Archive for May, 2011


Simon

Monday Night Produce starts today!

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME LOCAL PRODUCE??? (insert Monday Night Football announcer voice here)

Today we kick off of our Monday Night Produce stand, which will happen every other Monday through the Fall, 4 to 8pm in front of the Market. Each week we’ll have yummy samples, and our own produce guru Lawrence will be here to share his knowledge.

Tonight, we’ll celebrate Swanton organic strawberries, which are right now in their prime. Located in Davenport, CA (about 60 miles away–drive right by the farm on your way to Santa Cruz!) Swanton Berry Farm has been certified CCOF Organic since 1987. We’re so proud to support Swanton because they’re doing things right: Jim Cochran, founder and co-owner, not only helped jump-start the organic strawberry industry, but is also encouraging fair labor practices among sustainable growers. For this they recently were named a winner in the Natural Resources Defense Council’s third-annual “Growing Green Awards” recognizing those promoting sustainable agriculture and food.

Jim takes a slow approach to farming, using cover crops and high quality compost. To ensure the most flavor, he’s careful to not over-water, saying “we get better flavor when we don’t push our plants too hard!” The union contract Swanton has for their workers shows their commitment to the human side of farming. All of this makes for delicious strawberries, which are right now at their peak!

Tonight we’ll have berries to taste, along with Bi-Rite Creamery homemade shortcake–come by!


Memorial Day Inspiration: Danish Brunch

With Alder Lane Eggs, Katz Sauvignon Blanc Vinegar, St. Benoit Yogurt and Black Pig Bacon I brought home from Bi-Rite, I recently went about returning to my happy place;  I highly recommend it to fill the luxurious time of a Memorial Day Weekend at home.
I’ve spent a lot of time in Denmark. You know, that place somewhere over there in Scandinavia, where people ride bikes, sport trendy blond haircuts, lounge on designer chairs, and drink schnapps. Nope, not Sweden. I’ve heard all sorts of crazy rumors about Denmark, and have spent years trying to debunk the myth that Cheese Danish is the national breakfast of the Vikings. It’s herring on rye bread washed down with a Carlsberg. duh.
All kidding aside, my absolute favorite part of Danish culture is their fascination with brunch. I’ve always been a fan of breakfast, and I was ecstatic to find a whole culture that may be slightly more obsessed than I am! I spent most of my weekends in Copenhagen discovering the breakfast gems of the city, and had a meticulous method of ranking an outstanding brunch. You see, there are many, many factors to a delicious Danish brunch.

Alder Lane eggs: taste the rainbow!

First of all, the Danes are serious when it comes to cafes. I’ve never been more comfortable, cozy and content while lounging around with friends; the neighborhood restaurants provide board games, down blankets, candles, and near-perfect music. Cafes are open from the wee hours of the morning until…the wee hours of the morning! You can have a beer at 10 AM, or a coffee at 3 AM. Anything goes! Most importantly, Denmark is the land of “hygge,” or coziness, and it shows in their hospitality. It’s all about spending meaningful time with friends, and I certainly did my share of that over brunch.
The second most important factor in Danish brunch is understanding the simple notion that humans don’t like to make too many decisions, certainly not before they’ve had their stor latte, and certainly not about their food in the early morning.  In Denmark, you don’t have to. Sweet, savory, salty, spicy, crunchy, cold, hot, pickled… you name it and it makes an appearance on the danish brunch plate. YES, all on the very same plate. In fact, the Danes make it simple for you: order either the “meat brunch” or the “vegetarian brunch” and you’re good to go. None of this American tradition of substitutions.
Having moved to San Francisco from Copenhagen, I attempted to introduce Americans to my new found love of the all-inclusive breakfast. My friends tried to reason that it’s just called “brunch” here, and that I didn’t know what I was talking about. “Oh no,” I’ve argued,”It’s different.”  My only solution has been to recreate my own Danish brunch, almost every weekend, and get as many friends on board as possible.
I’d like to think that my homemade brunches rate high on my personal BGS (brunch grading system). The key criteria of a successful brunch can be divided into many categories, including Quality of Ingredients, Variety of Product, Presentation, Uniqueness, and Experience (hold up: I need to clarify that this is a system that I personally invented. It’s not a Danish thing, it’s an Alli thing. Don’t go quizzing your Danish friends on their knowledge and opinions on the BGS).  In fact, I’ve shared a few photos from my most recent brunch so that you can judge for yourself! I’d say that it fairs pretty well, but was lacking an essential piece of cheese and rye bread, and could have used some pate and cornichon, or some grilled vegetables. It’s all about diversity on the plate, mind you.

