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A Gourmet Holiday Love Story at Ball Square Fine Wines

Nov 17 10:17 am

Not sure which wine to pick? The experts at Ball Square Fine Wines are happy to help!

Today on the Somerville Local First blog Joe Ferraro, Gourmet Foods Buyer of Ball Square Fine Wines, tells us how to organize a holiday spread with local and worldly flair. Try not to read this post on an empty stomach and enjoy the delicious gourmet suggestions:

Fall is officially upon us, with all the attendant gatherings and entertaining of the holiday season just around the corner. Putting out a fun and yummy spread for your friends and family can be a daunting task, but Ball Square Fine Wines has got you covered! With just one stop you can pick up a wide assortment of gourmet goodies, craft beer, fine wine and cocktail fixings, and we’re always happy to offer our advice if you need it.

Our gourmet food department is featuring lots of fun accompaniments for the libations of the season. Here are a few ideas:

Raclette ($11.99/lbs) is a classic semi-soft cheese hailing from the Swiss Alps. It has an earthy, nutty flavor balanced by a texture that’s still relatively milky. It’s also the center piece of the dish known as “Le Raclette”. This dish, a family favorite in France and Switzerland on chilly nights as it’s both delicious and simply prepared, is real Alpine comfort food. The cheese is served baked and melted, with charcuterie (cured meats), boiled potatoes, cornichons (baby sour gherkin pickles) and fresh bread. We’ve got all of that, except the potatoes, but fortunately those are easy to come by. Enjoy this dish family style with lots of friends. An Alsatian Pinot Gris, dry Riesling, or medium bodied, earthy Cotes du Rhone are perfect counterparts. Belgian Trappist beers also go great.

Landaff ($19.99/lbs) hails from the small town of the same name in New Hampshire. It’s a hard cheese with a washed rind, sharp and a bit salty, but also very rich. It’s a distant cousin to the Scottish cheese called Caerphilly, made by hand using milk from Landaff Creamery’s own cows. It melts beautifully, and it’s great on what I call an Autumn pizza, with mashed butternut squash instead of tomato sauce, fresh sage and red onion. Try it also on it’s own as a satisfying nosh, paired with a big red wine, luscious white Burgundy, or even, dare I say it, a smoky single malt Scotch.

Cabrales ($23.99/lbs) is an intense and majestic blue cheese from Spain. This giant of a cheese is full of musty, earthy “blue” flavor. With some walnuts and a glass of your favorite Port or sweet oloroso Sherry, it’s downright hedonistic. And really, what is a cold night good for if not to enjoy the big sweet dessert wines that we’ve been missing all Summer.

And don’t forget about chocolate. We now carry a wide array of fine chocolates from local Somerville heroes Taza, as well as many selections from around the world. Who said sweets were just for the kids?

All that is just a tiny teaser of what you’ll find on hand at Ball Square Fine Wines – and yes, we can put a whole bunch of these goodies together in one of our custom made, Gourmet Gift Baskets, just ask! So ignore the diet for once, and come down for some yummy treats. There’s always something delicious on the menu - just don’t tell your doctor.

On To The Next One ~ What’s Coming Up @ SLF

Nov 10 12:09 pm

by Joe Grafton

When our blog team got together last Saturday, we decided it might be a good idea to have me write a post about what’s coming up at Somerville Local First.  As usual, that’s anything but a short answer.

Before I get there, however, I thought I’d share this, the SLF Logic Model.

SLF Logic Model - Thanks to Ariel Harms

SLF Logic Model - Thanks to Ariel Harms

So, this looks really complicated, I know.  But that’s because our work is complicated.  I am posting this simply to show you that, while its always very much about the ‘next thing‘ at SLF, our efforts and programs are bound together strategically.

And so what exactly are we up to next?  Well…..

SHIFT YOUR SHOPPING (November/December)

This holiday season is crucial for local businesses.  And I think its safe to say that this year is the most critical I’ve seen in my time doing this work.  Working with and speaking to business owners on a daily basis, it seems like our local economy has slowed in the past few months.  Many businesses have confided in me that they are concerned if they can’t make it work this holiday season, they won’t be able to survive.

