Archive for May, 2012

Gleaning Project Recipe: Frittata From the Garden

The starring role in this recipe is played by Mariquita Farm Pickled Green Garlic, one of the items we’re currently offering as part of our Gleaning Project. This frittata serves 4.



12 eggs from someone you know

½ cup Bellwether Farm Jersey Milk Ricotta

3 tbls Bellwether Farms plain yogurt

1 cup fresh peas

3 tbls chopped spring onion

¼ cup Mariquita Farm Pickled Green Garlic, chopped

2 tbls fresh thyme

1 tbls fresh shredded fresh mint

4 tbls butter




Simmer peas and spring onion in 2 tbls butter until tender.

Beat eggs with yogurt, ricotta, green garlic, herbs and S&P.

When peas, onions and garlic have cooled, stir into egg mix.

Butter a round baking dish, pour in egg mix.

Place in a 300 degree oven, and cook until firm, but not hard (about 40 minutes). Remove from oven, and slice once cool.



Pyramid Valley Vineyards: New Zealand Beyond Sauv Blanc

New Zealand: home to Hobbits, Kiwi birds, and acres of Sauvignon Blanc vines! But did you know that New Zealand grows more than just Sauvignon Blanc? We’re excited to have three new (non-Sauv Blanc) wines from Pyramid Valley Vineyards in Marlborough, New Zealand.

Although the Marlborough region is iconic for Sauvignon Blanc, Pyramid Valley produces some spectacular wines made from Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Semillion.  The farming/winemaking team, Mike and Claudia Weersing, have a passion for terroir and natural winemaking.  Mike has studied and worked in Burgundy, Alsace, and Spain under well-known winemakers such as Hubert de Montille, Jean-Michel Diess, and Randall Grahm. Their approach is notable in that they farm entirely biodynamically, seek out vineyard sites with perfect soil conditions (mostly clay over limestone), use only native yeasts, do not fine or filter their wines, and use little to no added sulfur – natural winemaking at its best!

2007 Pyramid Valley Kerner Estate Vineyard Pinot Blanc  -  $24.99

Pyramid Valley’s Pinot Blanc vineyard is located in the cool climate of the Waihopai Valley in Marlborough.  This cooler region is perfect for growing Pinot Blanc, a grape native to the Alsace region of France.  The wine has stunning aromas of honey, caramelized apples, orange peel, and cinnamon.  The body is fairly lush with a mouth-coating quality and flavors of orange, custard, and honeyed apples that finishes with great acidity.  Since this wine is entirely unfined and unfiltered, don’t be put off by the light haze in its golden color.  Rather, think of it as a sign of quality, like the cream-top in Strauss non-homogenized milk. This wine is a perfect pairing for richer dishes such as apricot glazed pork tenderloins – a great alternative to Chardonnay!

2009 Pyramid Valley Cowley Family Vineyard Pinot Noir  -  $34.99 

Their Pinot Noir Vineyard is located in the hills above the Wairau Valley.  Again, a cool climate and perfect soil conditions lend themselves so well to growing Pinot Noir in this area.  The nose has aromas of wild spices, like fennel seed, cinammon, and star anise followed by scents of soft red fruits.  The body is mid-weight with similar dried herb flavors along with rhubarb and pomegranate fruit.  A beautiful and long texture makes this a more substantial Pinot Noir, and one that can certainly stand up to a range of dishes.  Try this paired with miso glazed salmon or a lightly spicy vegetable and ginger stir fry!

2009 Pyramid Valley Field of Fire Chardonnay  -  $49.99

This Chardonnay comes from a very small plot located on clay and limestone soils.  The clay and limestone are known to lend a great sense of minerality to Chardonnay, as is seen in the region of Chablis, France.  In fact this Chardonnay reminds us of really great Burgundy Chardonnay, like those from Chablis.  The nose smells of baked peaches, apples, and pastry dough.  The texture is lush but very focused, with flavors of peaches, almonds and lemon curd.  Great minerality and acidity make this a perfect pairing for some grilled fish, like halibut with peas and asparagus.


