Natural Vermont Wines, Good Friends, and Small Plates at a Great Restaurant — an Evening in Providence, RI

Another online notice — this one on Instagram — alerted me a few weeks ago to an event on a Monday night in Providence, RI.  If you don’t know the geography of New England, you might think that another state is some distance away.  But it’s no big deal; in this case, 60 miles, about an hour’s drive.  So I chose to go down there for dinner and stay overnight, since I had a meeting the next day close to Providence with a graduate student advisee, who was making a final presentation to her management on the Capstone project to complete her Master’s degree in Engineering Management.

The evening event featured Deirdre Heekin and her husband, Caleb Barber.  This remarkable couple have a farm in central Vermont, and they make some of the most amazing and unusual natural wines — mostly from Alpine grapes — in an area of New England where the winter temperatures drop to -30º F.   The farm and winery are called la garagista.  Also see here.

They had an excellent restaurant in Woodstock, VT, for 20 years, which they recently closed, so they could concentrate on their other endeavors.  Barbara and I had a 50th anniversary dinner there two years ago, which we enjoyed immensely.  That was also where we learned about Caleb’s thinly-sliced orange and black olive pizzas — but that’s another story.

Dinner and the tasting was at Oberlin, a small but dynamic place in the heart of the city.  The menu features a number of inventive small plates (which I usually adore), and they were a great match for the wines, which included three pre-release labels —  a real treat.

I got a warm greeting from my friends, tasted everything, and reveled in four dishes:

  • Scup Crudo (also named Porgy outside of RI)
  • Grilled Shishito Peppers with tofu and chili
  • House-made Local Grain Sourdough Bread, Roasted Garlic, Olive Oil
  • Chitarra Cacio e Pepe (no photo)

For the wine, I settled on the 2016 Harlots and Ruffians white blend – yet to be released.  Delicious!

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