So with this in mind, SLF will launch our 2nd annual holiday shopping campaign, Shift Your Shopping.

You'll see a refreshed series of posters/postcards designed by Oat again this year.

You'll see a refreshed series of posters/postcards designed by Oat again this year.

Shift Your Shopping will feature:

-A robust online content plan that will offer a TON of info on where you can do your holiday shopping.  We’ll incorporate photos, maybe video, shopping lists, event promotions and more.

-The launch of our Mobile Deals application for iPhone and Android users.  By accessing our site, you’ll be able to see real-time offers from our members to save you money as you make the Shift.

-A collaboration with other Somerville organizations to create/promote - ShiftYourShopAPalooza on 12/4 & 5.

-The introduction of “Plaid Friday”, a viral, social media campaign designed to help communities understand the importance, and advantages, to remaining far away from the consumerist driven “Black Friday” concept.

-A campaign themed scavenger hunt!

-Some surprises  !!

Where The Locals Go Coupon Book  (January)

Last year, the City of Somerville was gracious and crucial in helping build SLF capacity by sponsoring our innagural Coupon Book.  As with everything we’ve done, the first year of the project helped us learn and year two is primed for improvement.

We learned some things in our first year...

We learned some things in our first year...

So we are pleased to announce that in January, 2011. Somerville Local First will be collaborating with our sister organization, Cambridge Local First to produce the Where The Local Go coupon book.

Sneak Preview - Here's what the cover of this years book will look like though we're still revising/improving

Sneak Preview - Here's what the cover of this years book will look like though we're still revising/improving

The book will be for sale this year, and will be a key fundraising tool for SLF & CLF.  For only $10, you will get a book filled with approx 100 coupons, valued at approximately $1,000.  Best yet, this project helps demonstrate to both of our communities that buying local is important, wherever you are, and that local economies don’t stop at the border of each city.

I’ll close with a phrase common amongst our organizer friends….Next Thing!

Love Blogging? Love the Holidays? Love Local Businesses? Write for Somerville Local First!

Nov 08 11:21 am

Write for the Shift Your Shopping Holiday Campaign

I’m Sam, the new editor for the Somerville Local First blog. Since the holidays are just around the corner, SLF needs your help getting our community into the “local” spirit this season. We’re looking to add some additional bloggers to our roster to write for our upcoming Shift Your Shopping Holiday campaign.

Are you planning to hit up local stores for holiday gifts? Do you know the scoop on some upcoming festivities around town? Have an epic eggnog recipe with local ingredient recommendations? We’d love for you to contribute! This is your chance to have your writing featured in one of Somerville’s most read online publications. You’ll also be helping promote the local businesses and events that make our city one of the best places to live in Massachusetts.

If you’re interested in writing for the SLF blog, please send me a note introducing yourself along with a sample of writing to slfblogwriters[at]

Feel free to shoot me any questions you have about becoming a writer as well. Thanks, and look forward to hearing from you!

Taza & SLF Join Forces to Support Another SLF Member

Oct 28 2:47 pm

A few days ago, we published a request for community support from James Welborn, owner of Hub Comics in Union Square.  We’re now taking things another step forward with a collaboration from your favorite local chocolate maker, Taza Chocolate.

Taza, if you don’t know, recently opened a retail store and started giving factory tours.  That’s right, you can tour the chocolate factory, right here in the ‘ville!

Win this great tour & gift certificate prize from Taza Chocolate by supporting a member in need

Win this great tour & gift certificate prize from Taza Chocolate by supporting a member in need

And so,  over the next week, Taza & SLF are partnering to give you an opportunity for a FREE chocolate factory tour PLUS a $25 gift certificate for Taza products in their retail store.

All you have to do to enter is do some shopping at Hub Comics.

For every $10 you spend at Hub up to $50, you will receive 1 entry in the contest.  Just mention the contest to the folks at Hub while making your purchase and we’ll record your email address.  Next Monday, 11/8, we’ll announce the winner.

