Much to the delight of modern-day culinary time-travelers, Farm & Fable, a small storefront kitty-corner to Formaggio Kitchen and right across the way from Coppa in the South End, has finally opened its doors. Why time-travelers? One glance at the antique eggbeaters, apple-corers and sausage-stuffers, and shelves neatly lined with vintage cookbooks, should give you a clue.
Owner Abigail Ruettgers, who reads those cookbooks like novels, had hopes that her shop would evolve into a “clubhouse for food dorks” when we first checked in on the space in early September. Back then, the test kitchen and entertaining space downstairs — awash with chrome appliances and centered around a 10-seat communal table — was just a blueprint. There were no aprons soaking up the winter sun in the windows, no Mad Men-era glassware adorning the display tables.
The little store is armed to the teeth with culinary curios, most of it stemming from Ruettgers’ personal collection. A former litigator who officially gave in to her lifelong passion for relics of old-school kitchens, she has a uniquely intimate bond with each and every item in stock. Consider it a stamp of well-worn approval.
“It’s a little surreal sometimes. I did all of this myself, so there was a solid chance that it was not going to come out quite right,” she admits. “It’s funny though, I set it all up, and then I felt like it had always been here.”
The books — the focal point of the store — have been flying off the shelves, but Ruettgers says that the interest in private events and classes has been the most surprising so far.
“I was anticipating that people would be interested, and that it would be something that we would get going in the New Year, but it’s the first question out of everyone’s mouth,” she says. “I think there’s just an incredible interest in that in Boston right now. People don’t want to get together with their friends and just go to dinner, they want to do something different.”
In that vein, a cookbook book club is also underway, which Ruettgers says is already drawing attention from a wide range of ages and genders. Plus, she adds, fellow enthusiasts have begun to come out of the woodwork, stopping by just to discuss bygone eras of cookery on a daily basis.
Looks like she might get her clubhouse for dorks after all.