We have a bounty of incredible local farm foods and CT made products to choose from… but what does the Connecticut Food and Farm team select for their own Thanksgiving feasts? These are our TOP PICKS, the best of the best, CT grown and made, and where to find them. Thanksgiving 2013! Here we come!
1. Turkey, Ekonk Hill Turkey Farm ~ Moosup
Ekonk Hill Turkey Farm raises their turkeys like we want ours raised: on-pasture with free choice access to fresh water, all-natural grain, and shelter. Electric fencing and their Anatolian Shepherd dog “Blue” keep the birds protected from predators. They raise Broad Breasted White and heritage turkey breeds including Narragansett, Bourbon Reds, Black Spanish, and Royal Palm.
The farm store offers their own ice cream and cider doughnuts, and they serve a Thanksgiving Sandwich made with roasted turkey breast, stuffing, cranberry sauce; and a Gobbler Sundae… a mound of mashed potatoes topped with roasted turkey breast, stuffing, gravy, and topped off with a ball of cranberry sauce. Know what? It smells like Thanksgiving there as soon as you step out of your car.
Ekonk Hill Turkey Farm, 227 Ekonk Hill Rd, Moosup, CT 06354. Open 7 days a week, 11-6. Reserve your turkey here.
2. Vegetables, Provider Farm ~ Salem
We have never come across more consistently gorgeous or better tasting veggies than Provider Farm’s. They are chemical-free… grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, insecticides or GMOs. Farmers Max and Kerry believe healthy soil is the foundation for healthy food. We do too!
A one-day “Thanksgiving Store” at the farm (30 Woodbridge Road, Salem, CT, 06420) Saturday, November 23, 10-1 will offer: carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, winter squash, parsnips, cabbage, kohlrabi, kale, salad greens, spinach, lettuce broccoli, Brussels sprouts, rutabagas, turnips, and more.
Provider Farm will also be at the Coventry WinterFresh Farmers’ Market.
3. Cornbread for Stuffing Mix, Farm to Hearth ~ Haddam
Cornbread Stuffing with apples, sausage, thyme, sage, and pecans… it’s the recipe our friend Chef Donna Fisher has been making every Thanksgiving since 1979.
For this masterpiece, we’ll want unparalleled cornbread, like that from Farm to Hearth. They use heirloom-variety cornmeal, milled to order, and eggs from pasture-raised hens fed non-GMO feed. The cornbread is baked in cast iron skillets in a wood fired oven.
In their shop, you’ll find wood fired oven baked breads using organic grains, whole spelt pitas, tarts, cranberry chutney, assorted cookies, spicy horseradish pickles, and handmade pottery pieces. Their methods are old-fashioned, products hand-forged from start to finish, and their sourcing local and top quality.
You will also find Farm to Hearth at the Coventry WinterFresh Farmers’ Market, Nov 24, and POP UP Market at Goodwin College, Nov 26. Preorders are strongly encouraged!
4. Cheese Plate, Fromage Fine Foods ~ Old Saybrook
We have a documented passion for good cheeses and the shops that stock them, and Fromage is one of the best. A visit Thanksgiving week will offer you an array of 225 cheeses; and honey, fruit jam, and mustard to pair with them. They can assist you in selecting the correct number of cheeses and types of flavors for your cheese plate- sharp, mellow, nutty flavor profiles and variations by type of milk: sheep, goat, cow or a combination of these.
Fromage owner Christine says, “Don’t miss Oak Leaf Dairy’s fresh goat with chives or Cato Corner’s wonderful Hooligan and Womanchego- they are all delish!”
Fromage, 873 Boston Post Road, Old Saybrook, CT 06475. Sun 9-1, Mon-Fri 9-5:30, Sat 8-5:30. Closed Thanksgiving Day.
5. Cider, Hard & Sweet, Holmberg Orchards and Winery ~ Gales Ferry
Holmberg sparkling Russett Hard Cider will compliment a turkey dinner without overwhelming the palette with too much sweetness, and the Macintosh Hard Cider is perfectly suited for watching the game or during the dessert course.
