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Archive for June, 2012


Checking in on Divis

Sam dreaming of what will be

Holy cr*p!  It’s already been a year since we signed our lease on Divisadero at Hayes.  We haven’t thought that seemingly endless discussions about refrigerated cases were very newsworthy, but with construction  ramping up, we want to share some news and picture with you.  We’re almost finished with the seismic upgrade and re-framing of the building!

The Divisadero market has been a challenging endeavor, not just because of the construction complexity and breadth, but because it involves a new community. Some of the questions we’re asking ourselves include: What does it mean to become a part of an existing community?  Who lives and works in this community? What do community members want (and not want) to see in their neighborhood? We do not have the answers to all of these questions nor do we presume that we will in the days leading up to our opening.  However, we want to find out. We’re listening. We’re reading. We envision Bi-Rite on Divisadero as a true neighborhood market: a reflection of the surrounding area and of the tastes, flavor and flair that take shape along the Divisadero corridor.

The view from the storage mezzanine

We don’t seek to supplant, but to support and sustain. We’ve begun the process of learning from our new neighbors, opening our ears to a neighborhood that has clear, diverse and defined voices. As part of the learning and listening process, we’ve met with a lot of amazing people  — business groups, neighborhood associations, city leaders, churches, schools—all of whom are committed to making the Western Addition a great place to live, work and play.

We’re not done, nor will we ever be done. Clearly, the Western Addition has seen tremendous physical and cultural change over the past 15 years. We believe that there is a way to impact a neighborhood landscape that is thoughtful, respectful and yields more positive change than negative. Plainly put: it’s a process.  We’re looking forward to the dialogue that should (and will) accompany our opening in the Western Addition, and  how Bi-Rite Divis will evolve as we build more relationships and continue having conversations with our new neighbors.

And speaking of our opening, yep, we know. It’s been slow. The question still remains:

“When will Bi-Rite on Divisadero open?”  Right now, it’s looking like the early part of 2013.  We still need a conditional use permit for a rooftop mechanical room and to connect the adjacent storage space. Our conditional use hearing before the SF Planning Commission should happen in mid to late July. Once a date is scheduled, we’ll let you know so you can hopefully attend the public hearing and show your support.  We know we’ve pushed the date back a few times–just want to make sure we’ll be ready to serve the neighborhood when we open!

Thank you for your support and patience! We look forward hearing from you—shoot us an email here. And if you’re interested in updates on Divisadero in the coming months, sign up for our email list here.




Fayes Neighbor Cards: Mr. Rogers Would Approve

A couple months ago, I walked into Fayes Coffee, across the street from the Market, to grab my morning joe before starting the work day, and found myself staring into the face of the big boss a little earlier than expected! I’d come face to face with their “Sam Mogannam” trading card, resting on a ledge alongside a handful of other familiar faces that I see every day on our 18th St. block. I picked up the card and flipped it over–on the back I found Sam’s answers to questions like which Fayes coffee drink he orders most (go flip it over yourself if you want to find out!)…plus I learned that he used to live directly above Fayes!

I couldn’t believe how neat these were–granted I don’t know a thing about baseball, but how much cooler than a baseball card is a “neighbor card”, a collection of personalities that when held in your hand, give you a chance to get to know the people you pass every day. I knew right away that these were the masterwork of Michael McConnell, who creates dream-like paintings and drawings under the name Pooping Rabbit. Michael’s one of the long-time owners of Fayes Coffee, and I’ve gotten to know him over my years at Bi-Rite through collaborating on our 18th Street Block Party that we put on every other year, not to mention kicking off my mornings with their coffee served with love and usually a bit of his quirky humor.

I asked Michael to tell me a bit more about what he’s doing with these cards, and this is what he said:

“For me it was the idea of people seeing each other every day in the neighborhood, but maybe not knowing their name. There is something nostalgic about baseball trading cards to me, maybe a simpler time where people knew who their neighbors were, rather then being nose down in an electronic device. We thought of it as a way for people to let others know something about themselves, while it also being a cool art/collector’s piece.

We launched the project March 1st, and we plan to do 52 of them, one for each week of the year. There will also be four bonus cards if you buy the whole set–a certain favorite man dressed in brown is slated to be one of those!

