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Archive for February, 2012


Italy Invades our 3-for-$25 Wine Section

Delfina, Locanda, La Ciccia, A16, Acquerello…it’s safe to say that San Francisco has a love affair with Italian food and wine. I, too, have a soft spot for Italian wines because of their affinity with a wide range of food. We just brought in 3 delicious weeknight Italian wines, and I’m confident they’ll satisfy hardcore Italiophiles. We’re showcasing these three in our 3 bottles-for-$25 section:

Villa Tonino Grillo Sicily, Italy 2010 – Grillo is a white varietal that is widely grown in Siciliy for the production of Marsala. This white from Villa Tonino, however, is nothing like Marsala. It’s dry with bright green apple notes and fresh, crisp acidity. I love drinking this with chilled shellfish or grilled sardines. It’s also delicious with goat cheeses like the Fleur Verte or the Andante Fresh Goat Cheese.

Sabbie Morellino di Scansano 2009 – Morellino di Scansano is a DOCG in Tuscany. A blend of mostly Sangiovese (85%), Ciliegiolo and Alicante, this wine has flavors of plum, balsamic, and smoke. Great with our lasagne Bolognese!

Poggionotte Nero d’Avola 2008 – Nero d’Avola is the Zinfandel or Syrah of Sicily. This wine has black and blue berry notes, and is great with meatballs, grilled meats, and game.

I have to say, the time is ripe for a tour of what the Italian wine regions have to offer!


Easter & Passover Menu 2012

Available April 6th through April 14th

Printable Easter & Passover menu (pdf)

From our Kitchen

Matzo Ball Soup in a Rich Chicken Broth $8.99 / qt

Asparagus Mimosa with Sieved Pasture Raised Egg and Tarragon Vinaigrette $10.99 / lb

Roasted Fennel, Sugar Snap Peas, and Baby Carrots with Meyer Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette $8.99 / lb

Sephardic Baby Artichoke Frittata with Feta, Fresh Mint and Dill $3.99 / slice

Grilled Wild Salmon Filet with Fava Bean Purée $9.99 / each

Red Wine Braised Five Dot Ranch Brisket $16.99 / lb

Pomegranate and Rosemary Roasted Grass-Fed Leg of Lamb $21.99 / lb

Glazed Niman Ranch Ham with Cloves and Maple Syrup $10.99 / lb

Organic Potato Latkes $3.99 / each

Homemade Organic Apple Sauce $3.00 / ½ pt

Chopped Liver with Caramelized Onion and Egg $3.99 / ½ pt

Dried Fruit and Almond Haroseth with Golden Raisins $5.00 / ½ pt

Homemade Free-Range Chicken Stock $6.99 / qt

Smoked Fish

House Smoked Wild Alaskan Salmon $34.99 / lb

Kosher White Fish Salad $13.99 / lb

Fresh Meats from our Butcher

To secure your order, we recommend pre-ordering at least 48 hours in advance of pickup

Five Dot Ranch Beef Brisket $5.99 / lb

100% Grass-fed and Pastured-raised Atkin’s Ranch Leg of Lamb

Boneless $12.99 / lb (whole or halves available), Bone-In $10.99 / lb

Pomegranate Marinated Boneless Leg of Lamb Roast $14.99 / l

Llano Seco Smoked Boneless Hams $6.99 / lb (whole 15-17 lbs, halves 7-9 lbs)

Llano Seco Smoked Bone-in Hams $4.99 / lb (11-13 lbs)

Beeler’s Boneless Spiral Hams $7.99 / lb

Fra’ Mani Petite Smoked Hams (2.5 – 3.5 lbs) $11.99/ lb

Free-Range Chicken Livers $1.99 / lb

From the Creamery Bakeshop

Flourless Cheesecake (4-inch) $11.99

Almond or Coconut Macaroons (both flourless!) $4.99 / bag

Flourless Chocolate Mousse Cake with Chocolate Ganache & Candied Orange-Scented Whipped Cream $16.99

For Easter weekend

Hot Cross Buns $6.99 / 4-pack

Lemon Sour Cream Pie $11.99 / 6-inch, $19.99 / 9-inch

Printable Easter & Passover menu (pdf)

Kiko’s Food News: 2.24.12

This NY Times article argues that the revival of craft manufacturing isn’t just a fad for hipsters–it’s a refinement of the excesses of our industrial era plus a return to specialization, which is inherent to capitalism: (full story)

I enjoyed reading 7×7’s profile on the CEO of Bon Appétit Management; they operate cafeterias that through 136.5 million meals a year bring the local-sustainable movement to more than 400 venues nationwide: (full story)

