny in New York State

A couple of months ago, I finally got a new phone (the iPhone 4 from 2013 is dead!), and while going through the photos to transfer them to the new phone (long live the Google Pixel!), I realized just how many photos I’d taken of food and wine bottles. So, in an effort to preserve the memories those photos were meant to capture, I’ll be sharing those photos periodically with a little note or story to accompany them. Nothing fancy.

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When we lived in Indianapolis, it was a leisurely two-hour drive to visit my aunts in Louisville. We joked that it only took about three turns to get to their house from ours, that’s how simple the drive down 65 was. The view from the highway was mostly idyllic–farmland and trees–and when we took back roads, we wound through tiny towns that weren’t much more than a convenience store, a gas station, and a collection of houses. Southern Indiana was flat and felt very empty indeed.

We’d visit my aunts as often as we could, spending our visits out on the Bourbon Trail, eating good food, and talking about anything and everything. We lent books to each other, went to plays, and stayed up late with glasses of bourbon at hand.

For Easter, my aunt Carrie put out quite the spread, and the Easter Bunny always brought us what I like to call an adult Easter basket. The Easter Bunny, it seemed, shared some tastes with my aunts, namely: New York State wine. My aunts love it. They lived in Rochester for years, which gave them opportunity to tour around and find their favorite wineries. Now they go back a couple times each year, driving their station wagon up and returning with the trunk loaded. Their basement is a treasure trove, their own cave, featuring not just wines, but gins, bourbons, and beers. “We don’t drink it all; we collect it,” my aunt Lee says. They collect it to give it away.

So Easter dinner always featured a couple of New York State wines to go with the ham, the lima beans, and the mashed potatoes. As if that weren’t enough, my aunt Carrie would always make a Mounds Cake. A beautiful monster of a chocolate layer cake with shredded coconut and luscious frosting you want to eat by the spoonful. She gave me the recipe, but I know I could never replicate it. The recipe needs their home, their warmth, their laughter.

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