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Archive for December, 2011


Holiday Hours and Useful Tidbits

Please note our holiday hours:

Christmas Eve, 12/24: 9am-5pm
Christmas day, 12/25: we are closed
New Years Eve: 9am-9PM
New Year’s day, 1/1: 10am-6pm

Our Holiday Menu

Cooking Instructions: If you’re looking for guidance on cooking your holiday prime rib and other meat cuts to perfection, here are our butchers’ cooking instructions! And if you celebrate with turkey, here are our holiday turkey preparation guidelines.

Holiday Parking: new this year, we’re offering holiday parking for our guests to lighten your load! We’ll validate your receipt when you come here to shop so parking will be free.

When: Saturday December 17th, Sunday December 18th, Friday December 23rd, Saturday December 24th

Hours: 10am – 6pm

Where: 333 Dolores Street (Dolores between 16th and 17th St., Children’s Day School parking lot)

Kiko’s Food News, 12.30.11

As Americans show greater interest in eating local produce, an increasing number of farmers markets are staying open year-round; the number of winter markets (defined as those operating between November and March) jumped from 886 in 2010 to 1,225 in 2011 (New York impressively edges out balmy California with the most!) (full story)

Get On the Shelf, the latest idea from WalMartLabs (the retailer’s in-house social media think tank, a product of their April  acquisition of data mining firm Kosmix) is a new product competition that invites anyone to submit a product idea to the retailer for development: (full story)

And speaking of more packaged foods on the shelves, Manischewitz, the 123-year-old kosher brand, is for the first time creating kosher gravies, broths, crackers and more that appeal to gentiles: (full story)

Craft breweries nationwide have been replacing beer bottles with aluminum cans, and for good reason: cans help beer stay fresh by blocking light and keeping out oxygen better than many bottles, are more portable than glass, and lighter to ship–plus, a canning line has a smaller footprint: (full story)

Livestock receives an estimated 80% of the nation’s antibiotics, yet in a step backwards for protecting the public from rising antibiotic resistance, the FDA just announced its withdrawal of a decades-old proposal to limit the use of antibiotics in animal feed: (full story)

Mark Bittman simplifies the goal of “eating better” in 2012 to “eating more plants”, and offers recipes to make semi-veganism work for all of us–bon appetit! (full story)

Kiko’s Food News, 12.23.11

I’ll be keeping cozy in front of the Market all day tomorrow (we’re open 9-5)–come say hi. I’d love to hear your feedback on what kind of food news you’ve liked reading in 2011…or leave your comments here!

Carol your way to hungry–so many holiday songs are about delicious food! (full story)

Kraft is planning to roll out some 70 new products in the first quarter of 2012, including two lines of dinner kits, energy and “mocktail” versions of its water enhancers, and Philadelphia Indulgence Spreads which mixes chocolate with cream cheese for dipping (no comment): (full story)

The list of startups at the intersection of technology and food keeps growing, and in a sea of names like Foodbuzz, Foodcaching, Foodia, Foodily, Foodista, Foodler, Foodoro, Foodspotting, Foodtree, Fooducopia, and Foodzie, it’s challenging to find an edge: (full story)

Learn why apples, cabbage, and eggs are among the produce that lasts longest in your kitchen, plus other ways to avoid throwing out produce gone bad (#1: steer clear of pre-cut fruits and veggies!) : (full story)

Check out these TV ads by McDonalds, Perdue, and other huge food companies that focus on farmers, giving them a sense of salt-of-the-earth hero worship: (full story)


Maria’s Crafty Delicacies: Holiday Quick Fixes

Hi, I’m Maria–you might know me from the Bi-Rite grocery team. In my new blog series I’ll be sharing with you my favorite recipes that are so easy they almost makes me feel like I’m cheating! My mom always used to say that to make anyone think you are a great cook, just sauté some onions in a pan. I guess I got my crafty culinary trait from her! So whether you’re hosting a grand dinner party or just having a few friends over, try out these suggestions to impress your guests. Only you have to know how silly-easy they are. I hope you find these helpful and inspiring to create your own twists on some classics. You’ll see that I write my recipes as if I’m hanging out with you in the kitchen and walking you through them–the ingredients are listed throughout the instructions, which is extra reason to read the whole thing through before starting (like the best cooks always tell us we should!)

Gathering around a table with my Bi-Rite friends--just what the holidays are for!