Late Spring Menu

Seasonal Sandwiches

PLT: Housemade Pancetta, Lettuce, Tomato and Lemon Aioli on Sourdough Bread $7.99

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

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

Grilled Asparagus with Shaved Manchego and Marcona Almonds

From our Deli

Grilled Summer Squash, Red Onion and Cherry Tomato with Feta and a Parsley-Caper vinaigrette $9.99/lb

Roasted Beets, Baby Potatoes and Pastured Egg Salad with a Lemon Vinaigrette $7.99/lb

Farro and Raw Kale Salad with a Lemon-Garlic vinaigrette $8.99/lb

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

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

Moroccan Carrot, Snap Pea & Radish Salad

From our Self Service Case

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

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

What Does Hungry Look Like?

What does Hungry look like? Can you create a revolting recipe that is actually edible? What about drafting alliterations inspired by food?  Sound like fun? Maybe you should join Peanut Butter & the Pen, the creative writing program we co-host with Take My Word for It.  But unless you’re 8-12 years-old, you’ll just have to read the awesome samples below from this spring’s afterschool session.

Want seconds? If you have an 8-12 year old who loves food, take a look at our upcoming summer camp What Would the Big Bad Wolf Make for Supper?, taking place June 18-22nd.  And we’ll be offering PB & the Pen after school again next September (sign ups coming in August)!

Here are some gems from the past year:

Assignment: personification

A. Personify “hungry”:

  1. What does hungry look like? He is a purple pumpkin that has only a mouth because all he does is steal food from other people.
  2. One day I got a phone call from my belly. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I answered it!! It sounded horrible (probably because its mouth was full). It was Hungry! I thought there was no such thing as hungry. Well at 9:30 he came. He didn’t knock. He just came in! Finally it was dinner time (it took a long time for him to sit down and I was getting hungry!). I opened the refrigerator and . . .there was nothing there!!!! I looked over at Hungry; he had food all around his mouth. “Errrr!!”, I said. I started chasing him out of the kitchen and out of the door and around the block until we came to a vent. Then he jumped into it. Then I reached into it. “Yuck!” it was wet and slimy. Is that really where he lives? That is probably why he smells.


B. Personify a food you hate

Hi. I am Mysterious Despicable Bob. I am a tomato. I make people gag with my slimy gooey slippery seeds. I am a good shade of a friendly inviting red on the outside. On the inside I have a long curly villainous mustache. 


Assignment: Use tasting food to inspire an alliteration

The crazy chocolate captures coldness colliding crazily.

Pickles particular perfect taste creates permanent perfection.

The poisonous preposterous pear went to Pennsylvania.

The appalling apricot ate my apple.  


Assignment: Choose a food and write a story about its life cycle

I, Will the wheat seed, was sitting in a sack with my two thousand family members.  Then some strange man dumped me in the ground to grow. Every day an airplane would fly by and spray me with chemicals that hurt him. Slowly by slowly I started growing. Then one day my cousin got ate by insects.  The same thing happened to twenty of my cousins. When the man found out that my cousins had been ate, he was furious.  The next day the airplane came by as always but this time it sprayed the most harmful chemical ever which hurt do much.  Then I was sedated. When I woke up I was in the shape of a square and I was in a bag that had “bread” written on it. Then I was picked up by a man and put in some metal box and then the man pressed a level down and I fell down.  Then the walls started getting really hot. Then I became crispy. Then I was taken out of the box and the man bit me. He kept biting me until there was nothing left of me. That was the sad story of Will, aka William.

Late Spring Catering Specials for your favorite Grad or Dad

Whether it’s a graduation celebration, or that special day when we honor everything we love about Dad, you know you have something to celebrate on the horizon.  What better way to tell Dad how awesome he is, or that new grad how proud you are, than with a platter of their favorite food from Bi-Rite Catering?

