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Kiko’s Food News, 8.31.12

“As California goes, there goes the nation”, and in advance of November’s vote the Cornucopia Institute released a shocking visual of food brands divided yes vs no on Prop 37; many we may think of as health oriented are those opposing GMO labeling: (full story, Cornucopia Institute)

And in other GMO news, A USDA panel reached consensus that growers of genetically engineered crops should try to contain the spread of their genes to organic crops; disappointingly, the panel refused to hold the biotech companies that create the seeds responsible, instead recommending that taxpayer-subsidized insurance foot the bill to compensate farmers: (full story, SF Chronicle)

The Envionrmental Working Group (creators of the popular Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce) released Good Food on a Tight Budget, a guide to help eaters stretch our healthy food dollars; it ranks produce items that pack the highest nutrition for the least cost: (full story, Environmental Working Group)

Grocery chains are putting a full time dietician in their stores to capitalize on growing consumer awareness of the role food plays in health and happiness (and to fend off competition from specialty markets like Whole Foods and big-box stores like Walmart): (full story, New York Times)

The trickiest ingredient for cocktail creators, beer brewers, hot sauce makers and other small batch food makers to get their hands on? Bourbon barrels! But recently, used barrel seekers and sellers have been finding each other in a mutually beneficial partnership: (full story, NPR)

Sure yogurt has been made for centuries from just milk and live bacteria, but these days manufacturers are trying to increase profits by adding ingredients to speed up production and stabilize yogurt’s shelf life: (full story, Hand Picked Nation)

Under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, the USDA has issued its first major rewriting of nutritional guidelines for government-subsidized school lunches and breakfasts in more than 15 years; they require schools to serve fruits and veggies every day, only fat-free or low-fat milk, more whole grains, and slash their use of salt, saturated fat and trans fat: (full story, US News & World Report)


Matt R.

Malbec Beyond Argentina

Reader survey: Raise your hand if you’ve only ever had Malbec from Argentina. Go ahead, don’t be shy. Hmm . . . thought so. It seems that the majority of us, ourselves included, often only think of Malbec as the trademark wine of Argentina. This week’s wines are here to remind us all that great Malbec is made outside of Argentina.

Malbec actually originated in France, and is still one of the main varietals permitted in Bordeaux. It has historically been a very important grape in Bordeaux, often blended in for added color and fruit qualities. But it’s less used in France today than it once was. A frost in 1956 wiped out about 75% of Bordeaux’s plantings, and Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot have since become more popular. Today, Cahors, a region in southwest France, maintains the most plantings of Malbec along with a few regions in the Loire valley.

Today we’re featuring two Malbecs from two different regions in France that have very different styles. If you like the lush, dark, and chocolatey style of Malbec that Argentina has become well-known for, we strongly urge you to pick up one of these bottles and explore the range of styles that Malbec can produce!

2011 Quastana Côt Lectif  –  $19.99
We featured another wine by Jérémy Quastana not too long ago. This young Loire Valley up-and-comer is producing some great wine! In case you forgot, Jérémy studied with Oliver Lamasson, who in turn studied with Marcel Lapierre – both renowned producers in the wine world of France. All that tradition and knowledge that has been passed on to Jérémy is showing in his wines and he is leading a new generation of young winemakers. He farms just 2 hectares in Sologne and this wine is only from his second vintage. This Côt (French term for Malbec) from the Loire Valley is from 40-year old vines and is made in a style that’s meant to be drunk young. It has fresh plum aromas and a light cinnamon and spice quality on the nose. The color is deep and dense, almost black, which is very characteristic of Malbec, but not overly heavy. Clocking in at only 10.5% ABV, it’s actually refreshing to taste a Malbec that you can you drink on its own. It has flavors of ripe plum, dried lavender, slate-like minerality, and medium-bodied tannins. It’s fresher and brighter than you might expect!

Perfect Pairing: Tomato and lentil soup

2010 Mas del Périé Les Escures  –  $17.99

Périé is the Gascon word for ‘rocks’ and refers the white clay and gravel soil from which this wine comes. Mas del Périé is located in Cahors, the region of southwest France, that today is best known for Malbec. Winemaker Fabien Jouves believes in a more subtle approach to Malbec. Many producers in the area use a lot of oak aging, leading to big, extracted, heavy wines. Fabien does not use any oak in his single vineyard bottlings and still maintains beautiful structure and depth in his wines. Les Escures comes from a terraced vineyard on very rocky soil. The color is again deep and dark with aromas of mint, stewed plums, and pepper. This wine is a great example of how structured Malbec can be on its own, with no help from oak. It has a full, mouth-coating texture and flavors of cassis and ripe blackberries, with a long finish, and enough weight to stand up to the heartiest of dishes!

