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Archive for September, 2011

Kiko’s Food News 9.9.11

Quite a list today, but some very juicy stuff if you’ll bear with me!

Interesting ingredient alert: tomato water is the newest spinoff of the summer staple, showing up in kitchens across SF: (full story)

Google’s been a lot of things to a lot of people, but a food authority? Yesterday they acquired Zagat: (full story)

If you’re like me, you love the sound of a friend biting into a crisp apple; if you have misophonia, that sound probably makes you panic: (full story)

Researchers at the New England Complex Systems Institute have found a causal relationship between critically high food prices and social unrest; when a certain price point for food is crossed, citizens begin to look at their rulers differently: (full story)

Two Stanford d.school students have launched Culture Kitchen, a culinary school where women (or more specifically, grandmothers!) share their family recipes and insight into their cultural backgrounds: (full story)

Speaking of diverse cultural influences, this Forbes article suggests that Trader Joe’s has gained a competitive advantage in a crowded space by embracing the “immigrant perspective”: (full story)

And as for that crowded space, traditional supermarket chains are faltering, squeezed by expensive purveyors of organic, local and artisanal products on the high end and discounters like Costco and Wal-Mart on the low end. Fresh N’ Easy from British chain Tesco is not yet profitable stateside but has ambitious expansion plans in this space in SF and beyond [Sam is quoted in this one!]: (full story)

Beyond the romantic notions the phrase “locally grown” has come to elicit, in Eastern Kentucky vegetable growing is a means of feeding people who have trouble affording standard groceries from the store: (full story)

Vineyards across Sonoma County are emerging as a threat to the coho salmon, as a dwindling number of coho must contend with water-hungry vines and a frost-prevention method that can suck smaller tributaries dry: (full story)

And Sonoma’s Gravenstein Apple is another victim of the region’s emerging monoculture; the crop is threatened since land is more profitable when used to grow wine grapes: (full story)

Why say the words when you can sing them (that’s my motto at least)? A non-GMO anthem is music to our ears, “We don’t want your GMOs, we don’t want your beans. We want to grow our food with unaltered genes.”: (full story)

If you’re in North Beach, you now have your own “mini Bi-Rite”: (full story)


Our Love of the Loire, Vindicated

The wine team has been on quite the Italian kick lately, but Jon Bonné’s recent article in the Chronicle reminded us of our undying devotion to all things Loire. We’ve long championed the eclectic wines of the Loire Valley from Menetou-Salon to Muscadet, but the reds of the Loire hold a special place in our collective hearts. The Loire has some unusual and unexpected red grape varietals in additional to the ubiquitous Cabernet Franc, so instead of a Bourguiel or Chinon, we’re featuring a Côt (Malbec) and a Pineau d’Aunis and Gamay blend.

Le Rocher des Violettes Côt Vieilles Vignes $19.99

In 2005, young winemaker Xavier Weisskopf purchased a group of very old vineyards in the commune of Montlouis. Most of the vines dated from before WW II, but portions of the Côt vines he bought were planted in 1891! This Vieilles Vignes (old vines) bottling is a viticultural treasure and demonstrates a unique expression of Malbec that may surprise those used to Cahors or Argentinian versions. There’s a massive, chewy backbone to this wine, but it’s supported by ample dark fruit, coffee notes, and good acidity. This is a wine to lay down or drink with something rich and meaty, like our very own grass-fed beef short ribs!

Les Vins Contés “Poivre et Sel” $19.99

Olivier Lemasson started his journey in wine as a retailer before becoming a winemaker, and now a winegrower in Touraine. His unusual blend of the indigenous grape Pineau d’Aunis and Gamay Noir has a dedicated cult following among the staff at Bi-Rite and we’re hoping we can recruit you! With intense aromas of incense and orange liqueur followed by a light bodied palate with cranberry and earthy flavors, this is a memorable wine that demands your attention.


Si’s September Produce Update

September has started out with a bang and the late harvest season will make this month a bountiful harvest for all Bay Area farmers.


The stone fruit season is winding down, and most produce retailers in the city are selling fruit that is from the Northwest.  However, we are fortunate to still have amazing peaches and nectarines from Marchini Ranch in the Sierra foothills.  Stone fruit that grows in the mountains is so flavorful and juicy due the length of time it takes the fruit to ripen on the tree with all of the cold nights.  If you haven’t had a peach this summer that truly satisfies your taste buds, this is your last chance.