The pastured eggs awaiting a marriage with roasted beets & new potatoes for our new salad!

We have some new late spring specials to share with you, including:

Roasted Beet, Pastured Egg and New Potato Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Grilled Summer Squash, Red Onion and Cherry Tomato Salad with Parsley-Caper Vinaigrette

And of course we have our best-selling favorites, like…

Focaccia Finger Sandwiches with Achiote-Marinated Free-Range Chicken Breast and Chipotle-Lime Aioli

Grilled Beef Sirloin Skewers with Chimichurri sauce

Check our our full menu of peak-of-season specials, and please don’t hesitate to reach out if you want guidance planning any event!

Register Recipe: The Sazerac

Our Sazerac's Key Ingredient

I’m very excited to share this cocktail with everyone for two reasons: 1.) It’s one of my favorite cocktails. I can’t quantify how many variations I play around with at home. 2.) The key ingredient has returned to our liquor shelves!

Welcome back, St. George’s Absinthe Verte! Locally produced in Alameda, this absinthe captures the essence of the unhallowed threesome: fennel, wormwood, and star anise. It’s quite strong, registering at 120 proof, which helps immure the aromatics. If you’d like to enjoy it neat, mimic our friends the Scotch connoisseurs: add a few drops of water. Water allows more flavor compounds to escape from their alcoholic prison, giving your nose an enhanced and more complex experience. Even adding an ice cube will do the trick—it’ll also make the absinthe turbid (or “louche”).

Absinthe adds its flavors to cocktails potently when mixing, so it’s easy to overwhelm a drink with absinthe. Therefore, most recipes call for a drop: not a dash, or a splash, but a drop. This minute amount of liquid comes with a grand amount of flavor. The Sazerac, a classic cocktail born in the late 19th century, is traditionally prepared with two glasses. One glass receives an absinthe rinse, the other is used to mix the remaining ingredients. The glasses are combined, and the Sazerac is enjoyed.


  • 1 sugar cube
  • 1  1/2 ounces rye or American whiskey
  • 2 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters
  • Dash of angostura bitters
  • Dash of absinthe (can substitute Herbsaint, Pernod, or Ricard)
  • Twist of lemon peel


  1. Fill an Old Fashioned glass with ice. Put the sugar cube in a second Old Fashioned glass with just enough water to moisten it, then crush the cube.
  2. Add the rye, the two bitters, and a few cubes of ice, and stir. Discard the ice from the first glass, and pour in the absinthe.
  3. Turn the glass to coat the sides with the absinthe; then pour out the excess. Strain the rye mixture into the absinthe-coated glass. Twist and squeeze a lemon peel over the glass. Rub the rim of the glass with the peel, discarding when finished.

Recipe from

Keepin’ it Fresh with Skyhill Farms Goat Cheese

As many of you know, really fresh cheese is one of my favorite things.  Fresh milk, collected and gently transformed into cuds, is such a springtime treat!  We are fortunate to live in an area where we have access to delicious fresh cheese, and we are pleased to add Skyhill Farms goat cheeses to our selection.

Currently, Skyhill buys milk from multiple family farms in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys whose herd size ranges from 300-400 does.  They are, however, working on rebuilding their own herd and hoping to transition to farmstead production by year’s end.  Fresh goat cheese rounds, available in plain, peppercorn, and jalapeno, are made on Monday and delivered to us on Thursday.  It doesn’t get much fresher than a three day turnaround–stop in for a taste!

June Wine Classes to Quench Your Thirst

The Wine Blitz at Bi-Rite last week got us all pumped up about summer drinking! This June we have three spectacular classes that will help us find just the right bottles for our picnics, bbqs, and long summer dinners. During these classes you’ll taste the mountains, meet the winemaker and prep for the summer holidays!