Holmberg Sweet Apple Cider is the best cider we’ve ever tasted and rises above the “pasteurized or raw?” argument by being pasteurized via UV light. Their farm-pressed cider apple cider simply passes by a UV lightbulb which kills any potential harmful bacteria but preserves the true apple flavor and the naturally-occurring probiotics. BAM!
Holmberg Orchards & Winery, 1990 Route 12, Gales Ferry, CT 06335. Wine and hard cider available for sale 10-6 Mondays-Saturdays and 11-6 Sundays.
6. Pies, Zest ~ Stonington
Pumpkin meringue pie in a homemade graham cracker crust, traditional pumpkin, traditional apple streusel, chocolate cinnamon fig in a cinnamon crust, chocolate orange Grand Marnier in an orange cardamom crust, and gluten free chocolate sea salt caramel. THAT’S why Zest is a TOP PICK!
Zest uses lots of local and in-season ingredients in their small-batch baking. Their professional training shows: Erin studied at the Culinary Institute of America in the Napa Valley and worked as a pastry chef and chocolatier. Gabriella studied at Cambridge Culinary in Boston as well as in the South of France and worked as a pastry chef and line chef.
All delicious. Untraditional with a French flair. On a typical day at Zest, you might find an assortment of small coffee cakes, cookies, bars, tarts, granola bars, coconut and French macaroons, sweet and savory scones, sweet and savory shortbread, homemade marshmallows, breads, and biscotti.
Check out their full Thanksgiving menu. Pick up for Thanksgiving concludes at 2:00 pm the day before.
Zest, The American Velvet Mill, 22 Bayview Ave, Stonington, CT 06378. Wed – Thu: 8:30-4; Fri: 8:30-6; Sat – Sun: 9-5.
7. Ice Cream and Half & Half at the The Farmer’s Cow Calfe ~ Mansfield Center
Here’s a secret: Order a large cup of ice cream to-go at The Farmers’ Cow Calfe and you’ll get more than a pint for $5.50. Pick from 20 flavors including vanilla for your pie a la mode or those that have never appeared in supermarket freezer cases like Campfire S’mores, Cowlick Salted Caramel, and Sugar Shack Maple Walnut.
In the Calfe’s retail coolers, you’ll also find other items on your Thanksgiving shopping list: The Farmers’ Cow milk, half & half, heavy cream.
In the bustle of the days preceding the holiday, supper at the Calfe might be a delicious timesaver. Look for November specials like the Roast Beef Panini – Boar’s Head Roast Beef with Cabot cheddar cheese, sautéed onions and peppers with horseradish sauce; and the Apple Pie Sundae – a serving of apple crisp topped with Apple Pie ice cream, warm caramel sauce, and The Farmer’s Cow fresh whipped cream.
The Calfe is open daily from 7am-9pm at 86 Storrs Road, Mansfield Center, CT 06250.
8. Beer, Beer’d Brewing Company ~ Stonington
Beer’d brewers Aaren and Precious are extremely hands on with every ounce of beer they produce… and they produce some of our absolute favorite brews! Connecticut Nano Breweries are under three barrels in size or produce less than 100 gallons a brew length. This intimacy ensures that what Beer’d puts out is quality and interesting.
Beer’d Whisker’d Wit goes very well with turkey and apple pie due to the spice of the Belgian yeast and The Harbinger American IPA begs to be paired with some tart cranberry sauce. If you visit the brewery this week, you’ll likely also find By The Bushel Belgian Pale Ale, Harbinger American IPA, and Realization Double IPA. Possibly even the much anticipated Midnight Oil Oatmeal Stout.
Beer’d Brewing Company, The American Velvet Mill at 22 Bayview Ave. Unit 15 in Stonington, CT. 06378. Fridays 5-9 and Sat/Sundays from 1-5.
