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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.
Orange, (800) 435-3285 (juliasbakery.com)
You may not realize that babka, which originated in Eastern/Central Europe, actually comes in two variations: one made according to Christian tradition; the other Jewish. Julia’s are somewhere in between: Topped with streusel Jewish-style, but otherwise more in the Christian mode—tall, delicate, yeast-risen, reminiscent of angel cakes (baked in a similar pan), once upon a time fruit-filled but now made in cheese and chocolate flavors as well. Perhaps there’s little need to care about the source when the outcome is this melt-in-your-mouth delicious; especially the chocolate babka, ribboned with rich icing. You can get it in cinnamon, cheese, raspberry cheese and apple raisin, too—but keep in mind babka is a special- occasion cake, so look for it only on weekends or order ahead.
SoNo Baking Company
South Norwalk, (203) 847-SONO (sonobaking.com)
CIA-trained John Barricelli (of TV’s “Everyday Food”) has run this slice of bakery heaven since 2005, and continues to dazzle. We’d walk a country mile for his simple cheesecake, but also love his chocolate ganache cake, pretty-as-a-picture raspberry-pistachio and blueberry tartlets, seasonal fruit galettes, croissants and breads. Come for breakfast, lunch (there are savories too) or tea, settle into an indoor or oudoor cafe table and you’ll quickly discover . . . how sweet it is.
Ami’s Hot Bagels
Waterbury, (203) 596-9020
To do one thing, and to do it exceptionally well, seems to be the driving idea behind Ami’s, where bagels are pretty much it. Visit this hole-in-the-wall shop on any morning—there’s a busy little bagel-making area in back and, in front, a tiny counter facing a wall of 14 different wire bins full of big, crusty/chewy bagels in sesame, rye, poppy, cinnamon raisin, salt, blueberry and so on. Biting into a fresh one hot from the oven, you may find yourself saying, “Here is all I really require of life.”
With a view
Kitchen Little, Mystic, (860) 536-2122 (kitchenlittle.org)
Kitchen Little is about as wee as it gets. On really busy days, it bursts at the seams like one of those circus clown cars, but the views Mystic River-side from its outdoor patio-cum-rock garden—giving a.m. noshers a smashing look at Mystic Seaport, too—are well worth any elbow-to-elbow discomfort. A primo occasion to convene here is the Seaport’s annual Antique and Classic Boat Rendezvous in June, but really, any time is right for signature dishes like the Portuguese Fisherman—chouriço and linguiça sausage scrambled with the kitchen’s cage-free eggs, peppers, onions and jalapeño cheese.
Patty’s Restaurant, Litchfield, (860) 567-3335
What weekend morning in the fall would not be improved by an apple-and-sausage omelet at Patty’s? Or for that matter, what morning at any time of year would not be improved merely by walking into Patty’s, where the tables and booths are occupied by happy diners, the waitstaff bustles efficiently and the aromas of coffee, toast, bacon and other savories mingle harmoniously?
City Limits, Stamford, (203) 348-7000 (citylimitsdiner.com).
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially at this superdiner right off I-95 on the Greenwich line, where it’s served from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, till 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The menu runs from the Light Omelet, with egg whites, mushrooms, chives, broccoli and tomato, to the house-smoked salmon platter to the Surf and Turf, New York strip with Maryland lump crab-lobster cake and eggs over easy. If you think of breakfast as early dessert, try the lemon-orange waffle or raisin-currant challah French toast. Anything with a bread or pastry component is sure to please with CIA-trained pastry chef Tracy Kamperdyk Assue in the kitchen.
The Corner, Milford, (203) 882-1150
We really have only one word for you: Trio. That’s a weekend brunch special at this downtown nook, consisting of two slices of stuffed French toast (typically strawberry-banana and apple-raisin), which frame a square of homemade tres leches cake topped with strawberries and whipped cream. Divine decadence to the nth power. We’re also glad that The Corner is decorated with so many adorable turn-of-the-20th-century antiques and curios—they allow us to imagine we live in a time when no one talks about obesity, cholesterol and arterial plaque.
Chips, Orange, (203) 795-5065 (chipsrest.com)
Break from plain old buttermilk pancakes (though Chips’ are made from a secret recipe) and try a new type of flapjack from the menu here. Perhaps Coconut Crunch (with chocolate chips, coconut shreds, and almonds)? Or banana with butterscotch chips? Chips’ 30 selections also include Cinnamon Raisin, Bacon, Sweet Potato and White Chocolate Rendezvous (with macadamia nuts and fresh strawberries). These are some of the lightest pancakes around, which means you may even have room for seconds.
Leo’s, Southbury, (203) 264-9190, and Middlebury, (203) 598-0166
Leo’s serves up scrumptious breakfast fare for hearty appetites, and their waffles steal the show. You’ll go nuts for the “Wheel of Fortune”—a Belgian waffle topped with fresh strawberries, bananas, kiwis, raspberry cream sauce and whipped cream. That’s what we call a good morning.