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Archive for February, 2012

Kiko’s Food News: 2.10.12

When a foodie and a non-foodie fall in love, cooking and eating aren’t always a shared experience; as we await next week’s annual celebration of couple-dom, this article  seems apropos: (full story)

The “mindful eating” movement is growing, rooted in the idea that eating slowly and genuinely relishing each bite could remedy our fast-paced American lifestyle, endless fad diets and the resulting path toward obesity: (full story)

A new CDC report found that 9 out of 10 Americans ages 2 and older consume more than the recommended amount of sodium each day; the leading culprits are not potato chips or popcorn but slices of bread and dinner rolls: (full story)

It was just a matter of time before lard made its comeback, overcoming stigmas associated with disgusting-ness and taking the spotlight on restaurant menus: (full story)

Monsanto aggressively touts its technology as vital to ensuring adequate food production worldwide, but this article digs into how they’ve held back the development of sustainable agriculture by expanding monoculture, increasing herbicide use, suppressing research and more: (full story)

And as one group of victims of Monsanto’s dominance, farmers who say they cannot keep genetically modified crops from their fields have brought a suit against them that’s sparking debate around the country with new petitions, ballot initiatives and lawsuits in the works: (full story)

Finally, a profile of a few of the family-owned, independent markets that have faced heightened competition from large supermarket chains but survive to fill an important need in their communities: (full story)


Cellar It!

Now is the perfect time to start building your wine collection for 2012. We know it’s hard to put wine away, but we must tell you it’s totally worth it. We have many age-worthy wines here at Bi-Rite that won’t break the bank and will knock your socks off 10 years down the road.

Here’s what we suggest: Buy two bottles of the same wine. Open one now; enjoy it while it’s young and fresh. Take a few notes and then lay down the other bottle. Be patient. We know it’s hard! Once you feel the time is right, pop open the other bottle. You will experience how the wine has taken on a different personality. Here are a couple of wines that we think will age with grace:

2008 Francois Pinon Vouvray “Silex Noir” Loire, France $19.99

The wines of François Pinon are considered some of the finest wines of Vouvray. François, a former child psychologist, took over the estate from his father in 1987, and has steadily made a name for the estate over the past 10 years. He is a serious winemaker whose main focus is “to keep the typicity of both the appellation and the vintage” in all his wines. The soil of his vineyards are clay and silica on a base of limestone (tuffeau) with flint (silex). Pinon follows a discipline of plowing the vineyards, not using chemical fertilizers and pesticides and, of course, harvesting by hand and uses no cultured yeasts.  It is impressively concentrated, with honeysuckle and citrus, along with more notes of smoke, oyster shell and white flowers. Cellar it!

2008 Eva Fricke “Seligmacher” Riesling Rheingau, Germany $24.99

Eva Fricke is the cellar master for Joannes Leitz, a very well respected winery throughout Germany. Eva is a young and ambitious winemaker who strives for perfection in all her wines. This is her single vineyard Riesling that is bone-dry and has a beautiful balance between acid and ripeness.  With notes of apricots, lemons, thyme and touch of mint, the wine finishes with dried citrus fruits and a creamy texture.  Cellar it!

Gifting Your Way Into Their Heart

We’re traditionalists when it comes to a lot of things–we think bread, cheese, wine, meat and pretty much everything else tastes best when it’s done how they did it centuries ago! Valentine’s Day seems to be no exception, as our buyers have worked with our producers to bring in quite a lineup of gifts that fall into the classic Valentine’s trio: chocolates, wine and flowers. I got the low down on their slam dunk gift ideas for next Tuesday.

If chocolate is the way to their heart….

Masion Bouche Lettres d’Amour

Masion Bouche Lettres d’Amour: Be still my tiny heart!  Petite palpitations en papier!  This collection (available in dark or milk chocolate) includes four mini-chocolate bars each of Fleur de Sel, Pomme d’Amour and Fruit de la Passion, nestled in a red heart embossed box.

Maison Bouche's Oiseau d’Amour

Maison Bouche’s Oiseau d’Amour: This fleur de sel chocolate lovebird nests happily in a gilded cage. With hand-painted details including feathers, eyes and mouth, this lovely bird stands 2 inches tall by 2 1/2 inches wide.

Michael Recchiuti Wine Pairing Box: An experiential gift for chocolate and wine enthusiasts, this box contains chocolates carefully selected by Michael Recchiuti to pair with his suggested red wines.  Includes three pieces each of star anise & pink peppercorn, spring jasmine tea, and force noir along with pairing notes.

Recchiuti's Champagne Truffles

Michael Recchiuti Champagne Truffles: These are the creamiest dark chocolate truffles, perfumed with Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs from Napa Valley and finished with just a kiss of confectioner’s sugar.

Michael Mischer 6-piece Truffle Box: We love Michael Mischer’s elegant truffles!  A box of six of his most popular, irresistible salted caramel hearts will melt the heart of the one you love.

A Perfect Michael Mischer Salted Caramel Heart

Socola Aphrodite’s Delight: Socola’s sassy two sister operation is offering up chocolate love (made in SF, as always) with their “Aphrodite’s Delight” truffles of champagne with raspberries and burnt caramel, available in a 4-piece or 12-piece box.

