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Community Corner: September

Our September recap of the Bi-Rite Family’s work to build community through food and service.

Rosie at the Boys & Girls Club


  • Building on a partnership from last spring, The Boys and Girls Club and 18 Reasons are working together again this fall to deepen skill development for nine youth who demonstrate a strong passion for food. This program gives technical skills and knowledge about the food industry, and teens who excel will continue on in the spring, where they’ll get real life experience working at18 Reasons’ “Soup for Supper” and receive exposure to Bi-Rite’s Management Training program. The hope is to provide free, high-quality programming for local youth from the Mission, Hunters Point, and Visitacion Valley to gain access to the city’s thriving food industry.
  • We continued our support of Pie Ranch by sponsoring their annual fundraiser; 100% of the proceeds go directly to their Farm Apprenticeship Program and youth education and development work.
  • We donated 50% of our raw Wild Salmon Sales for Dine Out for Wild Salmon benefitting the work of SalmonAID to restore wild Pacific salmon populations.
  • We helped a young, aspiring filmmaker reach her goal of finishing her documentary, The Organic Life, chronicling the life and trials of a full-time organic vegetable farmer.
  • We provided baked goods to the SF Parks and Recreation Department to herald the grand opening of the new Mission Playground at Valencia and 19th.
  • We were in full effect at Western Addition Sunday Streets, building on our community commitment to our new ‘hood. Fresh apples and cool prizes were enjoyed by all.
  • We hosted another installment of Kitchen Table Talks at 18 Reasons, examining the role of labor in creating sustainable food systems. Check out the work of the Student/Farmworker Alliance.

Kiko and Denya at Western Addition Sunday Streets

  • Food Runners needs your help in delivering excess food to agencies serving those in need. Only 1 hour per week commitment goes a long way -email Nancy  (nancy@foodrunners.org) to sign up!
  • San Francisco State is celebrating Campus Sustainability Day on October 24th. Email Caitlin Steele (cdsteele@sfsu.edu) to find out how to make SFSU and its surrounding neighborhoods a greener, cleaner place.

Know of great volunteer opportunities? Spending some quality time at a worthy local organization that could use Bi-Rite’s support? Let me know!

Who we’ve donated to this month (41 different organizations- including 14 news ones!):

Community Living Compaign

San Francisco Public Press

Shanti Project

Pie Ranch

Peter Patrick Madigan Antonini Foundation

National Council of Negro Women, Inc

Golden State Greyhound

Boys and Girls Club of San Francisco

Earth Medicine Alliance

Summer Search

KALW Radio

Portola Family Connections

Sunnyside Elementary School PTA

Coalition on Homelessness

Sonoma Ecology Centersion Graduates

Salmon Aid Foundation

The Women’s Building

Mission Graduates

Kitchen Table Talks

Friends of the SF Public Library

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

American Bach Soloists

VVBOOM Community Initiatives

Homeless Children’s Network

Bay Area Young Positives

Young Urban Modern Chefs

Mission Neighborhood Resource Center


Junior League of San Francisco

Lowell High SChool


SF Parks Alliance

SF Recreation and Parks Department



18th Street Block Party: Tickets, Pies and Countdown!

12….11….10….we’re ticking down the days until our 18th Street Block Party! Hope you’re planning to join us from 12-6 on Saturday, September 29th for all of the great food, drinks, music, games and more we have lined up on 18th Street between Dolores and Guerrero.

A few updates to share with you:

  • We’re selling tickets now so you can avoid waiting in line on the big day ($2/ticket, they come in books of  10 for $20). You’ll need tickets to buy any of the food and drink you find on the block, and one ticket book is probably the right amount for two people to eat and drink their way down the block. You can buy a book of tickets at the Market or Creamery, or online here. Remember, all money raised from ticket sales will be split between the six beneficiary organizations.
  • We’re taking entrants for our pie baking contest! Show us your sweet stuff: pies will be judged in four categories–fruit, chocolate, nut and other–by our own Anne and Kris from the Creamery, plus Leah Garchik from the San Francisco Chronicle. Share your talents with us by entering here. ($20 to enter, again all money raised goes to the  beneficiaries).
  • If you’d like to volunteer that day, or have any questions for the organizers, please drop us a line.


