Vermont is a special place. There’s an organic farm to table movement growing there that rivals anywhere in the United States. From organic farmers to co-op grocery stores, to whole communities, people are getting back to their roots all over this sparsely populated state. It’s something that’s hard to find anywhere in the world, and that’s why when we heard of a special event Stitchdown Farm was hosting with La Garagista winery and a few other special people we grabbed a ticket immediately!
The drive up from Boston is striking. After a quick pit stop in Manchester, NH (grab a bar of chocolate from Richard at Dancing Lion chocolate, some of the best in the world!), we were finally heading north. The once the small city of Manchester gives way to the rolling hills of Vermont we got the feeling we were headed somewhere special. A recent snowfall had given the entire place a haunting undertow - winter was on its way.
Before moving to the glasshouse for dinner our hosts treated us to a roaring fire, PEI oysters, rustic bread with pate, and a few handmade cocktails. Note - Andy was cooking for the night, and the food was outstanding the whole time! We warmed ourselves at the fire, munched on some food, and got to know our fellow guests for the evening. After a while, it was time to move into the glasshouse.
The glasshouse is exactly what it sounds like, a small glasshouse (maybe an old greenhouse?) a hundred yards or so from Andrew and Rita’s home. It was an unheated, uninsulated wall of glass that gave us a 360-degree view into the outside landscape, the setting sun, and their horse, Ted. The seats were covered in blankets from the goats at Big Picture Farm, creating a cozy setting that kept us warm despite the quickly dropping temperatures outside. A row of seats greeted us at a rustic table that seated probably 24 people. There was no assigned seating, and we just filed in with our fellow dinner mates.
Finally, it was time for the main event: food and wine. Caleb from La Garagista was our sommelier for the evening. Sadly, Deirdre was sick that night and wasn’t able to attend. We can’t wait to see here again next time we’re in Vermont though! Each meal was elegantly presented by Andy and the story of the wines was told by Caleb. Color commentary was added by Andrew, who tied the entire farm to table, community feel of Vermont culture to the entire event. The pig we were eating was raised at the farm we were having dinner at. The wines were local varietals like Marquette and LaCrescent. The blankets were Louisa’s goats, and the flowers at the table were from Rita.
Appetizer: Bread, Butter, Port Terrine, Oysters, Roasted Chestnuts
Drink: Jacob’s Pillow - Stonecutter Spirits barrel-aged gin, La Garagista Wood, Dolin Dry, Bittercube Orange
First: Bay Scallops, Yellow Eye Beans, Radish, Uni Butter
Drink: La Garagista - Harlos & Ruffians 2017
Main: Roasted and Braised Pork, Sweet Potatoes, Bitter Greens and Herbs
Drink: La Garagista - House Music Vin Jardin Petillant Naturel 2017 (Pre-release) & La Garagista - Loups-Garoux 2016 (pre-release reserve)
Dessert: Crepe Cake, Jams & Whip
Drink: Bouleverser Solera Cidre Mousseux
Aperitif/Second Dessert: Big Picture Farm Truffles and Caramel
Drink: Abracadabra Coffee Co La Colina Guatemala
The entire event was a totally different experience for us, brought on by the intimacy of the occasion. Here we were, on a remote farm in Vermont, dining with 24 strangers who were becoming fast friends, being hosted by Andrew and Rita in their own homes, who were all taking turns sharing the workload, intermingling with guests, and hosting. At one point we went into the kitchen and overheard Andrew talking about “family meal”. The family meal is something that is served at restaurants across the world, but for some reason, this term stuck with us this time. Here, the family meals had meaning. These were people who were not only co-workers but friends - they hung out on the weekend, shared the fruits of their labor, and came together to share something with the lucky 24 of us that got a ticket. We won’t forget it any time soon, and can’t wait to see them again in 2019, hopefully with some wines of our own next time!
Special thanks to Stitchdown Farm, La Garagista Wine, Cafe Du Pays, Big Picture Farm & Abracadabra Coffee