I have to say Jennifer Proctor was probably the most fun to draw–she was very playful about getting her picture taken. She is also usually the very first Fayes customer of the day, and she and I just make each laugh in hysterics. Each card takes anywhere from 6-8 hours at the moment, but as I keep doing them I am hoping that I can cut that time down.”

(Anyone know who the “certain favorite man dressed in brown” is? I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes…)

When I asked Michael how he decides who gets a shot at celebrity on one of his cards, he told me he’s accepting applications!

“We’ve handed out over 50 forms for people to fill out, but people are sometimes shy, so we’ve collected about 20. It’s still in the early stages so I hope that they gain momentum and people start collecting them. I mean, for 3 bucks, you’re getting an archival print of original artwork in a protective sleeve, so I think that’s pretty cool. It’s also been fun seeing how happy the people are when they get them. Like Henry (who just turned 3) got his just in time for his birthday and his parents were stoked!”

I can’t imagine a more  fun way for an artist (and local business owner) to shout out what makes a neighborhood tick–its neighbors! Michael’s still accepting applications–pick one up next time you’re caffeinating!

Kiko’s Food News, 6.15.12

We spend less of our money on groceries than we did 30 years ago, and a dramatically bigger share of that on processed foods: (full story, NPR)

NeverSeconds, a blog started by 9-year-old Martha Payne of Scotland to document the unappealing, non-nutritious lunches she was being served in her public school, was shut down by school authorities this week (she had over two million viewers!): (full story, Wired)

I can’t stop reading about the proposed ban on mega-size sodas, and was staggered by this interview with a Coke exec; one choice snippet: “There is a large portion of the population that relies on the carbohydrates and energy in our regular beverages. When my son gets home from school, he needs a pick-up with calories and great taste.” (full story, USA Today)

And another battleground regarding government intervention in personal health: broccoli has arisen as a trigger topic in the Supreme Court during arguments over the constitutionality of Obama’s health care legislation. If Congress can require Americans to buy health insurance, could it force people to buy a green vegetable that many find distasteful? (full story, NY Times)

A group called Georgians for Pastured Poultry, whose membership springs from the hotbed of Big Chicken, is throwing the first annual Pastured Poultry Week this month to inspire change in how chickens are raised for eating: (full story, Wired)

Fun story on a local grocer who responded to community feedback: a Korean-owned market in Missouri has expanded their selection to include smoked catfish, frozen red snapper, dried ugu leaves and cassava that customers of West African background have asked for; about 10% of the store’s business now comes from these products: (full story, Missourian)

Sandor Katz, today’s fermentation poster child, says “the creative space between fresh and rotten is the root of most of humanity’s prized delicacies”; here are some of his other wisdom on this most flavorful genre of foods: (full story, NPR)

Bokashi, an obscure composting method based on an ancient Japanese practice, makes it possible to ferment food waste without producing foul odors as with other composting methods: (full story, SF Chronicle)

Gleaning Project Recipe: Coctkails for Dad!

In honor of Dad’s Day this Sunday, we want to share two cocktail recipes we came up with that put our Mariquita Farm Pickled Green Garlic to work!

Dirty Pickled Peter

Featuring Bi-Rite Gleaning Project’s Mariquita Farm Pickled Green Garlic; serves 2


3 oz Hendricks Gin
1 breath of dry vermouth
2 wands Mariquita Farm Pickled Green Garlic
½ tsp brine from Mariquita Farm Pickled Green Garlic

Shake liquids with vigor, pour into martini glass and garnish with a pickled green garlic wand.

Lust in Red and Green

Featuring Bi-Rite Gleaning Project’s Mariquita Farm Pickled Green Garlic; serves 2

12 oz organic tomato juice
4 oz Square One Vodka
2 tbls finely diced Mariquita Farm Pickled Green Garlic
1 tbls finely diced red onion
2 tsp worcestershire sauce
2 tsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp freshly grated horseradish or Bubbies fresh prepared horseradish
1 tsp chili Flakes
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp celery salt
2 wands Mariquita Farm Pickled Green Garlic

Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour into a tall glass and garnish with a wand of pickled green garlic.




