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Kiko’s Food News: 6.29.12

Stop scrubbing those carrots: the greatest social contribution of the farmers’ market may be its role as a delivery vehicle for putting dirt back into the American diet and in the process, reacquainting our immune system with some “old friends”: (full story, New York Times)

In the good news column: a recent study showed that kids’ cereals are more nutritious on average than a few years ago. In the bad news column: those aren’t the ones being advertised, and ads for the least nutritious products are increasing: (full story, LA Times)

Bill Niman argues that if you’re not one to buy a tomato or strawberries in January, you shouldn’t be one to buy grass-fed beef when it’s not in season. (We’ve got his amazing seasonal beef in, pick up a cut for your 4th of July grill!) (full story, East Bay Express)

Food packaging may not be the sexiest part of what we put in our shopping baskets, but I’m a sucker for these fresh designs Ikea will use to introduce  weird Swedish delicacies to the international market: (full story, Fast Company)

For you history buffs, a dive into why Americans eat so much meat, why we’ve led the world in the innovations that made meat affordable, and why rich Americans no longer eat more meat than poor Americans: (full story, NPR)

Early Summer 2012 Catering Menu

Fire up that grill, pick up a bottle of crisp white wine, some chicken or beef in one of our butchers’ amazing marinades, and round out your backyard party with some of our new early summer catering platters.

Melons,  stone fruit, cucumbers, the first of the season corn…summer has started here at Bi-Rite, and it’s time to celebrate it!

Some of my favorite new platters on our summer catering menu are: 

Cucumber Cups with Grilled Wild Salmon, Shaved Radish, Lime and Cilantro

Corn and Tomato Salad with Cucumbers, Peppers, Red Onions, Herbs and Red Wine Vinaigrette

Lebanese Lentil Salad with Haloumi Cheese, Cucumbers, Fresh Tomatoes and Mint

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!



Matt R.

Get Your Sparkle On

Wahoo, Independence Day is a week from today! We hope you’ve got some fun plans that involve grilling, friends and family, fireworks, and summery wines!

Have you checked out our 4th of July Menu yet?

We remember loving the 4th of July as kids, not only for watching fireworks, but especially for getting to play with sparklers, those magic wands of festive fire. These days, while we still enjoy a good pyrotechnic display, we’d go for another kind of sparkler: sparkling wine! Here are our picks for some delicious bubbly to help you celebrate our great nation’s birthday. Have a safe and happy Independence Day!


Frantz Saumon ‘La Cave se Rebiffe’ Petillant Naturel –  $22.99

Frantz Saumon has been making wine in the Loire Valley  since 2002 when he graduated from oenology school. He purchased a small plot of land for himself in Montlouis, and runs a negociant (a winemaker who buys grapes from other growers) business under the name Un Saumon dans la Loire, “A Salmon in the Loire”. Frantz only seeks out grapes that are grown organically and his approach to winemaking is very hands-off. He uses only natural yeasts and does not fine or filter his wines. This Petillant Naturel of Gamay is a sparkling wine made through only a single fermentation, unlike Champagne which has two fermentations. The juice is allowed to ferment with native yeasts, is lightly cooled to slow fermentation, and then bottled so fermentation will finish within the bottle – giving the wine a lightly sparkling quality. This wine has a gorgeous ruby hue and aromas of fresh cranberries. The palate is so refreshing and dry with tart pink grapefruit flavors, a light clove spice, and salty minerality. The perfect wine to kick off your 4th of July BBQ!