Organic food companies are cheering because their potential markets just doubled: the U.S. and the European Union are announcing that they will soon treat each other’s organic standards as equivalent: (full story)

California has introduced a cottage food bill, the California Homemade Food Act, AB 1616; similar to the “cottage food laws” in 31 other US states, it would allow for the sale of non-potentially hazardous foods prepared in a home kitchen: (full story)

Price increases across the North American food industry have turned off shoppers and led to weak sales for some packaged food makers; Kraft, among others, has introduced smaller package sizes with lower price tags to appeal to consumers with limited budgets: (full story)

Check out this Korean artist’s use of funky design to create containers that keep eggs, veggies and other food fresher (and possibly better tasting!) without refrigeration: (full story)

Grocery options in the Bayview: Walking tour with the Food Guardians

Joel McClure at Bridgeview Garden

I’ve decided that the best learning is NOT done in a classroom: it’s done while walking.

Last week on a morning as sunny and brilliant as today, I seized the opportunity to learn about work on issues of food access and healthy eating in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood. I met a group organized by SPUR (our city’s amazing Planning and Urban Research institute) for a walking tour of the neighborhood guided by Antonia Williams, Jazz Vassar and Kenny Hill, the three  SEFA Food Guardians.

Anyone who follows food justice issues these days has read about “food deserts”; this neighborhood has been said to be the most dramatic one in SF, with few fresh food retail options. I wanted to see it on the ground so I could better grasp the challenges residents there face in accessing fresh, healthy food. For nearly 20 years, residents of Bayview have been asking for better access to quality food products. In 2007, the Southeast Sector Food Access Working Group (SEFA) surveyed 562 residents about the food options in their neighborhood.  Ninety-four percent said they would “actively support new food options,” 58 percent said they wanted a co-op market and 53 percent said it was “important” to have foods free of pesticides and chemicals.

This brilliant mural anchors the Quesada gardens, formally ground zero of drug trade in the neighborhood

While walking between the 35 Quesada gardens that have sprung up on blocks that used to be ground zero for drug dealing, I was able to talk with Antonia about classes she’s coordinated about the sugar hidden in drinks. “RETHINK YOUR DRINK” is the mantra she taught members of her community, while demonstrating how many spoonfuls of sugar end up in a regular bottle of soda. And Kenny told me about ways local retailers are trying to make fresh food affordable (such as Fresh and Easy’s aisle comprised of foods they’re selling for 50% off as they near expiration).

Joel McClure, the founder of Bridgeview Garden, talked about how the learning garden has introduced a way for residents to connect with their physical and social environment, saying “the garden is a vehicle to get people out and talking about what they need–not only to grow, but from life in general.” And Jazz told us about the “lasagne” gardening method they use to safeguard food grown in soil that could be contaminated by harmful materials from the naval yards.

Jazz telling us about volunteer gardening days at Bridgeview Garden

The guardians have reached out to neighborhood residents to learn about what they want from food retailers, and have heard that fresher produce, shorter lines, and store cleanliness top the list. They’ve been working with the existing grocery players to improve their product assortment (although as they said themselves, “anything important and great takes time!”). So far Foods Co has begun to stock coconut water, greek yogurt, gluten-free and more low sodium options. Currently the guardians are working with management to implement signage signaling which items in the store are healthier options.

I was struck throughout the hours we spent walking around by the strong feeling of community identity and pride in the neighborhood. The way neighbors all seemed to know each other as they passed on the streets, or would wave and honk as they drove by,  felt like another era. This is doubtlessly a result of the isolation of the neighborhood, which is ever-present as we walked around it; residents here really are cut off by the thick network of highways cutting north to south. As our guide Jazz said, the highway divides this part of SF from “the part that has grocery stores.”

I was incredibly impressed with the commitment of the Bayview food guardians, and am so glad I have a visual touchstone for progress being made in their neighborhood; now time to see if we can use any of their tactics to better serve the neighborhoods surrounding Bi-Rite!





Catering for the Red Carpet and Beyond

Although today’s balmy weather hints that spring is around the corner, the dishes on our late winter catering menu are going strong. Our “Peak of the Season” menu selections are a perfect complement for work luncheons, a weekend get-together, or this Sunday’s Oscar celebration…why not make your Oscar bets while enjoying some award-worthy nibbles from our catering menu? Top it off with a lively Monthuys Pere & Fils Champagne and the Creamery’s decadent Chocolate Midnight Cupcakes, and your night will be red carpet worthy!