Kika’s Treats Mini-Grahams: Kika’s making her dark chocolate-covered caramelized grahams in perfect bite-sized nibbles, decorated with a mini-heart motif for Valentine’s day.

If wine is the way to their heart….

Try the vinous version of a bouquet of roses! The 2008 Luciano Landi Lacrima di Morro d’Alba ($19.99) from the Marche region of Italy is a vibrant red wine with explosively aromatic scents of rose petals, lavender, and blueberry with layers of ripe red fruits. It’s great with game birds like duck or quail.

One of Shoe Shine Wine's new LGBT labels--celebrating all loving couples!

Or raise your glass to celebrate LGBT relationships with Justice Grace Vineyards’ hand-crafted Shoe Shine Wine Petite Sirahs, with new labels proudly featuring all loving couples. Shoe Shine Wine’s original label, “straight kiss” features a young woman and man leaning in for an embrace. One of the new LGBT labels, “male tango,” portrays two men dancing, their black dress shoes gracefully intertwined. The other new label, “female footsie,” depicts two women in a flirtatious moment.

And if flowers are the way to their heart….

We’ll have local roses from Neve Bros. in Petaluma, and our in house florist Irma will be making fresh bouquets all weekend long to prepare for the big day! Simon also wanted me to add that his favorite saying of the season, “I WANNA KISHU!”, sounds especially good on V-day (and kishu mandarins are in full force right now). Who needs rose petals? Lure them to the romance with a trail of kishus!

Stay tuned for our special Valentine’s Menu, which our kitchen will be serving Saturday through Tuesday…

Register Recipe: The Last Word

I’m excited to introduce some new bottles of liquor gracing the shelves behind the register. Let me share them with you here, while we’re not standing at the cash registers with people milling about:

Gran Classico – $36.99/750mL – Although a Swedish product, Gran Classico follows an Italian bitters recipe dating around the 1890’s. Think of it as a small batch Campari: more citrusy, complex and naturally colored.  My favorite thing about Gran Classico is the finish-the wormwood makes the spirit dance in your mouth! Also infused with bitter orange peel, rhubarb and many other aromatics, this liqueur is extremely versatile– drink it on its own (or with some sparkling water) on ice, or use it in Negronis.

Espolón Reposado – $27.99/750mL – This 100% blue agave tequila is made in a distillery that was recently recognized as the “Best Factory in Mexico.” We’re offering the reposado, which is aged in American oak barrels for 6 months. Espolón Reposado is big bodied and smells like vanilla and sweet tropical fruits. Its price makes it the perfect summer-day-in-February companion.

1512 Barbershop Rye – $32.99/325mL – 1512 was the address of a Prohibition-era barbershop here in San Francisco that once cut hair by day and distilled booze by night. Following his grandfather’s recipe, Sal Cimino (a third generation distiller) makes this 100% rye in Sonoma County. Unlike its amber cousins, this clear whiskey has not been aged in oak barrels. It’s certainly a unique product and part of history we’re happy to celebrate. Barbershop rye is sweet and floral. (This is a very small batch production. Only a few bottles remain in stock!)

Liqueur de Violette – $32.99/750mL – Proudly made in Petaluma, I’m really excited that we’re carrying a violette spirit. It does not at all smell like something a well-perfumed grandmother would wear, but instead this spirit superbly captures the beautiful scent of French violettes. Just a splash of the liqueur is a great way to make a glass of sparkling wine or an Aviation cocktail memorable.

Green Chartreuse – $62.99/750mL – Made in the French mountains of the same name, Chartreuse’s secret recipe of over 130 mountain herbs, plants and flowers has made this cocktail a classic since its introduction in the early 17th century.  So classic, the color chartreuse was named after the color of the Green Chartreuse spirit.  It is intensely herbal and floral, and stands up well to oak-aged spirits (try pouring equal parts brandy and Chartreuse over ice) and also works well in gin cocktails.

Speaking of Green Chartreuse, my dear friend Michael introduced me to the Last Word cocktail and it’s become one of my go-to drinks. Here’s the recipe so that all may share in my enjoyment:

The Last Word

½ oz. gin (Try St. George’s Botanivore)

½ oz. lime juice

½ oz. Green Chartreuse

½ oz. Luxardo Maraschino liqueur

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass and enjoy.