Doyard Cuvee Vendemiaire Champagne  –  $39.99 

The Doyard family has a long and deep tradition of winemaking in the region of Champagne. Maurice Doyard rebuilt his vineyards after World War II and started estate-bottling Champagne in 1927. He later played a key role in establishing Champagne’s governing body, the Comité Interprofessionel de Vins de Champagne, which oversees quality, sets standards, and promotes the region. The estate is now under the direction of Yannick Doyard, Maurice’s grandson, who maintains one premiere cru and four grand cru biodynamically farmed vineyards. Nearly half of each year’s harvest is sold off and only the highest quality grapes are kept for use in Doyard’s wines. The Cuvee Vendemaire is a blend of the 2001, 2002, and 2004 vintages that was bottled in 2005 and let to rest until disgorgment in 2008. It’s 100% Chardonnay, some of which was aged in barrel. The use of oak and the longer aging period make this a special champagne! Beautiful aromas of elderflower and pear lead to a lush and creamy texture. Flavors of white peach, lemon, and toasty croissant are accompanied by elegant bubbles. We’re lucky Champagne pairs so easily with everything, because we can’t stop drinking this!

Barcino Brut Cava  –  $14.99

Cava: the national sparkling wine of Spain. Just as France has Champagne and Italy has Prosecco, Spain is home to Cava. Named after the ‘caves’ where it is aged, it’s made in the same manner as Champagne, having undergone two fermentations. However, the grapes used in Spain are different than those in France. Barcino Cava is a blend of the three main Cava grapes: Macabeo, Xarel.lo, and Parellada. But don’t worry about pronouncing those. All you have to worry about is how great this wine is! Bright lemon and citrus aromas lead to a crisp and minerally palate with flavors of lemon peel, lime, and tart green apple. Barcelona’s favorite sparkler is sure to find a comfortable home at your Independence Day celebrations. It’s perfect as an apertif or with cheeses and salumi.


Life, Liberty and the Prosciutto of Happiness

Independence Day is the perfect time to liberate our taste buds!  We’re celebrating traditionally cured hams inspired by the Italian Prosciutto di Parma and Spanish acorn fed Iberico–but these are made lovingly in Iowa, by Herb and Kathy Eckhouse, founders of La Quercia.  A glass of rosé and some slices of cured pork goodness will bring fireworks to your Fourth of July parade…

Tamworth Prosciutto – Tamworths are historically known as ‘the bacon pig’ for their thick, meaty bellies, excellent flavor, and golden fat. This pork comes from Russ Kremer’s Ozark Mountain Farm and 3 others in Osage County, Missouri. His family has been selecting red-haired Tamworth pigs—a threatened breed—for generations for their good temperament and hardiness outdoors.

Speck Americano – Made from Berkshire and Duroc hogs, this is a lightly apple wood smoked prosciutto.

Prosciutto Americano – This is the ham that started it all.  It’s sweet and clean with a floral minerality.

Coppa Americano – Made from the top of the pork shoulder, it’s cured with salt, pimento de la Vera, and cocoa.

Parade into the deli and have a taste! 


4th of July Menu 2012

Printable 4th of July Menu (pdf)

Available Sunday July 1st through Wednesday July 4th

Happy Birthday, America!

From Our Deli

Classic Fried Chicken $9.99/lb

Chili Rubbed Heritage Pork Ribs with our House Made BBQ Sauce $13.99/lb

Baby Potato Salad with Whole Grain Mustard Vinaigrette $5.99/lb

Lacinato Kale and Carrot Slaw with Creamy Dressing  $8.99/lb

Green Bean Salad with Pickled Shallots and Toasted Walnuts $8.99/lb

Caprese Salad with Fresh Bocconcini Mozzarella and Cherry Tomatoes $9.99/lb

Grilled Corn on the Cob with Chili Lime Butter $1.99/each


From Our Butcher

Housemade Sausages

Marinated Meats


From Our Self Service Case

Spicy Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Dip $9.99/1-lb bowl

7-Layer Dip $13.99/2-lb bowl

Artichoke and Parmesan Dip $5.99/8-oz

Bi Rite’s Salsa Fresca (Mild or Hot) $5.99/12-oz

Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa $5.99/12-oz

Guacamole $7.99/12-oz or $ 4.99/ 8-oz


Desserts From Our Creamery Bakeshop

Mixed Berry Pie ($11.99 – 6”/ $19.99 – 9”)

Peach Pie ($11.99 – 6”/ $19.99 – 9”)

Banana Coconut Cream Pie with Macadamia Crunch and Lime Shortbread Crust ($11.99 -6”/ $19.99 – 9”)


Printable 4th of July Menu (pdf)

Can You Come Up with the Name for Our New Private Label Products?