Matt R.

Mediterranean Whites for Your Grilling Pleasure

Not sure about you, but we’ve been loving the heat lately and have been savoring every last drop of sunshine since we all know that our foggiest months lay just ahead for us San Franciscans.  This means we’ve been firing up the grill and enjoying the first signs of summer produce (squash, corn, watermelon, stone fruit, and blueberries!).

Summer wine pairings sometimes require a little extra thought.  We know that heavier or earthier reds can stand up well to grilled meats and veggies, but what about some whites that are both refreshing and have enough weight to stand up to grilled summer squash or a tomato salad?  These are a few of our favorite Mediterranean whites that certainly have a bold enough character to handle the smoke coming off the grill.  Pairing these with your summer cookout will make you feel like you’ve traveled to the coast of Italy for an afternoon al fresco!

2010 Domaine Gioiell Blanc de Blancs Sec –  $24.99

WWND? (What would Napoleon drink?) Between conquering various regions of Europe, Napoleon definitely quaffed some of this Vermentino from his native island of Corsica.* OK, maybe not this exact wine, but it’s very possible Napoleon did drink Corsican wine since vines were planted on the island by the Genovese as early as the 14th century.  Domaine Gioielli was founded in the 1950s when a native Corsican, Michel Angeli, reclaimed what was once a grand Genovese estate, complete with crumbling castles and fortresses.  Michel planted vines on rocky slopes that get a good amount of sea breezes.  The nose on this wine is definitely reminiscent of the sea, with a salty aroma and scents of fresh lemon peel.  The palate is dry and crisp with flavors of granny smith apple, grapefruit, tarragon, and a mouthwatering salinity.  Pair this with grilled summer squash or a quest for world domination.

*May or may not be a factual statement.

2010 Claudio Morelli Bianchello  –  $16.99

Speaking of grapes that have been through wars, the grape in this wine by Claudio Morelli, Bianchello, is said to have played its part in helping to save Rome from attack in 207 B.C. Apparently the Carthaginians, on their way to attack Rome, stopped in this northern area of Italy and drank a little too much Bianchello for their own good.  The Romans easily defeated the hungover Carthaginians, and the grape has been a favorite of the region ever since.  Claudio Morelli only has 1.3 hectares of this grape planted on terraced slopes near the Adriatic Sea.  It has enticing aromas of peaches, nectarines, and white flowers.  The acidity is mouth-watering in this mid-weight white, with flavors of stone fruits and dried wild herbs. Try this with a grilled peach and arugula salad!

2008 Ferrando Erbaluce di Caluso Cariola  –  $21.99

The Ferrando family has been making wine in the Carema area of Piedmont, Italy since the 1890s.  They are well-known in the area, especially for their very rare Nebbiolos.  This is a white made from the grape native to this cool area, Erbaluce.  Legend goes that the daughter of the Dawn and the Sun, the nymph Albaluce (“Alba” for dawn, and “Luce” for light), was born on the hilltop overlooking the town of Caluso.  She watched over the lakes and waterways of the Piedmont and it’s people.  One day, being so moved by the affection shown to her by the inhabitants of Caluso, she cried into the limestone earth and vines began to grow.  These grapes, called Erbaluce in her honor, have grown only in this area for centuries.  Although sometimes made into sweet wines, this bottling from Ferrando is dry with exotic aromas of baked apple, honey, white flower, and almonds.  It has a mouth-coating texture, great acidity, and flavors of apples, tart grapefruit, and stony minerality.  Pair this with a grilled whole fish or stuffed squash blossoms!

Better Than a Tie: What to Give Dad on Sunday

We have a whole lot of dads on staff here at Bi-Rite (Sam our owner, Eddy our chef, Raph our grocery buyer, Simon our produce buyer, Chili our butcher…the list goes on!) so it’s in all of our best interest to come up with delicious Father’s Day ideas. Here are some of our recommendations based on what our own dads would be excited to open up this Sunday, June 17th. Love you, dad!