Perfect Pairing:  Steak au poivre 

Cheese of the Week: Arte Queso 12-Month Manchego 

Do you prefer them younger or older? Cheeses, that is! Many of you might be familiar with our 6-month aged Manchego, which is a Bi-Rite staple. This month, we were fortunate to get our hands on a few older wheels. Official Manchego cheese can be aged anywhere from six months to up to two years. Made from raw Manchega sheep’s milk, it is a protected cheese under the Spain’s Denominación de Origen regulatory system. The characteristic zig-zag pattern on the rind has roots in the traditional aging in grass baskets that were once used. Today, molds are used that still reflect the same zig-zag tradition. The 12-month has been cared for a bit longer and has a slightly denser texture and nuttier flavor than the 6-month. Come by and ask us for a taste of each to decide which you like better!


Kiko’s Food News: 8.24.12

Mark Bittman notices people increasingly giving the farmer credit (more so than the chef) for a delicious plate of food, and discusses why we need to advocate for real farmers who grow real food (as opposed to “businessmen riding on half-million-dollar combines”): (full story, New York Times)

The summer drought continues to kill crops across the country, but many of the farmers (some interviewed in this radio clip) are doing just fine with their crop insurance (on which taxpayers spend about $7 billion annually): (full story, NPR)

The same lawyers who took in millions suing big tobacco are now aiming their sights at Big Food, filing suits against players like ConAgra Foods, Heinz, General Mills and Chobani asserting that they mislead consumers and violate federal regulations by mislabeling products: (full story, New York Times)

GMO labeling advocates (guess we’re called the “yes on 37″ clan) definitely have our work cut out for us, since major bio-tech and food companies from Campbell Soup to Coca-Cola have just pumped almost $10 million into the campaign to defeat Proposition 37: (full story, Los Angeles Times)

And speaking of wanting to hide the GMOs in food, check out this roundup of ten lies told by Monsanto about the Proposition: (full story, Right to Know)

Local governments have been charged–rightfully so!–to reduce the amount of trash we all put into the waste system, and more and more California cities are banning plastic bags at store checkout lines (San Francisco already has this rule in place, and as of 10/1 will require we retailers to charge 10 cents per paper bag to encourage reusables): (full story, Los Angeles Times)


Matt R.

Wine & Cheese to Party With

This week, we’re all about party fixins! Dinner party? Cocktail party? Pizza party? Toga party? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. It can be challenging deciding what to bring to a get-together. You may not know what’s being served, making wine pairings a puzzle. You may not know everyone’s tastes, from more adventurous eaters and drinkers to those who are more picky. But you don’t want to bring something expected, bland, or boring!

So this week we’re featuring wines and cheeses that should make the decision making less stressful. Each of these selections are unique and interesting, sure to please even those with the most particular tastes, and versatile enough to fit any party vibe. So break out those togas/cocktail dresses and grab one of these!

2011 Ampeleia ‘UNLITRO’  –  $19.99

Northern Tuscany may be known for its Sangiovese-based wines, but the southern part of this region is known for wines of different varieties. The Ampeleia estate is located in Maremma, a region of southwestern Tuscany bordering the Ligurian and Tyrrhenean Seas. Maremma has had to work hard to overcome a bad reputation, since up until the 1930s, it was primarily swampland, known for its musky stench and malaria-spreading mosquitoes. Dante even wrote about the, “pestilent fen,” (read: ‘disease ridden swamp!’) of Marrema in his Inferno. However, the swamps were drained under Mussolini and the land was reclaimed. The region is understandably fertile and there has been much success in cattle grazing and grape growing in the area. The relatively new influx of modern winemaking has brought with it non-traditional varieties. Ampeleia grows several varieties, all farmed biodynamically, including Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc, Grenache, and Mourvedre. Unlitro is a blend of Grenache and Mourvedre from their younger vines and has aromas of bright red fruits, mid-weight tannins, and a bit of spice. Very versatile and the perfect party wine in a 1 liter bottle!