We thank our lucky stars often that we’re located in San Francisco, where the bounty and diversity of tasty Cali produce is so accessible to us. One of our city’s other advantages is the wealth of creative thinkers here, which is why we’re turning to all of you for our latest conundrum:

What should we name our new line of Bi-Rite private label products??

What should we name our private label line?

This line will include tasty items like:

  • The beef and pork from livestock we’re raising on our farm
  • Pickled veggies we’re making with the help of farmers and preservers in our Gleaning Project 
  • Honey we harvest from our rooftop and Sonoma hives
  • Tomato sauce we make and jar with the late summer harvest so you can taste the sweetness of local growers into the winter

What ties all of these together is that we’re doing them the old fashioned way. Unlike most private label lines, which are almost a case study in outsourcing, our goal is to learn through the process of making each of these foods, and to have an intimacy with all steps and people involved. We want to constantly dig deeper for greater transparency and less waste…and share what we’re learning!

Send us an email by Sunday, July 1st to give us your best shot at a name for this line–the winner will get a sampler box of pickles, preserves and sauces from our Gleaning Project (and see their suggested name printed on Bi-Rite jars for years to come)!


Diggin’ Deeper: Pigs and Garlic (but not together!) on our Farm

Only in the Bay Area does summer start with cold fog and drizzle.  Luckily the weather has been perfect since May and most of the crops on our farm in Sonoma have taken advantage.  The tomato plants are already 2 ½ feet tall, and the summer squash is starting to produce a lot of fruit.  As the farm grows, we continue to diversify the operation to improve the quality of the land and offer a more complete learning experience for our staff and community members who are involved.

As an extension of our Food Waste Challenge, and furthering our goal of learning what goes into making the food we sell, we’re raising pigs on our farm for the first time! 

Every morning, our produce staff collects a 50 gallon bag of veggie scraps from the Market.  We also have a slop bucket to collect dairy products and bread at expiration–all ingredients for  the perfect pig slop.  Every time anyone drives up to Sonoma, they bring a few buckets of these scraps that would otherwise go into the compost. We’re excited to limit the amount of waste at the store and in turn raise beautiful and healthy animals. The pigs are tended to on a daily basis, and love when Farmer Riley sprays them down with the hose and assists them in building their mud baths.  Since this is our first time raising pigs, we’re not quite sure when they’ll hit that perfect weight to harvest them, but our eight little piggies are growing fast–feeding the pigs is the new favorite activity at the farm!

A picture of patience: our garlic heads drying

Garlic is a crop that takes a lot of help from Bi-Rite staff to harvest and process, but is worth it so we can have something growing in the fields in the middle of the winter when most crops struggle.  It’s usually planted in late Fall and not harvested until 8-9 months later.  In order to plant a garlic crop, all of the bulbs have to be broken into individual cloves and planted 4-6 inches into the ground.  The crop usually needs weeding at least a couple times throughout the season.  When it comes time to harvest, we carefully dig up each bulb and hang them in large bunches to dry out.  When the moisture’s almost gone, the greens and roots are cut off, and the dirty outer layer peeled off each head.

This year I decided to grow our biggest crop of garlic yet, yielding plenty to share with our guests!  We planted the garlic cloves in mid-October and harvested them the 2nd week of June.  Unfortunately, the soil that we planted the garlic in was lacking in nutrients and didn’t produce large heads of garlic, but these lil suckers have large, easy-to-peel cloves, and are extra flavorful!  This was a learning experience for Riley and I, and continues to shine the light on the importance of crop rotation and adding amendments to the soil, whether through cover crops or compost.    We’re cleaning up the garlic right now and it should be in the produce department by July 1st.

