New England Food & Drink
Lobster harvested all along the coast, oysters and clams; fish and game; cranberries, apples and blueberries; maple syrup, ice cream and artisan cheeses — these are just some of the taste treats for which New England is famous. Experience sophisticated dining in one of the region’s cities or a fresh-from-the-farm dinner amidst beautiful countryside. Then, there are the award-winning beers from microbreweries and an up-and-coming wine scene. It all adds up to a food scene that just gets better and better!
LOOK OUT FOR…
- Cranberries: Grown on and around Cape Cod; essential with turkey at Thanksgiving. Come to watch the harvest.
- Maple syrup: In March, sap from maple trees is boiled down to make this delicious treat, plus candy and other goodies.
- Lobster: Abundant, super fresh and reasonably priced, New England lobster is best enjoyed “in the rough” at a “lobster shack” — an informal shore-side restaurant.
- Oysters and clams: Eat them raw, fried, in soups, in chowders, and stuffed. Yum!
- Wild blueberries: The Maine season runs from early July through mid-September with dedicated festivals.
Hamburger Heaven, Fun Breweries, and a Wine Trail
In Connecticut, stop by New Haven to visit Yale University’s museums, then head for Louis’ Lunch, the birthplace of the hamburger sandwich, or sign up for a popular New Haven food tour. Throughout the state, you’ll find interesting breweries in refurbished buildings with specialty brews. There’s also a Connecticut Wine Trail that takes you to award-winning wineries in a variety of settings — including one with a tasting room in a former airplane hangar!
A Lobster Lover’s Dream
This state offers the best of both worlds: farmland and 5,000 miles of Atlantic Coast. Appreciate the bounty at annual events, such as the Lobster Festival in Rockland and the Clam Festival in Yarmouth. Maine produces 99 percent of the nation’s wild blueberries and the crop is celebrated during the Machias Wild Blueberry Festival. Organic foods are the focus of the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity. But for foodies, Maine means lobster. There are many ways to taste it — eat with your fingers at a wooden table at an ocean-side lobster pound or let the chef do the work at a gourmet restaurant. For award-winning restaurants, be sure to head to Portland, which is renowned for its excellent chefs and trendy eateries.
Seafood, Cranberries, and the Birthplace of the Boston Cream Pie
From coastal Cape Cod and the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, to the rolling Berkshire Hills, Massachusetts offers taste treats aplenty. Cranberries, for example, have been a staple crop both on and near Cape Cod since Colonial days. At Plimoth Plantation, join the Pilgrims for a Harvest Dinner circa 1627. Slurp oysters at Boston’s Union Oyster House, the oldest operating restaurant in the United States. Order Boston Cream Pie at Boston’s Omni Parker House Hotel, the birthplace of this delicious dessert.
Pumpkins, Cider, and Coastal Fun
Good food is part of a great holiday. In New Hampshire, the seacoast town of Portsmouth boasts higher per capita restaurant sales than Chicago! Then, just follow your fancy along one of the state’s popular food-and-drink oriented trails: brewery trails, chocolate trails, and wine and cheese trails. Buy an instant picnic at a farmers market and, in the fall, celebrate the ‘official fruit’ of New Hampshire — the pumpkin. As Halloween approaches, pumpkin-mania takes over, with visitors and natives tucking into pumpkin pies, pumpkin muffins and pumpkin soups.
Rhode Island has its own foodie vocabulary: milk shakes are ‘cabinets,’ clams are ‘steamers’ and ‘quahogs’ (pronounced co-hogs) and baked stuffed clams are ‘stuffies.’ Foodie festivals include Newport’s Great Chowder Cook-off, with chefs battling for the title of Best Chowder of the Year. Late April and early May bring the statewide May breakfasts, featuring ‘jonnycakes’ (cornmeal pancakes). Like ice cream? Gourmet magazine reckons that the coffee ice cream at Gray’s in historic Tiverton Four Corners is “… robust and just-right sweet, like the cream-and-sugar cup that might have been served at the lunch counter in heaven.”
Fresh and Local
Throughout Vermont, farms and restaurants are part of the Vermont Fresh Network, ensuring that local produce is served in local restaurants. Products that have taken the world by storm include Cabot Cheese, known for its award-winning cheddar, and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream; see them making it in Waterbury. Amazingly, there are 42 creameries in the Green Mountain state: visit to taste and buy when you follow the Vermont Cheese Trail. Vermont’s most famous product? That has to be maple syrup. Not only is Vermont the largest producer of pure maple syrup in the U.S., it was also the first state to establish a ‘maple law’ governing quality, purity and density.
New England Chefs
Two New England women have been major influences on American cooking. Julia Child, who inspired cooks with her television programs and her books, was portrayed by Meryl Streep in the award-winning 2009 film Julie & Julia. Back in the late 19th century, Fanny Farmer’s Boston Cooking School Cook Book standardized recipes and gave household hints; and it is still in print! Today, the region abounds with nationally recognized chefs: Todd English, Jasper White, Gordon Hamersley, and Barbara Lynch. Even New Orleans’ legend Emeril Lagasse is from Massachusetts!