For the curious dad, here are three classes coming up at 18 Reasons; whether it’s tasting, chopping or brewing, there’s lots for dad to learn:

For the thirsty dad, Trac’s recommended wine, beer and spirits fit for the occasion:

  • Ryme Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon: Trac shared the Ryme Cellars story on our blog
  • Pepiere Muscadet “Clisson”: our current Loire Valley favorite
  • Russian River’s Pliney The Elder Imperial IPA: Respect your Elder!!
  • Hooker’s Bourbon: born in Kentucky and matured in Sonoma Valley
  • Luxardo Cherries: kick his Manhattan up a notch
  • Mariquita Farms Pickled Green Garlic: Part of our new Gleaning Project, these can take dad’s martini to a whole new level (shout out to my own dad, whose invention of a “vegan martini”, i.e. martini with as many pickled vegetables as can be wedged into the glass, never ceases to please!)

For the hungry dad, some winners from our grocery shelves:

  • Paulie’s Pickling: if dad’s a sourpuss type he’ll love these pickles from the Bernal-based cali-jewish deli
  • Olli Salame: stick a chub in your hiking pack and pull dad up the trail
  • Ramona Bar: like the Snickers dad’s been eating since childhood, but made in Oakland with Venezuelan chocolate instead of that waxy stuff!
  • SFQ BBQ Sauce: If you haven’t had a chance to meet Michelle in front of the market sampling her lip-smacking sauce, do your dad a favor and pick up a jar
  • Large bags of 4505 Chicharrones: A manly-sized bag of pork skins for a manly dad
  • Just Cook spice rubs: Less time preparing, more time grubbing!
  • Wrecking Ball Coffee: Newest addition to our coffee section, and made by a dad 🙂
  • Southpaw Kitchen Mostardo: For the dad on a mission, made at La Cocina
  • The last time bro, sis & I were all home with dad (photo taken at 6 am!)

Kiko’s Food News 6.8.12

Bittman defended Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to ban mega-size sodas, arguing that “your right to harm yourself stops when I have to pay for it” and that soda isn’t, by technical definition, even food: (full story, NY Times)

Starbucks bought the SF-based La Boulange chain for $100 million this week; crazy to imagine that within a year there will be La Boulange-branded goods in every Starbucks’ pastry case in America: (full story, Inside Scoop SF)

We take bananas for granted–they’re cheap, they’re everywhere, and they’re usually ready to eat off the shelf. Ever wonder how a pale, fragile tropical fruit became so commonplace? (full story, NPR)

A new study illuminates how the roughly 20 million workers involved up and down the US food chain (a sixth of our workforce) aren’t treated well, with only 1 in 10 earning a livable wage and 83% denied health insurance: (full story, Chicago Tribune)

Scientists have told us that salt consumption raises blood pressure, causes hypertension and increases the risk of premature death, but the evidence is looking increasingly flimsy: (full story, NY Times)

The “gill to fin” movement (cooking with the whole fish) is gaining momentum; cooking an entire fish means great flavor from the bones and skin, plus the fact that salmon collars, belly meat and the eggs (if you can catch the fish yourself) are delicacies! (full story, Bay Area Bites)

Walt Disney  announced that all foods advertised on its child-focused TV channels, radio stations and websites must comply with strict new nutritional standards; products like Capri Sun, Kraft Lunchables, candy, sugared cereal and fast food will no longer be acceptable advertising material!! (full story, NY Times)

A federal judge issued a statement saying the FDA has done “shockingly little” to address the human health risks of antibiotic use in animal feed and ordering the agency to reconsider two petitions seeking restrictions on the practice: (full story, Chicago Tribune)


Ryme Cellars – A Working Wine Marriage

Married life: all about compromise, right? Different sets of towels . . . putting up with the ugly picture hanging on the wall as long as you get to keep that mohair rug you loved in college . . . Italian tonight but only if you get Thai food tomorrow. Believe it or not, the need to compromise can extend beyond day-to-day life and into the vineyard – at least it does for husband and wife winemaking team Ryan and Megan Glaab of Ryme Cellars!