One thing we’ve learned is that pigs don’t like eating garlic (or onions, or citrus)…simpler flavors for these guys!

Riley keeping the dirt happy


Kiko’s Food News: 6.22.12

The farm bill that passed in the senate yesterday leaves sugar subsidies in place and is a hit to the SNAP (food stamp) program, but does limit crop subsidies to the wealthiest farmers and provides funding for the next generation of farmers: (full story, Grist)

Nashville is one of several midsize cities whose food sensibilities are growing as people leave the dog-eat-dog cities on the coasts in search of more affordable places to live and eat: (full story, New York Times)

A new national Meat Without Drugs campaign addresses the rampant misuse of antibiotics by factory farms: since the FDA hasn’t taken meaningful action, it asks consumers to petition retailers – starting with Trader Joe’s – to carry only meat raised without antibiotics: (full story, Meat Without Drugs)

Mainers want more local say in regulating small farms, evidenced by several towns adopting local ordinances that exempt farmers from state and federal regulations if they sell products directly to consumers: (full story, ABC News)

And allow me a break from the hard news for a celebration of the season: here are 12 ways to seize the stone fruit moment, including drying it for “summer in a jar”: (full story, New York Times)


Olympic Provisions: The Story of Portland’s Salami Darling

We’ve had a whole lot of Portland lovers walk by our meat counter and squeal with joy upon seeing a basket of Olympic Provisions salamis. We agree-they’re tops-so we asked Brenda Crow of Olympic Provisions to share with us San Franciscans a bit of their story:

Tucked into what was once Portland’s produce district, Olympic Provisions was a convergence of two simple ideas amongst siblings and friends: We were inspired to make old world cured meat and to serve it in a decidedly new world setting – Portland, Oregon’s burgeoning dining scene.

Most of us didn’t grow up in Portland, this beautiful place we now call home. Elias and Michelle Cairo–brother and sister and now, business partners–were raised in Sandy, Utah where their Greek father found a home away from the homeland. A far cry from Sparta, he held tight to his heritage, cutting and curing his own meat and tending a garden full of garlic, peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers. The family also operated a couple of Greek diners in the area.

Influenced by his father, Elias later set out to Switzerland to apprentice under master chef Annegret Schlumpf and ultimately under the local jagermeister, where all the valley’s meat was processed and cured. The experience was a familiar and pivotal one. After returning to the U.S., Eli set out to recreate what he’d learned, opening Oregon’s first USDA-approved salumeria: Olympic Provisions. Opening alongside, our restaurant of the same name serves rustic, elegant food. Diminutive in size, that first curing room affirmed Elias’s fundamental conviction: high quality handmade charcuterie can be made without cutting corners, just as it’s done in the old world. Here’s how we do it:

At the beginning of each week, we start with fresh pork from Carlton, Oregon, nestled in nearby wine country. We use pork shoulder to produce our salami, a muscle that we butcher to 100% lean. We also insist on selecting and hand-cutting pure back fat – that beautiful lard that’s snowy white and velvety soft. Both ingredients and technique are essential to producing the style of salami that we covet: tender, flavorful pork dappled with buttery fat that melts clean.

To compliment that extravagance, we start with whole spices and fresh garlic, grinding them in-house with each batch. It seems like a simple step, but it’s surprisingly uncommon in most American charcuterie houses. Equally uncommon are many of the varieties we make. Loukanika, seasoned with cumin, orange zest and garlic, is a taste of the Cairo’s childhood – a recipe not too far off from the one their dad made at home. Our Chorizo Navarre, a dry-cured Spanish style chorizo nuanced with a bit of heat, was a favorite on Elias’s travels throughout Spain. The Saucisson D’Arles hails from a region in France where the charcuterie masters consider spices extraneous – a distraction from the exquisite flavor of their good pork and sound technique. It relies on nothing more than sea salt to assert its sublime flavor.

