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Archive for January, 2011

Register Recipes: Limequat Margarita

We’ve certainly been experiencing different weather patterns than the rest of the country here in San Francisco. My little brother emailed me a few days ago from Pennsylvania to share stories of sledding and snowball fights. Meanwhile, Bi-Rite has been flooded by guests looking for cold beers and chilled wines to complement the warmer weather. If I shared this recipe with my folks they would surely think not just how seasonally inappropriate a margarita sounds but also what exactly a limequat is. Turns out, this chilled cocktail is wonderful during our ‘winter’ and a limequat is a sour, aromatic hybrid of a kumquat and a lime. Let our snow-covered friends to the east toast to warmer days; let us sun-bathed folk to the west enjoy a margarita featuring seasonally appropriate citrus.

Serves 4

8-10 limequats
¼ c sugar
8 oz Herradura tequila
Salt (if desired) for rim of glass

Slice and seed limequats, muddle with sugar, and mix thoroughly with two cups of water. Prepare glasses with tequilia and ice; strain sugar mixture into glasses. Garnish with salt and a slice of quat.


How we get the meat we eat

Another great video: Nicolette Hahn Niman of BN Ranch on how to change our Industrial Food System. Also, don’t miss the article she wrote last week for the LA Times
about America’s Good Food Fight.

Like Grandma used to make it

When you have 20 minutes, watch this great video from Cooking with Italian Grandmothers author Jessica Theroux, called “Calabrian Fireside Cooking”:

Cooking with Italian Grandmothers from Welcome Books on Vimeo.

One grandma laments the old days while foraging for wild greens in her backyard groves, saying “We’re losing the small farmer. He just doesn’t exist anymore.”

Another finishes a dish of beans, greens and homemade pasta, saying she cooks it “The way we used to eat, and still eat today.”

The way grandma used to make it–it’s a sentiment we are attached to here at Bi-Rite, and try to impart upon our guests when it comes to selling food right from the source, and keeping preparation simple.

Make sure you make through to the grandma who makes Falij pasta (pasta en casa)–Che bello!


Celebrate the season!

It may be the middle of winter, but the Bay Area local farms continue to grow and harvest amazing vegetables.  Full Belly Farm, Mariquita Farm, and Happy Boy Farm deliver their fresh-picked goodies to us twice a week!  

Full Belly Farm is harvesting tasty Nante and Atomic Red carrots perfect for a winter stew.  These farming gurus are also supplying us with beautiful Green Garlic in January (it’s usually an early spring crop).  Mariquita’s farmers  are the masters of growing Italian vegetable varieties. Try their sweet, tender heirloom Broccoli di Cicco or flavorful  chicories like Castelfranco Radicchio and Escarole, which are the perfect substitute for Romaine lettuce in a Caesar Salad. Matt’s favorite is making a salad with these chicories and heating up the salad dressing before pouring it on the salad; since the greens are heartier than regular lettuce, this softens them a bit.

Oh yeah – I can’t forget to mention the bright green and super yummy Romanesco Cauliflower; just chop into chunks, toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and maybe some garlic or rosemary, and roast to caramelized perfection. Happy Boy is currently our main grower for winters greens like Lacinato and Red Russian Kale. Their Red Chard is also wonderful, and the bagged Braising Mix is a combination of at least 4 varities of winter greens.  This is a the perfect  time of year to enjoy all of the nutritionally packed local veggies at Bi-Rite.


The Citrus Bomb has exploded

It’s been a slow build…tick….tick…tick….and boom–we currently have 20 varieties of California citrus on the shelves of our produce department! California citrus usually hits its peak in the beginning of February so we are just getting started.  We love to focus on unique varieties that offer a wide range of flavor.  The Cara Cara Red Navel which originated in Venezuela is getting better every day with its sweet flavor and tender pulp and overtones of raspberries and strawberries. The Moro Blood Orange which originated in Sicily has a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. It is a very rich and juicy piece of citrus that is great for juicing, cooking or segmenting on top of a chicory salad.  The Bergamot Orange is an acidic piece of citrus with a peel that yields an essential oil most commonly recognized in Earl Grey Tea.  They work great for candied confections and marmalade (for which we also have Seville Oranges, which are traditionally most often used for marmalade). We have plenty of easing peeling, sweet flavored varieties like the Satsuma, Clementine and Page  Mandarins.  The Citrus Wall at Bi-Rite changes throughout the season with bite-sized Kishu Mandarins and Kumquats just around the corner, and everyone’s favorite seedless “candy-like” Pixie Tangerines coming in March.  Please come in anytime and ask the produce clerks for a tasty sample!

Biographies Told Through Wine

Greetings from 18 Reasons!