Perfect Pairing: Roasted guinea fowl with olives

 

2009 Cascina Gilli Freisa d’Asti ‘Vinga del Forno’  –  $17.99

Tired of Nebbiolo? Try Freisa! Freisa is a grape native to the Piedmont area of Italy that has genetic ‘parent-offspring’ ties to Nebbiolo. It’s generally made into a bright, sweet, and lightly effervescent style called ‘Vivace,’ but can make fantastic still and dry red wines as well. Like Nebbiolo, it can have intense tannins and acidity that are sometimes hard to tame into an elegant and enjoyable wine. This bottling by Cascina Gilla has overcome those obstacles. It’s 100% Freisa from vineyards planted on blue-gray clay soils. The estate was founded by Gianni Vergnano in 1983 and is presently run by his granddaughter, Chiara. According to Chiara, the clay soil on the surface absorbs water quickly, putting water stress on the vines, which causes them to send their roots much deeper. The result is a wine with much more refined acidity and minerality. The color is deep, dark purple and the wine has light floral aromas of violet and fresh raspberry. The acidity is well-balanced with savory flavors of dark berries, mushrooms, lavender, and soft round tannins. Great with any Italian dish!

Perfect Pairing: Mushroom and caramelized fennel pizza

 

Cheese of the Week: Rio Deva Tres Leches

This week’s featured cheese hails from Cantabria, Spain. Nestled on the northern coast of Spain, this region is unique due to its widely varied landscape and climate. Unlike much of the rest of Spain, Cantabria has much more moisture and a mild climate, allowing for green pastures along the low coastal areas. The coast quickly inclines into the Cantabrian Mountains with steep cliffs and short fast-flowing rivers heading from the mountains into the Bay of Biscay. This climate and geography makes a comfortable home for all three of our favorite milking animals: cows, goats, and sheep! Hence, Tres Leches, a pasteurized mixed cow, goat, and sheep’s milk cheese made by Juan Carlos and his wife Maria Carmen who have a small dairy along the Deva River in Catabria. The mild and delicate flavors and creamy texture of this cheese endear it to any cheese-eating party guest, and the cute dome shape is perfect for your party transporting needs. Just make sure your host knows you’re bringing a cheese and not a ‘tres leches cake’!


Chili

Dine Out For Wild Salmon, take 2!

Tomorrow, Thursday August 23rd, 50% of sales of raw King Salmon from our fish case will go directly to Salmon Aid, to help spread the word about supporting wild salmon.

Wild salmon need our support–these legendary fish are in trouble! They face problems migrating upstream – dams block their path, climate change is warming their waters, and the rivers themselves are being diverted from their natural paths. Farmed salmon operations, meanwhile, are polluting the oceans and making it harder for wild salmon to successfully spawn.

We hope you’ll support our second annual “Dine Out for Wild Salmon” event. The money we raise will be used by Salmon Aid to increase awareness about the plight of West Coast salmon and the rivers they depend upon. This will educate the Bay Area public about the importance of protecting wild salmon, why they’re in trouble, and how we can work together to save them.

Salmon Aid will be in front of the Market tomorrow from 5:00 to 7:00 teaching our staff and guests about Wild Salmon–come by and pick their brain!


Get to know our 18 Reasons’ Instructors: Shakirah “Shak Attack” Simley

Shakirah Simley: Bi-Rite's Community Coordinator, 18 Reasons teacher, Canner-in-Residence...and lover of Edna Lewis and DJ Jazzy Jeff.

Name: Shakirah Simley

Occupation: Community Coordinator/Canner-in-Residence, Bi-Rite Family of Businesses

Hometown: Harlem, New York City

What is a dish that you make for a regular Wednesday dinner? Do you want to share the recipe? Whatever’s showing off at the farmer’s market, in colorful, multi-textured salad form. On any given Wednesday in late summer, you’ll find me enjoying creamy burrata, dry-farmed early girl tomatoes, lemon cucumbers, and sweet white corn atop little gem lettuces.

When you were a kid what was your favorite thing to eat? Super sour whole dill pickles swimming in a bright green brine (in the pouch!) from the corner bodega. And Mister Softee vanilla soft serve with the requisite rainbow sprinkles.