Early Fall Menu

From our Deli

Red Quinoa, Grilled Chicories and Apple Salad with Spiced Pumpkin Seeds $9.99 / lb

Roasted Beet and Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Balsamic Fig Vinaigrette and Toasted Hazelnuts $8.99 / lb

Farro, Roasted Mushroom and Kale Salad with Lemon-Parmesan Dressing $7.99 / lb

French Green Lentil, Maple-Glazed Yam and Frisee with Housemade Pancetta $8.99 / lb

Grilled Eggplant and Roasted Rainbow Carrot Salad with Harissa Vinaigrette and Feta Cheese $8.99 / lb

Rancho Gordo Heirloom Bean Salad with Winter Squash, Roasted Fennel and Coriander Vinaigrette $ 8.99 / lb

Seasonal Sandwiches

Brie with Housemade Fig Tapenade and Arugula on an Acme Rustic Baguette $7.99 (coming in October!)

Sicilian Meatball, Provolone, Marinara and Basil on an Acme Roll $8.99 (coming in October!)

From our Self Service Case

Autumn Squash Soup with Roasted Local Apples and Sage $9.99

Catalan Carrot and Golden Raisin Salad with Lemon Parsley Vinaigrette $ 6.99

Roasted Beet and Apple Salad with Spiced Cider Vinaigrette $ 6.99

Farro & Rainbow Carrots with Lacinato Kale and Soy Ginger Vinaigrette $ 6.99

Rancho Gordo Quinoa with Roasted Poblanos and Smoked Tomato Vinaigrette $ 7.99

Kiko’s Food News, September 28 2012

Have you confirmed your polling place for November 6th? With less than six weeks until election day, a poll showed that Prop 37 is likely to pass, supported by 61% of voters and opposed by 25%! ((full story, LA Times)

Governor Jerry Brown signed the Homemade Food Act into law, allowing Californians to make certain foods and baked goods at home and sell them to stores, restaurants and directly to consumers: (full story, LA Times)

It’s estimated that one of two tomatoes eaten in the US comes from Mexico, but that might change as the US Department of Commerce considers ending a 16-year-old agreement with Mexican growers that has kept the price of their tomatoes so low for American consumers (low enough that American growers can’t compete): (full story, New York Times)

The new Local Food/Tech Landscape is an interactive infographic that categorizes food & technology innovations by their role in the emerging alternative food system, whether it’s farming, aggregating, distributing, finding or buying; with the proliferation of start-ups in the local food and technology space, I have to admit this gives me a sense of order! (full story, Food Hub)

A new crowd-sourced map for finding antibiotic-free meat can help lead you to cleaner meals no matter where you are in the country: (full story, Fast Company)

If you’re one to choose a college for its dining options, check out this semi-scientific list of the best colleges for food in America; from tandoori ovens to on-site bakeries and meat shops to on-campus gardens with grills so students can BBQ on a whim, we’ve sure come a long way: (full story, FOX News)

Register Recipe: Sautéed Figs with Prosciutto and Parmigiano

These figs can be served as an hors d’oeuvre, as the anchor for a green salad, or even as a garnish for roast pork. Because you’re wrapping the prosciutto around the figs, it’s best if you use slices that come from the widest part of the ham. If the prosciutto is smaller, buy two slices per fig and use toothpicks to secure the prosciutto onto the figs. This recipe is found on page 160 of Eat Good Food; it makes 16 wrapped figs to serve 4-6.


A small chunk Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

8 large fresh figs

8 thin slices prosciutto

Extra virgin olive oil for brushing

1 1/2 Tbs. aged sherry or balsamic vinegar


Use a vegetable peeler to shave the Parmigiano into shards. Set aside.

Cut the figs in half lengthwise, and cut the prosciutto slices in half lengthwise as well. Wrap a piece of prosciutto around each fig, and then brush lightly with the olive oil.

Heat a large skillet (ideally cast iron) or a grill pan over medium-high heat.  When hot, arrange half the figs in a roomy single layer, cut side down, in the pan. Cook until the prosciutto is browned and crispy, 1 1/2-2 minutes. Then flip the figs and repeat on the other side. Transfer to a serving platter and cook the remaining figs in the same way.

Drizzle the vinegar over the figs and top with shards of Parmigiano. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Kiko’s Food News: 9.21.12

As Non-GMO Month (October) and the Prop 37 Vote (November 6th) approach, the GMO labeling debate is heating up!

