Cambridge and Somerville Local First - 2011 Coupon Book - Shift Your Shopping to Local First

Color me Pickle: How to Eat Your Summer Favs All Year Long

Aug 26 2:28 pm

By JJ Gonson



Pickles come in every variety...just like 'Villens!

Ahhhh, pickles!  Them briny harbingers of summer time. Diced into potato salad, stacked on plates by hamburger-laden grills, and dawdling deep in the depths of spiced tomato-based adult beverages. Pickles are everywhere, well loved, and, happily, very easy to produce for your own delectation.

Before you get down to the process of pickling, it is key to understand that there are many, many different items that fall under the pickle category. To make pickles, some cultures use age, some use antimicrobial spices, some use pressure. You could spend a lifetime exploring the possibilities of corning for preservation.

The word ‘pickle’ describes a sour bath in which one soaks vegetables to preserve them for eating later. This bath includes a high percentage of acid, (equal to a PH below 4.6) usually in the form of vinegar, and leans towards tartness in flavour, although in some cases a lot of sugar can be added to make a sweet pickle, like those used for pickle relishes and bread and butter chips. Vinegar pickles, whether cucumber, pepper, carrot or any other vegetable, can be put into sterile jars and sealed by boiling in water, to be kept on the shelf before eating, as they have a PH level high enough to keep dangerous bugs at bay. This form of canning is convenient, but the result is not going to be fresh and crunchy, and therefore, vinegar pickles are soft. We throw the word about wantonly, but the truth is: if there is no vinegar, technically speaking, what you are eating is not a pickle.

A very crunchy and saltier ‘pickle’ is actually more likely to have been brined, or made in a salt water bath, rather than vinegar. This bath will slow down decay, but these veggies have to stay refrigerated or they will rot. Since they don’t keep forever these are often referred to as “quick pickles”, and will produce something flavored more like a traditional Kosher Dill, rather than the sour classic spear style of pickle.

For centuries, many cultures have harnessed anaerobic fermentation processes to create a combination of the salty and sour. Fermentation usually starts with just salt, and the water from the vegetables themselves create the brine. As the vegetables break down, they sour, and the result is wildly varied, depending on many factors: the food you are fermenting, the air temperature and humidity, the amount of salt, etc. Fermentation occurs in a controlled environment, and the resulting pickles are removed to cold storage when they are ready, where they will last for a long time. Fermenting cucumbers is a little tricky as they mold easily, but sauerkraut and kimchi are less challenging with very satisfying results, and are a good place for the amateur fermenter to start.

I can only caution, once you jump into the world of pickling, it can become an obsession. You may end up losing counterspace to lines of sterilized glass jars and your kitchen may take on a lingering scent of vinegar. I would like to comfort you with the reassurance that you will make many friends. Everyone loves a pickle!


Here are a couple of basic recipes to start playing with:

Classic Kosher Dills

Adapted from How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

The easiest snack in the world to make!

  • Add 1/3 cup of Kosher salt to 1 cup boiling water.
  • Stir to dissolve the salt in the water and add ice, stirring until it stops melting, and the brine is cooled.
  • Pour over whatever veggies you want to brine - cukes, green beans, fennel…. with a handful of dill or fennel greens and a couple of cloves of garlic, broken but not mashed.
  • Weight the brining veggies so that they are completely submerged in liquid and let it sit at room temp for 24 hours, then refrigerate.

If the “pickles” get too salty after a few days, pour off the brine and replace it with clear water




From Alex Lewin/How 2 Heroes


  • ¼ of a cabbage (400 gm) or more of cabbage (green, red, or a mixture)
  • 8 gm (1½ tsp) sea salt