Who do you admire most in the cooking word (this does not have to be anyone famous. Could be a friend, member of family etc.)? Why? Although she’s no longer with us, I have tremendous respect for the legendary, Edna Lewis – “The Grand Dame of Southern Cooking”. Raised by freed slaves, she grew up to take the culinary world by storm with her style, grace and powerful presence inside and outside the kitchen. Her commitment to freshness and seasonality predate the movement for more sustainable American cuisine, and she brought international attention to genuine Southern cooking. I am constantly inspired by her recipes and techniques and would have loved to meet her.

What’s your favorite part of working with 18 Reasons? I love the folks who come through our doors, with their eagerness to become a part of a more just food system. And Rosie and Olivia are my favorite Dream Team (sorry, 1992 Olympic Men’s Basketball). (18 Reasons:we did not pay her to say this. but we should have.)

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring cook what would it be? If the personal is political, then there is nothing more personal nor political than food. Remember that eating and cooking is an act of empowerment, of choice and engagement.

Where do you like to take friends visiting from out of town? I live in Oakland, so definitely the Marcom Rose Garden and a jaunt around Lake Merritt. To lure friends into their eventual westward exodus, I’m a big fan of The Punchdown for tasty wine flights and warm, knowledgeable  staff, FUSEbox for their inventive, veggie-galore panchan, and Lois the Pie Queen for their chicken and waffles and lemon ice box pie.

What is your favorite park in San Francisco? Buena Vista for its marvelous views of San Francisco (on a clear day, of course)

Is there anything else you would like to share with us? “Love what you do and do what you love” – DJ Jazzy Jeff, “For the Love of the Game”

****

Join us for Shak’s next class: Capturing the Cusp: Seasonal Preserving for the Practical Cook: Sundays, September 2 and 30, 4-8PM

In this two class preserving series, Shakirah Simley (founder of Slow Jams and Bi-Rite’s Community Coordinator) will teach participants practical applications for capturing fruits in flux. In our “Savoring Summer” class on September 2, Shak will take on peaches, tomatoes and berries, cover an introduction to canning theory, safety and preserving basics, and show you her summer canning secrets for non-runny berry jam and how to tackle tomatoes like a champ. On September 30, “Fall into Fall” with our second course featuring apples, pears, figs and persimmons. She’ll tackle all the tricks to thicker fruit butter, seasonal seasonings and deliciously boozy fruits. You can come to just one or both classes.

Series: $200 for 18 Reasons members; $225 for the general public

Per class: $110 for 18 Reasons members; $125 for the general public

Tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/265953


Raph

Jack & Jason’s Pancake and Waffle Mixes: Pure Pancake Perfection

After “stressful but successful” tenures at their respective Bay Area corporate gigs, local entrepreneurs Jack Harper and Jason Jervis decided to leave their corporate careers and launch their own company from the ground up. In 2009, they left big business behind and combined their professional skills in marketing and technology to create their Jack & Jason’s Pancake and Waffle Mixes out of San Francisco.

The result of many months of exhaustive and meticulous research and development, Jack & Jason’s is not your average pancake mix. Their delicious flavors are produced using only ingredients of the highest quality (a majority of which are sourced in and around the Bay Area) blended with a combination of whole wheat flour and baby oats. Succulent diced bananas? Chunks of walnuts delivered straight from Modesto? Fluffy texture with just a hint of brown sugar and molasses? Open up a box of Jack & Jason’s and that’s just what you’ll get, along with the added health benefits of whole grain fiber, complex carbohydrates, and low cholesterol.

Want to try Jack & Jason’s Pancakes and Waffle Mixes for yourself? Drop by for a taste of their Original or Banana Walnut pancakes from 2-5 on Friday, August 24th and Saturday, September 1st – they’ll be serving up fresh and delicious mini-pancakes hot off the griddle.

Jack and Jason also cooked up a couple killer combo recipes especially for our guests, pairing their pancake and waffle mixes with some sweet Bi-Rite toppers. Check them out!