SLF is also throwing in some prizes.  A $20 gift certificate to Sherman Market, a choice of SLF T-Shirts in our inventory, a limited edition letterpress Harvest Fest poster from Union Press, a SLF Water Bottle and (when we publish them in January) a complimentary SLF Coupon Book.  That brings the value of the prize pack to almost $100!  And all you have to do is support a local business who could use our help.

The  only question after that is…are you a Charlie or a Veruca?

Local Loves Local once again and Community is the winner.

Filed under: Local First, Our Members — SLF @ 2:47 pm

Dig these Somerville Businesses in the Weekly Dig’s Annual Dig This Awards

Oct 26 1:06 pm

Every year, our friends at the Weekly Dig (check their new website btw, awesome!) hold the Dig This awards. The edit stafforial picks four businesses (almost all of them locally owned) and asks the public to vote for their favorites.

Voting ends 11/5.  Let's stuff the virtual ballot box for our faves from the 'ville

Voting ends 11/5. Let's stuff the virtual ballot box for our faves from the 'ville

There are a TON of SLF members and other Somerville businesses nominated this year.  And we’d like your help in trying to sweep the awards for these great businesses.  Winning brings more recognition, great marketing and most importantly - new customers!

Below you’ll find the Somerville Business who you can vote for.  We’ve identified members of the network with italics.

Best Places to Eat



Beer Store

Ball Sq. Wine & Spirits


Sound Bites


The Independent


Sherman Cafe

Casual Sushi

Snappy Sushi

Coffee Shop

Bloc 11

True Grounds

Gourmet Shop

Dave’s Fresh Pasta

Ice Cream / Gelato

J.P. Licks



Liquor Store

Downtown Wine & Spirits

Mexican/Central/South American

Machu Picchu

Tu y Yo

Newcomer Restaurant

Foundry on Elm


Kickass Cupcakes


Petsi Pies

Slow Burger

RF O’Sullivan’s

Boston Burger Company






Eat at Jumbos

Bar Menu

PJ Ryan’s

Dive Bar


Small Music Venue

Johnny D’s


diesel cafe

Sports Bar (International)

PJ Ryan’s

Sunday Night

Sea Monsters at Precinct Lounge

Tuesday Night

Drunken Spelling Bee at Highland Kitchen

Neighborhood Spot - Davis Sq.




Johnny D’s

Neighborhood Spot - Teele Sq / Ball Sq / Powderhouse (89 Bus)

Powderhouse Pub

PJ Ryan’s

Olde Magoun’s


Neighborhood Spot - Inman Sq.

Trina’s Starlight Lounge

Neighborhood Spot - Union Sq.

Sally O’Brien’s

The Independent

Bull McCabe’s

PA’s Lounge

Best Places to Shop




Sunshine Lucy’s





Training Room

Vintage Clothing

Poor Little Rich Girl



Bow St

Filed under: Our Members — SLF @ 1:06 pm

Silent Auction to benefit Pets In Need, A No-Kill Animal Shelter

Oct 25 11:50 am
Pets In Need to hold Silent Auction featuring many SLF Members on Friday 11/12

Pets In Need to hold Silent Auction featuring many SLF Members on Friday 11/12

Pets In Need non-profit animal adoption program is hosting a silent auction on Friday, November 12th from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. at Dilboy VFW Hall, Davis Square (371 Summer St., Somerville) and all proceeds from the auction will go towards the care of the homeless animals.

“We have some great items up for auction this year,” said auction organizer Sarah Rhines. “As an all-volunteer organization, we try to keep our operating costs low, but vet bills can be very expensive. We hope people will want to come out to support our cause, get some great gifts and have an awesome time!”

Items up for auction include valuable Boston sports collectibles, passes to local museums, gift certificates to area restaurants and much more – there is something for everyone in the family!

Help Pets in Need by attending their free Silent Auction and bidding on items from Local Businesses, many from Somerville

There is no admission fee, and all ages are welcome. Refreshments will be donated by a number of local eateries. The Nahanton Avenue Band will be playing your favorite hits from the 80s, and there will also be a cash bar.