Special Equipment

  • 1-pint mason jars
  • digital kitchen scale
  • large mixing bowls


  1. Quarter the cabbages. Discard the cores or keep them and use them, as you like
  2. Weigh the cabbage
  3. Measure salt equal to roughly 2% of the weight of the cabbage. (Metric measures make this easier.) Alternatively, as in this video, measure 1½ tsp of salt per 400 gm (¼ cabbage). Too much salt will slow down the fermentation, and result in an overly-salty product; too little salt will increase the likelihood of mushiness or even putrefaction
  4. Slice or shred the cabbage using a large chef ’s knife, a shredding attachment on a food processor, or whatever tool you like
  5. Place the cut cabbage in a large mixing bowl, adding salt as you go. When everything is in the bowl, mix and squeeze the mixture with (clean!) hands for a minute or two, until the cabbage has started to release liquid
  6. Pack the mixture as tightly as you can into 1-pint mason jars, leaving at least an inch of space at the top of each jar. Close the jars, and store them at room temperature, away from sunlight
  7. Once a day, open the jars and pack down their contents so that the liquid rises. If the liquid does not cover the cabbage completely after two days, add brine to cover. (The brine should be 2% salt by weight. Use filtered water; the chlorine in municipal tap water kills bacteria—that’s why it’s there!)
  8. Make sure to keep the cabbage covered with liquid thenceforth, otherwise your sauerkraut may discolor, dry out, or even become moldy.  If you don’t leave enough space at the top of the jars, some of the liquid may leak out as the fermentation progresses. This is an inconvenience, but not a cause for alarm
  9. Taste the sauerkraut after a few days four days, and periodically thereafter. Depending upon ambient temperature, your taste, and other factors, the sauerkraut may be “ready” after 4 days, or after 4 months, or some time in between. When you decide it is “ready”, or slightly before, put it in a refrigerator or a cool cellar, or bury it in the ground. The cooler the environment, the slower the subsequent fermentation


  1. Sea salt contains healthy trace minerals. Prefer sea salt over kosher salt. In any case, do not use iodized table salt, and do not use salt containing “anti-caking agents.” (Check the list of ingredients.)
  2. Use a mixture of green cabbage and red cabbage to make pink sauerkraut.
  3. Herbs and spices may be added when making the sauerkraut. For instance, you can add a teaspoon or more of caraway seeds per pound of cabbage. (Or fennel seeds, or anise seeds. Toast them first if you like.) On the other hand, making unseasoned sauerkraut gives you added flexibility; you can always season your sauerkraut a la minute.
  4. Precise kitchen scales can be bought inexpensively over the Internet. A digital scale with 1-gram resolution is very useful for cooking and baking. 0.1-gram resolution can be useful, too, when working with spices, for instance.
  5. On sandwiches, food-processor-shredded sauerkraut works well. On its own, hand-cut sauerkraut is crunchier and perhaps more interesting.


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Get excited - Harvest Fest 2011

Aug 18 1:04 pm
Harvest Fest - a fund AND fun raiser

Harvest Fest - a fund AND fun raiser

It’s that time of year again, and we are incredibly excited to annnounce the date and early bird ticket sales of Harvest Fest 2011!

If you haven’t experienced Harvest Fest in the past, here’s a short video recap of last year’s awesomeness. (A longer cut is coming soon!).

Last years event SOLD OUT, so buy your early bird tix for as low as $20 now, make sure you get in and save some money!

Pretty Things, our SLF member darlings, were a hit in 2010 and will be back this year

Pretty Things, our SLF member darlings, were a hit in 2010 and will be back this year

Harvest Fest is our annual festival and fundraiser, celebrating the best in local libations, restaurants and entertainers.  It will be held in two four-hour sessions (Session 1 - 1-5PM, Session 2 - 6-10 PM) on Saturday October 15th at Arts at the Armory.

Our guests receive unlimited 2 oz. pours of beer and wine from up to 12 different craft breweries and local wineries.  And we’ve already confirmed that craft brew darling, Pretty Things, will be in the house again at Harvest Fest.

We are pleased to welcome back downTown Wine & Spirits as our Beer & Wine Sponsor.  They’ll be helping us organize all the awesome local libations at the event.

Foundry on Elm's Chilled Gazpacho w/ Avacado creme fraiche - one of last year's favorite dishes

Foundry on Elm's Chilled Gazpacho w/ Avacado creme fraiche - one of last year's favorite dishes


We are also psyched  to welcome back Foundry on Elm as our Food Sponsor.  They’ll be helping us select and organize the participating restaurants.  Our guests receive one small plate/sample from 8 local restaurants during each session of Harvest Fest.


We also show love to local musicians and  performers at Harvest Fest, and this year we are psyched to have a Hugh McGowan, of Burren Open Mic fame, curating a local musician showcase for Session 1 and The Improper Bostonian’s Best of Boston DJ, DJ Die Young for Session 2.