A tower of mini cupcakes from the Creamery

Our catering team’s favorites on the menu include:

Focaccia Flatbread with Potatoes, Bacon, Fontina, Goat Cheese, Ricotta and Fresh Thyme 

Crostini with New Orleans-style Dungeness Crab and Artichoke Spread with Parmesan, Peppers, Celery, Chives, Parsley and a touch of Tabasco

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Lentil Salad with Orange Zest

Chocolate Midnight Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream and Chocolate Glaze

If ordering for Oscar Sunday, please make sure that you have put in your order before 3 pm on Friday 2/24 (or 3 pm on Thursday 2/23 if your order includes any sweets from the Creamery).





Kiko’s Food News: 2.17.12

Five years after moving from NYC my heart must officially be in SF, because I lamented reading that Mission Chinese Food is replicating in New York–I don’t want to share Danny with the Big Apple! (full story)

But it wasn’t all bad news this week. Several big food businesses took steps towards healthier offerings made by healthier people and from healthier animals:

In a move that will hopefully inspire other grocery chains, Trader Joe’s signed a Fair Food Agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Florida; it requires them to pay a penny more per pound of tomatoes and to ensure better working conditions for tomato workers: (full story)

And McDonald’s said it will work with its U.S. pork suppliers to phase out the use of gestation crates, admitting that the metal crates were “not a sustainable production system for the future”. (Wondering how the National Pork Board responded? They’re defending stalls as a “conventional” practice and saying that alternatives, including open pens and pasture, have “welfare advantages and disadvantages that must be considered by an individual farmer”.) (full story)

The House introduced a bill that would require labeling on egg cartons to specify whether the eggs are from caged, cage-free or free-range hens; the American Farm Bureau Federation (a trade group for farmers), National Pork Producers Council, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association oppose the bill, fearing this humane regard for the well-being of farm animals will spread to their own industries: (full story)

Mars candy company has made a move to focus on “reasonable snacking”, pledging that by the end of 2013, it will stop selling chocolate with more than 250 calories-goodbye king-size Snickers! (full story)

Using a strategy of “price perception”, Whole Foods is looking to broaden its socioeconomic appeal by marketing to a less affluent clientele with smaller stores: (full story)

Dog lovers, I don’t even know what to say about this one but I think you’ll love it: (full story)

Thursday 18th Hour: Come and Knock on Our Door


Photo: Paul Dyer

Rosie and I are finally starting to feel settled in our new space and graciously welcomed into the 18th Street community. Though we were on Guerrero Street for over three years, something about being on 18th feels special to us.



18 Reasons has always had diverse programming: extending from hands-on cooking classes to wine tastings to food documentary screenings, all in an effort to continue to educate our community about the food we eat. While rich in classroom based learning, our schedule was lacking a casual way for people to gather, eat good food, and relax.   And after listening to some feedback from our members and volunteers, we learned that you wanted this type of simple, no-reservations needed, evening. Welcome 18th Hour!


Photo: Henrik Meng

18th Hour is a café night every Thursday from 5-9. The hope is to create a place where people can come and hang out- listen to music, chat with friends, all while enjoying a glass of wine and a cheese plate. We have a menu ranging from $3 to $15 that includes a wine list, beer list, and snacks. It’s perfect for that time between work and evening, week and weekend.  Come to finish up a day’s work  with a beer and some cheese or meet up with your friends for a chilled out happy hour.  So far we have been blown away by the positive response the past few weeks. Thank you! For those of you who have already supported us, we hope to see you soon- and everyone else, we look forward to greeting you! Stop by any Thursday.

Sign your Name Alongside Mine to Label Genetically Engineered Foods

The FDA is on the brink of approving genetically engineered salmon for human consumption. This would be the first genetically engineered animal on supermarket shelves in the United States. The salmon is engineered to produce growth hormones year-round that cause the fish to grow at twice the normal rate. The government already requires labels to tell us if fish is wild-caught or farm-raised – don’t we also have a right to know if our salmon is genetically engineered? Without labels, we’ll never know.

More than forty countries, including Russia and China, already require labels on genetically engineered foods. As Americans, we firmly believe that we deserve the same right to know what we are eating.

That’s why I signed a petition to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which says:

“Commissioner Hamburg, we urge the FDA to require the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. We have a right to know about the food we eat and what we feed our families, but under current FDA regulations, we don’t have that ability when it comes to genetically engineered foods. Polls show that more than 90% of Americans support mandatory labeling. Such near-unanimity in public opinion is rare. Please listen to the American public and mandate labeling of genetically engineered foods.”

Please sign the petition as well so we can all be sure to know what is in our food and where it is coming from.