Pets In Need is a small no-kill adoption program run privately by volunteers who have joined together to save the unwanted and abandoned animals who have come across their path. All donations and adoption fees go directly to the animals.
Filed under: Local First — SLF @ 11:50 am

Join the Halloween Fun for the Last SomerStreets of 2010 on Oct. 24th

Oct 21 12:42 pm

This post was provided by the City of Somerville.

The City of Somerville is hosting its fourth and final SomerStreets events of 2010 on Sunday, October 24th from noon – 4pm (rain or shine).  All community members are invited to join the City and our community sponsors for an afternoon of music, games, activities, and fall fun.

Community members are also invited to carve or decorate pumpkins to help us line Somerville Avenue from Bow Street to Beacon Street, and/or participate in our costume parade at 12:30.  Throughout the afternoon, there will be Trick-or-Treating with local businesses, a fall craft fair, costume contests, and much, much more.

For more information, please visit, or call Carlene Campbell at 617-625-6600 ext. 2615.

Filed under: Local First — Tags: , , — SLF @ 12:42 pm

Second Chances: Somerville Clothing Donation Program Nominated for CLASSY Charity of the Year

Oct 20 11:11 am

The following post comes from Second Chances Founder and CEO, Andrea Shapiro regarding their recent CLASSY awards nominations. Second Chances provides clothing to people in need, informs supporters about issues affecting our community and helps people connect with local organizations or issues that resonate with their values, skills and personal experiences. Since 2005, Second Chances has provided free clothing, shoes, accessories and gift cards to more than 1,600 lower income and homeless people in Somerville and Cambridge and recycled or reused over 210,000 pounds of clothing, shoes and accessories.

Andrea Shapiro, Founder & CEO of Second Chances

I am honored that Second Chances was nominated by our supporters and selected as a finalist by the StayClassy judges. The publicity and potential prizes will help us build upon our successful work providing free clothing to local homeless and low-income people in Somerville and Cambridge, Massachusetts so that they can take the next steps toward a brighter future. Please, vote now and spread the word!

Second Chances needs your vote by October 22nd! We have been selected as a Boston-area Finalist in TWO categories - Charity of the Year and Small Charity of the Year – in StayClassy’s 2nd Annual CLASSY Awards.

  • HELP Second Chances get even more votes by sharing the news and the voting webpages with your friends, family, colleagues and social media networks!

The people you help are much like Joanna. Joanna, along with her two young daughters, fled an abusive home with nothing but her purse and the clothing they were wearing. They came to Somerville in the winter from a state with a much warmer climate. They were cold, scared and homeless. You brought them warm clothing in the winter, and then spring and summer clothing in the following months. Now, they are warm and safe – living locally and getting counseling to help them heal from the abuse they experienced. Joanna has restarted her health care career and the girls are back in school. We are so grateful for the hundreds of second chances like Joanna’s that you and other community members make possible every year.

The 2nd Annual CLASSY Awards recognize the top philanthropic achievements in eight (8) cities across the country: Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York City, San Diego, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. From October 9 until October 22, supporters can visit and vote for Second Chances to be named a City Winner for Charity of the Year and Small Charity of the Year. Each City Winner will represent their region and compete in the National voting round from October 23 – November 5 for a chance to win a prestigious CLASSY Award.

For additional information on the competition, event details, and to cast your votes, please visit or email [email protected].


Oct 19 10:55 am

Rose Ann & Charles Finkel, owners of Pike Brewing in Seattle, with Todd & Jason Alstrom, beer gurus and publishers of Beer Advocate Magazine

by Anne Cushman, Redbones

For sixteen years Redbones has imported craft brews from Washington and Oregon to tap at its signature Northwest Fest. New in 2010, several of the breweries are sending cask conditioned beers guaranteeing a very Sweet Sixteen! This year, over 60 kegs from fifteen breweries will be tapped starting October 20 with a Kick Off Party featuring beers from Rogue Ales in Oregon and Pike Brewing in Washington. Additional Northwest Fest Keg Parties are November 8 and 9 and a selection of Northwest brews will always be on tap until they run out in late Fall. To keep tabs on the taps, and casks, visit for daily updates.