Jack & Jason’s Original Whole Grain Pancakes with Bi-Rite Mixed Berry Jam

Ingredients
1 box of Jack & Jason’s Original Mix
1 egg
1 cup of milk
1 tbsp butter or oil
1 jar of Bi-Rite Mixed Berry Jam

Directions
Preheat griddle to 350° and grease it. Combine 1 egg and 1 ¼ cup of milk and whisk together in mixing bowl. Add 1 cup of dry mix and 1 tablespoon of melted butter to mixing bowl and stir together briefly. Do not over mix! Let batter stand for 5 minutes. Pour ¼ cup scoop of batter onto preheated griddle; flip pancakes after 2 minutes or once edges have solidified. Dust pancake stack with powdered sugar and top with a generous scoop of Bi-Rite Mixed Berry Jam.
Yield: 3-4 servings

Jack & Jason’s Banana Walnut Whole Grain Waffle with Bi-Rite Creamery Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Ingredients
1 box of Jack & Jason’s Banana Walnut Mix
1 egg
1 cup of milk
3 tbsp butter or oil
1 pint Bi-Rite Salted Carmel Ice Cream

Directions
Combine 1 egg and 1 ¼ cup of milk and whisk together in mixing bowl. Add 1 cup of dry mix and 3 tablespoons of melted butter to mixing bowl and stir together briefly. Do not over mix! Let batter stand for 5 minutes. Preheat waffle maker to high and grease surface with non stick cooking spray or butter brush. Pour 1/3 cup scoop of batter onto preheated griddle. Once waffle is finished add a scoop of Bi-Rite Creamery Salted Caramel Ice Cream. Kick this dessert up a notch by drizzling some Nutella over the top!

Yield: 3-4 servings


Sarah F.

Cooking With Curds: Sarah’s Sweet-Spicy-Salty Farewell Recipe

When I think of Spain I instantly think of three things: Manchego cheese, Membrillo and Padron peppers.  These classics are classic for good reason, and even though we like to seek out new things this recipe reminds us not to forget the basics. These ingredients combine into two of my favorite tapas: sautéed Padron peppers, and membrillo-Manchego toast. So this month’s recipe was a very natural experiment for me: throw them all together with a couple of my own personal touches to make a simple, sweet, salty, spicy, rich treat. I used this method in lieu of a classic skillet grilled cheese because Manchego is not the best melting cheese.  It does best grated finely and melted under direct hot heat. This recipe serves one!

¼ lb Manchego, finely grated (preferably using microplane)
1 handful Padron peppers
1 Serrano chili
¼ lb Membrillo (aka Quince Paste)
1 olive batard (I like the Acme)
Vella Butter

  1. Pick stems from the Padron peppers.
  2. Heat pan at high heat, add olive oil, add peppers and salt and sauté until they are nice and charred.
  3. Cut two slices of bread (thickness depends on your taste).
  4. Heat another pan over medium high heat and add butter.  When the butter has melted, add bread and toast one side to golden brown. Remove from pan and set on paper towel to blot.
  5. Cut thin slices of the membrillo and place on one of the butter-toasted pieces of bread (on the side not toasted).
  6. Grate Manchego cheese over the membrillo.
  7. On the second piece of bread grate Manchego directly onto the bread (on the side not toasted).
  8. Cut thin round slices of Serrano Chili and sprinkle these evenly over the Manchego.
  9. Cover the Serrano chili slices with the whole charred Padron peppers.
  10.  Turn on the broiler.
  11. Place both pieces of loaded toast under the broiler and melt cheese until slightly brown.
  12. Pull bread out of oven and combine the slices to make a sandwich.

Unfortunately this will be my last cheese recipe for now, as I have to say a bittersweet goodbye to the Bi-Rite community. I bought a one-way ticket to Europe to continue educating myself and venturing through the world of cheese, wine and culture. This will be an incredible trip but i will miss everyone very much; whenever I come home Bi-Rite will be one of my first stops. Thank you for entertaining my cheese recipe ideas…now you can look forward to the recipes continuing with another member of the Cheese and Wine team!

Happy cooking,
Zivio! Cheers! Salute! Yamas!

Sarah


Raph

We’ve Got Your Gluten-Free Back

There’s no doubt that the gluten-free food trend has taken the US by storm; interesting debates have ensued about gluten senstivity, how flours have changed over time in the US, and whether this trend will last. As someone who spends my days talking to our guests about what they’d like to see on our grocery shelves, and scouring for new foods being produced across the country, it’s hard to ignore the  rise of people interested in eating a gluten-free diet. We’ve searched for the tastiest gluten-free options we can find to put on our shelves, and are proud to introduce a few new items that taste as good as the glutenous!