We’re also so happy to have an amazing local independent media sponsor from right here in Somerville, The Somerville Scout!

So,  to recap.  Some of the best beer/wine you’ll taste from local New England companies, and more than a meal via the servings from Somerville’s best local restaurants.  At an early bird price of only $20 per session, with all profits going to support the work of Somerville Local First and our vision of an economy that is local, green and fair.  Hard to beat that for sure!

Last year’s event SOLD OUT, and this year, we expect it to happen again.  We are offering a limited amount of Early Bird tickets ($5 savings per session), so don’t wait, act now and support local economies and your palate!

Redbones Pig Pickin’ – Y’all can have the pig whole ‘n’ eat it too!

Jul 29 12:00 am

If the recent heat wave wasn’t enough to make you feel like you’d been transported à la Dorothy to the magical land of The Deep South, a jaunt to Chester St. this Monday at 6pm just may be enough to make you wish you had. The south sure knows how to do the summer barbecue right, but despair not Somervillians! You need not get swept away in a tornado to experience this festive, finger-lickin’ feast – our very own Redbones will be holding its 10th annual Pig Pickin’ and Fundraiser!

Redbones Pig Rig

The most crucial part of slow smoking the hog juuust right: waiting!

Vegetarians beware, as we walk you through a traditional pig pickin’ done right at Redbones. The art of the pig roast is a 24 hour affair, music to the ears of all you slow foodies. The pit master will light up the rig Sunday night before the event, slowly smoking the whole hogs before carving them up, so they retain all their natural savory flavor. The Southern pig roast is traditionally a very social event, one meant to assemble the entire community due to the time and effort that go into it. Keeping this in mind, Redbones slow roasts the hogs outside of the restaurant, from start to finish, so that passersby can engage in the process and meet the pit master. As people gather, the anticipation builds until the pinnacle moment when the smoker is at long last released, and the hogs emerge, smoked to perfection. Are your mouths watering yet?

Aside from the whole hogs, Redbones will be serving up all the fixin’s: slaw, corn on the cob, greens, corn bread, watermelon, your choice of beer, lemonade, or iced tea, as well as extra servings of your favorite parts – loins, butts, and bellies! And of course, what would a pig pickin’ be without some entertainment! This barbecue-gone-block party will feature Somerville’s very own New Orleans-style street band, The Second Line Social Aid and Pleasure Society Brass Band, as well as other local acts.

Now, if ALL that doesn’t have you convinced this will be a rousing good time, come to support the cause – benefit the Somerville Homeless Coalition, providing housing and supportive services to the area homeless population since 1985.

So be sure to join the Redbones crew in front of the store on Chester St. on Monday, August 1 (rain date: August 8 ) from 6-9pm! $25 (only $5 for the kiddies under 10!) will get you a beverage, all the sides, and a healthy helping of slow-smoked pork right off the bone; no need to call ahead, just bring your self – hungry!

Going Global Locally with Ball Square Fine Wines

Jul 17 7:51 pm

So, what are you doing this Monday night? Why, you’re planning an exhilarating evening of laundry and bad television, you say? Enticing as that sounds, might we humbly suggest another option? Shake up the beginning-of-the-week routine with a taste of fine wining and dining presented by the folks over at Ball Square Fine Wines.

Ah, wining in Somerville at dusk...

As a participant in Boston’s “Rogue for Riesling” Summer Fest 2011, BSFW is joining the 31 Days of Riesling July event spree (see this article for more area events). Riesling is traditionally celebrated as a German wine, but BSFW has decided to open our eyes to the myriad of other options in what could only be called “A Global Riesling Fracas.” BSFW says:

This Monday, July 18, from 5-7pm we’ll have five select Rieslings from around the world open for a comparative taste-off. It will be an interactive tasting to demonstrate the unique typicity of each selection.

Of course, our ever-expanding Gourmet Department wanted in on the fun. They will have an assortment of gourmet hor’dourves to pair with the wines.

The event is FREE and open to all 21+ years of age


So much potential!

For more offerings from this specialty shop, check out more of their enlightening events (there’s plenty of options for craft brew and spirits lovers, too!), or get a hankering for the holiday season with last year’s gourmet pairings post by BSFW Gourmet Foods Buyer Joe Ferraro to get a taste of BSFW’s seasonal expertise.