Holiday Quick Fixes

The holidays are upon us! As a time of gathering, the holidays are about spending time together with friends and family, being grateful, and perhaps most appealing of all, filling our bellies with delicious food. It’s the time we look forward to all year, finally the opportunity to make those tried-and-true recipes we love. But for some of us, it can also be an intimidating time. Cooking for others and attempting traditional recipes can come with high expectations and pressure. Here are a few simple and easy ideas that can make the whole meal surprisingly fantastic.

Citrus-Honey Syrup

Who needs maple syrup when you can make your own? Squeeze fresh oranges into a bowl with honey, give it a stir and voila, citrus-honey syrup. I know, almost too easy to be true, let alone write about in this blog. But it’s a delicious, fun alternative to the traditional maple syrup we always tend to turn to. Make your own syrup to your taste – more honey for more thick sweetness, more citrus for a lighter tang. Pour it over French toast, pancakes, even ice cream. And as the winter citrus season gets better and better, play with flavors – try mandarins, meyer lemons, grapefruit. Just keep in mind that the levels of sweet, sour and acidity will change with your fruit, so adjust accordingly.

Brussels, Bacon and Meyer Lemon

Shout-out to my good friend and co-worker Wyatt, who’s helped up the ante on my creations and contributed his own favorite brussels sprout recipe here for me to share!

Can’t go wrong with this recipe, a classic combo of brussel sprouts and bacon that is nicely complimented with sweet meyer lemon. The key here is using the whole lemon – peel, pith, pulp – chopped tiny. Cut bacon into small pieces and render on the stove-top. Strain the bacon out of the pan and throw in your brussels, cut in halves. Although you can also cook them in the oven, the stove-top gives you more control over the heat and a visible marker for when the outsides of the brussels start becoming crispy and brown. Add the chopped meyer lemon, salt and pepper and boom! You have yourself a great dish that will win over anyone.

Avocado Chocolate “Mousse”

This avocado-based chocolate dessert is so easy– it is literally avocado, cocoa powder, and sweetener. Because of avocado’s buttery texture, this dessert mimics real chocolate mousse like an expert. This is a great dessert for those vegan and/or sugar-intolerant friends of ours, or for any chocolate mousse lover who I challenge to a blind taste-test.

Mash the avocado(s) to a smooth texture and add cocoa powder and sweetener to taste. Any cocoa powder will work, although dutch-processed cocoa will blend more smoothly and have a less bitter taste than regular cocoa powder. Whether your sweetener choice is sugar, agave, honey, or maple syrup, make note that what you choose will affect the texture slightly differently. I have used confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar) before, which, because of its fine consistency, blends really well and makes this “mousse” even creamier. This dessert is best prepared, served and devoured relatively quickly. See how long you can keep the secret that it is avocado; I like to divulge the secret after the bowls are licked clean.

Anne and Kris

The Legend of Evadne’s Gingerbread

Oliver making Evadne's recipe proud

I love Christmas time, and baking makes me so happy this time of year–from decorating Christmas cookies to baking cakes, I love it all. One of the best cakes we make here at the Creamery is the gingerbread cake; you will find it for sale at the Market in three forms: a gingerbread loaf that’s great sliced for breakfast or with tea; as gingerbread cupcakes with lemon buttercream, and as a small gingerbread cake topped with lemon buttercream. My favorite is the simple loaf–it’s so easy to slice and nibble on, amazing with a cup of hot cocoa, and makes a decadent dessert topped with our vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. In Sweet Cream & Sugar Cones, our cookbook that comes out April 17th, we call our recipe “Evadne’s Gingerbread”; here’s the reason why:

This super moist, perfectly spiced, molasses-heavy cake came to us through a wonderful friend of ours, Shannan Hobbs. It has been in her family for decades (another reason why I love Christmas, making old family recipes!). It’s from her Great Granny Tatum, who was a housewife in the 1920’s. In those days, apparently it was common for authors to sprinkle recipes throughout novels that were targeted to women, thus ensuring that even if a housewife got her hands on a novel [god forbid!!], her time was well spent. Great Granny Tatum discovered this recipe in a novel in which the main character, named Evadne, goes into the kitchen and whips up gingerbread. The recipe has been in Shannan’s family ever since, and will be in mine for future years to come.

Next Christmas you can arm yourself with Evadne’s recipe if you pick up a copy of our book when it comes out in April (you can pre-order it now); until then, please come by the market and try some gingerbread–I’m sure it will be some thing you crave every Christmas!– Kris


Si’s End-of-Year Produce Outlook

The holiday season at Bi-Rite is such an exciting time for everyone involved, and there’s plenty of delicious local California produce to enjoy over the holidays coming at the end of the month.  Our produce team loves to work with our guests to create the perfect holiday feast.