Tuesday June 6th we have cheese writer and blogger extraordinaire Kirstin Jackson with us to lecture and taste through mountain wines and cheeses from California to Italy. We’ll learn the real meaning behind terroir and delight our palates along the way. The cheeses will be vibrant, the wines will be weird, and the class will be delicious. Tickets and more information here.

Tuesday June 12th we’ll host an organic wine tasting with French Winemaker Coralie Delecheneau along with Jeff Viera from Farm Wine Imports. Coralie will guide you through a tasting of  six beautiful french wines, tell her story and discuss the beauty and importance behind growing grapes organically. Tickets and more information here.

And finally, the end of June means it’s almost July 4th! Tuesday, June 26th, 18 Reasons veteran wine instructor Pamela Busch will be here to taste through Rosés and get you ready for the summer months. San Francisco might not be the warmest in the summer but we can still drink like it is! The Rosés will be tasted blind, allowing us to taste without preconceptions. These wines love food and are great values. Tickets and more information here.


Kiko’s Food News: May 25, 2012

The scientific practice of measuring food based on price-per-calorie isn’t getting us anywhere, since looking at foods that way makes a bag of chips (loads of calories, low price) seem like a better deal than a carton of strawberries (fewer calories, higher price); now researchers are starting to break down price based on portion size and weight: (full story, Business Insider)

Check out how many of the brands that surround us are owned by the top 10 multinationals: (full story, Huffington Post)
Seems like these days if you’re eating pizza in a brick and mortar restaurant, you’re way behind the times: (full story, Tasting Table)

Polyface Farm’s Joel Salatin urges Americans to reconnect with and prioritize our “ecological moorings” when confronted with the ragged edges of the local food distribution network, which don’t fit neatly into zoning and other regulatory definitions: (full story, Handpicked Nation)

Giant food suppliers have a real opportunity to affect our food system through their giant buying power, so it worries me to see one like Sodexo using “competing” sustainability labels as an excuse for not making responsible sourcing decisions: (full story, NPR)

You know gluten free has crossed the line to gourmet when big time chefs are featuring it on their menus; many are serving Thomas Keller’s new gluten free pasta: (full story, Tasting Table)

I was interested by some of the items on this list of top vegetarian proteins to work into our diets; did you know Greek yogurt can contain up to twice the amount of protein as the regular stuff, and a cup of spinach contains more than 5 grams of protein? (full story, Huffington Post)

Cooking with Curds: Strawberry Rhubarb Tiramisu

Sarah’s gallivanting around Europe right now, so I’m playing chef this month.  With more than a little guidance from The Gourmet Cookbook and my dear friend and baking sage Kathleen, we’re turning classic Tiramisu on its head and celebrating late spring fruit and our favorite mascarpone.  Enjoy!

Strawberry Rhubarb Tiramisu

(serves 6)

3 large eggs, separated

1 cup sugar

½ cup very cold cream

1 8-ounce container of Crave Bros. Mascarpone

18 Landyfingers

1 cup chopped rhubarb (about 2 stalks)

2 ½ cups chopped strawberries

1/3 cup Cointreau

1/3 fresh orange juice

1 T lemon juice

Zest of 1 orange


Combine chopped rhubarb, strawberries, ¼ cup sugar, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan.

Heat to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for about 25 minutes, until fruit had broken down almost all of the way, and then cool.

While the fruit is cooking, beat together egg yolks and ½ cup sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until thick and pale.

Beat in mascarpone until just combined.

In another bowl, beat whites and salt with clean beaters until the whites hold soft peaks.  Add remaining ¼ cup sugar a little at a time, beating, until whites just hold stiff peaks.

In a third bowl, beat cream with cleaned beaters until it holds soft peaks.

Gently fold cream into mascarpone mixture, and then fold in whites.

Mix together Cointreau and orange juice in a shallow bowl.  Dip ladyfinger in mixture (about 5 seconds each side)

Soak enough ladyfingers to cover the bottom of an 8×8 1-quart baking dish.  Trim cookies where needed.