Ryan and Meghan first started making wine in 2007 with a single bottling of Anglianico.  They’ve since gradually expanded into producing a handful of other wines including the two we’re pleased to welcome to our shelves: their 2011 Vermentino and their 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon. Both Ryan and Meghan have extensive winemaking backgrounds having worked for such places as Pax Cellars, Peay Vinyards, Sine Qua Non, Marcassin, and Wind Gap Winery where Ryan is currently assistant winemaker.  They agree on the approach of respecting California’s wonderful and varied terroir, sourcing only organic and sustainably grown grapes, and intervening minimally in the winemaking process by using native yeasts and not fining or filtering.

2011 Ryme Cellars Vermentino  –  $24.99 

While Ryan and Megan tend to agree on most things about winemaking, there was a big disagreement on how to approach making their Vermentino.  Having sourced grapes from Las Brisas Vineyard the Carneros AVA, Ryan wanted to make a richly textured orange wine (white wine with extended skin contact) and Megan wanted to create a clean and aromatic wine reminiscent of Vermentino from Sardinia. The only solution to please them both was to compromise and split the harvest in half.  Ryan made his orange wine with his half of the grapes and Megan bottled her white version with her half.  The result: “His” and “Hers” wines! We are carrying the “Hers” version which is aromatic with notes of pineapple, pear, and guava. The texture is light, crisp, and dry with a bit of a sea salt minerality.  This is definitely a fun white to have on hand for your summer barbeques!

2009 Ryme Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon  –  $37.99

The Cabernet comes from a vineyard in the Chalk Hill AVA of the Russian River Valley in Sonoma.  The area is named for the white and chalky volcanic ash in the soil, which lend a bit of volcanic minerality to the grapes as well as help restrain fast and vigorous vine growth.  The wine was fermented with about 25% of the grapes remaining whole clusters.  Fermenting grapes with the stems on can add a little extra depth and spicy grip to red wines.  The wine was then aged in neutral barrels for 22 months before being bottled.  It’s fairly aromatic with notes of dark cherries, violets, and cinnamon.  The texture is dense but elegant with dark juicy fruit, savory spice flavors, and long full tannins.  This bottle is drinking great right now but is certainly ageable. Try pairing this with grilled steak, caramelized onions, and porcini mushrooms!


Dust Off the Summer Grill…BN Ranch Beef is Back

Today is a big day: we roll out this year’s BN Ranch grass fed beef in our meat case!  Bill Niman’s seasonal, grass-fed beef is only available at certain times of the year (we should have it through the end of this year); I asked him to join us as a guest blogger and share more about what makes his beef  unique. Here’s what he said:

Beginning this week, BN Ranch will be offering grass grown and finished beef from our own ranch in Bolinas (Marin County).

This beef will be quite different than other beef in the marketplace today. For starters, it comes from truly mature beef. These cattle were nearly three years old at harvest (a full year older than most beef at slaughter) which provides a unique flavor and finish. Additionally, these animals were harvested directly off our pastures – not a feedlot or dry-lot — at precisely the moment they reached their peak condition. Just as elk and venison have a peak moment, so does beef that is truly grass raised and fattened. In our view, the very best grass-fed beef is a seasonal offering like great ripe tomatoes, peaches, and Beaujolais Nouveau.

The exact time of year when cattle on grass will achieve prime condition varies slightly from year to year, according to climate and geography. And for us, this year, the moment is now.
This year’s BN RANCH beef will come from Black Angus and Hereford-Angus-cross animals, all born from our own breeding cows on our Bolinas ranch. They spent their entire lives on pasture. It goes without saying that none of these animals was ever given hormones, or fed antibiotics or any meat or fish by-products. They were raised entirely on mother’s milk and natural forage (including a very small amount of hay), and according to the highest possible animal welfare and environmental standards.

We have been perfecting this method for excellent grass-fed beef (similar to traditional methods that prevailed before World War II) for the last eight years. We believe you will find it to be the finest grass fattened beef available.


Si’s June Produce Outlook

Wow, it already feels like summer (well, at least in terms of what we can put in our mouth–not the wind we’ve been having)!  All of the stone fruit that hit our shelves in May had great flavor for early season fruit, and June is only going to get better.   The stone fruit growers are excited about the way the season is shaping up and our produce crew is ready to share this excitement with you.

Stone Fruit Sweetness

Rainier Cherries--rosy and sweet!