Kiko’s Food News: 2.3.12

Low cattle supplies in 2012 (the herd is the smallest its been in 60 years) are expected to drive up beef prices for the second year in a row: (full story)

Tackling challenges of access to fresh and healthy food for all, a brother-sister duo have opened a new kind of grocery store at “the intersection of food justice and high-concept retail” in the Castleberry Hill neighborhood of Atlanta; as they say, “if Jay-Z and Kanye can create a lifestyle brand that people in urban and suburban areas aspire to, regardless of their actual income, why can’t we do that with organic food?” (full story)

Food Shift, an organization working to collect unwanted, good quality food from stores and bakeries and deliver the products to agencies that feed low-income people, is partnering with grocers to grow the amount of food that can be fed to people instead of wasted: (full story)

Replacing what used to be “a suitcase of papers on the back of an agronomist’s motorcycle”, iPads are making their way to coffee co-ops and farmers in East Africa, Mexico, and South America; they come loaded with training videos in a variety of languages related to everything from agronomy best practices to growing protein-rich mushrooms out of coffee production waste: (full story)

Alli from our grocery team, Emily Olson of Foodzie and Caleb Zigas of La Cocina share their tips for successfully launching a small food business: (full story)

Playing our Part in Promoting the Right Kind of Packaged Food

When I think about small-scale, responsible food production these days, I picture a river flowing with greater and greater momentum by the day. More and more people are talking about artisanal, traditional food ways, food made by hand, meat raised outside of the industrial farm system, and jars/boxes/bags of food packaged in a kitchen instead of a factory. Here at Bi-Rite, we’re lucky enough to be riding the river’s current every day!

One thing’s for sure: succeeding with a small food business, especially, a new one, is not easy. So the big question I ask our team at Bi-Rite is how we can best support this growing deluge. Here are some ways we’ve played a part so far:

  1. Partnering with organizations in our own city that are making it possible to start small, sustainable food businesses. The amazing resources that La Cocina provides to entrepreneurial food makers who operate out of their incubator kitchen has inspired us for years and led us to join them in their fundraising and events. What’s exciting is that their work is getting mainstream exposure, and the kind of small-scale, traditional food production they foster is now poised to influence larger food corporations. At this year’s NASFT Fancy Foods Show at the Moscone Center, La Cocina had its own area to showcase their products; clearly, retailers across the country are increasingly interested in selling packaged food that feels homemade and supports a greater mission.
  2. Selling products with a purpose here at Bi-Rite. Whether it’s Tracy’s Granola whose profits support an urban gleaning organization, Project Open Hand Peanut Butter which donates proceeds to their meal and nutrition services, or the many coffees we sell from local roasters who source fair trade beans, many retailers these days are considering the triple bottom line (people, planet, profit) when choosing what product to sell.
  3. Being transparent about how we as retailers choose what products we sell and what makes a product successful in our store. Our grocery buyer Alli Ball was recently interviewed for CHOW about her tips for small aspiring food businesses; we’re always up for sharing our systems and learnings with others.
  4. Recognizing the people working hard to do it right. The two year old Good Food Awards celebrate outstanding American food producers and the farmers who provide their ingredients; I’ve served as a judge and advisor in the startup years and think the influence of this organization could be huge.

And this brings me to my next bend in this gushing river of support for small food businesses: I was recently asked to judge the Next Big Small Brand contest! Self-described as “a friendly food fight between San Francisco and New York”, myself and a small group of judges will review submissions from both coasts (up until now it’s only been New York—let’s show ‘em who’s boss!), and anoint one grand prize winner as The Next Big Small Brand. This Sunday, February 5th is the last day to submit your favorite small food brand to the contest; don’t miss this chance for us all to celebrate a small food producer bringing an exciting product to market! And if you’ll be in New York on March 27th, join us for the live judging!


Recipe: Rancho Gordo Heirloom Bean Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash, Fennel and Coriander Vinaigrette

We received a very sweet email from a guest last month, lamenting her looming move to the East Coast and the lack of Bi-Rite that awaited her there. She wondered if we could share the recipe for our Rancho Gordo Bean Salad with Butternut Squash; as she said, “I am totally addicted to these salads and would love to be able to recreate them when I’m too far away to stock up at the store.”

I worked with our chefs to translate our recipe into the right quantity for the home cook, and sent it to this guest.  I want to share it now with all of our guests, since we always carry a great selection of Rancho Gordo beans in our grocery aisles, and now’s the perfect time of year to try a recipe based around them and the winter staple butternut squash.

Rancho Gordo's Vallarta Beans

Rancho Gordo Heirloom Bean Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash, Fennel and Coriander Vinaigrette

Serves 6 as a side dish

1 lb. Rancho Gordo beans (we use Cannellini and Vallarta) – soaked overnight using a 3 parts water to 1 part bean ratio

1 large butternut squash- peeled, seeded and diced into 1/2 inch cubes

2 fennel bulbs, cut in half, then into half moons

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon paprika

2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 bay leaf

1 handful cilantro

2 tablespoon olive oil

For the Coriander Vinaigrette

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 cup lemon juice

1-1/2 cups olive oil

1 tablespoon coarsely ground coriander

salt and pepper to taste

1)      Drain beans and place in a large pot, cover with fresh water and add 1 bay leaf. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer until the beans are tender (about 1 hour). Salt the beans the last 10 minute of cooking. Allow the beans to cool, and then drain.

2)      Toss squash with cumin, coriander, paprika, salt, pepper and olive oil, spread mixture out in a baking dish and roast at 400 degrees until tender (15-20 min.)

3)      Toss fennel with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted at 400 degrees until caramelized

4)     To make vinaigrette, stir ingredients together with a whisk until well combined

5)     Finally, combine beans, roasted butternut squash, fennel and coriander vinaigrette. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.