The first long-term feed trial exploring the health impacts of eating GMO corn and Roundup found that “safe” levels of each caused tumors, organ damage and premature death in lab rats, at odds with the ag-biotech industry’s mantra that GMOs are safe to eat: (full story, Sustainable Food Trust)

Mark Bittman predicts that if California votes Yes on 37, requiring labeling of GMO-containing foods, food manufacturers will reformulate their products using non-GMO ingredients and research in all fields of agriculture may increase: (full story, New York Times)

But it’s shocking to see companies behind some of the biggest organic brands we know–Kashi, Cascadian Farm, Horizon Organic and more–opposing labeling and contributing millions of dollars to defeat Prop 37: (full story, New York Times)


Did you know coffee is the most widely traded agricultural commodity in the world? Thanksgiving Coffee Company, a few hours north of us in Fort Bragg, is trying to minimize its impact in CO2 emissions through a new Carrotmob campaign; if successful, they’ll attempt to become the first coffee company in modern times to ship via wind power: (full story, Carrotmob)

Makers of snacks, sweet drinks and candy have long been under pressure to limit advertising to minors on TV and the web; now they’re reaching kids by embedding their products in games for phones and tablets, which is cheaper than TV commercials and so far unregulated: (full story, Wall Street Journal)

A new report projected that half of U.S. adults will be obese by 2030 unless Americans change their ways; currently, 36% of adults and 17% percent of children age 2-19 are considered obese: (full story, Reuters)

So what’s the best way for our government to fight this? This article debates whether banning mega sodas is going too far: (full story, Wall Street Journal)


Diggin’ Deeper: The Joy of Farming

For me, farm season begins in late January, when the seed catalogs start arriving in the mail. I’m always excited to look back at which crops were successful the season before, and which didn’t grow so well, to figure out a game plan for the upcoming year. A lot of the time crop failures can be as simple as the time of the year the seed was planted.  For instance, in the early spring this year we planted rainbow chard and from the moment it started to grow, the bugs tore it apart. I kept picking off the outer leaves hoping that the bug population would dwindle but they wouldn’t…then it got too hot and the plants started to bolt. On the other hand, the rainbow chard we planted in mid-August is thriving and has already made its way into the Bi-Rite braising mix. So after three seasons trying to grow chard in the spring, I’ve learned that it just doesn’t work; I need to wait for fall, when the bug population has died out.

Successful farms do a great job figuring out which crops grow well on their land, then focus on these crops.  Since we’ve only been growing on our larger Sonoma plot for two seasons, we’re still trying to get an understanding of which crops like our climate and soil.  The soil on our farm has low acidity, which makes it challenging to grow certain crops. This year our heirloom tomato plants struggled and never really produced fruit nice enough to sell at the Market, but they did make it into Sergio’s famous gazpacho! Tomatoes love acid! Certain crops like onions, potatoes, carrots and chard seem to do alright with low PH and have done really well in Sonoma this year. We’ve been adding oyster shells to raise the PH; I find building the soil to be extremely rewarding, especially when you see the results from season to season.

Farming is a life-long venture, and even farmers who have been growing for over 25 years find joy in growing something new.  The only way to figure out which crops grow best on a specific piece of land is to constantly try new varieties; this explains why the farms whose fruits and veggies we sell in our produce section always have something new on their availability list each summer.

Our Cylindra beets

Beets have become a staple crop in the Bay Area, and our kitchen cooks with them year-round.  They’re not a hard crop to grow, but they’re also not the most financially rewarding for small farms. A lot of large organic farms grow acres of beets, clip off the beautiful greens and sell them in 25 lb. bags.  This brings the wholesale cost down, making it very challenging for small farms to compete on price.  So this year I decided to grow Cylindra beets, an heirloom variety. They’re not your everyday round beet: long and narrow, they cook up to be so sweet and tender.  The added bonus is that the greens on these beets are out of this world; it’s like getting a huge bunch of tender greens with every serving of beets.

Melon success! Our Juan Canary crop

I started growing food in 1995, but not until this year have I ever grown a super successful crop of melons. It all began in Colorado at 7,200 ft. elevation with cold summer nights–tough conditions for melon ripening.  When I started farming in Sonoma, I never felt I had enough space to dedicate to melons, since they need a lot of room to grow.  But this June, I isolated some open space. Pilar at Sunnyside Organic Seedlings in Richmond had some extra Juan Canary melon starts, so I figured even though it might be a little late in the season to plant them, I’d give it a try! Here we are in the end of September and the Juan Canary plants are producing a lot of incredibly tasty melons.  They’re a sweet melon, crisp and tangier than a Honeydew, with flesh that looks like a pear.  There will be Juan Canarys at the market for at least the next week and I will for sure be planting more next year!









Teach a Child To Fish: Dinner with Sam & Craig

We’re proud to announce a very special evening in support of 18 Reasons youth programming. From teaching young moms about healthy eating, to creating culinary career opportunities for teens, to teaching SF public school teachers how to Cook the Common Core, we have developed robust initiatives to change the way kids eat, learn, and live. I would love to see you at this dinner, where you can learn more and enjoy a spectacular meal cooked by Sam and Craig.