Spread half of the cooled fruit mixture on top of ladyfingers.  Cover with half of the mascarpone mixture.

Soak remaining ladyfingers and cover the mascarpone in one layer.  Cover with fruit mixture followed by a layer of mascarpone.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

Just before serving, top with orange zest.


Proud to Be A Gleaner!

Mariquita Farms Pickled Green Garlic

As an extension of the Food Waste Challenge we kicked off earlier this year, we’re proud to be redefining the age-old practice of Gleaning. In biblical times, farmers would leave part of their harvest to be gathered by the poor in their community, who could then feed their families. Now it is often our farmers who need the support of their community. Every year our farmers plow under almost 50% of what they grow when market conditions make them unprofitable to harvest, pack and ship.

Mariquita Farms Green Garlic Pesto--I've had it in my fridge and have been putting it on EVERYTHING

We’re bringing the members of our food community together to “glean” this fresh produce, so it doesn’t go to waste. This is a collaboration with our local farmers alongside Bay Area community kitchens like Happy Girl Kitchens and Community Action Marin (CAM) Foodworks.  Applying the creativity of our chefs, we hope to help farmers extend their season, sustain their businesses and bring you delicious produce-centric foods! Together, we are bringing you the best of each season, all year long.

As the seasons progress, we will be producing a range of pickled, fermented, preserved and canned delights for you to cook with. Since we’re coming up with the recipes ourselves and tasting every batch, you can be sure the taste and quality of our Gleaning Project “value-added” products (as they’re called in the food and farming world) will be just as good as everything else we make here at Bi-Rite. This is what a store’s private label brand should be!

Stay tuned to our blog, where we’ll announce each new Gleaning Project item when it arrives at the Market. And keep your eyes open at the store, where we’ll be sharing them in our produce section, deli and grocery shelves. Each new product will come with some simple, tasty recipes that you can prepare at home.

Join us in our new mantra: “PROUD TO BE A GLEANER!”


Grange Brew: Tapping into Beer’s Agricultural Roots

Our friend Brie Mazurek is the Online Education Manager at the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture, which operates the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. She gave us the green light to repost this article she wrote about one of our favorite local brewers, Almanac Beer Co., in the CUESA newsletter. Cheers, Brie!

Wendell Berry has said that eating is an agricultural act, but what about drinking beer? A thirst for fermented beverages may have inspired the world’s first farmers to plant crops some 13,000 years ago, yet today beer is rarely part of the larger conversation about where our food comes from.

A handful of local craft brewers are starting to tap into that primitive connection. Taking up the motto “Beer is agriculture,” Almanac Beer Co. works directly with local farmers to source specialty ingredients for their seasonal brews. “For most people, beer is what shows up in the bottle or can,” says Almanac brewer Damian Fagan. “We’re trying to create a foundation that beer is rooted deeply in agriculture.”

Fagan founded Almanac with Beer & Nosh blogger Jesse Friedman last year, after they met in a home-brewing club, where they traded brewing experiments. (“I’d show up with a fig beer or a puréed turnip beer. Not always great ideas,” Fagan admits.) The two instantly bonded over their interest in San Francisco’s farm-to-table food culture. “We saw a real opening to think and talk about the brewing process using that same vocabulary and ideology,” says Friedman.

Jesse Friedman, Almanac Brewer. Photos courtesy of Almanac Beer Co.

No stranger to farmers markets, Friedman launched SodaCraft last summer, offering naturally carbonated sodas using fresh produce from his fellow vendors at the Ferry Plaza. He has since sold the business to turn his attention to Almanac, where his sourcing and brewing ethos remains the same. “Both businesses were born out of the idea that you can take farmers market produce and make something special out of it,” says Friedman.

From the Farm to the Barrel

While the term terroir is usually reserved for fine wines, Almanac has found creative ways to “infuse a sense of time and place in each brew,” as Friedman says, by integrating fresh produce into the mash.

