At Curds & Whey, gourmet gurus who specialize in hard-to-find European cheeses lead guests through artisanal and imported treats, dishing out samples in the ivory-hued tasting room. Aged manchego ($24/lb.) and vintage gouda ($17.50) complete wine-pairing parties or dairy sculptures of King George, and splashes of olive oil infused with sun-dried tomato, parmesan, and garlic ($18) accent favorite Italian dishes. For a tangy taste, vinegars such as the traditional 18-year-old balsamic ($18) pour over salads. An assortment of crackers ($5.95–$8.95) and fresh breads ($4–$6.50) delivered daily wait eagerly to host sumptuous toppings, and holiday shoppers can purchase wooden boxes stuffed with an assortment of cheeses for their best friends or favorite mirror reflections.
Stillanos Pikos has gone from watching stock prices fall on Wall Street to watching cakes rise in the ovens at Fusion Bakery & Patisserie. The bakery owner—who is originally from the Greek island of Rhodes—found his original career in finance to be less than fulfilling. After resisting the urge to follow in the footsteps of his family's food business, Pikos decided to enroll in the Connecticut Culinary School. He worked at an exclusive hotel restaurant before assisting friends with their bakeries, which gave rise to the development of Fusion Bakery & Patisserie. Jeff Mill of The Middletown Press notes that the name represents "a combination of European and American desserts,” and that the establishment "is a throwback to a time not so long ago when every town had a bakery, and often more than one."
Pikos and fellow pastry chef Jen McGuinness bake cinnamon rolls, brownies, danishes, baklava, and scones from scratch every morning. They prepare decadent wedding and specialty cakes, including The Very Best Carrot Cake with cream-cheese frosting and optional nuts. As reported by Cassandra Day of Middletown Patch, the bakery ran a "Where's Ginger?" holiday promotion in which patrons guessed the location of a gingerbread man shown in photos around town to win a free pound of cookies and a year of icing-based vinyl siding repairs.
The Sassi family recipe has served as the foundation for Pizzeria DaVinci's specialty pies for years. Today, at eleven different DaVinci locations, the thin-crust dough is still made fresh daily and baked on hot stones. Customers can dress their pizza in red or white sauce and toppings, such as meatballs, caramelized onions, and roasted garlic. Or they can opt for a specialty creation, such as the baked-potato pizza, which features sliced red potatoes, bacon, mozzarella, and sour cream, or the DaVinci specialty white pizza with spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic, feta cheese, and spices.
Tempting as it is, wearing a pair of Tschudin Chocolates' high heels on the town wouldn't be a very good idea. That's because the footwear is an example of the custom chocolate sculptures the shop regularly makes for birthdays, weddings, and other special events. Yet Tschudin's chocolatiers don't craft every treat on such a grand scale. Using their stone-ground chocolate and local ingredients such as honey and herbs, they hand-make a rotating lineup of bonbons, truffles, ganaches, and caramels. And that handmade ethos extends into their cakes and desserts as well.
Rather than hiding their techniques from the world by only working in a vault, Tschudin's chocolatiers invite guests to witness their process firsthand during classes. These behind-the-scenes peeks reveal how the team shapes its treats. Tschudin's experts even conduct chocolate-making classes for those struck with inspiration, allowing students to temper and create their own treats.