Sep 28, 2011
06:40 AM
Discover Connecticut

Best of Connecticut Road Trip: Shelton

 

Here's what you might call an efficient ride: Five Best of Connecticut 2011 winners, all within about 10 minutes of each other in Shelton. This ride also would give you a good chance to gather the pieces for a romantic dinner back at home later.

Okay, the place to start is downtown Shelton, right on Route 110, aka River Road. Find a place to park and then you can visit three places, all within a short walking distance of each other. It might make sense to stop at Liquid Lunch first, where you can have a nice lunch—maybe get that tomato basil soup in a delicious bread bowl, or get a half order of soup with a "sammich" (try the Portland: Turkey breast, fresh apple coleslaw and sharp cheddar on your choice of bread).

From there, cross the street and walk down one block and you're at Stockbridge's Cheesecakes and Delectables. You can have lunch there in the cafe (soup, sandwiches and light cafe fare), or better yet, enjoy dessert as there are lots of sweet things to try here in addition to the cheesecake. Oh, and you want to have the cheesecake—from amaretto to white chocolate with 43 other sensational combinations in between. (Pumpkin for the season?) If you don't want to devour it there, take one to go for dessert later. Or better yet, have one now and buy one for home.

A few doors down in a small store front is Pasta Fina, owned by Claudio Mancuso, one of the three brothers of the old—and beloved—Three Brothers restaurant in Fairfield. Here, they make the pasta fresh and then cut it in any style and any amount requested, another ideal piece for someone who might want to gather the ingredients to make their own special meal at home later.

Okay, from here, get back in the car and head north on Route 110, which curves away from downtown and up into the White Hills section of town. It's a brief ride—like less than five minutes—to Oronoque Farms, home to this year's best apple pie, a title it wrested away from long-time favorite Lyman Orchards. Of course, we encourage you to take home one of Oronoque's pies (baked with fresh, local Connecticut apples) and decide for yourself.

Finally, just another five-minute jaunt (if that) and you're at Jones Farm, home of Jones Family Winery. The Jones family has been growing all sorts of great stuff here for over 150 years, and by that time frame, only got into wine recently when sixth-generation farmer Jamie Jones started planting his own wine-bearing grapes. After a limited start, there are now over a dozen varieties available, including reds, whites, dessert and fruit wines. The tasting room is only open Friday-Sunday (11 am - 5 pm), and guests are allowed to try seven different wines.

Here are the full Best of Connecticut write ups from the September 2011 issue:

Apple Pie
Oronoque Farms
Shelton, (203) 925-4237, and Stratford, (203) 386-9977 (oronoquefarms.com)

The story of “the little apple pie that could” began in 1949 when one determined Betty Winton, wanting to earn scholarship money for her alma mater, Mount Holyoke College, started selling pies at a roadside stand in front of her Stratford farmhouse. Soon the whole family was making pies: the kids shimmied up the trees to pluck the apples, and Betty and her sister-in-law mixed and rolled out the pies. The trademark slogan back then, “Quality is our most precious ingredient,” reflected Winton’s insistence that the pies retain pure ingredients and homemade quality—as they still do today, more than 60 years and several bakers later. Simple, sweet, delicious—just the way we like it.

Cheesecake
Stockbridge’s Cheesecakes and Delectables
Shelton, (203) 924-7853, and Stockbridge’s Cheesecakes, New England Bistro and Bakery, Woodbridge,
(203) 298-9036 (sbcheesecakes.com)

Lucky for us that CIA grad Brian Stockbridge turned his talents to cheesecake. He and wife Lisa have grown their small cheesecake bakery into an inviting bakery-and-café in Shelton where you can have breakfast, lunch and dinner (the latter on weekends), and new bakery/bistro in Woodbridge where you can have breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks (cheesecake martini, anyone?). At either, choose from a dozen or more variations on the theme on any one day, from the classic New York to Reese’s (mixed with mini peanut-butter cups, topped with chocolate ganache) to fall delights like apple pie, sweet potato and pumpkin cheesecakes. We guarantee there’ll be “love-filled deliciousness in every bite.”

Connecticut Wine
Jones Winery
Shelton, (203) 929-8425 (jonesfamilyfarms.com)

Sixth-generation farmer Jamie Jones and veteran winemaker Larry McCulloch (he helped Chamard Vineyards get started in Clinton nearly 30 years ago) have teamed up to grow grapes on the slopes at Jones Family Farm in Shelton and produce wines that are quickly winning favor. White-wine lovers would do well to sample the Pinot Gris or Stonewall Chardonnay, while the Cabernet Franc is a good choice for those who prefer red. There’s a rosé and dessert and fruit wines as well. And Christmas trees—let’s not forget the Christmas trees.

Fresh Pasta
Pasta Fina, Shelton, (203) 922-0041
Pasta Fina is a wonderful little throwback: a small, friendly neighborhood shop where you can go in and get any type of freshly made pasta—say a pound of lasagne noodles, linguini or spaghetti—cut to order. Since 2002, former restaurateur Claudio Mancuso and his family have been making every variety of egg and specialty pasta, as well as prepared items such as mushroom ravioli and whole wheat pizza, for customers to take home and cook in their own kitchens. But be warned—once you’ve had it fresh from Pasta Fina, you may never buy dried commercial pasta in a box again.

Soup
Liquid Lunch, Shelton,
(203) 926-6038, and other locations (liquidlunchrestaurant.com)

Soup is comfort food, and there’s nothing more comforting than knowing that on any given day there will be 10 different great soups at Liquid Lunch to choose from, including six always on the menu: chicken noodle, beef barley, vegetarian lentil, tomato basil, French onion and split-pea with ham. Other choices depend on what specialties chef-owner Fred Bialek and his crew whip up, anything from chicken-and-sausage gumbo to collard greens and chorizo. Whatever it is, it’s sure to make your spoon—and your mouth—happy!

 

Best of Connecticut Road Trip: Shelton

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