The 2022 Yankee Food Awards | Celebrating 10 Years

A tenth-anniversary celebration of the best New England artisan foods, from Boston cream pie to aged cheddar cheese, all delivered right to your doorstep.

By Amy Traverso

Oct 20 2022


1. BOSTON CREAM PIE Taking the cake in this category? Flour Bakery in Boston, naturally.

The key to the perfect coffee milk, from Little Rhody’s own Dave’s Coffee.

Gray’s Grist Mill: Making New Englanders’ mornings tastier since 1717.

Setting the gold standard at
Vermont-based April’s Maple.

A signature Maine confection done by a
classic Maine confectioner, Bixby Chocolate.

Photo Credit : Adam Detour | Styling by Chantal Lambeth/ Anchor Artists

Welcome to the 10th edition of our annual Food Awards, honoring those who help make New England such a great place to live and eat. This year, we celebrate iconic regional favorites such as aged cheddar cheese, Boston cream pie, maple syrup … even a clambake that you can order by mail. Many would be good to serve at a party; all would be great to send as gifts. Happy holidays!

Boston Cream Pie, Coffee Syrup, Johhnycake Cornmeal, Maple Syrup, and Needhams are just some of the 2022 Yankee Food Awards.

The 2022 Yankee Food Awards 

Boston Cream Pie
Flour Bakery | Boston and Cambridge, MA

Led by beloved Boston pastry chef Joanne Chang, the bakers at Flour turn out so many top-notch sticky buns, cookies, pies, and other baked treats that it’s easy to overlook an icon in their midst: the cake known as Boston cream pie. Though this dessert was invented at Boston’s Omni Parker House hotel, we prefer Chang’s version, with thin layers of sponge and vanilla cream, a subtle soaking of coffee syrup, and chocolate ganache to drizzle over the top. Bravo!

Coffee Syrup
Dave’s Coffee | Charlestown and Providence, RI

Coffee milk is a down-home Rhode Island treat, the flavor of childhood for anyone who grew up between Woonsocket and Weekapaug. So leave it to Dave Lanning, an artisanal coffee roaster (and Little Rhody native), to perfect the form. The syrup begins with Lanning’s own cold-brewed coffee, made from beans his team roasts in Charlestown. Cold brewing extracts more flavor, giving the resulting brew plenty of rich chocolate notes and a nutty toastiness. Then, they add sugar and simmer the liquid down to a thick syrup that turns a glass of cold milk into a sip of heaven.

Johnnycake Cornmeal
Gray’s Grist Mill | Westport, MA

“I have an affinity for old things, and I don’t mind talking to strangers. Those are good qualities in a miller,” says George Whitley, who has been running (and preserving) this 1717 grist mill for five years. Here, he grinds only Rhode Island–grown Whitecap flint corn, whose signature flavor brings to mind the mild tang of buttermilk. “It’s hard as a rock,” Whitley says of the corn, which traces directly back to the varieties grown by the Narragansett, Pequot, and Wampanoag people. “We’re lucky it’s still grown here. It’s never been modified or hybridized. I think it tastes better and richer.” The grist mill’s historic 54-inch granite millstones produce a coarser grind than supermarket cornmeal. This, in turn, gives johnnycakes their signature varied texture. The result is a true taste of place that attracts fans from across the country.

Achieve pancake perfection with johnnycake meal from Gray’s Grist Mill and syrup from April’s Maple, savor the mail-order tastiness of Woodman’s of Essex clams, the tourtiere from Centerville Pie Company, and The Vermont Country Store’s Vermont Common Crackers and Vermont’s wrap star, Cabot Clothbound Cheddar.

Maple Syrup
April’s Maple | Canaan, VT

April Lemay gave up a career in finance to return to the Vermont land where her grandparents first planted roots. With 800 acres in the Northeast Kingdom as her base, Lemay opened April’s Maple, a year-round maple farm with a café (enjoy an all-day breakfast menu, plus maple-barbecue pulled pork, maple bread pudding, and maple creemies) as well as a shop where you can buy richly flavored syrups (our favorite is the Amber grade), maple cream, and maple cotton candy. The April’s Maple motto is “Deep roots make fine syrup.” We couldn’t agree more.

Bixby Chocolate | Rockland, ME

Back when their state was the nation’s potato-growing capital, Maine cooks found countless ways to incorporate spuds into sweets, from doughnuts to chocolate cake to candies. Needhams are the most famous members of the potato-candy family: a mixture of sugar, coconut, and a dash of potato blended together and coated in dark chocolate. As the story goes, Needhams were invented in the candy shop of John Seavey in Auburn around 1872 and named after George Needham, a popular evangelist. Mainers went wild for them, and they remain a local treasure. We love Bixby Chocolate’s version, which is chunkier than usual, rich in coconut flavor, and, most important, sweet without being cloying.

Common Crackers
The Vermont Country Store | Weston and Rockingham, VT

Common crackers—those round, puffed crackers that split so easily down the center—have their origins in hardtack, the indestructible flour-and-water biscuits that once served as ballast for the bellies of sailors far out to sea. Over the 19th century, hardtack evolved into more refined yeasted crackers. In Vermont, they were called “Cross crackers,” owing to their production at the Cross Brothers Bakery in Montpelier from 1828 until 1979. When that bakery closed, The Vermont Country Store stepped in to preserve the tradition. There’s no better partner for good sharp cheddar, no more time-tested way to thicken a chowder. Sold in a retro tin, they are edible nostalgia.

Aged Cheddar Cheese
Cabot Creamery & Jasper Hill Farm | Vermont

The superlative Cabot Clothbound Cheddar is the result of a collaboration between two cheese titans. Using milk from Kempton’s Farm in Peacham, Cabot produces rounds of cheddar, wraps them in cloth (in the English style), and hands them over to Jasper Hill Farm, where they are fussed over and aged for at least 10 months. It’s labor-intensive, and the cheese is priced accordingly. But it’s a worthy splurge: tangy and dense, with wonderful nutty notes and a hint of caramel.;

Clambake Kit
Woodman’s of Essex | Essex, MA

Nothing beats the experience of an authentic clambake on a beach, with the smells of wood smoke and salt air. But for a homesick New Englander, or anyone missing this coastal summer ritual as we head into winter, the clambake kit from Woodman’s—also known as the birthplace of the fried clam—offers a perfect sampler of clambake delights that you can prepare on your stove. There are the ultra-fresh lobsters shipped overnight; Woodman’s famous clam chowder; bags of plump, sweet steamers ready for cooking; potatoes (or sweet corn, in the warmer months); and claw crackers, seafood forks, instructions—even wet naps. We tried several mail-order clambakes for this award, and Woodman’s won handily for both quality and selection.

Centerville Pie Company | Centerville, MA

Oprah may have sung the praises of Centerville Pie Company’s chicken potpie, but we’re also partial to its French meat pie, which is known around these parts as tourtière. Buttery pie crust is filled with ground beef and pork, with warm spices and just enough mashed potato to hold it together. This is a holiday classic for many New Englanders, particularly those with French-Canadian heritage. Here’s a way to enjoy the tradition without the traditional fuss.

Cranberry Relish
Stonewall Kitchen | York, ME

We have no quarrel with canned cranberry sauce, and we’ve made our fair share of the homemade stuff. But for sheer deliciousness and ease, all hail Stonewall’s New England Cranberry Relish, which is packed with mouth-puckering flavor and just the right amount of sweetness, plus hints of orange.