9. Connecticut Wine selections, Red & White, Worldwide Wine Cellars ~ Tolland
Worldwide Wine Cellars has a great selection of Connecticut wines and friendly staff to help you make great selections for your holiday feast. Jean Nelson recommended both a red and a white:
“The white: Jonathan Edwards Gewürztraminer – This Connecticut grape produces a slightly sweet, slightly spicy wine with a hint of apples. It balances the traditionally heavy Thanksgiving dishes well. It also is slightly lower in alcohol so you won’t feel like you need to take a nap.
“The red: Sharpe Hill St. Croix – Fruit forward, medium bodied red with a little spice and pepper pairs perfectly with your side dishes, especially the sausage stuffing. A versatile wine that can stand up to your Thanksgiving meal.”
Worldwide Wine Cellars, 33a Fieldstone Commons, Tolland, CT 06084, Mon-Thu 9-8; Fri-Sat 9-9
10. Coffee, Ashlawn Farm ~ Lyme
On a former dairy farm stretching over 110 postcard perfect acres in a picturesque hill town, Carol and Chip founded a coffee roastery and café that does coffee right.
For Thanksgiving week, they’re stocking a large assortment of coffees from Africa, Asia and the Americas, both single origin and special house blends. To finish your Thanksgiving meal, barista Carol Monnerat suggests their Bali Blue Moon Krishna… 100% organic and grown in rich Volcanic Balinese soil. It’s a full bodied medium roast with a spicy vanilla finish. It’s also Rainforest Alliance Certified.
Ashlawn Farm Coffee, 78 Bill Hill Road, Lyme. Mon-Friday 8-5, Sat 8:30-2:00; and Ashlawn Farm Coffee Café in Old Saybrook, 455 Boston Post Road, Mon-Friday from 5 am – 6 pm and Sat-Sun from 7 am -3 pm, online. and at the Coventry WinterFresh Farmers’ Market.
11. Aged Apple Brandy, Westford Hill Distillers
As Normandy has its Calvados, we’ve got our own style of apple brandy, with American apple varieties. Artisanal distiller Westford Hills produces an award-winning 12 yr. Aged Apple Brandy that can be enjoyed at the Thanksgiving table it an aperitif or at the end of the meal as a digestif to extend the gathering of family and friends. There are a number of classic cocktails that use apple brandy.
Apple Brandy was the first distilled spirit of the American colonies. Westford Hill’s is a blend of four apple varieties from Lyman Orchards in Middlefield: Macintosh adds rich aromatics; JonaGold, front of the palate round apple flavors; Gravenstein, spice on the mid palate to the finish; and Crispin, for viscosity and mouth feel.
The apples are cold fermented dry using a strain of winemaking yeast, small batch distilled, and aged separately by varietal in French and American oak barrels. It takes three hundred bushels of apples to produce one barrel of brandy.
Westford Hill Aged Apple Brandy is available at Worldwide Wine Cellars, 33a Fieldstone Commons, Tolland, CT 06084, Mon-Thu 9am-8pm; Fri-Sat 9am-9pm and other CT wine shops.
12. Scratch-made Side Dishes, A Thyme to Cook ~ Coventry Regional Farmers’ Market
One of us CT F&F cooks is getting a puppy this week. Suddenly cooking the whole feast from scratch looks… less doable. You might have cooking challenges of your own! We are glad to know we have a locally-sourced, scratch-made side dish option from the famed catering company A Thyme to Cook: family-sized portions of Butternut Apple Bisque; Garlic and Parmesan Scalloped Potatoes; Sweet Potato Mash with Candied Pecans; Lemon Thyme Apple Stuffing or Sausage Fennel Stuffing; Turkey Gravy; Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts; and Fresh Cranberry Sauce.
The stuffing incorporates bread made in house with flour from Coventry’s Still River Farm, the sausage comes from Ladies of Lebanon, and the apples from Holmberg Orchard.
The entire Connecticut Food & Farm wishes you happy cooking and a meal to remember… in a place you love best and with the people who mean the most to you.
PS: Most of these amazing images were shot on location by Flint Prints who specializes in iconic food and farm photography. Thank you, Liss!