Click here to add your name:





Diggin’ Deeper: Learning from the Legends and Bringing it Home

At the Eco-Farm Conference

Farmers don’t get much time to relax from their hard work and reflect on the fruits of their labor.  Once the New Year kicks in, seed catalogs start piling up and planning begins for another long growing season.  However, every year in the beginning of February, farmers and other folks in the organic farming world get together to share and celebrate at the Eco-farm Conference in Pacific Grove, CA.

As Bi-Rite’s produce buyers, Matt and I spent a few days at the conference, which takes place at Asilomar, a gorgeous conference center on the edge of Monterey Bay. The sessions offer young farmers a chance to learn new farming techniques from successful farmers who have been making it happen  for over 30 years.  This is also a great place to network with all of the dedicated farmers and distribution companies who keep this organic movement alive.  We’re lucky to be part of this movement that’s led by some of the legendary growers that put it on the map in the late 70’s and continue share their love, passion, and integrity.

Throughout the year, Matt and I are so busy keeping all of the fresh produce coming into Bi-Rite that we don’t get many opportunities to have longer conversations with the farmers we partner with.  There’s nothing I love more than running into Andrew from Full Belly, picking his brain about all the crops they’re growing, and hearing about the farming techniques that make their farm one of the most successful in the  Bay Area!

Down On the Farm

At Tomatero with Chris and Adriana (Matt & I learned so much walking around with them!)

Matt and I took the opportunity to break away from the conference, heading over to Watsonville for a farm tour with one of our favorite organic farms in the Bay Area.  Tomatero Organic Farm started on 4 acres in 2004, which has grown to over 100 acres from Watsonville to Hollister.  Throughout the year, Tomatero grows amazing tomatoes, basil, chard, kale, lettuce, strawberries and a lot more.  Farmers Chris and Adriana have done a wonderful job growing high quality produce and maintaining awesome quality as the farm expands. They currently sell their produce at farmers markets throughout the Bay Area, and will start delivering to Bi-Rite in early spring.  In March they’ll be delivering their first CSA boxes to San Francisco. Their dry-farm Early Girl tomatoes and Seascape strawberries are so tasty!

One of the keys to becoming a successful farmer is being able to extend the growing season.  Tomatero has seventeen acres of farm land covered by a large hoop house, which will allow them to get their summer crops into the soil a lot earlier.

The farm shed and hoop house Riley's built on our Sonoma Farm

Up in Sonoma

So now that we’ve learned from conversations at the conference and visits to other farms, how do we apply that to our own work? We’re very excited to start our 5th season of growing food in Sonoma.   The fields are really wet right now, so we can’t work the soil; this is the perfect time of to take care of projects that will help us take the farm to the next level.  Farmer Riley has just finished work on a nice farm shed and greenhouse–now it’s time to plant some flats of onions and get this growing season started!

Why Be Dull? Bernal Cutlery’s Japanese Whetstone Sharpening is Coming to Bi-Rite!

Bring us your knives this Sunday!

We’re so excited to bring a new service to our guests: knife sharpening right outside the door of the grocery store! We’re partnering with Kelly and Josh of Bernal Cutlery, a passionate duo with an artisan approach to the craft of sharpening knives. There’s no denying the golden rule of cooking well: having sharp knives will not only improve the texture of food in your recipes but also lessen the chances of cutting yourself (a dull blade is dangerous since it requires too much pressure to slice!).  As Josh says, “knives reflect the evolution of our creative relationship with food and cooking,and through that, our relationship with the world that sustains us.” With the highest quality Japanese whetstone sharpening available on your way to or from the Market, there’s no excuse not to take advantage!

Here’s how it’s going down:

  • Bernal Cutlery will set up shop on the third Sunday of every month from 2-6 pm in front of the Market. We’re kicking off this Sunday February 19th.
  • Bring as many knives as you’d like to be sharpened
  • Knives will be sharpened on a first come, first served basis from 2-6 pm. Any knives not sharpened during that time will be taken back to their shop at 331 Cortland St in Bernal Heights, and you’ll be notified when your knives are ready for pickup at the shop. If you’d rather not venture to Bernal, and can do without your knives for a couple of weeks, they’ll bring them back to Bi-Rite the following month to hand them off to you.
  • Pricing and contact info is here.

Josh, Taka and Tag, Bernal Cutlery’s three craftsmen sharpeners, use Japanese Whetstone grinding techniques which result in edges that are sharper and longer lasting, and remove far less metal for less wear on the knife. Japanese whetstones not only are the preferred sharpening medium for fine Japanese knives but are superior for all types of cutlery. The three of them have tens of thousands of hours of experience in sharpening Japanese, French, and Western knives. More info is available on their website.

Even if you don’t have dull knives, we highly recommend stopping by to see the sharpeners at work; the rhythmic sound of knife on whetstone is therapeutic, as you can see in this video!