I have a thing for Deirdre Heekin and Caleb Barber. This thing is more like a crush, a serious crush. Well, perhaps it’s more like a rabid fascination with and aspiration for what they are… a sweet couple who cares so much about authentic food and old-fashioned hospitality that they’ve carved a great life for themselves and their guests out of some green hills in Vermont.
I met them about five years ago when I stumbled upon Osteria Pane e Salute, their unique and very special restaurant in Woodstock, Vermont. Their menu elevates Vermont’s local harvest with the techniques of real Italian cooking, skills acquired during their Italian honeymoon and on every return trip since. They’re so into Italy that they now even host adventures there, in conjunction with Garber Travel.
Deirdre and Caleb have written several books. I smile every time I cook from Pane e Salute: Food and Love in Italy and Vermont as it’s this cookbook that introduced me to the story behind my fabulous meal. (They’re “Salmone al Pepe Verde” on page 231 always impresses my guests.) I devoured In Late Winter We Ate Pears, as it’s serious and too charming for words.
And on my bedside table sits the little book titled Libation: A Bitter Alchemy, one that fascinates me as I’m permanently tempted to put my cordial-making skills to work nurturing and bottling my very own wine. Perhaps I will someday, and I’ll have learned a mouthful or two from Deirdre’s treasured experiences that she documents in Libation. Meg Houston Maker recently profiled Deirdre at Palate Press. It’s a beautifully written review of the couple’s growing vineyard called La Garagista, Deirdre’s book and Deirdre in general. Get yourself here to read it.
Why post about Deirdre and Caleb now? I’m reminiscing. I typically visit their special restaurant every Autumn, but missed them this year. They close the restaurant during the month of November. But lucky for me, and those who live near Boston, Massachusetts, the inspired couple will be discussing In Late Winter We Ate Pears at the Andover Bookstore on Wednesday, November 4th. You may have to wait until ski season to dine at their restaurant again, but there’s no need to put off getting their latest books. Their fine words will delight you during these cold upcoming months.
[Photographer Peter Miller shot the above photo for their book jacket. I use it here with respect for Mr. Miller's fine photography skills.]