Since last summer, Almanac has collaborated with Sebastopol Berry Farm, Twin Girls Farm, Hamada Farms, Marshall’s Farm Natural Honey, and most recently, Heirloom Organic Gardens. For each of their beers, made in small batches and released seasonally, Friedman and Fagan meet with the farmer, tour their farm, and feature it prominently on the bottle’s label and Almanac’s website.

Like the Farmers’ Almanac, each brew serves as a record of the season. The Autumn Farmhouse Pale Ale celebrated the last of Twin Girls Farm’s fall plums, while the Winter Wit preserved the end of December at Hamada Farms, with a mix of Cara Cara, navel, and new blood oranges. “If we’d brewed two weeks earlier or later, the mix of oranges would have been different,” Friedman notes.

Fennel at the ready for Biere de Mars. Photos courtesy of Almanac Beer Co.

Their most recent release, Bière de Mars (March beer), is a French-style farmhouse ale highlighting baby fennel from Heirloom Organic Gardens. While fennel might sound like an unexpected choice for beer, farmer Grant Brians thought it made a lot of sense when Almanac approached him. “The flavors in fennel are carried in an oil and slightly alkaline base,” he explains. “It’s perfect to mix into the brewing process.”

The goal with each brew is to provide a distinct but subtle accent that does not dominate the flavor profile, but adds depth and pairs well with seasonal dishes. “We want the ingredient to be an integrated part of the beer,” Friedman insists. “It should not be a fennel cocktail.”

How’s the finished result? “It’s good!” says Brians. “I’m generally a wine drinker, but I enjoy full-bodied and well-balanced flavors in beers. And it was nice to taste the end result of our collaboration.”

Bottlenecks for Local Brewers

While Almanac has sourced some local grains for their brews, including wheat from Massa Organics, brewing a truly Californian beer is fraught with challenges when it comes to hops and barley malt. “Unfortunately, the beer world is defined by the big American brewers,” says Friedman.

Photos courtesy of Almanac Beer Co.

California was once home to a thriving hops industry, but by the 1950s, the mechanization of hops harvesting, outbreaks of downy mildew, and changing beer tastes wiped hops growers out. Today, the majority of U.S. hops are grown in Washington and Oregon.

Sourcing specialty malt poses another obstacle, since there are no malt houses in California, and out-of-state industrial malting facilities prefer to work with large brewers. “You can grow high-quality barley here, but the issue is malting,” says Ron Silberstein of Thirsty Bear Brewing Company. “Part of the problem is that local growers are competing with commodity growers who can grow and malt their barley very inexpensively.” Organic malt from locally grown barley is even rarer.

San Francisco’s first and only brewery to carry the California Certified Organic Farmers seal, Thirsty Bear experimented with brewing a 100-percent local and organic beer in 2010, collaborating with Eatwell Farm in Dixon and Hop-Meister in Clearlake. Since there are no local malt houses, Eatwell had to ship its barley to Colorado Malt Company, which hand-malts in small batches.

In launching the Locavore Ale, Silberstein had hoped to enlist more local craft brewers to commit to purchasing organic malting barley from Eatwell Farm, but the buy-in wasn’t there, and Eatwell has since abandoned the project.

“You have to get enough brewers who want to tell a story, who want to have an heirloom varietal of the barley, and who are willing to pay a premium for that,” Silberstein says. He is hoping to build momentum to start a small artisan malting facility, which would make local, small-batch malting more feasible.

While the process of reconnecting local brewers and beer drinkers with local farms still has a long way to go, Silberstein and Friedman are optimistic that the farm-to-bottle movement is growing. “We need to build larger systems to support local brewing, and that’s a challenge we’re excited to tackle,” says Friedman. “In the meantime, we’ve contented ourselves with highlighting specialty ingredients from local farms.”

We currently carry Almanac’s Winter Wit and Bière de Mars, each $16.99 for a 750 mL bottle.