Our guide to the best artisanal cheeses, chocolates, jams, cookies, bacon, and other worthy edibles in New England.
This year marks our second annual food awards, which means that once again, we’ve been scouring New England’s groceries and markets to find the best locally made cheeses, jams, chocolates, sauces–and even salt!–for you to try. From tender smoked bluefish made by John and Hali LaFountain of Fox Seafood in Narragansett, Rhode Island, to earthy aged goat cheese from Twig Farm in West Cornwall, Vermont, this year’s list covers all six states and eight categories.
We noticed a few trends this year: caramels, marshmallows, bacon, macarons, and fruit vinegars are big (some are represented here). There’s also a renewed appreciation for classic New England fare, like the exceptional marmalades made by Blake Hill Preserves and fruitcakes by Bien Fait Specialty Cakes, both in Vermont.
How do we pick them? We taste, we compare, and when a product makes our eyes light up, we put it on the short list. Early on, we decided not to organize the awards around a single best-in-category winner. Choosing one best Cheddar or bacon would mean missing out on another equally worthy product the next year. Frankly, there’s too much good food out there to paint ourselves into that corner. Think of these as “awards of excellence,” rather than an either/or competition.
In that spirit, we hope you’ll enjoy these treats yourself, or give them as gifts to others. Happy Holidays!
When Dori Ross founded Tonewood Maple in Vermont’s Mad River Valley in 2012, she sought to give small maple producers a better way to market their products, while also drawing attention to the impact that climate change is having on the maple industry. She turned to some of the oldest sugaring farms in the area for the best supply of single-source maple syrup for her maple cream, candy wafers, and flakes and donates a portion of her proceeds to the Proctor Maple Research Center at the University of Vermont. We especially love Tonewood’s two-inch maple cubes, in both delicate Fancy or robust Grade B varieties, for adding grated maple goodness to ice cream, cereal, and even salads. Stylish, modern packaging also makes for an attractive hostess gift.
Suggested Retail Price: $16.99 per cube
Where to Find It: Select specialty stores in Vermont and Massachusetts, including Healthy Living in Burlington, VT; Christina’s Spice & Specialty Foods in Cambridge, MA; online at: tonewoodmaple.com