A Cheesy Farewell to Farmstead

So, Farmstead is closing. And this is how I feel about it.

I remember coming into the shop the first weekend it opened. I bought some Mimolette and a clothbound cheddar to go with grilled radicchio (I wasn’t quite so adventurous then). I went home to tell Jay, “Something great has happened at the old cheese store. The crazy old smoking lady isn’t there anymore. It’s young people! And they’re really cool!” I went back the next week and the next. I came away with tommes and bleu de Basque, Epoisse and Winnamere. At each visit, I joined a growing crowd of cheese lovers, each of us sampling and learning. I asked more stupid questions than should be allowed, but Kate and Matt answered each dumb query with enthusiasm and scads of knowledge. I made tasting notes in a small spiral bound book and I tried with negligible amounts of success to restore the intricate wrapping to my cheeses once I had opened them. (I never got any better at this. My re-wrapped cheese still looks like it was done by a creature without opposable thumbs.)

A few years later, the restaurant opened and immediately became the Holy Grail of eateries: elegant and delicious enough to be a culinary destination, but so comfortable that it felt like your coolest friend’s house.

In short, Farmstead provided the locus of a burgeoning food scene and served as a catalyst for making Providence an eater’s paradise. Kate and Matt’s faith in our weird little hamlet and their willingness to lead us into their world of handcrafted, lovingly-made food broadened all of our palates and our minds.

Over the years, the restaurant has been the place where Jay and I commemorated so many things: not only birthdays and anniversaries, but book contracts and cancer-remission diagnoses. And more times than I can count, when I have come home from work and said, “Holy shit: this has been a torrentially rotten day. Right now I need to be at a place that is firmly aligned to the side of good,” Jay has had the good sense to respond, “I think you need a seat at the bar at Farmstead.”

At Farmstead, I met Max McCalman and Hank Shaw and Ryan Farr. By Kate and Matt’s introduction, I met Emily and Michael at Twig Farm and, through them, my gorgeous sponsored goat Tack. Seated at their bar, we’ve eaten livers and trotters and sea urchin bottarga (“What is that?” Jay asked as the handsome Quebecois grated it over his pasta. “It’s the salt cured egg masses of the sea urchin,” I replied tentatively. With a full mouth, he responded, “Whatever the hell it is, it’s delicious.”)

It’s gonna suck without Farmstead. We’ll miss the wit, the  hospitality, the well-executed snark, and the never-ending evidence of the  evil geniuses in the kitchen and behind the bar. Kate and Matt and their incredible staff have created the model for what I will always consider excellence.

Kate and Matt — we can’t wait to visit the crew in the new Boston digs. Jay and I will be like your hick cousins coming to the big city for a visit, guaranteed to embarrass you with our goofy ways.

We send you off with a heavy heart but awfully big love.

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