My trusty co-chef Ian, ready to dig in

I hope that you’ve gathered some inspiration for your long weekend, and that you’ll find me in the market to talk about breakfast ideas, Arne Jacobsen, or even The Little Mermaid (who knew that was originally a Danish fairytale? A very dark one, in fact). Go on, light some candles, get cooking and let me know how it goes!


Raph

Introducing…Josey Baker Bread!

Very proud to introduce guest blogger Josey Baker. Josey is a one-man bread bakery right here in the Mission, and we begin selling his bread…today! Thought we’d let you hear about it from the horse’s (very expressive) mouth:

THE CAT IS OUTTA THE BAG THE TRAIN HAS LEFT THE STATION THE WOLVES HAVE BROKEN INTO THE HENHOUSE WAAAAHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

um, excuse me josey baker, what are you freakin out about???

OH NOTHING JUST THAT I’M GOING TO START SELLING MY BREAD AT A LITTLE PLACE CALLED BI RITE MARKET MOTHEREFFER YEESSSSSSSSSS! ! !

oh wow! now i see why you’ve been freakin out. good for you dude!

I KNOW RIGHT TOTALLY TOTALLY RIP ROARING AWESOME I AM FEELING LIKE I JUST MASTERED A TRIPLE BACK FLIP TWIST OFF A ROCKCLIFF THROUGH A HUGE WATERFALL OH MAN OH MAN OH MAN

well that’s pretty amazing (and a little weird) and i’m wondering if you could calm down and actually tell me some of the details? maybe stop writing in all caps even?

STOP WRITING IN ALL CAPS WHY IN THE HECK WOULD I WANNA DO THAT I’M GONNA BE IN BI RITE WWWAAAAAHHHOOOOOOO

josey…

FINE.

Starting today, May 25th, my bread will be in Bi-Rite every Wednesday & Thursday evening @ 5pm. i’m working with SF bike messenger company TCB Courier, who are super duper cool, to bike the bread from Mission Pie hot outta the oven. in case ya don’t know, Bi-Rite is on 18th St b/w Guerrero & Dolores.

the Bi-Rite bread schedule for now:

Wednesday, 5-9pm

  • black pepper parmesan
  • seed feast

Thursday, 5-9pm

  • walnut levain
  • whole wheat levain

and check this out – there are special treats in store for those who buy these first Bi-Rite breads… you’ll be able to take the bread bag from Bi-Rite and bring it to Mission Pie, where i will trade you for secret treats. will tell you more about this soon.

get ready. and tell your friends. and your enemies. this is going to be awesome.

in case you couldn’t tell, this is really big news for me, so again, as always, THANK YOU for your support. it makes me feel very special.

hearts & rainbows,

josey


Chili

BN Ranch Beef: What Makes it Unique

Today is a big day: we roll out this year’s BN Ranch grass fed beef in our meat case!  Bill Niman’s seasonal, grass-fed beef is only available for a few weeks out of every year; I asked him to join us as a guest blogger and share more about what makes his beef  unique. Here’s what he said:

Beginning this week, and for the following ten weeks, BN RANCH will be making a very limited offering of grass grown and finished beef from our own ranch in Bolinas (Marin County).

This beef will be quite different than other beef in the marketplace today. For starters, it comes from truly mature beef. These cattle were nearly three years old at harvest (a full year older than most beef at slaughter) which provides a unique flavor and finish. Additionally, these animals were slaughtered directly off our pastures – not a feedlot or dry-lot — at precisely the moment they reached their peak condition. Just as elk and venison have a peak moment, so does beef that is truly grass raised and fattened. In our view, the very best grass-fed beef is a seasonal offering like great ripe tomatoes, peaches, and Beaujolais Nouveau.

One of our Grass Hereford Angus Cattle

The exact time of year when cattle on grass will achieve prime condition varies slightly from year to year, according to climate and geography. And for us, this year, the moment is now.
This year’s BN RANCH beef will come from 75 Black Angus and Hereford-Angus-cross animals, all born from our own breeding cows on our Bolinas ranch. They spent their entire lives on pasture. It goes without saying that none of these animals was ever given hormones, or fed antibiotics or any meat or fish by-products. They were raised entirely on mother’s milk and natural forage (including a very small amount of hay), and according to the highest possible animal welfare and environmental standards.

We have been perfecting this method for excellent grass-fed beef (similar to traditional methods that prevailed before World War II) for the last eight years. We believe you will find it to be the finest grass fattened beef available.