Veggies Supreme

When the weather gets cooler, the cooking greens get sweeter, and the body seems to crave them even more.  Tomatero, Mariquita, Happy Boy and the Bi Rite Farm all grow a wide variety of greens right now.  One of my favorites is Red Russian Kale; once in the shadows of Green Curly and Lacinato Kales, it seems to have the most tender and flavorful leaves of all the kales this season.   We also have big bright bunches of Rainbow Chard that are so sweet.

Throughout the winter, Matt and I as produce buyers bring in different specialty greens for our guests, hoping to offer them the chance to experiment with new recipes.  Nettles, which grow like weeds on a lot of farms in this area, are so versatile and yummy.   At first they can be a bit intimidating to work with because of their stingers, but with a pair of gloves, the prep process is quick; once they’re cooked the stinging qualities disappear.  Nettles are great sautéed on their own, but really pop when added to a pizza or a soup.

The cali citrus count is climbing!

Mariquita’s Broccoli Di Cicco is coming on strong and the florets have been perfectly tender and sweet.  Farmer Andy’s also growing Purple Sprouting Broccoli that’s similar to Di Cicco in appearance but bright purple and a bit like cauliflower.  We just started stocking up on Rugosa Italian Heirloom Squash so that we’ll have plenty for the holidays.

David Little’s “dry farmed” potatoes have been so yummy this winter–grab a handful of his Mountain Rose Potatoes to make your gratin extra beautiful  and flavorful.

Fruits for Thought

Citrus season is gaining momentum and the fruit finally has the flavor we’ve been waiting for!  The Clementines from Olsen Orchard in Lindsay, CA are out of this world.  These lil’ suckers are easy to peel, have no seeds, and kids love them!  We also have local seedless Satsuma Mandarins from Side Hill Citrus in the foothills of the Sierras, which offer the perfect sweet/tart flavor.  One of the more unique citrus varieties of the season, the Bergamot Sour Orange, just arrived; they’re best known for the oil that comes from the skin, used in Earl Grey tea (Bergamots are also wonderful in marmalade).  Moro Blood Oranges, Navel and Cara Cara Pink Navels are just getting going and will be around for the next couple months.

Get your local apples while you can!

Hidden Star Orchard in Linden, CA is still supplying us with their locally grown Pink Lady and Fuji Apples. A local apple in December is a very special treat!  We also have the late season Pacific Rose and Jazz Apple from the Northwest–extra crunchy and sweet!

The pear scene will also be pretty strong through the New Year.  Sweet little Seckel Pears are on point, and one of our favorite local orchards Frog Hollow is still bringing us Warren and Bosc along with Shinko Asian Pears.  Now’s the time to enjoy the last local pears and apples of the season.

Kiko’s Food News, 12.16.11

With the mainstreaming of vegetarianism in recent discourse, it’s interesting to see how many vegetarians there actually are out there; in a phone poll taken last week, 33% of Americans reported that they eat vegetarian meals a significant amount of the time (and that number is in addition to committed vegetarians): (full story)

Ever wonder how far apart a lettuce patch has to be from farm animals to prevent bacterial contamination? The University of Maryland’s Center for Food Safety does, and this week they announced a $9 million research project to provide scientific guidance on the safest ways to grow, pack, transport and store salad fixings: (full story)

My mom raised me to fear 18-wheelers on the highway; now it’s time to brace ourselves for an even more harrowing scenario, as Kraft is pushing for 97,000-lb trucks called “bridge wreckers” to be approved in more states: (full story)

These mammoth trucks and their similarly scaled exhaust are among reasons why the global output of heat-trapping carbon dioxide has jumped by a record amount; the world’s efforts at slowing man-made global warming aren’t preventing greenhouse gas emissions from exceeding the UN’s worst-case scenarios: (full story)

And as the resulting climate change accelerates, weather in Maine is becoming less different from that in South Carolina, introducing opportunities for farmers in formerly disparate agricultural regions to start swapping best practices: (full story)

Jonathan Bloom, author of American Wasteland, gave insights into how Europeans waste less food due to how they’re set up for waste disposal and how they structure grocery shopping (our abundance of space for landfills and too-big refridgerators are our downfall!) (full story)

A friend turned me on to a blog called Frugal Dad this week; check out this infographic the dads whipped up, depicting the extent of consolidation in the food industry: (full story)

