JORDAN MARSH BLUEBERRY MUFFINSPhoto Credit : Adam Detour | Styling by Catrine Kelty
Nine years ago, we created the Yankee Food Awards to honor the artisans whose cheeses, chocolates, jams, and charcuterie have made New England such a wonderful place to live and eat. Since then, we have celebrated dozens of delicious treats, and our list of new delights to explore has only grown.
This year, we chose a mix of cheeses, sweets, charcuterie, and crackers that together represent the ultimate New England grazing board for holiday entertaining. And to round out the celebrations, we also selected some iconic New England foods that make for great eating and great gifts, from lobster pie to ginger-molasses cookies to New Haven–style pizza. Knowing that many of you live beyond our borders, we chose foods made by companies that ship around the country.
These “awards of excellence” prove that New England is a food lover’s paradise—and that is reason enough to celebrate this year. Happy holidays!
We adore Karen Getz’s sweet-savory crackers, which happen to be gluten-free but which shine as the perfect base for all kinds of cheeses and spreads. mainecrisp.com
At Before and After Farms, Matt Browning turns the pigs he raises with his wife, Phoebe, into delicious charcuterie. The standout here is the fennel-laced Dulce dried salami, which is like a concentrated sweet Italian sausage. ouicharcuterie.com
Ahmad Aissa began baking in 2012, not long after coming to the U.S. from Syria. His chocolate-walnut baklava and mango mamoul cookies are a delight, but we especially love the date-stuffed mamoul baked in a mold to make each one look like a lovely package. aissasweets.com
This bloomy-rind goat’s milk cheese, made in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom from Merlin Backus and Rebecca Velazquez’s small herd, has a bright tang and a rich, Brie-like creaminess. Facebook; order on saxelbycheese.com
Raised on a Maine dairy farm, Amy Rowbottom began making cheese about a decade ago, and she has truly mastered the art of ultracreamy ricotta, which she presses overnight to remove excess liquid, then flavors with aromatics like garlic and rosemary. upnorthricotta.com
Quince paste is a traditional Spanish sweet (dulce de membrillo) made with this ancient fruit, a cousin of the apple and pear. Nan Stefanik discovered the confection on a trip to Spain and, learning that quinces grew well in her home state of Vermont, decided to make it herself. Sliced thinly, it does a sweet-tart do-si-do with most cheeses. etsy.com
Chocolate charcuterie is a vegetarian ganache roll, dusted in cocoa, that’s made to be sliced and enjoyed on a grazing board. Here, almonds and a hint of Hungarian chili pepper elevate the chocolate into something richer, more complex, and fully delicious. It’s just one of several types of chocolate charcuterie made by John Singer and Dar Tavernier-Singer in their Brattleboro shop, along with a full line of truffles, bars, and bonbons. tavernierchocolates.com
New Haven–style pizza, or apizza, is beloved for its long-fermented, charred crust and just-right amount of cheese. Zuppardi’s Apizza, founded in 1932 by Dominic Zuppardi, gives the full apizza experience, even after being frozen and shipped (in packs of six). zuppardisapizza.com; order on goldbelly.com
If lobster rolls are the hit single, lobster pie is the deep cut—but it’s just as yummy. Here, puff pastry blankets ramekins filled with Maine lobster in sherry cream sauce. It’s decadent stuff, and celebration-worthy fare. hancockgourmetlobster.com
Joanne Chang’s mini chain of bakeries is famous for sticky buns, but the chewy, perfectly spiced ginger-molasses cookies deserve their own cult following. This is the kind of treat that leaves you with a vivid taste memory and a craving for more. flourbakery.com
With a classic crust base and a sweet crumble topping, this apple pie is a delicious cross between a crisp and a pie. Michele Stuart’s pies are so good, they also won a Yankee Food Award last year for blueberry pie—not to mention multiple blue ribbons at the National Pie Championship. michelespies.com; order on goldbelly.com
Shopping at Jordan Marsh may be only a memory, but the original muffin recipe lives on at Montilio’s, a family-owned bakery outside Boston. Enormous and sweet with a cakelike interior and a crunchy sugared top, each muffin is crammed with so many blueberries that they turn the batter a lovely shade of lavender. montilios.com