Chelsea Green Publishing

Libation, A Bitter Alchemy

eBook: 9781603582254
Pub. Date June 02, 2009

Libation, A Bitter Alchemy

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
June 02, 2009

$25.00 $20.00

For many years, Deirdre Heekin has been creating an unusual, revitalist wine archive of rare and traditional Italian varietals at Osteria Pane e Salute, the nationally celebrated restaurant and wine bar she shares with her chef husband, Caleb Barber. Self-taught in the world of Italian wines, she is known for her fine-tuned work with scent and taste and her ability to pair wines and food in unexpected yet terroir-driven ways.

In Libation, a Bitter Alchemy, a series of linked personal essays, Heekin explores the curious development of her nose and palate, her intuitive education and relationship with wine and spirits, and her arduous attempts to make liqueurs and wine from the fruits of her own land in northern New England. The essays follow her as she unearths ruby-toned wines given up by the ghosts of long-gone wine makers from the red soil of Italy, her adoptive land; as she embarks on a complicated pilgrimage to the home of one of the world's oldest cocktails, Sazerac, in Katrina-soaked New Orleans; as she attempts a midsummer crafting of a brandy made from inherited roses, the results of an old Sicilian recipe she found in a dusty bookstore in Naples.

Musing on spirits from Campari to alkermes, Heekin's writing is as intoxicating, rich, and carefully crafted as the wines, liquors, and locales she loves.


"Deirdre Heekin sets a bountiful table for her readers. Libation is like the best of meals, in this case one with plates full of delicious memories and ruminations on passion and curiosity. And, finally and most importantly, there is a most satisfying dollop of love, a fine dessert which leaves us with an almost unimaginably sweet regard for life."--Neal I. Rosenthal, author of Reflections of a Wine Merchant

"There will be obvious comparisons between Deirdre Heekin's thoughtful observations, musings, and distillations of Italian culture and those of other writers of expatriate life under the Tuscan sun, clouds and beyond, but Heekin incorporates an entirely other essence largely overlooked in that genre: the alchemy that fuels all of those glorious meals and recipes she recounts, not only in Italy, but Vermont, Paris, New Orleans, and Belfast. From jug wines to Brunello, rosolio to Campari, Sazeracs to Murphy's Irish Whisky (neat, please!), Heekin rightly discovers along the way that the true recipe for great alchemy demands the magic of memory, and all the wonderment and discovery that come with it."--Anthony Giglio, author of FOOD & WINE's Wine Guide 2009 and 2010, Cocktails in New York, and several Mr. Boston Official Bartender's Guides

"The combination of travel, the alchemy of liqueurs, and her sheer joie de vivre make Heekin's book as delicious, intriguing, and warming as any of the recipes she pursues."--Joseph Olshan, author of The Conversion

"The alchemy of Deirdre Heekin's beautifully evocative memoir, her libation in tribute to the art of making wine, spirits, and other 'waters of life,' is not only the alchemy of grapes as they ferment, or that of an American couple falling in love with French and Italian cordials and spirits, or that of the pungent taste of liqueurs, whiskeys, and eaux de vie remembered on snowy Vermont evenings with such intensity that fervent, joyful, sun-filled memories of love, friendship, pleasure, and bliss come alive. It is also the alchemy of a prose transformed into a spirited and intoxicating poetry."--Richard Stamelman, author of Perfume: Joy, Obsession, Scandal, Sin; A Cultural History of Fragrance


Deirdre Heekin

Deirdre Heekin is the author of An Unlikely Vineyard. She is the proprietor and wine director of Osteria Pane e Salute, an acclaimed restaurant and wine bar in Woodstock, Vermont. Heekin and her husband and head chef, Caleb Barber, are the authors of In Late Winter We Ate Pears (Chelsea Green, 2009), and she is also the author of Libation: A Bitter Alchemy (Chelsea Green, 2009) and Pane e Salute (Invisible Cities Press, 2002). Heekin and her husband live on a small farm in Vermont, where they grow both the vegetables for their restaurant and natural wines and ciders for their la garagista label.


In Late Winter We Ate Pears

In Late Winter We Ate Pears

By Deirdre Heekin and Caleb Barber

More than a cookbook, In Late Winter We Ate Pears is a love affair with a culture and a way of life. In vignettes taken from their year in Italy, husband and wife Caleb Barber and Deirdre Heekin offer glimpses of a young, vibrant Italy: of rolling out pizza dough in an ancient hilltown at midnight while wild dogs bay in the abandoned streets; of the fogged car windows of an ancient lovers' lane amid the olive groves outside Prato.