Join me and the Bi-Rite team at 18 Reasons on June 10th for a tasting and discussion of how we bring our meat to you. Two sessions, 6-7 pm or 7:30-8:30 pm. Tickets here, $25 for 18 Reasons members or $35 for the general public.


Simon

Diggin’ Deeper: Rain, Rain, I Don’t Mind!

Throughout the growing season there are many emotional highs, and hopefully not too many lows. This past weekend was an all-time high at the Bi-Rite Farms:  with the help of the 18 Reason Farm School students, we sank 1,800 starts into the ground.  This is very rewarding, as we’d tended these starts for 2 months in the city, and were more then ready to get them into the ground.  The tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers are ready to set their roots and get growing. After the transplant session the first thing on my mind is getting them some water so they don’t dry up.  Luckily, there was rain in the forecast for the next day–the perfect storm for these transplants.

All of this mid-May moisture really helps the lettuce heads, keeping them tender and sweet! Come by the market this weekend and pick up some of our own Lil Gems with some amazing vino from the Wine Blitz.

Olivia and her Lil Gems




Register Recipe: Firewater Cocktail

Have you tried Prometheus Springs Elixirs? We carry the Lemon Ginger, Lychee Wasabi, and Pomegranate Black Pepper varieties, and they’re hot.  That is, they are spicy.  Really spicy. 

These all-natural, non-alcoholic capsaicin spiced elixirs each contain a blend of delicious heat extracted from chili peppers, layered with refreshing gourmet flavors. The active ingredient, capsaicin, boosts metabolism and elevates mood by releasing endorphins for a happy, healthy high.  These also make for great mixers, dressings and marinades.  SPICY!

The lemon ginger is particularly perfect for pairing into a more potent potion.  My fellow cashier Skylar has created quite the cocktail by pairing Prometheus Springs’ Lemon Ginger with locally made SF  “China Beach” Vodka.  She describes the drink as rather piquant at first, but promises the flavors will mellow out before your next sip.

The Firewater

2 oz SF China Beach Vodka

1 oz Prometheus Springs Lemon Ginger Capsaicin Spiced Elixir

Squeeze of lime

Fill a highball glass with ice.  Add lime juice and vodka;  stir.  Top with elixir and stir some more.  Garnish with lime.


Mel

Prepping for my first Wine Blitz

Just a few days to go before my first Bi-Rite Wine Blitz (it runs this Thursday 5/19 through Sunday 5/22)!  We’re working hard to get everything organized, and I am anxious and excited about what to expect. One thing is for sure: we have so many delicious wines that it will be easy to put together a solid mixed case for every guest who walks in the door. As I put together my own case, I want to share a couple of wines that surely can’t be missed:

Domaine Maume Gevrey Chambertain 2008 (regularly $49.99, Blitz price $39.99): I am quite fond of Burgundy, and I’m thrilled about this Burgundy from Domaine Maume. Winemaking has been in the Maume family since 1870 and has been passed down from generation to generation. Today, Bertand Maume is the man in charge, with help from his father.  The secret to Maume’s success is his non-stop dedication to the top selection of vine cuttings in the family’s vineyards, which he accomplishes by isolating vines with the healthiest grapes and only replanting the best.  Their youngest vines in the vineyards are about 50 years old, which results in a beautifully complex wine. It can be enjoyed now, or can be saved for a special occasion. This is one of the best Burgundies I’ve tasted from Gevrey Chambertain that doesn’t break the bank.

Mas de Daumas Gassac Rosé Frizant (regular $27.99, Blitz price $22.39): This is from one of my favorite producers from the Languedoc in France. The vineyards date back all the way to the time of Charlemagne. Typically known for their amazing, long-lived Cabernet Sauvignon Blends, I am excited about their Rosé Frizant for the Summer Blitz. It’s a dry sparkling rosé made with 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Petit Manseng. This sparkler has fine lively bubbles, with flavors of ripe raspberry and lots of minerals. This is a perfect wine to take to any summer BBQ or to enjoy on a nice hot day!

Look forward to saying hi this Thursday through Sunday while you choose your own favorites for your case!


Sara

Che Sorpresa! Traditional Italian Salami

I’d like to take a moment for salame (sal = salt, salame = cured sausage). Salami (in English) is typically made from pork, natural casings, and a variety of flavorings such as wine, garlic, cloves, peppercorns and hot chilies, and then left to cure. Originally developed as a method of preservation in the days before ice-boxes, curing involves adding salt and spices to protein and then waiting… patiently… for the flavors to meld and the chemistry to work its magic!

