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New Kid on the Block: Kalona Supernatural Organic Dairy

We are so excited to have a new organic dairy line at the Market!  Inspired by the community of small farms in and around Kalona, Iowa, Kalona Supernatural was launched in 2010 by resident Bill Evans as a way to distribute their quality dairy products.

What these guys eat directly affects the taste and quality of the milk they produce!

What makes their products so special?  Well, it all starts with the farms.  The dairy comes from small, sustainable Midwest farms, mostly run by Amish and Mennonite farmers who tend herds of no more than 35 cows.  Many of these farms have been in the family for 150 years and have never been touched by herbicides or pesticides.  The work is pretty much all still done by hand.

Being raised on organic farms means that the cows–including Holstein, Jersey, Brown Swiss, Guernseys, Ayrshire, Milking Shorthorned, Scandinavian Red and Montbeliard breeds–get to enjoy grazing on green pasture during the spring and summer months.  During the colder months, they dine on an organic mélange of hay silage, baleage, ground corn, maybe some soybeans, oats and alfalfa.  While the resultant output may not be voluminous, what they eat directly affects the taste and quality of the milk they produce, which, by the way, is outstanding Grade A milk!

Kalona Supernatural maintains intimate relationships with all of their farmers.  They know the farmers and their families, regularly visit the farms, and know the story-the why and the how-behind the products that each farm produces.  And they’re dedicated to sharing products in their most natural state so that all of their products are minimally processed.  They are vat pasteurized at the lowest possible temperatures and non-homogenized.  There’s no added sugar or synthetic vitamins, and free of any stabilizers, the texture is as pure and genuine as can be.

We’re pleased to offer you the following dairy treats from Kalona: creamy buttermilk, thick and rich sour cream, farm-fresh cottage cheese, and cream-top not-too-sweet yogurt. Let me know what you think!

Kiko’s Food News, 3.30.12

As a follow-up to the pink slime headline I shared last week, and testament to how consumer pressure can lead to changing practices in the food industry, Beef Products Inc. announced the temporary shutdown of three of its four plants that produce “lean finely textured beef”; not only had McDonald’s, the National School Lunch Program, Kroger & Safeway decided to reduce or eliminate it, but viral campaigns by regular joes also changed the game: (full story)

The Just Label It Campaign announced this week that a record-breaking one million Americans signed the petition calling on the FDA to label genetically engineered foods: (full story)

We were excited to see six of the food producers we work with (Dandelion Chocolate, Farmhouse Culture, Baia Pasta, Barinaga Ranch, Emmy’s Pickles…and Chez Pim coming soon!) celebrated in San Francisco Magazine’s list of top ten artisan food makers to watch: (full story)

The new wave of food co-ops are slick community markets that have thrown off the members-only rules, volunteer requirements and vegetarian philosophies commonly associated with them, going with an every-man’s product assortment: (full story)

With volumes of traditional sodas declining for the seventh consecutive year, soft drink companies have been acting similar to tobacco companies, putting promotion dollars behind the drinks with the highest margins, and introducing non-carbonated alternatives the same way cig companies promote smokeless tobacco and other spinoffs: (full story)

Similarly, Coca-Cola Great Britain pledged to cut portions and reformulate its products as part of a U.K. government drive to curb obesity; they will invest $24 million by 2014 to reformulate soft drinks and cut the average number of calories per liter by at least 30%: (full story)

Maybe it’s time to reconsider donkey meat–here’s a quirky roundup of foods that might change your perspective on our ability to feed the planet: (full story)


New Catering Dishes that Put the Exotic into Spring Eating

Pasta Primavera with Asparagus, English Peas, Confit of Spring Garlic and Fresh Mint

When our chefs gave us a sneak peak taste of the dishes on our new spring catering menu, I was blown away by the vibrant flavors that almost had me tasting the earth the ingredients grew out of! The menu’s anchored in produce like grilled asparagus and favas, and may be our most exotic yet from the Moroccan Carrot and Snap Pea Salad with Charmoula Vinaigrette to the Mojo-Marinated Grilled Pork Tenderloin Skewers.