A peak into our curing room is a divine place for the meat lover. Long strands of salami dusted in natural white molds hang from high racks. All of our salami is encased in natural hog casings. That beautiful white mold you’ll find protecting it is also natural and an indication of the patience we put into curing each piece. And the final ingredients we consider essential to superb salami? Good times and a great team.



Matt R.

La Vie en Rosé

La Vie en Rose, “Life through rose colored glasses,” is both a favorite song of ours and the perfect expression to embody how we spend our summers – that is, filling our wine glasses with a wide variety of rosés! We’re in the midst of what we in the wine world call Rosé Season – that time of year when wineries release their rosé bottlings. Typically, rosés are the first wine that producers release each year; they’re produced in small quantities, and are generally meant to be drunk young. For that reason, you don’t tend to see many rosés on wine shelves past the summer months.

Rosés continue to get better and better every year! They’ve definitely come a long way from the sweet and hardly drinkable White Zinfandels that my grandma used to drink. With each passing vintage, producers are increasingly turning out beautiful and expressive dry rosé wines that are extremely versatile at pairing with food. The abundance of great rosé makes each summer a fun time for us to select many different wines to share with you. It might seem like we have a new rosé in every week, but there are just too many great ones (and such limited quantities) to keep them on the shelf for too long. Here are a few of our favorites arriving to our shelf this week, but don’t get too attached – there are plenty more just around the corner!

2011 Colle Stefano Rosato  –  $15.99

Fabio Marchionni took over his family’s vineyards a few years ago; when a friend offerend to rent him an organically farmed vineyard of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, he couldn’t resist taking that on too. Located in the Marche region of northern Italy, Fabio makes beautiful minerally whites from the grape Verdicchio and now produces this amazing rosé from his rented vineyard of mostly Sangiovese with some Cabernet Sauvignon. His approach to winemaking is very careful and meticulous; he keeps the winery so clean you could eat off the floor if you wanted! His rosé is fresh with peach and nectarine aromas followed by strawberry flavors, mouthwatering acidity, and flinty minerality from the limestone soil. A perfect picnic wine, and one to pair with a watermelon and mint salad!

2011 Brooks Pinot Noir Rosé  –  $19.99

Brooks Winery was founded in 1998 by Jimi Brooks with the intention of producing expressive organic and biodynamically farmed Pinot Noir and Riesling from the Willamette Valley, Oregon. Sadly, Jimi passed away in 2004 at the age of 38, causing the Oregon wine community to band together in support of the Brooks family and his continued legacy. The winery is now owned by Jimi’s son, Pascal, who was eight when his father passed (the youngest winery owner in the world!) and managed by Jimi’s sister Janie. Winemaking is overseen by Chris Williams, who may be best known for the Brooks 2006 Ara Riesling that was served at President Obama’s first State Dinner! This Pinot Noir Rosé has aromas of roses, red berries, melon, and herbs. It’s dry with a grapefruit tartness and mid-weight texture along with flavors of cranberry and minerals. Try this with grilled salmon and mango salsa!

2011 Yves Cuilleron Syrah Rosé  –  $16.99

Yves Cuilleron is helping to revive the Northern Rhone area of France. He took over his family’s vineyards in 1987 from his uncle and also reclaims “lost vineyards” in the area that have been abandoned and have become overgrown and lost in the steep hills of the region. Although originally trained as a mechanic, his family has a long tradition of producing wine in the area and he couldn’t pass up the chance to continue his family’s tradition. He is most known for producing rich and deeply concentrated reds from Condrieu and Cote-Rotie, but his Syrah rosé is a refreshing treat. Light watermelon aromas and scents of wild herbs lead to a full and round texture. It’s lightly herbal and spicy with flavors of peaches and raspberries. Deep color and a long, round finish allow this rosé to stand up to heavier dishes. Try it with herb-marinated grilled pork!