Local specialty melons are finally on point with their flavor and texture.  Matt our produce buyer loves the Sharlyn melon from Full Belly Farm in Capay Valley.  The Sharlyn looks like an elongated cantaloupe with pale green flesh and a perfume-like fragrance.  Melon season is so exciting–we’ll have over six varieties for the rest of the local harvest season.

Throughout the month of August, local strawberry production was down, but Swanton Berry Farm in Davenport is back and will be supplying us with their extra flavorful Chandler strawberries through October.  We’ll also have plenty of the Albion strawberries from Mariquita Farm.

Table grapes from Hidden Star Orchard in Linden took a while to ripen up this summer but are coming on strong and tasting sweet.  Johan just started harvesting some of his late season seedless varieties like the Red Scarlet Royal and Green Princess.

Hidden Star Orchard has been the backbone of our local apple selection for the past few years and they just started harvesting a new September Sweet Fuji variety.  We look forward to celebrating this sweet and crunchy piece of fruit for years to come.  We also have their wonderful Gala apple on the shelves and are expecting the NY Special (Braeburn crossed with Gala) by the end of the month.

At the start of every apple season we reach out to the handful of local growers trying to build new relationships.  This year we finally got over the hump and are getting weekly deliveries from Devoto Gardens & Orchard in Sebastopol, CA.  Stan Devoto loves to grow unique apple varieties that are finally getting the recognition they deserve.  Most of these heirloom varitieties have been forgotten about by the average American farmer because they are not always incredibly sweet and crunchy and can’t be stored for months at a time.  Stan just dropped off the Jonathan heirloom apple; sweet and acidic, it’s one of the best cooking apples of the season. Within the next couple of weeks we’ll get the Idared (tart & juicy) and Green Mutsu. Devoto is also a terrific flower grower, and with every apple delivery we get some flowers to display in front of the store.

Oops – I forgot to mention figs! Local fig season is in full swing and the Candystripe from Capay Farm is living up to its name.  We will also have the Brown Turkey from Knoll Farm and the Black Mission from Capay until the middle of October.

Local pears are just coming on and Frog Hollow always starts off the pear season with the sweet and buttery Warren. This is one of those pieces of fruit that make you think you’ve never had a good pear until you bit into one of these.  Frog Hollow also grows the Taylor Gold pear which will battle the Warren for title of local pear of the year.  All this hype around Frog Hollow’s pears accompanies our excitement about Gabriel Farms’ awesome Asian pears. Torrey grows at least 6 varieties of Asian pears in their Sebastopol orchard. We’ll have the Shinseki (light skin) and the Hosui (dark skin) for the next couple of weeks before we switch into other varieties.  The local Asian pear season is short, so come taste!


Who needs baby food? My baby girl Naima loves Catalan's corn.

All of this amazing fruit  can start to overshadow the veggies, but not so fast: tomatoes are everywhere right now and we love to celebrate this season with a bunch of local basil in hand.

Dry farmed Early Girls from Tomatero and Two Dog Farm are the talk of the town!  The unique growing conditions lend to an extra flavorful piece of fruit.  We’ll have a large case stack in the produce department through October.

We also have San Marzanos from Mariquita Farm for all of the folks that want to do some canning.  The heirlooms taste perfect right now and we’ll have a nice selection of Bi-Rite Farm tomatoes for the next month and a half.

Our wet-rack rack is packed full with over 6 varieties of local peppers from sweet to hot.  Also, the specialty eggplants from Full Belly and Bi-Rite Farm are so tender and yummy.

Catalan Farm in Hollister is having a great sweet corn season and will be harvesting through October.

The little gems and baby arugula from our friend and farmer Martin are the best salad greens we’ve had all summer.  He will continue to plant and harvest these amazing greens until Thanksgiving time.

Local potatoes are coming on strong, and we’re waiting on David Little in Petaluma to start harvesting his dry-farm crop.  In the meantime, we have a big display of Bi-Rite Farm’s Rose Finn Fingerling potatoes–a terrific potato for roasting!

Fall is just around the corner! Full Belly gave us the word that they’ll start harvesting winter squash by the end of the month…stay tuned!