The BSFW blog offers a periodic airing of our staff's observations and musings about things we find in our market and, frankly, can't live without. This is not a dispensing of erudite information from high on the mount; this is us sharing with you the aspects of the fine wine, craft brew and gourmet worlds that pique our interest.
This congenial approach is something we take seriously - so please feel free to comment! Afterall,it's our customers that inspire us to do what we love to do - and do it even better than before at every opportunity.
Thanksgiving is a blast, and our food department was hit especially hard. This may seem at first like bad news, but actually the opposite is true. All that empty space means I had the chance to pack the place to bursting with a wide assortment of new, fresh items, just in time for the holidays. Please allow me to take this opportunity to go over some of them here. I'll try to be brief and succinct, but you'll have to forgive me if I get a bit carried away. I do love me some gourmet food, and I'm pretty excited about our newest offerings.
Both of our self serve refrigerators and our fresh cheese cabinet are packed full of goodies. Some of my favorites are the majestic Eppoisses from Burgundy, France. This triple creme cheese has a rind washed in brandy, giving it a hedonistic walnut and caramel note. A holiday classic available now through January or so. Price for this item tends to vary from year to year, but at $15.99 it's on the low end. Also just in are blue Stilton wedges from England, a Winter classic with walnuts and your favorite port; White Stilton discs with Cranberry, Apricot or mango are a family favorite; Tillamook cheddar with smoked black peppercorns for the spice lovers among you, and for the truly fearless, real German Limburger...yes Limburger, the stinky stuff.
But that's far, far from all we've got up our sleeve. We now offer a selection of cured meats, salami, even marinated steak tips, lamb in a Greek marinade, and customer favorite honey mustard turkey tips. Aidell's chicken sausages have been a big hit. They're pre-cooked, so simply heat and serve. Paired with a salad and your favorite wine, it's a quick and easy meal. Available in chicken and apple, garlic and gruyere, Italian style with mozzarella, or triyaki pineapple meatballs. All four flavors will be on deck for tasting at this week's wine tasting, so come hungry.
And if it's dinner your after, we've also got a line of hand made pastas by Cara Nonna, Don Pomodoro tomato sauces from Italy, marinated eggplant, mushrooms, and roasted red peppers, canned sardines, and a selection of fine olive oils and vinegars. In a pinch, we've even got Millie's instant soups in vegetable barley, minestrone, five bean, and vegetable rice. Bonnie's Jams from Cambridge continue to be a hit, and we've augmented them with Marcona almond butter, Greek honey, and Nutella! I call it our gourmet pb&j section.
Of course, nothing says holidays like sweets, and we have plenty. Chocolate bars from all around filled with all sorts of exotic things, things like lavender, pear, grilled almonds, hot masala, and even bacon. Of course, Somerville's own Taza chocolate is well represented. Cookies from Germany, Lazzaroni amaretti from Italy, and of course, our constant supply of fresh home made baklava courtesy of Chris' mom.
So stop by and have a look. We're always happy to chat with our customers, and if you don't see something you like, I'm always open to suggestions.
Come hungry, leave happy!
Those of you who have been with us for a while know that we're always doing our best to get better here at Ball Square Fine Wines. We've been through a lot of changes in the last few years, not the least of which has been the expansion of our Gourmet Food department. What started out as a small grab and go case offering a few well chosen snacks has blossomed into a full grown food section, and we keep getting bigger. In additon to our usual selection of munchies, may we offer you...dinner?
Yes, dinner. Perhaps our most exciting new addition is a selection of marinated meats from Dom's Sausage Co. of nearby Malden, MA. We offer two types of steak tips, honey mustard turkey tips, and lemon pepper chicken breast, all marinated in Dom's own homemade dressings. Vacuum sealed in 1.5 lbs. packages, they're ready to cook. Simply broil, bake, or for a real treat, grill them, and you're dinner is all but done. They're moist and delicious, and make a real meal easy and accessible quickly on those nights when time is tight. Don't forget the wine....oh wait, we have that too!
We've also got a small but well chosen selection of cured meats, pates and smoked salmon as well. Chorizo and Jamon Serrano from Spain, fine domestic prosciutto, pancetta or speck from artisan producer La Quercia of Iowa, or smoke Scottish salmon from Echo Falls don't even require any preperation. Simply unwrap and enjoy with your favorite cheese and a fresh baguette from Iggy's of Cambridge.
But it's not all meat and fish we're excited about these days. We've recently brought in gluten free pasta, locally made jams and jellies, and a wide range of fine chocolate bars. Coming soon, we'll have a line of vegan mousse pates as dense and rich as any liver mousse, and stay tuned for a bit of organic produce. There's always something new and delicious to try here, and I'm always glad to chat with you about what we have or any suggestions you may have.