The recipes in In Late Winter We Ate Pears are every bit as delicious as the memories. Selections such as red snapper with fennel sauce, fresh figs with balsamic vinegar and mint, and frangipane and plum tart capture the essence of Italy. Following the tradition of Italian cuisine, the 80 recipes are laid out according to season, to suggest taking advantage of your freshest local ingredients.

Whether you are an experienced cook looking for authentic Italian recipes or a beginner wanting to immerse yourself in the romance of a young couple's culinary adventure, In Late Winter We Ate Pears provides rich sustenance in the best tradition of travel and food writing.

Cheers to Chef Barber and writer Deirdre Heekin for sharing these marvelous recipes from Osteria Pane e Salute (Pane translates as bread and Salute as health) and for sharing the story of a most inspired year spent in Italy. In Late Winter We Ate Pears is a testament that bread and health are the things that make a good life.

Available in: eBook

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In Late Winter We Ate Pears

Deirdre Heekin, Caleb Barber, Rowan Jacobsen

eBook $25.00

An Unlikely Vineyard

An Unlikely Vineyard

By Deirdre Heekin

An Unlikely Vineyard tells the evolutionary story of Deirdre Heekin’s farm from overgrown fields to a fertile, productive, and beautiful landscape that melds with its natural environment.

Is it possible to capture landscape in a bottle? To express its terroir, its essence of place—geology, geography, climate, and soil—as well as the skill of the winegrower?

That’s what Heekin and her chef/husband, Caleb Barber, set out to accomplish on their tiny, eight-acre hillside farm and vineyard in Vermont.

But An Unlikely Vineyard involves much more. It also presents, through the example of their farming journey and winegrowing endeavors, an impressive amount of information on how to think about almost every aspect of gardening: from composting to trellising; from cider and perry making to growing old garden roses, keeping bees, and raising livestock; from pruning (or not) to dealing naturally with pests and diseases.

Challenged by cold winters, wet summers, and other factors, Deirdre and Caleb set about to grow not only a vineyard, but an orchard of heirloom apples, pears, and plums, as well as gardens filled with vegetables, herbs, roses, and wildflowers destined for their own table and for the kitchen of their small restaurant. They wanted to create, or rediscover, a sense of place, and to grow food naturally using the philosophy and techniques gleaned from organic gardening, permaculture, and biodynamic farming.

Accompanied throughout by lush photos, this gentle narrative will appeal to anyone who loves food, farms, and living well.

Available in: Hardcover, eBook

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An Unlikely Vineyard

Deirdre Heekin, Alice Feiring

Hardcover $35.00


Holiday Cocktail Camp

A public reading by Deirdre Heekin, author of Libation, A Bitter Alchemy

Caleb Barber and Deirdre Heekin Discuss Slow Food Heirloom Recipes from Italy

Deirdre Heekin discusses her path to writing Libation

Caleb Barber and Deirdre Heekin Discuss Slow Food Heirloom Recipes from Italy - Full Version


The Alternative Kitchen Garden

The Alternative Kitchen Garden

By Emma Cooper

The Alternative Kitchen Garden is an evolving idea of what a kitchen garden could be in the twenty-first century: organic, environmentally sustainable, resilient, and about localizing at least some of our food production. It’s also a place not only for learning and practicing growing skills but also for enjoying ourselves and having fun. The Alternative Kitchen Garden is the ideal companion for anyone getting dirt under their fingernails for the first time and full of fascinating ideas and experiments for the adventurous gardener.

A self-confessed “cyber geek,” Emma documents the transformation of her “ropey old lawn with potholes and brambles” into a fertile and abundant permaculture plot via Internet radio and a popular blog site. Eight years of her postings and stories have been collected in here, illustrated with beautiful color photographs and arranged into easily accessible alphabetical order. The Alternative Kitchen Garden: An A-Z covers subjects as diverse as growing achocha (a forgotten Incan crop) to zucchinis. Emma’s style, is light and friendly, yet at the same time informative and based on personal experience—you feel you could actually be sitting in the garden chatting face to face as she shares her knowledge and experience.

