EAST LONGMEADOW – Bill and Mary Ann Lucia, residents of Springfield, have been announced as the winners of CISA's Local Hero Restaurant Days Raffle. The prize? A wine dinner for six guests at Center Square Grill in East Longmeadow. The Lucias were chosen at random from a pool of entrants who completed the not-so-onerous task of eating out at three Local Hero restaurants during the qualification period.
Bill Collins, co-owner and proprietor of the Center Square Grill and member of CISA’s Local Hero program, is putting together a special five course tasting menu appropriately paired with various wines and will be talking through the pairings one by one for an evening of education and local delights.
CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture) works to highlight the many restaurants in the Pioneer Valley that support nearby farms and the local food economy as part of the non-profit's larger effort to strengthen farms and engage the community to build the local food economy.
Collins prides himself on sourcing many of the ingredients on his menu from local farms, including Copperhead Farm in Hadley and Equinox Farm in Sheffield, and he graciously offered the prize, valued at $1,000, in order to encourage diners to experience local offerings at a range of restaurants.
He and Aja Lippincott from CISA welcomed the couple into his establishment to talk a bit about how the evening will unfold and what kinds of pairings they can expect to enjoy.
The Lucias, who often cook dinner at home with local ingredients from the Forest Park Farmers’ Market, expressed excitement and enthusiasm to claim their prize.
“We've never done anything like this before,” Bill Lucia said. “I'm excited for a chance to try something new. I want to be surprised.”
They are no strangers to the Center Square Grill menu. Mary Ann raved about the scallops and the freshness of the vegetables.
“A nicely prepared meal with fresh vegetables and really good bread is what I love most,” said Mary Ann, who also marveled at just how much good, fresh, local food one can find in the area. They travel from Springfield to Northampton to enjoy a meal out from time to time.
For those of us not lucky enough to join the Lucias for their special night, remember that there are many other eating establishments in the area serving up fresh, local fare. Visit www.buylocalfood.org to see a list of Local Hero restaurants, as well as farms, you can visit year round and to learn how you, too, can support your local food economy.