At Bi-Rite, we’re proud to announce our expanded selection of handcrafted salami from Creminelli Fine Meats, a traditional salumiere (or cured meat producer) based in Utah and founded in 2007 by Cristiano Creminelli. The famiglia Creminelli traces its roots as salumiere as far back as the 1600’s. Imagine that family tree! And even though Cristiano uses modern technology to monitor his products, he remains dedicated to the traditional methods that have been passed down to him from his grandfather and father in northern Italy. Check out this video to hear Cristiano’s story in his own words. His commitment to using high quality, natural heritage breed pork, combined with his love for making salami, really shines through in the final product!

In addition to Creminelli’s Tartufo, Barolo and Wild Boar salami that we offer by the link in the grocery department, we now carry four new varieties sliced to order in the Deli: Soppressa (garlic), Calabrese (spicy), Finnocchiona (fennel seed) and Milano (peppercorn). We’d love to give you taste. Buon appetito!!


Cooking Cinco de Mayo lunch for Mission High

Each year, Mission High School sets a challenge for the student body to inspire students to do well on state testing.  Last year the challenge was simple: if the student’s scores went up, the school would find a famous chef to cook a meal for them.  The scores went up by 70 points, the highest gain of any of the comprehensive high schools in SFUSD; now it was time for the school to make good on their challenge!

Delfina chef Matt Gandin readies their chopped salads

Mission High Principal Eric Gutherz approached us with the goal of serving a meal to all 1,000 of his students,  and we thought it was a great opportunity to band together with other restaurants surrounding Mission High and make it a team effort.  We approached The Slanted Door (did you know that head chef Charles Phan is a Mission High grad?), Delfina and Frances, who all offered to join us in feeding the school. We decided on Cinco de Mayo as a festive day for the party, and that we’d serve lunch to the students on long tables that stretched all the way across the Mission High football field.  Pica-Pica came on board to make plantain chips for the tables, and both Mission Pie and Anthony’s Cookies donated 500 cookies for dessert.

Get a load of the menu:

Bi-Rite: BBQ Brisket Sandwich with Cole Slaw, Potato Salad

Delfina: Lumachine with Sunday Supper Sauce; Chopped Salad

Frances: Lamb Confit Sandwich on Brioche Bun; Asparagus and Potato Salad with Crisp Shallots

The Slanted Door: Chicken Curry with Rice Noodles

Whole lotta chicken curry from The Slanted Door

What a scene it was, 1,000 students plus teachers, chefs, 30 volunteers from Charles Schwab, SF politicians (Bevan Dufty and Supervisor Scott Wiener came out for the affair!) sharing a meal together.   A live band and dj supplied the tunes, and Principal Eric was so thrilled that he jammed on the guitar for the rest of the school once lunch was over!

Congrats to the students of Mission High, and to their hardworking teachers.

Principal Eric rocking out for students


Simon

Diggin’ Deeper: Updates from Bi-Rite Farms

Now that the 2011 farm season is in full swing, we’ll be keeping you in the loop on what we’re doing on our farms each week in our new blog series, “Diggin’ Deeper”. We chose this name for the series because the main reason Bi-Rite has our own farms is to dig deeper into what really goes into bringing fruits and vegetables to our shelves, deli and events. Operating a farm, even at our small scale, not only teaches us where our food comes from but also  helps us understand the hard work that farmers and ranchers do to feed us.

We’ve been making moves at our Sonoma farms over the past month, with hopes of having our best harvest season yet.  The land is being tilled and planted, and summer months should bring an abundance of the freshest produce possible!  As these crops set their roots and the weather warms up we’ll have a better sense of the specific harvest dates.

We just planted out a ¼ acre of specialty potatoes, including Red LaSota, Purple Viking, Yellow Carola, French and Rose Finn Fingerlings; they’ll be ready for the deli to start serving up come August.
Our 2,000 lettuce heads are looking good, with some nice Lil Gems in the mix.  There are a couple plantings of French Breakfast Radishes and 3 plantings of Arugula that will be ready in a few weeks.  The Baby Chard plants are in the ground, fighting off the bugs. The first of 3 rounds of summer squash are in the ground, and will be used in the deli all summer long.

Farmer Chopko and Farmer Kim survey the work at hand

There are 1,100 tomatoes (8 varieties), 500 eggplants (6 varieties) and 300 peppers (6 varieties) ready to be transplanted into the ground on May 14th on the first day of 18 reasons Farm Camp.  500 of the tomatoes are for the Bi-Rite Roasted Tomato Sauce! There is a 2nd round of 500 tomatoes that just germinated and will be planted in late May. Get ready for Serg’s Famous Gazpacho in the deli!