Moroccan Carrot and Snap Pea Salad with Charmoula Vinaigrette

“We have a diverse community and we want to reflect that diversity in our menu,” says Chef Eddy.

Chef Linh seconds that sentiment: “To be able to highlight different cuisines is fun not only for our kitchen, but also fun for the guests.”

Want to know my personal favorites from our new menu?

Savory Tartlets with Fava Bean Puree, Lemon, and Pecorino

Jamon Serrano Rolls with Grilled Asparagus and Parmigiano-Reggiano

Roasted Cauliflower Agrodolce with Currants, Fried Shallots and Anchovy

Creamsicle Cupcakes (yellow cupcake with orange and vanilla buttercream) from Bi-Rite Creamery 

Check out our full Peak of the Season Menu, and give us a call (415-241-9760 x 1) if you want to brainstorm an upcoming event together!



Sarah F.

Cooking with Curds: Stilton Spring Breakfast

For a while, the cheese team has focused our energies on teaching our guests how to compose a killer cheese platter. We’ve talked about what kinds of cheese are complimentary, the different ways you can cut and display cheeses, and how to pair fruit and nuts on the platter.

Now we’re turning our attention to a new facet in the wonderful world of cheese: how to use it in cooking! We want to share all of the different kinds of dishes that can be elevated by the addition of the amazing cheeses we have here at Bi-Rite. So each month we’ll share a recipe on our blog that incorporates one of our favorites.

Right now, we’re celebrating cheeses from the British Isles, so I want to share a recipe for Stilton, which is made by the Colston Bassett Dairy specifically for Neal’s Yard Dairy. Two modifications make it different from the rest of their production: an animal rennet rather than a vegetarian rennet is used,  and the cheese is pierced later than their others, allowing the “white” cheese to develop more flavor before the blue mold is introduced to air. I’ve played around with this recipe at home and think you’ll find it easy and delicious for a special spring breakfast!

Stilton Spring Breakfast
(makes 4 open-faced sandwiches)

¼ # Colston Bassett Stilton, crumbled
1 yellow onion
1 head  romanesco
1 bunch asparagus
¼ # baby fava greens
1 ripe avocado, sliced
1 red onion
1 whole Judy’s Lovestick (or other baguette)
4 eggs
olive oil
white wine (to deglaze)
white wine vinegar
red chili flakes

1.  Cut baguette into quarters and toast in pan with butter.

2.  Cut yellow onion in half and slice each half into ¼” slices.

3.  Cut romanesco florets into bite-size pieces appropriate for a sandwich, and slice the asparagus on the bias into similar size pieces.

4.  In a skillet, heat olive oil over slow heat and add sliced onions.  Allow onions to brown slowly and once they begin to caramelize, slowly bring up the heat, and add butter as needed to the skillet.

5.  Add romanesco florets and sliced asparagus and cook until they are slightly softened.

6.  Season the vegetables with salt, pepper, chili flakes, and paprika.

7.  Deglaze the pan with white wine.

8.  Add baby fava greens and lightly sauté.

9. For the garnish, make a quick pickle with the red onion (slice it thinly, lightly boil the slices in vinegar, remove and add immediately to ice bath)

10. Heat more oil or butter in the skillet over medium heat.  Crack egg and cook to over easy.

11. Layer sautéed vegetables on top of toasted baguette, top with egg, pickled onion, avocado and crumbled stilton.  Enjoy!


The Return of 18th Street Barbera

We’re excited to welcome back one of our old favorite 18th Street Wines, the 18th Street Barbera! After about a year hiatus, our house label Barbera has returned in a new 2010 vintage. This brings us to a total of 3 white and 4 reds in our custom wine portfolio. We’re proud to carry wines under our 18th Street label that are food-friendly and value-oriented, and made by world-class winemakers here in California. Be sure to stop by the wine aisle and ask us about our new Barbera as well as our other 18th Street Wines! 

2010 18th St. Barbera  $13.99 

Our 2010 Barbera comes from Lodi,CA and is crafted by the talented winemakers at Uvaggio, who specialize in Italian varietals. In fact, Uvaggio also made our 18th Street Bianco, a great Vermentino from Lodi. Made entirely in stainless steel tanks, this Barbera has rich blue fruit aromas and flavors of dark fruits, cedar, and spice.  A medium body and great acidity make this red the perfect pairing for any sort of Italian food. Grab a movie from Fayes across the street, a pizza from Delfina, and a bottle of this and you’ve got the perfect night in!!