We talked about it for months...we told you it would happen. Then one day, a big new fridge showed up in the middle of the store, but still it remained dormant.
Well, all that is changing! The fridge is cold, the lights are on, and a terrific selection of new gourmet goodies will be making its way into the shop, slowly but surely.
Some of these items are already here. We now carry a variety of smoked salmon from Echo Falls. Oakwood smoked Scottish or Alaskan Coho are of course classic with bagels and cream cheese, but don't forget that they make a great appetizer simply laid out on a plate. For something a little zestier, try the 4 oz. chunk encrusted with black peppercorns. For the wine geeks, what could be a more versatile food than smoked salmon? Go classic and pair it with a rich white Burgundy, or new world Pinot Gris. Amp it up with one of our wide selection of roses. If you're so inclined, a Pinot Noir or earthy Spanish red will do the trick too. Remember, it may be fish, but it's oily and smoky, a perfect mate for the right red.
Also just in are Spanish Chorizo and Jamon Serrano, in pre-sliced 8oz. packages, as well as prosciutto and mozzarella "rotolini", with Prosciutto and Speck on the way soon. Our chorizo is dry and spicy, piquant and zippy. Jamon Serrano, if you're not familiar with it, is Spain's ancient counterpart to Italian prosciutto. This air cured ham is robust and earthy with a pleasing sweetness. Sliced paper-thin and ready to eat, either one makes a great antipasto (or quick dinner) with one of our Iggy's baguettes, firm hard cheese, olives, and marcona almonds...all of which we have, of course. Pair it with a grippy, rustic red or a pitcher of your own magic Sangria recipe and you're set. The rotolini go with anything. Seriously, they're just that delicious. Trust me.
And remember, this is only just the beginning. We'll be adding ready-to-cook marinated meats, a small selection of local organic produce, and of course a wider variety of cheeses to our arsenal in the coming weeks, so come check us out. I'm always glad to chat about this stuff, and I welcome your comments and suggestions.
See You Soon,
Joe Ferraro, gourmet food buyer
At long last, Spring is upon us. Sure, it's been raining quite a bit, but like they say, it's good for the garden. And besides, rain or shine, we've got all the gourmet goodies you need to make your evenings (especially weekends) special.
A few weeks back, we had an impromptu tasting where we featured a number of our cheeses. Those of you lucky enough to have been there may have gotten to know Cabrales, a robust Spanish blue just making its comeback here after a Winter absence...and you remember it, cause there ain't no forgetting Cabrales.
For the uninitiated, here's a brief explanation: Cabrales is by far our strongest and most intense blue cheese. Richly marbled and pungent, this cave aged cheese has a way of upping the ante by it's mere presence, and a little bit goes a long way. Crumble a pinch on some simply dressed fresh greens, sprinkle with dried cranberries or golden raisins, and just like that you have a wonderful salad course. Sub it in for dessert with some walnuts and a glass of Oloroso sherry (or even aged dark rum!) and you've got a simple but decadent treat. When it isn't raining, grill a steak and throw some on top for a satisfying experience...because one doesn't merely "eat" Cabrales, one "experiences" it. You'll see.
Cypress Grove "Truffle Tremor" is another newbie that's really gaining ground. A soft ripened goat's milk cheese, it comes in layers. The center is fluffy white, like a classic French goat cheese, surrounded by an ooey-gooey outer layer, all of it wrapped in a natural white rind (you know, like Brie). The kicker is that it's flecked throughout with bits of black truffle. The flavors of mushroom and earth are subtle, yet very present, and perfectly balanced by the creaminess of the cheese. It's a glorious marriage of sweet and savory, earthy and creamy. Not too shabby on its own with a big round white wine (think Burgundy).
On the snackier side, we're now proud to offer "Hannahbells" from the Shy Brothers farm in Westport, Mass. This little thimble shaped fresh cheeses derives from a French cheese known as "Bouttones de coullottes" (trouser buttons). Available in plain, rosemary or shallot, make sure you have someone to share them with, lest you run the risk of eating the whole package yourself...which isn't all bad, so long as you don't make a habit of it, I guess. (P.S. kids love 'em).
And so long as we're talking local, let's all have a warm welcome back for Fiore di Nonno, Somerville's own (you heard me) brand of fresh mozzarella. Who doesn't love fresh mozzarella in the warmer months? And this stuff is really fresh, as in it was made the very morning of the day you bought it, or at least the day before. That's kind of hard to beat. Best of all, it's quite affordable. We'll also be carrying their Burratta, a ball of fresh mozzarella filled with mascarpone and fig. Again, a simple and elegant dessert stand-in. Yum.