Cup4Cup Gluten Free Flour

Thomas Keller’s much anticipated Cup4Cup custom-blended flour makes it easy to prepare your favorite gluten-free treats at home. Your results are guaranteed to live up to Thomas Keller’s philosophy: “To make people happy…that’s what cooking is all about.”  This flour is made of cornstarch, white rice flour, brown rice flour, milk powder, tapioca flour, potato starch, and xanthan gum. Just as the name suggests, you use this flour cup for cup in place of regular flour in recipes–that takes care of the guessing on your end! The expert chef spent many months coming up with the perfect blend for flawless substitution.

Bread SRSLY Gluten Free Loafs

It’s a classic story: girl meets boy. Boy has gluten-allergy. Girl devotes life to making delicious gluten-free bread to woo boy. Such is the tale of Sadie Scheffer, who took courting one step further by starting a business of it: Bread SRSLY. After tinkering with farmer’s market ingredients, she developed a killer gluten free loaf that won her crush’s heart. Scheffer now bakes bread as her primary occupation, and we’re excited to be her first retail location (besides farmer’s markets and a bread CSA program).

Bread SRSLY (pronounced Bread Seriously) bakes breads using whole grain, certified gluten free flours, local and organic produce, herbs and home-dried fruits in rambunctious varieties like kale sourdough, whole grain chai and apricot fennel. They source their ingredients from local, sustainable producers, and craft each one of their gluten-free goods with care. Baked in small batches, all of the loaves are also free of dairy, egg, nut, soy, chickpea, potato, tapioca, and, of course, wheat. They rotate the menu each week, featuring two different loaves. We’ll always have their sourdough and one seasonal loaf, which they’ll deliver on Wednesdays, by bicycle. The bread will be sold out of our open fridge in the back of the store, and has a ten-day shelf life in the fridge.

Sunbud Bakery Buckwheat Cookies

Atsuko Watanabe, a long time Bi-Rite guest, introduced her buckwheat cookies to us a few months ago and they’ve been a hit ever since. What’s neat about Atsuko’s cookies is that she chose buckwheat as the main ingredient not because it’s gluten-free (although that’s a bonus!), but because it tastes so good. Atsuko’s ties to buckwheat run deep, from the soba she grew up eating in Japanese dishes to crepes she made as a pastry chef in France. Buckwheat is a super source of protein and magnesium, and we love it for its nutty, earthy, toasty goodness. To the buckwheat base she adds almonds and dried unsulphered apricots (for the apricot cookie) or dried unsulphured currants, unsweetened chocolate and organic cacao nibs (for the chocolate currant cookie).  For sweetness she uses agave nectar and coconut palm sugar (low glycemic and hinting of caramel), and she uses coconut oil, which is high in healthy lauric acid.

 


Matt R.

The Iberian Peninsula: Steep Hills, Grapes, and Thistle

What do impossibly steep hills, Muscat and Mencía, and cardoon thistles have in common? They’re all responsible for unique and tasty wines and cheese from Spain and Portugal! It’s Iberian Month in our wine and cheese department and we’re celebrating the varied and unique wines and cheeses from this part of the world all month long. Be sure to stop by 18th Hour Cafe (every Thursday night from 6-10pm at 18 Reasons) at some point in August to try some of our Spanish and Portuguese favorites. Here’s what we’re excited about this week:

2011 Avinyó Vi d’Agulla Petillant  –  $12.99

Do you like Vinho Verde? If so, you should definitely give this Spanish white a try! The Avinyó Estate is located in Penedès, Spain (just outside Barcelona) and is run by the Esteve Nadal family. The Esteves have been producing wine here since the mid 1800’s and are best known for their Cava (Spanish sparkling wine). In an effort to expand beyond sparkling wine, they’ve planted a few ‘non-traditional’ grapes such as Muscat Petit Grain in addition to the more traditional Spanish grapes used in Cava. This white is made of 100% Muscat Petit Grain which has been fermented dry. The term “Vi d’Agulla” is Catalan for “wine with a prickle,” and refers to the light bit of effervescence, similar to a Vinho Verde or Txakoli. Even though it’s made of Muscat, it’s not at all sweet. The nose has floral and honeysuckle aromas, typical of Muscat, but it’s completely dry with tart grapefruit and minerally flavors. Light, very crisp, and super refreshing!

Perfect Pairing: Spicy pepper and cold noodle salad

 

2010 Guímaro Ribeira Sacra  –  $17.99

The hills are aliiiive…with the sound of . . . grapes growing? Okay, we much prefer Rogers and Hammerstein’s version – but the have you seen the hills tucked into the Northwest corner of Spain?! Talk about steep!

