As autumn descends and the surrounding trees take on the color of an ever-earlier sunset, George Hill Orchards is at its most active. The branches are heavy with ripe apples, the myriad varieties including cortland, northern spy, and empire. Visitors carry these juicy orbs home by the basketful, along with cider donuts and fresh pies. At the petting zoo, calves, llamas, rabbits, and sheep let kids rub their fuzzy heads. A hayride trundles along, maintaining a casual speed so as to not draw the attention of a scarecrow highway patrolman.
A family-run operation, Meat Again has been satisfying carnivorous cravings for more than 30 years. Step into either of its protein palaces and peruse a savory selection that includes more than a dozen varieties of sausage made by the company’s own meat maestros, an array of top-quality cheeses, and a butcherly bounty of steaks and chops. Stuffed pork chops ($5.29/lb.), stuffed chicken breasts ($4.99 each), and marinated steak tips ($8.99/lb.) turn ordinary family dinners into flavor-filled bonding bonanzas. And rib eyes ($15.99/lb.), baby back ribs ($6.29/lb.), and ground sirloin ($3.99/lb.) help tailgating grill gurus prepare for whichever game, boat show, or opera they happen to be attending. A variety of made-from-scratch deli sandwiches and paninis—including a prosciutto-and-fresh-mozzarella option made with olive oil and baby spinach ($6.95)—are ideal for hurried hunger havers, while bulk deli meats and cheeses ($4.99–$8.99/lb.) are available to supply at-home sandwich factories.
Italian immigrants Frank and Mary Napoli began a new life in America in 1898 when they purchased 40 acres of land to harvest vegetables, poultry, and eggs. With their three sons in tow, the Napolis began a pushcart delivery business that evolved into a produce stand dubbed Idylwilde. Nearly 90 years later, that small-town stand has blossomed into a booming grocery business run by a third generation of Napoli brothers. Together, the trio designed the current store, which was built in 1985 from 100 tons of ash and pine and includes a Dutch barn and greenhouse.
From beneath the wood rafters and high ceilings of Idylwilde's store, carts of fresh, seasonal produce such as cape cod cranberries, english peas, and squash glisten under the lights. The deli houses the farm's own freshly made turkey burgers and daily delivered Scottish salmon, as well as Creekstone Farms Black Angus beef and Boar's Head meats. In the bakery, fresh-baked breads and jumbo cookies fill the air with the sweet scent of the hearth. Joining Idylwilde's proprietary stash of goods are items from other well-known vendors, such as Hogan Brothers coffee and Silver Cloud Estates spices, as well as special dietary foods including gluten-free breads. The market also carries an extensive stock of craft beer and wines ready for pairing with gourmet New England cheeses from their enviable pantry.
Fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables fill the shelves of Weepin Willies, a local market that stocks produce and meats at two locations. Shoppers can find high quality cuts of beef, chicken, and pork, or opt for Boar’s Head meats and cheeses and prepared soups, salads, and sandwiches from the deli.
In addition to introducing customers to the intricacies of brewing beer and wine with instructional books and DVDs, Strange Brew can actually train customers in the fine art of making booze from scratch during its monthly in-store classes. During these small-group sessions, brewers divulge the necessary pieces of equipment, explore the core ingredients, discuss their roles in the brewing and fermentation processes, and lead a tasting of the final product. Even when they aren't applying this hands-on approach, the staff excel at helping customers ready their first batch, whether for a party or as a way to make taking a bath more fun. Starter kits for beer and wine include essential tools, such as fermenting and bottling buckets, siphon hoses, and hydrometers. To help customers fill these components with the requisite ingredients, a range of basic and specialized recipe kits feature pre-measured selections of hops and malts or juices and yeasts. Other kits are suited to more specialty brewing projects, such as mead or sake. For the more serious craft-brewers, Strange Brew also carries heavy-duty stainless-steel instruments by Blichmann.
Through open-water certifications and more specialized SSI scuba-diving courses at Northeast Scuba, aquatic wanderers of all experience levels explore New England waters and marine life. Their certified instructors often begin with introductory courses to immerse newcomers in the sport and give them the skills to nap in the bathtub. Specialty courses, such as wreck diving, night diving, and underwater photography, further immerse certified students in local underwater worlds. For those interested in teaching, the school also provides instructor training to SSI, TDI, and Shamu standards.
In addition to regular classes, dive instructors also organize group diving trips to local sites and far-flung waters, where on-staff underwater photographers document dives. Dive-shop staff members also rent or sell the requisite equipment for a range of underwater excursions from manufacturers such as DUI, Henderson, Akona, and Fourth Element and also repair and maintain components.