There's also plenty more to come. In our ongoing efforts to serve our diverse community better, we have decided to expand our food offerings, bringing in more ingredients, meats, cheeses and maybe even produce. We welcome your suggestions, as always. Just stop in and grab my ear about it some time. Look for more and more fun stuff as the Summer comes on.
Valentine's Day is fast upon us, and it's a great time to enjoy some decadent treats. With our fine selcetion of cheeses, chocolates and other gourmet items, freshly stocked up, we've got you covered. Here's just a little teaser of what you'll find here at Ball Square Fine Wines.
On the wine front, many of you may be thinking Champagne, or other bottles of bubbly, as well you should be. Few things (apart from the right company) compliment a bottle of bubbles as well as a sweet soft cheese - and the fattier the better. Two of our perennial favorites, Saint Andre and Belletoile, are sure to please. Both from France, these triple cremes are soft as butter, creamy and sweet. If you prefer something earthier, try our Brie de Nangis. This is the real stuff, made from unpasteurized milk, its sweetness underpinned with a mushroomy pungency and a faint tanginess in the finish. And just for the occasion, we've brought back the Granddaddy of all triple cremes, Brillat-Savarin. With its unabashed richness and huge flavors, this cheese has a way of stopping people in their tracks. Spring some on your loved one and win some bonus right out of the gate.
Back in from Italy is our Perolari Robiola. A huge hit with customers and staff alike back at Christmas time, this mixed cow/sheep milk cheese offers a meaty, mushroomy flavor profile, great with an earthy, medium-bodied red, especially Elena Walch Schiava, one of our February Wines of the Month (aka on-sale for Wine Club Members all month long!).
If a bigger, bolder red wine is more your thing, meet our newest arrival, Cypress Grove's Truffle Tremor from California. A soft ripened goat cheese, it has a crumbly center, wrapped in a spreadable soft layer wrapped in a fluffy white rind. The kicker? It's flecked throughout with black truffle bits. This cheese is downright hedonistic. Like its popular brother Humboldt Fog, this cheese's greatest attribute is that it bears no comparison. It tastes like nothing you ever had.
We've also got a great selection of chocolates, most notably from local Somerville producers The Chocolate Tarte and Garuda, who will be in for a tasting event this Wednesday, Feb. 9. Come check them out. Early arrivals will be treated to a special batch of red velvet cupcakes. Yum.
Like I said, that's only a small part of what you'll find here. Stop and check out our full range. You're sure to find just the thing to put a smile on someone's face.
Cheese. You know you love it. It's one of mankind's oldest and greatest comestibles, right up there with wine and beer. What better time to enjoy a little extra something decadent that now at the holiday season. I certainly have been.
When the weather turns chilly, I tend to favor hearty, rustic red wines. That's where some of our harder cheese come into play. I'm a particular fan of our Provolone Vecchio (aged provolone). This cheese is about as strong as a hard cheese gets. Made in huge logs and aged for over three years, it has a pungent, almost mushroom-like aroma. The texture is firm almost to the point of crumbliness, and the flavor is rich and earthy, dry with a salty bite. True, it's tough and not for the faint of heart, but come in from the cold and enjoy with a hearty red and maybe some salami and you'll see what I mean.
Let's not forget our soft cheeses,though. We are, after all, deep into Champagne and bubbly season too. Nothing, and I mean nothing, goes better with Champagne than a buttery soft triple creme, full of fat and oh-so-delicious! Try some Langres, a rich triple creme from France with a distinctive rippled yellow rind, produced by washing the cheese in Champagne marc during it's production. We've also got the classic Brillat Savarin, a triple creme so rich it might as well be butter. Also French, this cheese is spreadbly soft, rich and sweet, but with a distinctive tang in it's long and decadent finish. Do yourself a favor this New Year's and spring for one of these and a bottle from our selection of high end, hand carfted boutique grower Champagnes.
And how about all those parties? Entertaining should be fun for the host as well as the guests, and your hors d'ouvres need not be complicated to be real yummy treats. Baguette slices topped with dijon mustard, pate and a cornichon pickle is always sure to please, or for a sweet/savory treat, baguette with quince paste and a hard Spanish sheeps milk cheese, such as Manchego, Roncal, or the Basque Ossau Iraty wins every time. Even something as simple as Landaff, a hard Welsh style chees from New Hampshire, cut in cubes and drizzled with southern Tupelo honey will wow them. All these things take minimal effort, and yet they are wonderful special treats. Best of all, you can spend more time where you want to, out of the kitchen and with your guests.
O.K. better stop now, I'm getting hungry! Come check out our gourmet department for these and many other delightful treats to make your holiday season just a little more special...or at least a little yummier.