Rogue Brewmaster John Maier creates a new brew every year for the Oregon Brewers Festival. This year’s name was easy: 21 Ale.

21 kegs of 21 Ale will be celebrated by 21 of the Rogue Nation’s most loyal, long time beer emporiums across the country and Redbones is among the lucky ones! Taste this one-time batch tonight - it wont last long!

Even after sixteen years, the brews and the parties continue to attract beer lovers to Redbones for the annual NWFest because it is unique - most of the beers tapped are never available in the East! The beers come from small breweries with limited production and without Redbones stepping in the economics and logistics of distribution would be prohibitive. This year only three of the fifteen breweries are distributed in Massachusetts.

Check it out for yourself!

Wednesday, October 20, 5 - 7 pm - Northwest Fest Kick Off Keg Party

8 - 10 Rogue & 5 - 6 Pike Beers on tap + 4 Rogue Casks
@ 6:21 pm - tap time for Rogue’s 21 Ale
Monday, November 8 & Tuesday, November 9, 5 - 7 pm

Northwest Fest Keg Parties with special guest Drew Cluley, Head Brewer @ Pike in Seattle, WA
Taps are turned over to Northwest beers - 1 Keg/brewery! Taste. Compare. Enjoy.

Cash Bar and Free Apps @ all NWFest Keg Parties.

Filed under: Our Members — SLF @ 10:55 am

Mike’s Auto Brings the Green Oil Change Revolution to Somerville

Oct 18 11:24 am
Mike's Automotive Somerville Green Oil Change

Mike's Automotive in Union Square

Today’s post comes from SLF member Mark Pedersen of Mike’s Automotive Services in Union Square. Mark works alongside his father, Mike Sr., and brother, Mark Jr., at this family run Somerville autoshop that’s committed to protecting the environment and building a more sustainable community. Learn more about their new green oil change service and how it benefits Groundwork Somerville:

Today marks a seminal moment in the movement for sustainability here in Somerville. Like many years ago, a revolution is taking place in Union Square at the foot of Prospect Hill. This time, the rebel color is green. At Mike’s Automotive Services we’re  issuing a sustainability call to arms by being the only auto shop to offer a green oil change in the Boston area.

What is a green oil change? A green oil change is one that uses re-refined motor oil. Mike’s green oil change uses EcoPower - a premium API-certified re-refined motor oil. What’s that mean? It means that EcoPower oil meets all of the same manufacturer specifications as any other conventional motor oil you’ve ever used.

A green oil change has tremendous benefits for the environment:

  • It results in 99.5% fewer heavy metal emissions and 85% less greenhouse gases than if used motor oil were used for fuel.
  • It saves more than one million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, which is the equivalent of taking 200,000 cars off the road every year
  • It takes 85% less energy to produce than motor oil made from crude oil.

Those are just some of the benefits of choosing a green oil change (along with that great feeling you get when you choose sustainability). The State and Federal governments have been required by law to use re-refined oil since the mid-1990s. Now, the rest of us can use it too!

A lot of people talk about the fact that re-refined oil is much more expensive than conventional oil - and it is. But Mike’s is committed to sustainability. So we’re offering our green oil change for only $4.00 more than our conventional oil change.

For us, this is about leadership. If we are ever going to truly build a more sustainable community, it is going to take local businesses to stand up and lead the way. That’s what we’re doing - we’re putting principles before profits.

As part of our commitment to sustainability, we’re celebrating our green oil change in a big way. This week (October 18-22), for every green oil change we provide, we will donate $5.00 to Groundwork Somerville. Request your green oil change online with our convenient Mike’s Automotive web appointment scheduler.

So, no more excuses - the green oil change is here! Let’s see you show your green stripes by getting the word out. Tell your friends. Tell your family. Tell your co-workers. And above all, when it’s time to change your oil - go green at Mike’s!

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