Peanut Butter on a Mission

Sometimes, our producers do the giving with us! Project Open Hand’s Peanut Butter is an outstanding example of a delicious, local product that makes a difference to many members of our extended community. Project Open Hand has been providing “meals with love” to neighbors in need since 1985. They offer daily cuisine and nutritional services to people living with serious illnesses and to seniors in San Francisco and Alameda, serving on average 2,600 meals a day!

As a way to bring in extra funds for their programming, Project Open Hand’s staff and volunteers make fresh ground peanut butter daily, and we’re proud to carry this awesome nut butter on our shelves.  One hundred percent of the sales of the peanut butter go back to Project Open Hand, directly supporting their mission and assistance to people in need. This peanut butter is made only from peanuts–no salt, sugar, or anything else–and has a thick consistency and great taste. The way I see it, why not have your peanut butter budget work double time?


Kiko’s Food News 3.23.12

Can a neighborhood corner store improve public health? As part of the nationwide Healthy Corner Stores Initiative, more than 600 corner stores in Philadelphia have signed pledges to stock healthy food: (full story)

A dismal option for the school lunch menu: the U.S.D.A. announced that starting this fall, schools will be able to choose whether or not they buy hamburger that contains lean finely textured beef known as “pink slime”; it was previously sold only to dog food or cooking oil suppliers: (full story)

That make you want to go meatless? Since I was away last week, I want to make sure you caught Bittman’s characteristically persuasive argument about why fake chicken is worth eating. Did you know “a third of Americans now eat meatless meals ‘a significant amount of the time'”? (full story)

Packaged-food companies facing stagnant growth are turning to snacks as a way to report sales increases to their stakeholders; snack prices can be raised more easily than those of grocery staples (and who hasn’t been itching for the invention of a chocolate-flavored tortilla chip??): (full story)

In what I consider a missed opportunity for new precedents in meat sourcing, McDonald’s was granted an exemption to London’s local food sourcing goals for the upcoming Olympics and will therefore source only 10% of the chicken it processes from British farmers: (full story)

Sales of products with Fair Trade USA’s seal of approval for ethics and sustainability rose 75% in the fourth quarter of 2011 over the first quarter, according to a recent SPINS report; this even though fair trade-certified products almost always cost more than the alternative: (full story)

The number of health-oriented and vegan food trucks across the country is growing; here’s a helpful list by city, should you have a hankering: (full story)

Inspiration for your Friday happy hour: a growing band of brewers is turning to the complex, earthy spice of rye for a new take on the strong flavors craft-beer drinkers have grown to love: (full story)



Bringin’ a Little Southern Hospitality to our City by the Bay

There’s a long standing tradition in Louisiana that Monday is “Wash Day”.  Way back in the good old days, all of the families in the community would come together on Mondays to wash the laundry for the week.  In the morning everyone would throw their share of red beans into a kettle along with some onions and smoked salt pork, and it would simmer away alongside the kettles used to heat up water for the wash.  So just as the last of the sheets, shirts, and unmentionables were being hung out to dry, the beans would be ready for a communal supper.  Some folks would cook off some rice, others brought cornbread, and in the summertime everybody would pitch in veggies to make a big garden salad.  Now that’s what I call creating community through food!  This is yet another great example of why I love to look back at a culture’s cuisine to learn lessons that will help shape our community here in the Bay.  So how can we use what we’ve learned about the importance of cooperative cooking and it’s impact on community building?


That’s where Jimmy “The Shrimp” Galle comes in. Jimmy owns and operates a small, sustainable seafood company named “Gulfish”, specializing in beautiful head-on shrimp, flounder, snapper and much more.  All of the products he carries are the fruits of individual relationships with single boat fisherman, and Jimmy is a constant supporter of the communities around the gulf coast. After the 2010 Gulf Coast Oil Spill, Jimmy rallied all of us restaurants and seafood purveyors for a big Dine Out for the Gulf Coast fundraiser–his support is tireless.