Food, Wine, and Fun at Dave’s Fresh Pasta

Jul 11 1:38 pm

By Alison Preston

Two months ago I took a break from food and drink to relax in a hot tub at Inman Oasis, then it was onto Mass Metta Massage Therapy. Of course, my food obsession can’t be ignored for long. In my next SLF adventure, the journey went back to Davis Square, for an exploration of Dave’s Fresh Pasta, with 20% off any purchase from the specialty foods & grocers section in the SLF coupon booklet. A few months back during my visit to The Boston Shaker. I mentioned my plan to a Boston Shaker employee, and she advised to eat before going shopping or fall prey to the yumminess that is Dave’s Fresh Pasta.


Dave's: Bringing you all the finest meats and cheeses!

Dave's: Bringing you all the finest meats and cheeses!




My limited knowledge was that of fresh pasta, and I had my charge card out to buy. But upon entering, my senses were pleasantly overwhelmed by a collection of unexpected sights, sounds, and smells:

  • Fresh pasta
  • Vosges chocolate (my favorite Chicago chocolate company)
  • Homemade sauces
  • An olive selection from my wildest dreams
  • A grocery section to fulfill daily shopping needs
  • A take-out counter to order fresh sandwiches and other treats
  • A small sit down area to feast on your purchase

Dave’s is truly a one-stop shop. Ten years ago, Dave’s began as a small fresh pasta shop, and the store has expanded twice. The first expansion happened six years ago, with the second happening two years ago.

The most unexpected and exciting part of the shop? Wine. Hello! Who loves wine? Me. So after a careful selection of tomato pasta and spinach pasta, I navigated through the food towards the wine area of the store.  And of course, what goes best with pasta? Wine.


Wine, Wine, everywhere Wine

Wine, Wine, everywhere Wine

I was pleased to find the majority of the bottles within the $10 - $20 range. I hold a high appreciation for a nice (and perhaps pricey) bottle of wine, but what I appreciate more is a nice bottle of wine that my budget can afford more than once a year. The wine shop started as a small area five years ago with around 100 bottles. Flash-forward to the present, and Dave’s offers an expanded collection of 275 bottles and bi-weekly wine and cocktail events to educate the community while sipping wines and having a great time. The last wine tasting of the season is coming up on June 9th—so call 617.623.0867 to check for availability. Or if you miss the wine tasting at the store, private wine tastings are also available. Who doesn’t like a wine event at home?

I ended up with a bottle of Polluce Lazio, a red wine for only $11 (that’s even before my discount). The staff was friendly and had plenty of suggestions to make my trip a breeze. I’m excited to try my pasta and wine for a feast with my fiancé very soon—so head over to Dave’s Fresh Pasta for your own sensory inducing experience.

Dave’s Fresh Pasta is located at 81 Holland Street in Davis Square, Somerville, MA  02144. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for the most up-to-date information on daily and weekly specials and in-store events.

Dave’s Fresh Pasta: Local money spent w/ coupon: 15.96 | SLF savings: $3.04  | Total savings: $16.64


Redbones 14th Annual Bike Party & Benefit

Jun 01 2:30 pm

The 14th Annual Bike Party and Benefit for MassBike and the New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA) at Redbones is almost here! On June 6th, bike, walk or drive to Redbones in Davis Square to celebrate and support cycling with two advocacy groups and a block party outside the restaurant that includes great food, drink, live music and an amazing raffle.

Date: Monday, June 6   (rain date: June 13)

Ride By for the Biggest Bike Party of the year!

Time: 5 - 9 pm, raffle drawing @ 7:30 pm

Place: Redbones, 55 Chester Street, Somerville

Information: 617.628.2200 &

Entertainment: Live music by The SAPS - Second Line Social Aid & Pleasure Society Brass Band: We aim to please if the cause is true and the time is right.

Tickets: $15.00 includes bicycle valet parking, a Redbones sandwich, soft drink or beer & a raffle ticket.   All tickets purchased on site. No advance sales.

Additional raffle tickets: 1 for $2.00 & 3 for $5.00

Proceeds from entry & raffle ticket sales go to: MassBike & NEMBA

Sponsors & Raffle Prizes:
The Grand Prize, a custom made cargo bike, is being donated by returning lead sponsor, Alternative Needs Transportation (ANT).   Many additional sponsors have donated awesome prizes for the raffle including  bikes, gear & lots of swag.