Our holiday gift list for foragers of special things

Christmas feels like it’s coming late this chilly December, landing at the end of 4 weekends. This is lucky for us all, as foragers of special things, because it means more time to find treasures that the people on our list will delight in. I asked our buyers to suggest a few items in their department that they think would be perfect in a stocking or under the tree; here’s my countdown of the highlights:

10. 18 Reasons classes: The most meaningful gift you can give to someone you care about is the gift of learning: about gardening in their SF backyard, about healthy food habits in their home kitchen, or about the delicious economy of Italian home cooking:  Good Living: Cooking and Nutrition Workshops ($150/$180 for three classes); L’Ingegno in Cucina – The Ingenious Cook ($150/$180 for three classes); or Urban Gardening School ($350-450 12 classes)

9. Bi-Rite Beanie: We created our new burgundy beanies to keep our staff warm this winter, and ordered extras to keep our guests warm too! ($9.99)

8. Robert Lambert Fruit Cakes: Robert bases his recipe on the ones his English grandmother made at the family farm in northern Wisconsin 50 years ago, and uses fruit he candies himself and nuts from small Cali farms to make what Raph says is “the best fruit cake you’ll ever taste” ($34.99)

7. Neococoa Salted Caramel Truffles: Caramel made in small batches and folded into milk chocolate, topped with Hawaiian black lava sea salt ($12.99)

6. Kusmi Tea Essentials:  The perfect way to discover the best sellers from this Russia-originated, Paris-raised tea company ($19.99)

5. Adrien Camut Calvados: Made from apples picked on the Camut Family property in Pays d’Auge, the finest growing region for Calvados ($69.99)

4. Poco Dolce Cranberry Pumpkin Tiles: The latest offering from our guests’ favorite confectioner ($16.99)

3. Atelier Kawashima French Macaroons: These decadent French macaroons are the perfect stocking stuffer (just stuff carefully, they’re a bit delicate!) ($5.99)

2. Douglas Gayeton’s Lexicon of Sustainability 2012 Calendar: 12 of Douglas’s thought-provoking images that relate to today’s food sustainability conversation to get through the months ahead ($18.00)

1. Eat Good Food : The ultimate guide to grocery shopping, Sam’s book is what all of our staff is gifting to friends and family this season. Buy 3 and get the 4th free through the New Year! ($32.50)

Know someone eager to kick start 2012 with healthy habits? Give them the gift of knowledge and sign them up for one of our new hands-on cooking or gardening courses.

Kiko’s Food News: 12.9.11

In this “Biggest Loser” video spoof by Food & Water Watch, the corporate fat cat is the inevitable winner unless the government steps in with farm bill measures that help keep independent farmers afloat and consumers from being obese: (full story)

Another way to use taxation to de-incentivize sugar consumption: research at Iowa State demonstrates that taxing manufacturers on their use of sweeteners would be more effective than taxing the finished sugary food: (full story)

Filet mignon and Jameson are the most shoplifted items in the US, and cheese is the most shoplifted in the world–don’t go getting any smart ideas, now! (full story)

The UN has completed its first-ever global assessment of the state of the planet’s land resources (what took so long??), finding in a report released Monday that a quarter of all land is highly degraded, and most available land is already being farmed (mostly in ways that decrease its productivity): (full story)

The government spent a record $71.8 billion on the SNAP (food stamp) program last year, or about 12 percent of the national grocery bill, underscoring the benefit’s importance as revenue for big grocers and explaining the fight by Kroger, Safeway, Supervalu, and other chains against cutting spending on them: (full story)

What if, as an alternative to food presentation or service, we could search for restaurant reviews focusing on the health and sustainability of its food as metrics? (full story)


December Wine Blitz Starts Today!

The second and final leg of the Holiday Wine Blitz begins today. We’ve been doing our pushups and situps, so don’t be afraid to fill up those cases! This is the last sale we’re having until May of 2012, so don’t miss out.  We also offer free delivery of your cases anywhere in San Francisco. You can reach us in the store at 415-241-9760 or by email to place an order.

A few more highlights from our selection:

2009 JL Chave “Mon Coeur” Côtes du Rhône $21.99 Blitz Price: $17.59

A killer Côtes du Rhône from one of the most respected names in the Rhone.
2010 Evesham Wood Pinot Noir $19.99Blitz Price: $15.99
From one of our favorite Oregon producers, this is a beautiful, balanced Pinot Noir.

2008 Chateau de Hureau Sparkling Saumur Rosé $19.99 Blitz Price: $15.99
Festive sparkling rosé made from Cabernet Franc: refreshingly dry with spice and herbs.