Jimmy and I have for a while kicked around the idea of bringing red beans back to Mondays by cooking up some grub for under served people in the Bay Area.  So last week I fired a pot of beans, put on some rice, and our bakers at the Creamery baked off some cornbread.  Jimmy showed up in his pickup truck with a couple of coolers and we loaded the beans and rice right off the stove, hot into the coolers.  We then took off armed with solo cups and bottled water and headed into the Tenderloin.  When the smoke cleared, we had served over 200 bowls of beans and rice to some very appreciative folks.  Best part is, I checked in with Gulfish a few days later, and they told me they have an all-star lineup of restaurants and markets signed up to keep the Monday bean tradition alive!

In Jimmy’s words, “Next week the  Chez Panisse crew’s gonna throw down their version of this New Orleans Monday night classic…also on tap are Frances, Slanted Door, Boulettes Larder, Sushi Ran and TownHall, ready to lend us a hand in feeding the bay area’s under served a meal of substance with a smile and dignity. All we need now is you. Want to be part of it? We’re looking for kitchens who can do this with us one Monday a year. We can all do it together. You cook it, we will serve it. If you want more info, contact me and I will give you the full story…thanks.” If you want us to put you in touch with Jimmy, comment on this blog with your email address and we’ll connect you!



Cheese Boot Camp: Training for our Cut-To-Order Counter

Tamchop at Cowgirl Creamery's Ferry Building Cheese Counter

We might not know exactly when we’re opening the doors to our new market on Divisadero, but our cheesemongers are already excitedly preparing for our future cut-to-order counter!  We’re thrilled that having this counter at our Divisadero store will allow us to offer new and different cheeses and provide even better service.

Our friends at Cowgirl Creamery at the Ferry Building & The Pasta Shop in Oakland have graciously welcomed our mongers for a couple days of staging behind their counter so we can all get a feel for what the new set-up might feel like, with all of the bustle and new challenges.  We are ever grateful for this opportunity and look forward to honing new skills!



Our Spring Menu is Here

Our chefs have outdone themselves this time– their new dishes featuring spring peas, asparagus, green garlic, lamb and more are a breath of fresh air!

Printable Menu (pdf)

Seasonal Sandwiches

Fromage Blanc with Grilled Asparagus, Roasted Mushrooms and Lemon-Herb Pesto on an Acme Baguette $7.99

Mediterranean Sandwich with Housemade Hummus, Shaved Red Onions, Cucumber, Avocado, Pickled Pepper and Lemon-Parsley Tahini Sauce on Lavash (vegan) $6.99

From our Deli

Moroccan Carrot, Snap Pea and Radish Salad with Charmoula Vinaigrette

Penne Primavera with Asparagus, English Peas, Green Garlic Confit and Mint $7.99/lb

Beef Tamale with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa $3.99/each

Freekeh Salad with Grilled Artichokes, Caramelized Spring Onions, Pea Shoots & Black Olive Vinaigrette $8.99/lb

Grilled Asparagus with Shaved Manchego and Marcona Almonds $10.99/lb

Roasted Cauliflower Agrodolce with Currants, Fried Shallots & Anchovy Vinaigrette $7.99/lb

Mexican Black Bean Salad with Chilatas, Queso Fresco, and Cilantro Vinaigrette $6.99/lb

Moroccan Carrot, Snap Pea and Radish Salad with Charmoula Vinaigrette $7.99/lb

Penne Primavera with Asparagus, English Peas, Green Garlic Confit and Mint

From our Self Service Case

Fava Bean Soup with Pecorino Cheese $4.99/pint or $9.99/quart

Braised Cumin Lamb Shoulder with Harissa Rice $11.99/each

Braised Chicken Thighs in Salsa Roja with Mexican Rice $9.99/each

Chicken Enchiladas Verdes with Rancho Gordo Beans $9.99/each

Green Garlic and Asparagus Risotto $7.99/each

Fava Bean & English Pea Dip $7.99/8oz

Farro Salad with Artichokes, Asparagus and English Peas $7.99/12oz

Printable Menu (pdf)