For a complete list of sponsors, please click here.


Bike Party Background:

Previously held in May during Bike to Work Week, the party moved to June three years ago to benefit from warmer weather, additional daylight, and more cyclists on the road for the season. The June date has proved to be a popular choice, attracting more people and proceeds every year - each of the last two, over $11,000 was divided between MassBike and NEMBA.

Redbones first Bike Party was conceived in tandem with Redbones free Bicycle Valet parking introduced in 1996.  Robert Gregory, co-owner of Redbones and a mountain biker initiated the valet parking for the cyclists who ride to the restaurant, as well as other destinations in Davis Square.   Success of the parking lead to the Redbones Rib Rider, a custom designed cargo bike from ANT, used for free dinner delivery in neighborhoods surrounding the restaurant.
Fifteen years later, the party is eagerly anticipated by cyclists, sponsors, and beneficiaries alike.

For more information regarding NEMBA or MassBike, please visit their websites.

Redbones, 55 Chester Street, Davis Square, Somerville, is open 7 days for lunch, dinner, and late night dining plus Sunday brunch.  Redbones is known for its authentic, real pit barbecue, carefully chosen selection of draft and bottled beer and full bar.  Take out, delivery and catering available.


The Somerville Arts Council and SLF present an ArtsUnion Event: SomerFun

May 20 1:34 pm

The Somerville Arts Council and Somerville Local First are excited to present an ArtsUnion Event, SomerFun:A Romp for Independents. Join us for our 2nd annual FREE street festival and market and sample local cuisine, take part in a square-wide scavenger hunt or send one of your favorite local celebs in the dunk tank. Whatever you choose, with a variety of participating businesses, artisans, musicians and activities, SomerFun has something for everyone!

Event Description:

Something fun for everyone!

Something fun for everyone!

SomerFun: A Romp for Independents is a celebration of local and independent businesses in Somerville and across New England with activities and games, local arts and musical performances and the culturally diverse performances that define the Somerville Community.

At SomerFun, you can:

  • Enjoy a wide variety of games and activities including a Mixed Breed Dog Show, Square-wide scavenger hunt, farm and food demonstrations, a selection of carnival games (i.e. dunk tank with local celebrities) and on-stage entertainment from local youth, dance and musical guests.
  • Peruse tables from great local retailers, food producers, artisans and nonprofits.
  • Enjoy an art installation curated by local arts nonprofit Artisans Asylum.

This event will engage all segments and demographics of our community: From entrepreneurs to teens. From seniors to families. SomerFun is for everyone and we look forward to seeing you there!!


Spring Has Sprung: A Wonderful Night at the Foundry

May 10 12:47 pm

By Katie Riedman

Spring Has Sprung Networking Event

It was only 6:15 when I walked into the Foundry on Elm for Somerville Local First’s Spring Has Sprung Networking Event. And while the party had only started 15 minutes earlier, the Somerville community was already a few sample cups deep in socializing, munching, and good old fashioned networking.  At one end of the room, Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project set up shop, offering guests a selection of their quirky beers.  At the other end, MS Walker highlighted an array of fine wines from the classic pinot to an adventurous zinfandel.  And in between these two sampling stations were the familiar, and not so familiar, faces of the many villen’s who made it out to celebrate. Not to mention, the delicious hors d’oeuvres provided by the Foundry’s Executive Chef.

Among the crowd floated SLF members Somerville Cleaning Company, YUM: A Taste of Immigrant City, Recover Green Roofs, Centering Touch Massage Therapy & Bodywork, Union Square Main Streets, Truly Good Design, Union Square’s Grand, and SLF Community Members—just to name a few.

As I waited in line to sample one of Pretty Thing’s unique beers, I caught up with one attendee. She had just arrived from work, and although she didn’t know many people at the event, she was eager to meet the other faces who representative and supported SLF.  Making my way through the crowd, I stopped to hello to a few of the SLF board members who introduced me to the Recover Green Roofs crew. Why did they stop by the Foundry that night? To catch up with friends, check out the venue, and support an event that brought the community together.