The Rainbow Carrot planting will happen in the next couple weeks; you’ll see them prepared in the deli and at a lot of 18 Reason events. We’re growing 4 varieties of beans this year: the classic green Romano bean, fresh shelling bean, French bean, and a long Chinese bean. There will also be plenty of Armenian and Lemon cukes coming out the gardens. Fresh Basil should be in abundance come the middle of the summer.


Food Trucks & Healthy Eating: Nextcourse’s Veggie Fiesta is Saturday!

I wrote about our partnership with SF nonprofit Nextcourse last month after I visited the Mission High Culinary Leaders group and did some group pickle blogging. Well the Nextcourse students have been very busy, and this Saturday they’ll throw their biggest event of the year.

They’ve partnered with Off the Grid to produce the 2nd annual “Veggie Fiesta” this Saturday, May 14th. This free, family‐friendly event will transform Dolores Street between 17th and 18th into a food truck court from 11:00am to 3:00pm. You’ll be able to choose from several of the city’s most popular food trucks, which will feature signature, vegetable‐inspired menu items that showcase the best of the Bay Area’s spring produce. A portion of the food truck sales will be donated to the nutrition education program at Mission High.

In additon to the special menu items for sale at the food carts, visitors will be able to purchase a special treat that Mission High School’s Culinary Leadership Team developed as part of their nutriton education program (we’ve helped them get their hands on the raw ingredients but I’m not telling you what the treat is!), with all proceeds going towards the nutrition program. The Fiesta will also feature games and a raffle for prizes including a butchering class from 4505 Meats, a 3‐day “romance package” in New Orleans, and two round‐trip Virgin America airline tickets to anywhere in the United States.

Nextcourse, a San Francisco nonprofit that teaches sustainable food education and cooking to lower income groups, has been teaching nutrition and cooking classes at Mission High for the past five years. The “Eat UR Veggies” project introduces students to cooking with local, seasonal, fresh foods, and recruits participants with a passion for food to the culinary leadership team. The team teaches their peers about healthy eating, while learning about the culinary industry through hands‐on experiences with local food businesses.

The students involved in the program are a truly special group (I speak from the experience of working with them in the classroom and serving their peers a feast today at Mission High’s Cinco de Mayo lunch fiesta) so I encourage you to make the Mission High parking lot a stop on your Saturday stroll!



How favas won me over

I was in the dark on favas for too long. It took me a while before I contemplated growing fava beans in our Noe Valley garden, and even then I didn’t have the slightest clue about how much I would come to enjoy them. 

I have to say, I was impressed from planting the seeds all the way through harvest; fava seeds sprout and grow vigorously in the most depressing conditions, no problem!  These plants stand tall and proud through the dark and wet of winter.  Their roots add nutrients to the soil.  Their flowers and leafiness attract and provide habitat for beneficial insects.  If you let them grow to full size, they can produce large quantities of the edible beans, which have become a spring time culinary staple. Now that favas have passed the SF city garden test, I plan to have a crop in constant rotation.  I’ll plan on a big planting in October/November, and then again in the early Spring.

My favorite way to cook and eat favas is simple if you have fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme, a buttery extra virgin olive oil,  fresh picked young favas, and just a little patience.  Here’s what I do:

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil

2. While the water heats up, shell 3 lbs. of mid-season favas; discard the pods (or save them to make a fava stock!)

3. Parboil shelled beans for 1 minute, then drain and immediately toss them into an ice bath for a few minutes

4. Drain again and remove their pale green skins by piercing outer skin with your thumbnail and popping out the bright green bean with a pinch

5. Warm 1/2 cup of olive oil in a shallow, heavy bottom saute pan

6. Add beans and a pinch of salt

7. Add 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped very fine

8. Add a sprig of thyme, one of rosemary, and a small splash of water (just enough to cover the beans and prevent sticking)

9. Cook at a slow simmer, stirring and tasting frequently for about 30 min, until they become completely soft, pale green and easy to mash into a puree; if needed add more water to prevent sticking

10. When the beans are done, remove herbs and mash the beans into a paste with the back of a wooden spoon

11. Taste for seasoning and add more olive oil and a squeeze of lemon to taste.  If the puree is still too thick or dry, add more olive oil.

Spread your bright green puree onto a piece of toasted country-style bread with a healthy shaving of Parmesan for a special springtime snack.  Or I love to leave the puree a bit chunky, crumble in some Ricotta Salata and use it as the ultimate Springtime ravioli stuffing!

As you can see, I’m sold :-)