Just north of Boston and Cambridge lies the city of Somerville, Massachusetts. For those who live, work, or study within its borders, there’s a lot to love about Somerville. Whether it’s for the walkability of its neighborhoods and vibrant city squares, the great restaurants, or the myriad community events, Somerville draws in an eclectic crowd of students, families, and commuters.
Spend some time in Somerville and you’ll inevitably discover that it is also a treasure trove of storefronts, workshops, and studios where artisans and craftspeople channel their creativity into producing everything from responsibly sourced chocolate to art, pottery, and handmade goods.
In this blog, we’ll introduce you to a handful of local Somerville makers whose products are so delectable, so positively, perfectly delicious, that we knew we had to have them in our shops and online store.
Discovering Local Brands
At Boston General Store, you’ll find unique goods and foods from around the world. But what really excites us is when we can bring a local maker into our shops with a product that aligns with our mission to celebrate quality ingredients and honest, responsible manufacturing processes.
We often come across these local makers when we least expect to: when a friend tucks some spicy hot dates onto a charcuterie board or shares a bar of chocolate on a hike.
Sometimes, it’s our customers who come to us requesting a particular product that they tried or saw elsewhere, which they feel would be a good fit for our shop.
And occasionally (as in the case of Q’s Nuts), we need only to follow our noses as the smell of roasting nuts wafts through open windows, teasing us out of our apartments to find the source of the heavenly aroma.
However we discover these locally made products, we love sharing them with all of you. Take a peek at these four Somerville companies who are making some incredibly tasty treats that will spice up your next picnic, dessert plate, or mid-day snack!
Husband-and-wife team Beth and Brian “Q” Quinn have been roasting nuts since 2000, when they started a side business doing event roasting. Using high-quality ingredients (local, whenever possible) and drawing inspiration from family recipes, places they’ve visited, and meals they’ve enjoyed, the Quinns create unique flavor combinations with a variety of nuts. Their family business has grown to include two locations where they experiment with roasts that run the gamut from sweet to savory and everything in between! Their nuts are vegan as well as gluten, soy and dairy free.
When the people speak, we listen. So many of our customers reached out to us about carrying Taza Chocolate that it was a no-brainer bringing them into our stores. Taza makes minimally processed, stone-ground chocolate with bold flavor and a rustic texture that really lets the complexity of the cacao stand out. As a company, they are an exemplar of ethical cacao sourcing, maintaining direct relationships with cacao farmers who respect the rights of their workers and the environment. In their Somerville factory, they take cacao from bean to bar, making a variety of boldly flavored chocolates with notes of coffee, cinnamon, and chili. Their barks and chocolate-covered nuts are dangerously good; to open a bag and not eat the entire thing in one go is an exercise in self-restraint! (Trust us, we know!)
The origins of Somerville Chocolate are somewhat unique. They began selling chocolate through a CSA model, offering shares that consist of regular chocolate “harvests”, in an effort to involve people in the bean-to-bar chocolate-making process and to highlight variations in origin and flavor. While you can still join their chocolate CSA, they also offer a selection of bars for purchase. Most of these small-batch chocolate bars evolved from previous CSA harvests. We love Somerville Chocolate’s bars both for their unique compositions and flavor profiles and also for the way that they are hand wrapped in vintage maps of Somerville.
The folks at Hot Dates Kitchen have achieved perfection in a singular, delicious creation. Hot Dates are Medjool dates stuffed with spiced sunflower butter, covered in dark chocolate, and sprinkled with sea salt. They’re sweet and salty with just a kick of spice, and they are equally at home in a picnic basket, tucked into a hiking backpack, or rubbing elbows with some Gruyère on a cheese board.
We hope you’ve enjoyed marveling at all the tasty treats we have found in Somerville, MA. The only thing left to do is to try them for yourself!We are always looking for local companies that make products that align with our mission and complement our current product selection. If you know of a product that you think would be a good fit for our shops and online store, shoot us a line firstname.lastname@example.org and send us a link to their website or online catalog!