1335 Boston Post Road
Guilford, CT 06437
Down at the Connecticut shore, the “Big Apple” refers to the giant red piece of fruit perched atop the large sign at Bishop’s Orchards on the Boston Post Road in Guilford. For more than 140 years, the Bishop family has been growing, picking and making pies from the fresh fruit grown in its orchards. While there are peaches and blueberries galore, and all other kinds of fresh produce and products made from such in the bakery, winery and farm market – in the fall it is the apples that people come for – and the pies made from them.
Those apples and pies, however, are available year round, thanks to Bishop Orchards’ special “Crisp Air” controlled atmosphere system. As the Bishop family proudly explains, this “keeps our apples as fresh as the day they are picked.” They are “so fresh,” adds a Bishop family spokesman, that the apples “are available in our store from August through June.” Said apples are also used to make not only the signature pies, but also the family’s famous cider.
188 Leavenworth Road
Shelton, CT 06484
Despite the rather fancy “Bakery and Boutique” half of Oronoque Farms’ title, this little gem of a place began as a roadside farm stand in Stratford just after World War II. The original motto of “quality is our most precious ingredient” still stands, for at Oronoque Farms, the heirs to founders Betty Winton and her sister-in-law Jeanette still make pies the old-fashioned way: one at a time, with hand-rolled flaky crusts and apples and other fruits from their own and local orchards.
There are always apple (and apple crumb) pies available, including a sugar-free variety. They can be had fresh, frozen or unbaked and ready to pop in the oven. Oronoque Farms kindly distributes precise instructions as to how to properly bake the $12.99 pies – which come not just in apple but in at least a dozen other year-round and nearly as many seasonal varieties, none of which cost more than $14.99.
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Lyman Orchards Apple Barrel Market
32 Reeds Gap Road
Middlefield, CT 06455
Lyman Orchards’ hill-top apple pie has won many awards – and deserves every one of them. It contains more than two pounds of fresh apples and is still made by hand. Even better, the fruit is “eco-certified,” as “we grow Eco Apples by combining old-fashioned agricultural methods with leading edge techniques” that make them “leaders in ecological orchard care.”
Lyman Orchards knows all about “orchard care” and being “old-fashioned,” as it has been around since colonial times (1741). While Lyman has grown into something of an empire, with a golf club, golf center, homestead and market, it sponsors many charity events and gives back to the community in other ways (most recently, by donating $1 from each of its “Red, White and Blue” pies to the Wounded Warrior Project). Although the pies are available in Big Y, those picked up fresh from the market in Middlefield just can’t be beat.
666 Main Ave.
Norwalk, CT 06851
While it is nice to have a farm or orchard, old-fashioned bake shops also know how to make fantastic pies – and Michele’s in Westport is one such delightful place to find luscious old-school apple pie.
Michele Stuart (her married name) and husband David have a wonderful shop and a faithful clientele who swarm the store for the sweet, savory and cream pies. The street address, 666, may be seen as a biblical warning by some, but if so, it is because Michele, David and their bakers make devilishly good apple pie (as well as a lengthy list of other pies, cakes, breads and everything else a good bakery has in its glass cases).
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Granny’s Pie Factory
103 School St.
East Hartford, CT 06018
The philosophy behind Granny’s Pie Factory in East Hartford is simple: “our job is to make sure that each and every thing that goes into the product is something that we ourselves would eat. This is our commitment to quality: these are pies we would prepare for ourselves and our family.”
Joan and Anton Harovas (and now, son Nikos) still stand by that pledge, as they have since opening Granny’s seven years ago. They make over 50 kinds of pie – but of course, all pie shops are judged by their apple pie. Theirs is so good that not only do they sell it in the shop; they also make it available to fundraising organizations. The list of customers has grown to include local markets and restaurants, but nothing beats a fresh-baked pie (especially apple) made by one of the Harovas family – especially Anton, who has been baking pies for a living for over 30 years.
Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at Examiner.com.