On January 18th, we are launching a new type of wine class that I am excited about and so I wanted to chime in here and give you some background.  As I learn more about wine (thank you, Trac, Matt, and Sarah), I am as inspired by the stories behind the wines as I am by the lovely stuff in the bottles.  I am curious to know what drives winemakers in their pursuit of The Great Bottle? Is it taste? Romance? Science? We decided to find some answers by developing a storytelling wine class.  During each class the selected wine maker will tell you his or her story through words and wines, pouring the wines that inspired them as they tell the story of that inspiration.  They are simple classes – no 12 bottle drunken extravaganzas – and we hope that their quietness will allow for us to ask ample questions, have a good conversation, and learn about why the wine we love came to be.

First up is Don Heistuman of Aha Wines and the maker of Bebame. For anyone who has tasted Bebame, Don’s Cabernet Franc/Gamay blend, it is clear that Don is an American winemaker marching to the beat of his own drummer.  Devoted to making wines reminiscent of the Loire Valley, Don proves that California soil can produce elegant, structured, and low alcohol French-style wines. During this two hour class we will learn his story by tasting the wines that inspire him and the one that inspiration produced.  The class is January 18th, from 7-9PM and tickets are still available here.

Winter 2011 Catering Menu Specials

We’ve selected favorites from our Winter Menu that we’re offering to cater your next dinner party, business lunch or wedding!

Party Platters

Savory Tartlets with Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onions, Apples, Pt. Reyes Blue Cheese and Sage   (30 pieces) $55

House-smoked Salmon and Tobiko Caviar on Anna’s Daughter’s Rye with Caper Cream Cheese and Fresh Dill    (30 pieces) $70

Endive Spears with Crab Salad, Winter Citrus, Parsley and Chervil (30 pieces)  $75

Truffle-Infused Frittata with Mushrooms, Potato and Chives (36 bite-sized pieces) $50

Sides and Salad Platters

Please serve at room temperature; each order serves 12 to 15 people

Roasted Beet Salad with Capricho de Cabra Goat Cheese, Citrus Vinaigrette and Sunflower Seeds $55

Farro Salad with Roasted Winter Squash, Fresh Cranberries and Cider Vinaigrette $55

Roasted Winter Root Vegetables with Hot Peppers, Happy Boy Farms Braising Greens and Balsamic-Grilled Onion Vinaigrette $55

Brussels Sprouts and David Little Dry-Farmed Potato Salad with House-made Pancetta and Red Wine-Shallot Vinaigrette $55

French Lentil Salad with Duck Leg Confit, Grilled Winter Chicories and Blood Orange Vinaigrette $55


All Cupcakes are Available in Full Size ($30 per dozen) or Mini ($20 per dozen)

*Pumpkin Cupcakes with Macadamia Crunch Buttercream

*Chocolate Midnight Cupcakes with Peppermint Buttercream and Candy Canes

*Sour Cream Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Peanut Brittle Buttercream

*Spice Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream

Double Chocolate Tartlets: Mini Chocolate Pastry Shells filled with Rich and Creamy Chocolate Ganache (30 pieces)  $45

Classic Cream Puffs filled with Hazelnut Cream (1 dozen)  $20


Valentine’s Menu 2011

Available Saturday, February 12th through Monday, February 14th

In the Deli

House Poached Wild Gulf Shrimp $24.99 / lb

Fresh Steamed Lobsters (market price)

Fresh Dungeness Crab Meat $29.99 / lb

Crab Cakes $6.99 each

Fennel Crusted Tombo Tuna Steaks with Blood Orange Aioli $9.99 / each

Poached Wild Salmon Filets with Citrus Gremolata  $9.99 / each

Chicken Cordon Bleu $8.99 each

Winter Root Vegetable Mash with Potatoes and Golden Beets   $5.99 / lb

Butternut Squash and Portobello Mushroom Napoleon $8.99 /each

From the Meat and Seafood Case

Point Reyes Miyagi Oysters $1.25 each

California Paddlefish Caviar $30.00 / oz

California Osetra Caviar $60 / oz

Petrale Pinwheels with Fresh Herbs $19.99 / lb

Prosciutto-Wrapped Scallop Skewers $24.99 / lb

Fresh Liberty Farms Duck Breasts $17.99 / lb

Pancetta Wrapped Pork Tenderloins  $14.99 / lb

Atkins Ranch Rack of Lamb $23.99 / lb

Five Dot Ranch Filet Mignon $29.99 / lb

Five Dot Ranch Rib Eye Steaks $16.99 / lb

Grass Fed Beef Braciole $22.99 / lb

Heritage Pork Roulade $17.99 / lb

Wine Suggestions

Andre Robert Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Champagne $44.99 now $29.99
Finding good Champagne under $30 is difficult, but finding a GREAT Champagne in that price range is nearly impossible. Andre Robert’s Blanc de Blancs is a screaming deal of a Champagne from the Grand Cru village of Les Mesnil. Robert is a small, independent grower-producer dedicated to sustainable farming and honest winemaking. Hints of baked bread, lemon curd, and creme brulee are all built upon a mineral-infused dry finish. Brillat Savarin is a great match for this wine and a true indulgence!