Social Networking

One newer SLF Member decided to check out the event in order to expand his network, connect with other members, and promote his business. A group of SLF Community Members said they attended because they’ve enjoyed previous SLF events while others attended simply to welcome in spring. Some guests came as plus ones, twos or threes, while some flew solo to sample the Foundry’s delectable dishes. A few couples were even on date night. However, by the end of the evening, the unanimous reason for attending wasn’t the delicious flatbread pizza. It was to join together and support the work of Somerville Local First.

Well after the event ended, there was a small crowd still mingling and catching up with old friends. When I asked one of the remaining guests what they thought of the event, he replied there is no better way to greet spring than by being in a room, surrounded by people who share a common goal and passion— to engage business and community leaders in building economies that are green, local and fair. With that, Somerville Local First has taken one step closer to strengthening the unique community of the ‘Ville.

The 2011 Local First Coupon Book: Get up, get out, and explore local business!

Feb 28 1:13 pm

The Independent Somerville Lunch

Fresh local food for lunch? Yes, please!

One of Somerville Local First’s community bloggers Alison Preston (@themoxstopshere) was given a challenge: Grab a copy of the new Somerville and Cambridge Local First coupon book and write about where the discounts take her! This is the first of six posts chronicling her adventures in local savings. Stay tuned to the SLF blog to find out where she goes next!

As sunny days become more frequent, it’s time to get off the couch, throw on a coat and explore your neighborhoods. I’m very excited to help highlight the 2011 Somerville and Cambridge Local First Coupon Book and even if a small period of cold weather still lingers, the book inspires me to head outside. For only ten dollars, you receive over $1,000 dollars in discounts, and a chance to support local business. As a new transplant to Boston, my coupon booklet is a map and I’m the local explorer on the go. My journey is your journey, so please follow as I discover six local businesses over the next six months.

For my first exploration experience, I chose The Independent in Union Square situated at 75 Union Square in Somerville. My choice came from the simple need to eat, and the coupon offered 20% off lunch. Immediately upon my arrival I could tell my choice was right on.

Here are my top five reasons why I will be back and why you should visit The Independent:

  • The Independent offers (as they promise on the website): “a casual, comfortable neighborhood restaurant and pub located in the heart of Union Square.” The dark wood and simple decor was very inviting and cozy, as was my friendly, knowledgeable server who made me feel right at home. The space is great for a date, as well as for a drink with friends after work.
  • The fare is not your typical bar food. New chef Mark Cina creates seasonal dishes with an attention to detail while also using local, sustainable, fresh ingredients, a BIG plus in my book.
  • You must try: the Stuffed Peppadew small plate. Peppadews resemble mini red bell peppers, sweet with a hint of heat. The Independent presents them on a plate stuffed with avocado puree and jicama salsa, and the tiny bites are flavorful and a refreshing start to a meal.
  • The beer and cocktail lists are other areas that show evidence of a careful eye and attention to variety. Offering a diverse selection of beers, from regional favorites like Harpoon and Narragansett to a selection of Belgians for beer connoisseurs, I took time to choose whilst I enjoyed reading about selections I didn’t recognize. Cocktails run from standard to inventive and are graced with fresh squeezed juices and house made syrups. I can’t wait to come back when the temperatures warm to have a cocktail with the windows open.
  • When entering an eating establishment for lunch, it is so much nicer to hear selected music instead of a TV or top 40 blaring. A few big screen TVs are located by the bar, which are great for sports nights, but I offer a big thank you to The Independent for playing Radiohead instead of Britney Spears or a sports update during my meal.
The Independent Cocktail Menu

A cocktail menu that gets creative with the classics.

Even on my first visit, I felt right at home at The Independent and I will definitely be back. For an eclectic menu, friendly service, and a great drink selection, The Independent should be on your map when exploring new spots around Somerville. Stay tuned for my next post when my map of coupons leads me another Somerville gem.

Nibbles and Bits: Celebrating Somerville’s Cultural (and Culinary) Diversity

Feb 22 2:17 pm

(Ed. Note:  Today’s intro and repost is from the Nibble Blog, a new project of the Somerville Arts Council.  Be sure to tell us what you think or ideas you may have in the comments!)

Nibbles and Bits!

As part of its ArtsUnion Project, the Somerville Arts Council has launched a new blog about food and culture in Union Square and beyond. It’s called Nibble. To give folks an idea of what this blog is all about, let’s start with the definition…
Definition of “Nibble”

1) a small bite

2) an expression of interest in something

You may ask: Why is an Arts Council writing about food?

