Food Adventures — Southern Tour
Connecticut, Rhode Island & Massachusetts
When it comes to food, New England is all-American. Think of blueberries, cranberries and lobster. Then there are clams, the vital ingredient to New England’s very own clam chowder. But leave room for a beer from the microbreweries and a home-made ice cream cone!
- Norwalk, Connecticut: Oyster Festival
Norwalk is the home of the Tallmadge Brothers, America's largest oyster company that farms tens of thousands of acres of oyster beds in the waters of Long Island Sound. Norwalk’s annual Oyster Festival (September) is an excuse for a party.
- Westport, Connecticut: Paul Newman's Own
Blue-eyed movie star and former Connecticut resident, the late Paul Newman was very much part of the New England food scene. In addition to Newman’s Own (as of 2014, more than $400 million in profits have been donated to charity), he and his daughter created Newman’s Own Organics. There are no tours of this company but the town is a lovely place to visit!
- New Haven, Connecticut: Hamburgers and pizza
Hamburgers and pizza, the ultimate student food, were invented in the shadow of Yale University. Louis Lassen invented the ’burger back in 1895, but at Louis' Lunch, they’re grilled vertically and served with toast. In 1925, Italian immigrant Frank Pepe sold 'tomato pies' from a cart: Pepe’s Pizzeria is still going strong in Little Italy!
- Coventry, Connecticut: Herbal farmstead
Everything you ever wanted to know about herbs is at Caprilands, an 'herbal farmstead' created by the late Adelma Grenier Simmons. There are herb-inspired gardens dedicated to cooks, brides, saints and Shakespeare.
- Groton, Connecticut: New England diners
The American diner was born as a 'walk up' in Providence, R.I. in 1872. Groton is home to one of New England’s historic diners: Norm’s on Bridge Street. Others include the Maine Diner in Wells (Maine), Jiggers in East Greenwich (Rhode Island) and Casey’s in Natick (Massachusetts). Order pancakes and burgers, fries and pies.
- Rhode Island lingo
When in Rhode Island, learn the language. Milk shakes are called ‘cabinets’; locals love their ‘jonnycakes’ (like cornmeal pancakes) and call clams 'steamers' and 'quahogs' (co-hogs). Order a clam cake (like a fritter) or 'stuffies,' baked stuffed clams.
- Providence, Rhode Island: Foodie city
The College of Culinary Arts in Providence’s famous Johnson & Wales University trains chefs galore. The city’s Federal Hill district, long popular for its Italian trattoria, now also has Asian and contemporary American restaurants.
- Little Compton, Rhode Island: Sakonnet Vineyards
Vineyards growing the chardonnay grape thrive all along the southern coast of New England. Sakonnet Vineyards, planted in 1975, now produces 30,000 cases a year, including gold medal winning sparkling wines and unusual dessert wines.
- Cape Cod and Provincetown, Massachusetts: Sweet oysters
Wellfleet Harbor, in the cradle of the Cape, has been praised for its sweet oysters since Samuel de Champlain wrote about them in 1606. The Portuguese came to fish for cod, and Portuguese sweet bread is a specialty in some Provincetown bakeries.
- Harwich, Massachusetts: Cranberries
The Vitamin C-rich berry is gown in Massachusetts near and on Cape Cod. Fans of this popular fruit head for Harwich in September for the Cranberry Harvest Festival. Parades, a craft and art fair, music and fireworks celebrate the berry, grown here for more than 120 years and an essential ingredient of American Thanksgiving dinners.
- Boston, Massachusetts: 'Little Italy' & Chinatown
The most authentic ‘Little Italy’ in the U.S., Boston’s North End throngs with Italian greengrocers and caffès, panetterias (bakeries), pasticcerias (pastry shops) and salumerias (delicatessens). Boston’s Chinatown, the third largest in the U.S., is also home to Thai, Vietnamese and other Asian restaurants.
- Boston, Massachusetts: Old and new
Now 180 years old, Durgin-Park is one of the few restaurants still serving traditional New England dishes, such as Boston baked beans, brown bread, boiled dinners and Indian pudding. However, the city’s food scene also includes star chefs serving modern New England dishes.