Winter 2006

Litchfield, CT --
Contact: Janet L. Serra
Ph: 800-663-1273
Email: lhcvbnwct@aol.com
For Immediate Release

From gingerbread houses to gourmet hams to unique holiday desserts, the Litchfield Hills of Northwest Connecticut is prime holiday shopping territory for food lovers. This scenic region specializes in unique homemade and hand-made products guaranteed to make the season a delicious one. Gift ideas for food lovers also abound.

The treats begin in Middlebury where the 39th annual edible and portable Gingerbread Village is on display at St. George's Church on Tucker Hills Road from December 2nd to 9th . Each year, a completely new and freshly baked gingerbread village is created with more than 50 buildings forming a holiday fantasy. Best of all, everything is for sale, providing a perfect holiday centerpiece to take home. Hours are Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 pm., Sunday, noon to 9 pm., and Monday to Friday, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. �9 p.m. Phone: 203-758-9864

To greet holiday guests with unique cheeses, visit a mother-daughter duo, Joan and Terri Lamothe, at Rustling Winds Creamery and Stables in Falls Village (860-824-7084). The two women milk two cows and anywhere from five to fifteen goats daily to produce their trademark aged English-style Cheshire cheese and Canaan Mountain Goat Milk Cheese. No preservatives or additives are used. Visitors to the farm can also buy hand-spun, hand-knitted sweaters, along with goat milk soap.

For the main course, head for Nodine's Smokehouse (www.nodinesmokehouse.com or 800-222-2059), a familiar name in the best gourmet markets. The Nodines, Ronald, Johanne and son Calvin, specialize in the finest lightly smoked meats, poultry, fish and cheese. This family business has outgrown the original smokehouse and moved to a larger facility in nearby Torrington, but the retail store remains in a remodeled dairy barn in Goshen. For holiday entertaining, Nodine's offers choice whole and half woodland hams and ready to serve boneless sliced country ham. They also recommend their apple-smoked boneless pork loin, fully cooked and ready to heat and serve. The shop also is stocked with a wide range of gift food packages.

New Morning Store in Woodbury (203-263-4868; www.newmorn.com) is headquarters for those who seek organic, hormone-free poultry and meats. A Healthy Holiday cooking class is being held on Nov. 18th and food samplings are offered in November and December to make healthy holiday planning easy.

Time for dessert? Blaine and Deanna Matthews have not wavered from their time-honored family recipe since they began baking fruitcakes in the kitchen of their white clapboard farmhouse in Cornwall Bridge back in 1979. The offerings have expanded, however, at Matthews 1812 House (800-662-1812; www.matthews1812house.com). Christmas suggestions this year feature fruitcakes as well as lemon rum cakes, marzipan cakes, and cafe mocha cakes. The Matthews have been featured on the Food Network.

Maria Sanchez is another baking star that has appeared on the Food Network as well as in the Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Cookie issue. This year her cookies were once again, voted "best in the state" by Connecticut Magazine readers. At her shop, Sweet-Maria's (203-755-3804; www.sweet-marias.com.), a Waterbury favorite since 1990, there are over 25 flavors of cookies and biscotti along with delectable cakes. One of Maria's December specials is an Egg Nog Cake. Other holiday cake favorites include chocolate cranberry, cranberry pear, coffee hazelnut, white chocolate ginger cake, and cheesecakes in special flavors such as pumpkin, cranberry-walnut, and espresso.

The Dutch Epicure Shop in Litchfield (860-567-5586; www.dutchepicure.com), specializes in importing the best foods, chocolates and cheeses from proprietor Betsy Joas' native Holland, plus some German specialties from her husband Wolfgang's homeland. Daughter Wilma has joined them in this family business that began in 1967. The family does their own European-style baking. Their Christmas stolen, made with currants, raisins and citrus peel, is a holiday treat.

Chocolate fanatics should make haste to Belgique Patisserie and Chocolatier in Kent, CT (860-927-3681). A charming Victorian carriage house is the setting for this Belgian-owned shop where delectable fresh Belgian chocolates are made on site. Belgique also offers exquisite European desserts, baguettes, and breads. A chance to taste the authentic Belgian hot chocolate alone makes this a stop not to be missed.

The Kent Coffee and Chocolate Company (860-927-1445; www.kentcoffee.com), is also known for their hot chocolate, which Outdoor Magazine called the best in Connecticut. The shop sells over 100 kinds of coffees and teas and hand-dipped chocolate truffles guaranteed to finish a holiday feast in style.

For more information on local foods and holiday activities and a free copy of UNWIND, a 112-page color guide to lodging and dining and other regional attractions in the Litchfield Hills of Northwest Connecticut, contact the Northwest CT Convention and Visitors Bureau, PO Box 968, Litchfield CT 06759-0968, 800-663-1273 or check the Internet at www.litchfieldhills.com.