Several reasons. Food is a great common denominator; it gets people from different ethnic backgrounds talking. Through our ArtsUnion Market Tours of Union Square, we’ve found that food tells endless stories about cultural identity. We are also intrigued by the intersection of food and art—whether it’s a chef creating artful sushi or an artist using food as a subject or medium.

We invite you to join us on this gastronomic adventure. We hope you’ll leave comments, give feedback on recipes and initiate fiery discussions about esoteric foodie topics like which dried chilis work best in chili: ancho, guajillo or both?

“Nibble” is just an appetizer. We hope it inspires you to eat your way through Union Square—to shop at its numerous international markets and dine at its diverse eateries.

Here’s a recent post from the Nibble blog where Nibble guest blogger Alexis Kochka recounts a Saturday visit to the Somerville Winter Farmers Market and reflects on the culture of buying local.

Upon a recent visit to the Somerville Winter Farmers Market I was happy to see that New England’s farming heritage is strong and visible. Popping in to pick up a few things, I noticed that a lot of my Somerville neighbors had the same idea: to enjoy a Saturday morning among community and good food. The market is held in the old Armory—an expansive, unique piece of architecture that sticks out like a castle among Somerville’s double decker homes. Once a place for military drills, The Armory’s auditorium now hosts a bustling market on Saturdays.

Local Honey ~ just a bit sweeter

Local Honey ~ just a bit sweeter

The market includes a wonderful mix of local farmers and food artisans selling local and regional in-season produce and goods. Breads, root vegetables, fruit, preserves, meat, honey, cheese, wine, and even seafood fill the arena. Each vendor I met with was happy to entertain my questions. “Where’s your farm?” “How long have you been in business?” Consistently, their answers conveyed the time and mindfulness that goes into producing their goods.The cornucopia of staples and treats looked fresh, smelled tasty, and were fairly priced. I stocked up on winter carrots, apples, squash—and picked up a few treats, like a cider doughnut that I devoured then and there with the excitement of a squirrel feasting on his first acorn after months of hibernation. And I wasn’t the only one. Later I noticed that the doughnuts were sold out; apparently other squirrels at the market had sniffed out the cinnamon goodness.

Farmer's Markets = Community

Farmer's Markets = Community

Leaving the market, I felt pleased to have participated in the time-honored food culture of New England: eating what we grow, catch and store here—in a time of empty fields and stocked cupboards. It warms my heart that this tradition is alive and well in Somerville’s contemporary urban landscape. What’s more, I was thrilled to eschew a Saturday at a big grocery store buying produce that lacks the flavor—and the heritage—of a New England tradition. [Editor's note: There are also vendors at the market, like Taza Chocolate, who import produce from far away yet practice fair trade and environmental sustainability.]

The Somerville Winter Farmers Market is held at Arts at the Armory every Saturday from 10-2, from January 8-March 28; we suggest getting there early as certain items (like cider donuts and fish) can sell out early. Participating vendors include Enterprise Farm in South Deerfield, Winter Moon Farm in Hadley, Stillman’s Farm in Hardwick, Apex Orchards in Shelburne, Cook’s Farm in Brimfield, Austin Brothers Valley Farm in Belchertown, Globe Fish Company in Boston, Hi-Rise Bread Company in Cambridge, Great Cape Baking Company in Marstons Mills, 3 Little Figs in Boston, Seta’s Mediterranean Foods in West Newton, Q’s Nuts in Georgetown, Reseska Apiaries in Holliston, Elaine Hsieh, Chocolatier, in Somerville, Taza Chocolate in Somerville, Coastal Vineyards in South Dartmouth, Turtle Creek Winery in Lincoln and Zoll Cellars Winery in Shrewsbury.

The Union Square Farmers Market will begin June 4.

Nibble is part of the Somerville Arts Council’s ArtsUnion Project, which aims to spur the cultural economic development of Union Square, Somerville. Generous funding for the ArtsUnion initiative is provided by the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s John and Abigail Adams Program and the City of Somerville. ArtsUnion has numerous partners, such as SCATV, Union Square Main Streets, ArtSomerville and the Somerville Historic Preservation Commission.

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developed with a whole lotta local love by trulygood