The Galicia area of Spain has a long tradition of making the best of rough terrain. The Romans first planted vineyards along the very steep banks of the rivers Miño and Sil by terracing the land. These same vineyards were later carefully tended by monasteries and convents. The name of this sub-region of Galicia, ‘Ribeira Sacra’, in fact refers to the abundance of churches and monasteries in the area. Today, winemakers are producing exciting wines from these hills from the local native grape, Mencía. Pedro Rodríguez Pérez, of Guímaro, works his vineyards entirely by hand as there is no way to get machinery to these steep hills. This younger bottling of Mencía has aromas of plums and blueberry followed by scents of tobacco and bay leaf. It’s medium bodied with an interesting savory quality of dark fruit, cured meat spices, and iron-like minerality. A great food wine!

Perfect Pairing: Sandwich of wild boar salami, 12 month aged Manchego, and arugula

 

Cheese of the Week: Queijo Serra da Estrela DOP

This week’s cheese hails from Portugal and has a long and unique history in the region. Records of Serra da Estrela date all the way back to the 12th century, and it has always been made in the same manner. It’s made with raw Bordalaira ewe’s milk and has an interesting key ingredient as a coagulant: cardoon stamens. The use of cardoon stamens is not a modern invention but rather an ancient tradition dating back to 4 AD. Typically, milk is coagulated into cheese with the help of rennet, an enzyme traditionally found in the stomach of a calf. However, this cheese uses the unique properties of cardoon to coagulate the milk proteins. The cardoon thistles are harvested in the spring, dried, pulverized, and steeped in warm water to extract the enzymes. The particular enzyme released, cynarase, is particularly suited to sheep’s milk (in cows milk, it releases bitter tasting peptides that do not occur when used in sheep’s milk). This unique cheese making tradition translates to a cheese with a lush texture and a distinctly herbaceous flavor. Come ask our cheese team for a taste!


Simon

Simon’s August Produce Outlook

August bestows upon us the most bountiful local produce of the year, since all of the hot weather crops start producing.  We spend nine months of the season with limited options for tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, melons, and grapes…then all of a sudden, multiple varieties of each arrive in our produce department!

Fruit

Local Apples have started to arrive, and as always the first apple of the season is the Gravenstein.  First planted in Sonoma in 1811 by Russian Trappers, this is a versatile apple that is wonderful for eating fresh, reducing into a sauce or baking into apple pie. With crisp texture and a sweet and tart juice, they should be eaten within 3 weeks of harvest or risk losing their crisp texture and becoming soft (at which point they become a mean juice apple!) Devoto Gardens in Sebastopol grows over 50 varieties of heirloom apples and Stan has delivered his first batch of Gravenstein and Pink Pearl apples. Devoto will be harvesting new varieties and delivering to our door through November. Another one of our favorite apple growers, Hidden Star Orchard located in the foothills of the Sierras, just started harvesting their Gala apples, with Fujis to follow. We’ll have their extra crispy apples through the New Year.

Stone Fruit is still coming from Blossom Bluff and Balakian Farm, but the selection from these Central Valley growers will wind down by the end of the month. Frog Hollow in Brentwood will continue to harvest tree-ripe yellow peaches and nectarines for the rest of the month, and just started bringing us their scrumptious Dapple Dandy Pluots! We’re patiently waiting for our first delivery of peaches from Dry Creek Valley Orchard in Healdsburg.  This small family farm is one of the only organic stone fruit growers north of the city that treats us to its fruit.

Melon, Melons and Mo Melons: they rely on hot weather more than any crop. Full Belly Farm has become our main melon grower over the past few seasons and really knows how to harvest them when the sugars are at their peak.  Look for the unique green fleshed Haogen and yellow fleshed Yellow Doll Watermelon. The Piel de Sapo (that’s “skin of the frog” in Italian!), another specialty variety we offer, has an amazingly sweet and crisp yellow flesh.

The second rounds of figs are ripening on the trees, and we’ve received our first delivery of Black Mission figs from Capay Farm. Everyone can’t wait for them to start harvesting their delicious Candy Stripe figs with their jam-like flesh.

Dry farmed early girls are at their sweet peak

Veggies

We are very lucky to have so many amazing tomato growers in the Bay Area!   Most of our favorite growers, such as Happy Boy, Full Belly and Mariquita Farm, are going to be knee deep in heirloom and cherry tomatoes for the entire month of August.  One of the really cool things about working with growers from different regions throughout Northern California is that they grow many of the same varieties, but the flavors vary depending on the weather and the harvesting technique.