2008 Brüder Dr. Becker Scheurebe Extra Trocken Sekt $24.99
Scheurebe is an unusual grape variety from Germany bred in the early 1900’s from Riesling and Sylvaner. Sparkling Scheurebe is an even rarer occurrence but the results are remarkable – tight bubbles, bright flavors of mixed berries and cream with a lingering finish. Serve this bubbly with a wheel of Mt Tam triple cream from Cowgirl Creamery and watch your Valentine swoon!

2007 Luciano Landi “Gavigliano” Lacrima di Morro d’Alba  $19.99
If a dozen long stem roses is too much of a cliché for you and your Valentine, try this amazing wine from Lucian Landi – the vinous equivalent of a bouquet of flowers. Lacrima, an indigenous Italian grape from Piedmont, makes light bodied red wine that smells uncannily like roses!

Busy week in the SF food world: meet some food world luminaries at 18 Reasons

Next week, San Francisco will erupt with people who buy and sell food [as if it doesn’t always]…it’s time for the annual NASFT Fancy Foods Show! January 16th-18th, the Moscone Center will be the backdrop to hundreds of food brands (80,000 food products!) putting their best foot forward in hopes of courting buyers from grocery stores near and far….including yours truly. Our team will be there, hunting for the most delicious crackers, sauces, cheeses, olives, oils, popcorn, chocolates and you name it being made today!

Whenever you get this many food biz people in one place, special things happen: like great classes at 18 Reasons! We’ve taken advantage of some special guests being in town to offer events that we’re particularly excited about:

  • Saturday Jan 15th 5-7 pm Cajun Charcuterie: Tasting & Conversation with Stephen Stryjewski (of New Orleans’ Cochon Restaurant) & Morgan Maki (of Bi-Rite Market)
  • Sunday Jan 16th 7-8 pm The Prince of Pig: Iberico Salumi Tasting
  • Monday Jan 17th 7-9 pm How To Be a Great Leader & Eat Well with Ari Weinzweig of Zingerman’s
  • Tuesday Jan 18th 7-9 pm From Bottle to Inspiration: A Biography Through Wine with Don Heistuman

The first two classes are perfect for history lovers, meat lovers, and anyone intrigued by the idea of using flavorful bites of meat in smaller portions. If you’ve never met the man behind the Zingerman’s phenomenon, you’ve got to come and learn Ari’s secrets for creating a business that is good for your mission, employees, the environment, AND your bottom line. And the wine class will bring you in close contact with the person behind a wine label–you’ll appreciate wine in a whole new way. All of these classes are ticketed; please visit our website to reserve your spot.

So whether you’re crowd-tolerant enough to launch yourself into the Moscone Center mayhem for the NASFT show, or your preference for a more intimate dialogue leads you to one of our 18 Reasons events that week, we hope to see you amongst the hubub!

Join me for a great discussion at SF Public Library on Tuesday 1/11

On Tuesday January 11th the SF Public Library is hosting a discussion panel as part of this year’s SF EATS program calendar. I’ll be speaking with other leaders in the local farm to table movement. 

As described by the organizers: “This panel discussion investigates how local and organically grown produce shapes San Francisco cooking and dining. Panelists include: Mark Sullivan, chef, Spruce; Dave Stockdale, Executive Director of the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA); Sam Mogannam, owner of Bi-Rite Market; and Jeannette Ferrary, food writer and historian. The moderator will be Dava Guthmiller of Slow Food San Francisco. Speakers explore current food trends and how these trends shape and influence future dining in San Francisco, and on a national scale.”

What is key for me is reinforcing our role as the retailer in providing consumers with farm direct food. Most of the produce sold at retail these days is through distributors that have no interest in sustainable agriculture, land stewardship, fair treatment of laborers or environmental stewardship. Their interest is to sell.

I hope that through the panel I can showcase the benefits of having direct and personal relationships with the farmers. We seek out farmers like Ginger Balakian of Balakian Farms, who considers her 4 full-time and 20 or so seasonal workers part of a large extended family.  Or Maria Catalan of Catalan farms, who learned farming techniques from her grandfather as a child in Guerrera, Mexico; as one of the first Latina migrant farm workers in the U.S. to own a farm, Maria runs educational programs to share her love and knowledge and grows some of the best produce around.

Come join us from 6-7:30 p.m, in Koret Auditorium, SF Public Library main location  (100 Larkin Street at Grove), lower level. Click here for more info.