RSVP today to claim your seat at the table!

If you cannot attend but would like to support 18 Reasons youth programming, you can do so via our fiscal sponsor here. Please make sure to write “18 Reasons” in the designation field.

Thank you!


My Italian Wine Adventure

I just returned from a ten day wine adventure Italy, traveling with the amazing team from Oliver McCrum, a local importer of Italian wines. With a focus on volcanic soil, we made our way through the vineyards of Sicily and Southern Italy; I was amazed how varied the soils were from Sicily to Campania! It was also fascinating to learn that all the vines grown in volcanic soils didn’t need to be grafted onto American rootstock, since phylloxera can’t thrive in volcanic ash. I want to share three wineries from my trip, along with some photos. More to come in a future posting!

2010 Villa Dora Vesuvio Bianco-$12.99; 6 or more –> $11.70
Of course Mt. Vesuvius is infamous for that day in 79 AD when it violently erupted, destroying (yet preserving) the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. What it may be less known for is wine production! Villa Dora is literally located on the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius, inside what is now a state park. The soil here is of course volcanic, and the small black rocks resemble Grape-Nuts! This black volcanic soil gives Villa Dora’s reds a light smoky quality and their white an aroma of struck flint. This Bianco bottling is made from two indigenous varietals, Coda di Volpe and Falanghina which are fermented and aged in stainless steel. A light, smoky flint quality is followed by aromas of white peach and flavors of herbs, and preserved lemon.

Perfect Pairing: Fresh pasta with olive oil, lemon, and grilled squash

2010 Paolo Cali Mandragola Frappato-$18.99; 6 or more –> $17.09

Paolo Cali’s vineyards are extremely unique in that they’re located on very sandy soil in southeastern Sicily. Imagine vines growing on a sandy beach and that’s exactly what Paolo’s vineyards look like. Because sand tends to hold moisture poorly, he has to irrigate to keep his vines healthy. The fact that his vines have to struggle a little to survive and really have to dig deep to root themselves translates into elegant wine with a lighter, floral quality. Paolo’s Mandragola Frappato is from some of his younger Frappato vines and has light aromas of orange peel, rose, and fennel. It’s light in body and maintains great acidity with a soft finish.

Perfect Pairing: Seared scallops over greens and heirloom tomatoes

2009 Grifalco ‘Gricos’ Aglianico del Vulture-$15.99, 6 or more –> $14.39

The Aglianico grape is best known for deep, robust, and heavy reds like those from Taurasi and Monte Vulture. Grifalco is located in Basilicata (think of the arch of the boot) near the now extinct volcano Monte Vulture, with vineyards located in now dry riverbeds. The combination of volcanic soils and river rocks creates wines with incredible depth and minerality. The winery is named after the Grifalco bird, an ancient and rare falcon once used for hunting by royals in the area. Their ‘Gricos’ bottling is a lighter style of Aglianico more approachable at a younger age then most others from the region. Aglianico can have a tendency to be bitter, but this bottling has certainly tamed the bitterness and tannins usually associated with this grape. Aromas of dark plums, smoke, and rosemary lead to a mid-weight body with a long, flavorful finish. Perfect for grilled dishes!

Perfect Pairing: Grilled flatbread with eggplant and olives   

Kiko’s Food News: 9.14.12

“Feeding someone is about as close as you can get without having sex with them”–Sam gave his TEDx talk about how prioritizing relationships over profit has led to Bi-Rite’s success:

The New York City Board of Health unanimously voted to approve Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed ban on sugary drinks larger than 16 oz at restaurants, movie theaters and more; it will take effect next March: (full story, CNN)

And starting Monday, McDonalds will post calorie counts on every menu board and drive-through sign at their over 14,000 U.S. locations! (full story, Los Angeles Times)

The organic label’s place in our food decision making process is a complicated one; this article tackles the confusing bundle of values shoppers must weigh in the cluttered grocery aisle: (full story, New York Times)

Food co-ops are making big changes since the origin of their movement in the 1970’s, in response to the growth of Whole Foods and other organic and specialty-food giants opening stores across the U.S.: (full story, Washington Post)

Nicholas Kristof took a break from international coverage to visit with a dairy farmer friend in his hometown; he learned about the movement to get cows out of confinement and back on the land, and the philosophy that cows are a team member–not an object to be exploited: (full story, New York Times)

The State Department is deploying an elite force of 80 top chefs from across the U.S. as the first-ever American Chef Corps; the group, which includes Jose Andres, Ming Tsai, and Rick Bayless, will be called on to prepare state dinners, travel abroad or host culinary experts from around the world: (full story, NPR)