Available in: Paperback

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The Alternative Kitchen Garden

Emma Cooper, Mark Diacono

Paperback $27.95

The Art of Natural Cheesemaking

The Art of Natural Cheesemaking

By David Asher

Including more than 35 step-by-step recipes from the Black Sheep School of Cheesemaking

Most DIY cheesemaking books are hard to follow, complicated, and confusing, and call for the use of packaged freeze-dried cultures, chemical additives, and expensive cheesemaking equipment. For though bread baking has its sourdough, brewing its lambic ales, and pickling its wild fermentation, standard Western cheesemaking practice today is decidedly unnatural. In The Art of Natural Cheesemaking, David Asher practices and preaches a traditional, but increasingly countercultural, way of making cheese—one that is natural and intuitive, grounded in ecological principles and biological science.

This book encourages home and small-scale commercial cheesemakers to take a different approach by showing them:

•    How to source good milk, including raw milk;

•    How to keep their own bacterial starter cultures and fungal ripening cultures;

•    How make their own rennet—and how to make good cheese without it;

•    How to avoid the use of plastic equipment and chemical additives; and

•    How to use appropriate technologies.

Introductory chapters explore and explain the basic elements of cheese: milk, cultures, rennet, salt, tools, and the cheese cave. The fourteen chapters that follow each examine a particular class of cheese, from kefir and paneer to washed-rind and alpine styles, offering specific recipes and handling advice. The techniques presented are direct and thorough, fully illustrated with hand-drawn diagrams and triptych photos that show the transformation of cheeses in a comparative and dynamic fashion.

The Art of Natural Cheesemaking is the first cheesemaking book to take a political stance against Big Dairy and to criticize both standard industrial and artisanal cheesemaking practices. It promotes the use of ethical animal rennet and protests the use of laboratory-grown freeze-dried cultures. It also explores how GMO technology is creeping into our cheese and the steps we can take to stop it.

This book sounds a clarion call to cheesemakers to adopt more natural, sustainable practices. It may well change the way we look at cheese, and how we make it ourselves.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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The Art of Natural Cheesemaking

Sandor Ellix Katz, David Asher

Paperback $34.95

The Sandor Katz Fermentation Set (Books & DVD Bundle)

The Sandor Katz Fermentation Set (Books & DVD Bundle)

By Sandor Ellix Katz

This set combines Sandor Ellix Katz's two classic books on fermentation with a DVD of one of his popular fermentation workshops.

Bread. Cheese. Wine. Beer. Coffee. Chocolate. Most people consume fermented foods and drinks every day. For thousands of years, humans have enjoyed the distinctive flavors and nutrition resulting from the transformative power of microscopic bacteria and fungi. Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods is the first cookbook to widely explore the culinary magic of fermentation, and is the perfect book to get you started on your own delicious ferments.




Once you've gotten excited about sauerkraut and enthused about homebrews, take your practice to the next level with Katz's latest book. The Art of Fermentation goes beyond recipes to teach the concepts and processes behind fermentation in ways that are simple enough to guide a reader through their first experience making sauerkraut or yogurt, and in-depth enough to provide greater understanding and insight for experienced practitioners. It is, quite simply, the most comprehensive guide to do-it-yourself home fermentation ever published.



Sandor Katz's enthusiasm comes through in his writing, but there's nothing like learning from a master in person. You might not be able to hop a plane to Tennessee for one of Katz's workshop, but the final piece of this fermentation bundle is the perfect substitute. In the Fermentation Workshop with Sandor Katz DVD, Katz offers fermentation beginners and enthusiasts a chance to “sit in” on one of his popular workshops and learn through hands-on demonstration and instruction, accompanied by an interview on the benefits of fermentation, and social implications as it relates to food security. Watch the trailer:


Available in: Mixed media product

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The Sandor Katz Fermentation Set (Books & DVD Bundle)

Sandor Ellix Katz

Mixed media product $99.90

Slow Wine 2014

Slow Wine 2014

For the third year running, Slow Food International offers an English-language edition of their guide to Italian wines whose qualities extend well beyond the palate. Slow Wine 2014 doesn’t simply select and review Italy’s finest bottles. It describes what’s in the glass, but it also tells you what’s behind it: namely the work, the aims, and the passion of producers; their bond with the land; and their choice of cultivation and cellar techniques—favoring the ones who implement ecologically sustainable winegrowing and winemaking practices. An essential guide for armchair oenophiles and better still for those who get out of that chair once in a while: over half the producers listed will offer a discount of at least 10% to anyone who visits them with a copy of Slow Wine in hand.

Available in: Paperback

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Slow Wine 2014