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

Read More

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

Read More

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


Make Mead Like a Viking

Make Mead Like a Viking

By Jereme Zimmerman

A complete guide to using the best ingredients and minimal equipment to create fun and flavorful brews

Ancient societies brewed flavorful and healing meads, ales, and wines for millennia using only intuition, storytelling, and knowledge passed down through generations—no fancy, expensive equipment or degrees in chemistry needed. In Make Mead Like a Viking, homesteader, fermentation enthusiast, and self-described “Appalachian Yeti Viking” Jereme Zimmerman summons the bryggjemann of the ancient Norse to demonstrate how homebrewing mead—arguably the world’s oldest fermented alcoholic beverage—can be not only uncomplicated but fun.

Armed with wild-yeast-bearing totem sticks, readers will learn techniques for brewing sweet, semi-sweet, and dry meads, melomels (fruit meads), metheglins (spiced meads), Ethiopian t’ej, flower and herbal meads, braggots, honey beers, country wines, and even Viking grog, opening the Mead Hall doors to further experimentation in fermentation and flavor. In addition, aspiring Vikings will explore:

•    The importance of local and unpasteurized honey for both flavor and health benefits;

•    Why modern homebrewing practices, materials, and chemicals work but aren’t necessary;

•    How to grow and harvest herbs and collect wild botanicals for use in healing, nutritious, and magical meads, beers, and wines;

•    Hops’ recent monopoly as a primary brewing ingredient and how to use botanicals other than hops for flavoring and preserving mead, ancient ales, and gruits; 

•    The rituals, mysticism, and communion with nature that were integral components of ancient brewing and can be for modern homebrewers, as well;

•    Recommendations for starting a mead circle to share your wild meads with other brewers as part of the growing mead-movement subculture; and more!

Whether you’ve been intimidated by modern homebrewing’s cost or seeming complexity in the past—and its focus on the use of unnatural chemicals—or are boldly looking to expand your current brewing and fermentation practices, Zimmerman’s welcoming style and spirit will usher you into exciting new territory. Grounded in history and mythology, but—like Odin’s ever-seeking eye—focusing continually on the future of self-sufficient food culture, Make Mead Like a Viking is a practical and entertaining guide for the ages.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Make Mead Like a Viking

Jereme Zimmerman

Paperback $24.95

Genetic Roulette

Genetic Roulette

By Jeffrey M. Smith

Eating genetically modified food is gambling with every bite.

The biotech industry's claim that genetically modified (GM) foods are safe is shattered in this groundbreaking book. Sixty-five health risks of the foods that Americans eat every day are presented in easy-to-read two-page spreads. The left page is designed for the quick scanning reader; it includes bullets, illustrations, and quotes. The right side offers fully referenced text, describing both research studies and theoretical risks. The second half of Genetic Roulette shows how safety assessments on GM crops are not competent to identify the health problems presented in the first half. It also exposes how industry research is rigged to avoid finding problems.

This book, prepared in with input by more than 30 scientists, is for anyone wanting to understand GM technology, to learn how to protect themselves, or to share their concerns with others. It is presented in the clear, accessible style that made Jeffrey Smith's Seeds of Deception the world's best-selling book on genetically engineered foods. As the world's most complete reference on the health risks of GM foods, Genetic Roulette is also ideal for schools and libraries.

Available in: Hardcover

Read More

Genetic Roulette

Jeffrey M. Smith

Hardcover $27.95

Fresh Food from Small Spaces

Fresh Food from Small Spaces

By R.J. Ruppenthal

Books on container gardening have been wildly popular with urban and suburban readers, but until now, there has been no comprehensive "how-to" guide for growing fresh food in the absence of open land. Fresh Food from Small Spaces fills the gap as a practical, comprehensive, and downright fun guide to growing food in small spaces. It provides readers with the knowledge and skills necessary to produce their own fresh vegetables, mushrooms, sprouts, and fermented foods as well as to raise bees and chickens—all without reliance on energy-intensive systems like indoor lighting and hydroponics.

Readers will learn how to transform their balconies and windowsills into productive vegetable gardens, their countertops and storage lockers into commercial-quality sprout and mushroom farms, and their outside nooks and crannies into whatever they can imagine, including sustainable nurseries for honeybees and chickens. Free space for the city gardener might be no more than a cramped patio, balcony, rooftop, windowsill, hanging rafter, dark cabinet, garage, or storage area, but no space is too small or too dark to raise food.

With this book as a guide, people living in apartments, condominiums, townhouses, and single-family homes will be able to grow up to 20 percent of their own fresh food using a combination of traditional gardening methods and space-saving techniques such as reflected lighting and container "terracing." Those with access to yards can produce even more.

Author R. J. Ruppenthal worked on an organic vegetable farm in his youth, but his expertise in urban and indoor gardening has been hard-won through years of trial-and-error experience. In the small city homes where he has lived, often with no more than a balcony, windowsill, and countertop for gardening, Ruppenthal and his family have been able to eat at least some homegrown food 365 days per year. In an era of declining resources and environmental disruption, Ruppenthal shows that even urban dwellers can contribute to a rebirth of local, fresh foods.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

Read More

Fresh Food from Small Spaces

R.J. Ruppenthal

Paperback $24.95

The Slow Food Dictionary to Italian Regional Cooking

The Slow Food Dictionary to Italian Regional Cooking

The handy and practical Slow Food Dictionary of Regional Italian Cooking by the editors at Slow Food International tells you everything you ever wanted to know about Italian regional cooking as prepared in homes, osterias, and restaurants. Packed with information about dishes and ingredients, tools and techniques, origins and trends, the book (which contains forty color illustrations) is aimed primarily at food lovers but will also be of interest to anyone curious to find out more about Italy in general, its people, its language, its history, and its culture.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

The Slow Food Dictionary to Italian Regional Cooking

Paola Gho, John Irving

Paperback $34.95