Cherries always kick-off stone fruit season in the Bay Area and the weather this past winter has allowed the trees to set up with a lot of fruit.  Hidden Star Orchard located in the southwest foothills of the Sierras is harvesting extra plump and flavorful yellow Rainer and red Larian Cherries, we’re still waiting for everyone’s favorite, the red Bings, to ripen up in mid-June.  Local cherries will continue through the end of June, at which point we’ll start getting them from the Northwest.

Frog Hollow Orchard in Brentwood is having an apricot season for the ages!  The Robada Apricots are huge this year and they haven’t lost their amazing texture and flavor with their large size.  The next variety will be the Helena Apricot followed by the Golden Sweet.  Farmer Al has had issues with his apricot crop the past couple season, but this year he’ll be delivering tree-ripened apricots to Bi-Rite through the end of the month.  Frog Hollow’s fantastic fruit doesn’t stop there–the Crimson Lady Yellow Peach is about ready to harvest and it will be followed by a handful of other yellow peach and nectarine varieties throughout the summer.

Balakian Farm in Reedley has been delivering delicious stone fruit to Bi-Rite for over 10 years, and continue to surprise us with new varieties each season.   The first rounds of Donut Peaches are so ripe and sweet right now, and their small size and low acidity make them the perfect piece of fruit for the little ones.  Balakian Farm grows not only peaches and nectarines, but also a wide selection of plums and pluots (plum crossed with apricot).  The Santa Rosa Plums just arrived and they are super juicy!

Blossom Bluff Orchard, also located in Reedley, is the first farm to deliver Yellow Nectarines this season; they’ve been the perfect balance of sweet and tart.  When stone fruit season starts up, most of our regular customers are hesitant to buy the peaches and nectarines until the flavor develops.  This year the flavor has been on point from the get go, so it’s time to celebrate the season.

B is for Berries

Strawberries have been so good this season and will continue to taste great most of the summer.  All of our strawberries come directly from the fields to Bi-Rite and  we usually get a fresh delivery of straws almost every day of the week.  Tomatero, Mariquita and Swanton Berry Farm are our main suppliers of strawberries, each one of them masters in the art of growing berries.  Tomatero Farm grows the Seascape, Chandler and Albion varieties and it’s always a pleasant surprise to see which variety they deliver to the storeMariquita Farm loves to let their Albions get so plump and ripe on the plant before they harvest them.  Swanton Berry Farm focuses on the Chandler variety, so delicate and juicy.

Yerena Berry Farm in Watsonville has just started harvesting raspberries and we are so grateful for this farm-direct relationship.   It’s very challenging to find a steady supply of local raspberries since they are so labor intensive, and Driscoll monopolizes most of the marketplace.  Yerena’s raspberries are a dark vibrant red and the flavor seems to change slightly every week. 

Hidden Star’s blueberries are to die for right now!  I don’t know what it is but this year’s crop of big, firm berries is so yummy.  They’re also growing blackberries for the first time; for early season berries they have a nice balance between sweet and tart.  The Bi-Rite Family Farm in Placerville is getting readying to start harvesting blueberries at the end of the month, and should continue through most of July.

Melons and grapes are coming in from Southern California and have been eating well.  The local stuff won’t start up for a while so stay tuned!

Can’t Forget to Eat your Veggies

With all this excitement around the start of summer fruit, it’s easy to forget the bounty of late spring veggies:

  • “Fresh crop” Potatoes from Full Belly Farm are so delicious and delicate right now that they need to be displayed in the wet-rack.
  • Asparagus is still coming in from local farms, but this could come to an end very shortly.
  • Porcini Mushrooms from Northern Cali have arrived and this is a short season, so make that Barley and Porcini soup now!
  • Corn has also arrived from So Cal and its sweet and not too starchy (but keep an eye out for the occasional worm!).  Corn is very challenging to grow organically because the moths love to lay eggs in the top of the ears.  Our produce crew takes the extra time to clean up each ear to keep the corn bug-free.
  • Local summer squash has started up and Happy Boy Farm is growing a bunch of specialty varieties that are so tender and flavorful.  We’ll carry squash blossoms whenever available.
  • Local tomatoes are still a ways away, but the So Cal tomatoes are starting to taste better.