Peppers are awesome right now! We have a wide selection from sweet to hot.  Andy at Mariquita was the first farmer in the area to grow the Pimiento Padron and harvest them at the smaller size; one out of ten peppers has a little heat and they’re perfect sauteed for tapas!  We also have the Jimmy Nardello sweet frying peppers and red Gypsy peppers.

Eggplants seem to be a vegetable that people either love or hate; it doesn’t help that the globe eggplants available for a majority of the year are not a great representation of how tender and flavorful eggplants can really beAt this point in the year, Full Belly Farm harvests Italian Rosa Bianca, purple and white striped Listada and long Asian varieties, all bound to turn any hater into a lover.

Every summer we get so excited to work a new small farm into our produce selection.  This year, Dirty Girl Produce, located on 40 acres in Santa Cruz, has been taking the time to delivery their fresh veggies to our store. Dirty Girl grows over 20 varieties of fruits and veggies and supplies 10 farmers markets throughout the Bay Area.  Their young farmers are harvesting some of the most beautiful and tender beans I’ve experienced.  We currently have their Haricot Vert french bean and some nice Blue Lake green beans… the Cranberry “shelling bean” is not far behind!

 

 


Get to know our 18 Reasons’ Instructors: First up, Louella Hill

We want to introduce you to the great chefs and artisan producers who teach classes at 18 Reasons, so we’ll be sharing interviews with them periodically. First up: Louella Hill, the SF Milkmaid, who teaches cheese making classes. Join her Sunday, August 26th for the second of her Big Wheels series, during which you’ll make cheddar cheese! And stay tuned for an upcoming interview with Shakirah Simley, who will be teaching preserving in September.

Name: The San Francisco Milk Maid, Louella Hill

Occupation: Cheese Maker / Cheese Teacher

Hometown: Bisbee, Arizona

What is a dish that you make for a regular Wednesday dinner? 

Simple chicken tacos with just-made sour cream, sliced jalapenos, raw onion & salsa.

Do you want to share the recipe?

Louella’s Salsa

In skillet, dry toast 1 tsp cumin powder with 2 tsp chili powder for ~ 2 minutes. Be careful not to burn them. Next, into a blender add 5 large skinned, gutted tomatoes, those just-toasted spices, juice of two limes, 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 cloves garlic. If the tomatoes aren’t flavorful, add 1 tablespoon honey or sugar or orange juice concentrate. Blend for 1 minute. Next, add another 1/2 cup cilantro leaves and another 2 prepped tomatoes and 1/2 cup corn. Blend for the tiniest amount of time possible (~3-5 seconds). This will give the salsa texture. Pour into glass container and store in fridge. Use within 1 week.

When you were a kid what was your favorite thing to eat?

I loved fruit as a kid. I grew up where apricot and pomegranates grew wild on the hillside. My mom called me ‘The Fruit Bat’.

Who do you admire most in the cooking world (this does not have to be anyone famous. Could be a friend, member of family etc.)? Why?

I admire my godmother, Helen Suby. She grew up in an Orthodox section of Brooklyn, learned the secret of spice while living in Sri Lanka, then became Queen of the Campfire Taco in my hometown on the Mexican border. Her humble kitchen feels like the center of town to me.

What’s your favorite part of working with 18 Reasons?

I love teaching people to make cheese who are really, really interested- not just passing the time. That’s exactly the kind of people I find at 18 Reasons. One of my cheese students from last year’s 18 Reasons classes became an official recipe tester for an upcoming cheese making book I’m working on (due out Fall 2014).

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring cook what would it be?

Remember that everything- even oil, even flour, even beans- get old. Keep a sparsely stocked fridge and shop often.

Where do you like to take friends visiting from out of town?

I bring visitors up to Sonoma to visit my milk cow friends.

What is your favorite park in San Francisco?

I have a 3 year old so it’s impossible NOT to love the Mission’s Dolores Park.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

The joke in my house is “And what’s in this mason jar, Hon?” I’ve filled our refrigerator with dozens of jars of culturing, fermenting dairy projects. It isn’t easy to find ‘just a splash of milk’.

Thanks Louella! Now check out her upcoming Cheddar cheese workshop with us! http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/252195