Winter Wonders

Warm up to winter with these shopping and dining tips from a Litchfield County insider

In Litchfield County, winter’s presence is all around us, from windswept fields to icy streams. No matter the season or weather, the Gorrivan family doesn’t miss a weekend in CT. There is so much to see and do, whether it’s skiing at Mohawk Mountain, enjoying a hearty meal in one of the county’s many restaurants or sitting around a roaring fire playing iPad Scrabble.

> R. Derwin Clothiers, on the green in Litchfield, is the perfect destination for those in pursuit of all things preppy and warm. Check out the colorful range of cable knit cashmere sweaters, Barbour coats and accessories, and all things tartan: shirts, wool ties and other accessories. Their cashmere sweaters are my weekend staple! R. Derwin Clothiers, 43 West Street, Litchfield, (860) 567-0100 (men’s store), (860) 567-4095 (women’s store),

If you’re looking for high-tech apparel versus cashmere cable knits, try Washington Sports in Washington Depot. Owned by Blane Withers (who also owns Green Hill, the home furnishings store next door), Washington Sports supplies gear and apparel for the weekend warrior in all of us. Don’t miss the Minus33 base-layer long johns, Victorinox heavy-gauge knits and Kuhl merino wool pants and sweaters. It also has a nice selection of sports items, including snowshoes. Washington Sports, 6 Green Hill Road, Washington Depot, (860) 868-1050.

> For children’s apparel, stop by The Firehouse in New Preston. On the second floor of this well-known clothier is an irresistible collection for kids, called “baby and bigger.” It’s stocked with clothing and accessories that are both sophisticated and practical. Additionally, they sell stroller blankets that are hand-loomed in Peru, plus handmade wooden toys and rag dolls. The Firehouse, 15 East Shore Road, New Preston, (860) 868-6838.

> Belgique Chocolatier in Kent has hands down the best hot chocolate in Litchfield County. I always look forward to taking my son to his hockey games when they are at the nearby Kent school, so that we can both enjoy some hot chocolate and a brioche afterward. Situated in a 19th-century yellow carriage house in the center of town, Belgique also sells handmade truffles, cakes and tarts. Absolutely heaven! Belgique Chocolatier, 1 Bridge Street, Kent, (860) 927-3681.

For those of you who are tea aficionados, you must visit Chaiwalla in Salisbury. A unique destination featuring ongoing art exhibits, this is a warm and cozy place to go on a chilly day. While you are having your hot Chai or Sencha, you might spot any number of Salisbury’s celebs, including Meryl Streep. Chaiwalla, 1 Main Street, Salisbury, (860) 435-9758.

> Knitting seems to be a re-emerging trend these days, as evidenced by my 11-year-old daughter presenting a skein of gray yarn and knitting needles the other evening, explaining that she was knitting me a scarf. The Village Sheep Shop in Washington Depot is a great source for the finest yarns, needles and patterns. According to many of my knitting friends, it’s the best place to go for yarns in the county. There’s nothing nicer than receiving something hand-knitted—maybe I’ll even try a purl or two! The Village Sheep Shop, 2 Green Hill Road, Washington Depot, (860) 868-9276,

Situated on Route 67 in Roxbury, Mamies is a true local secret. I almost feel guilty sharing it. Mamie Keys, with the help of her son, opened Mamie’s kitchen a few years ago and has established something of a cult following. From apple, chocolate and blueberry pancakes for breakfast to pulled-pork sandwiches for lunch or veal meatballs for dinner, everything has a true homemade quality, and it’s always a full house. We especially enjoy a Saturday lunch with friends at Mamies. Since there are only a half dozen tables, a reservation is a must. Mamies, 162 Baker Road, Route 67, Roxbury, (860) 210-0618,

With wonders like these in your backyard, staying warm and enjoying a New England winter has never been easier. I wish you all the best in 2011!