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Archive for November, 2012


Sweet Relief for Hurricane Sandy

Added Value Farm in Red Hook, Brooklyn was flooded by Sandy; we're sending all sales of Bi-Rite Creamery's Caramel Apple ice cream to their relief effort

It’s been over two weeks since Hurricane Sandy made landfall, crippling coastal communities along the East Coast and the Caribbean in her wake. The powerful winds, rain and massive flooding left 149 people dead, thousands homeless and millions without electricity, heat or gas.  Early estimates from analysts calculate the storm’s damage at $50 billion, and the slow recovery appears bleak as winter weather looms.

We’ve received numerous reports of the heartbreaking and heroic stories in the aftermath of Sandy, including from our fellow friends, farmers and small business owners in the food community.  According to Heritage Radio Network, in the heavily damaged Brooklyn neighborhoods of Red Hook, Coney Island and Far Rockaway, grocery owners and restaurateurs are working to feed their communities amidst significant losses of inventory, equipment, and revenue. Staff members are without work indefinitely and some food businesses may not reopen. We’ve also learned that scores of volunteers are filling church basements to make hot meals, and food trucks are providing fast and free lunches in places where brick and mortar restaurants are still closed. Organizations such as the New York Coalition against Hunger and the Food Bank for NYC are working overtime to provide critical food supplies to pantries, evacuation shelters and senior centers across the region. The strength and resiliency of our east coast food family is incredibly inspiring and we stand by them on their road to rebuild.

Here at Bi-Rite, we’re pitching in by supporting Added Value, a Brooklyn-based non-profit empowering youth leaders to create a just and equitable food system. We’re sending them 100% of the sales of our Caramel Apple ice cream, thanks to our ever-generous partner Straus Family Creamery’s donation of the dairy ingredients. Added Value’s Red Hook Community Farm was no match for Sandy’s storm surge, which flooded their offices and completely destroyed their harvest, beehives and topsoil. Added Value’s farm, CSA program and weekly market provides critical access to healthy, affordable food for Red Hook.

We’re also partnering with INFRA (the Independent Natural Food Retailers Association, of which we’re a member) to create a disaster relief fund for members affected by Sandy and future natural disasters. Funds will go toward fellow small grocers restocking shelves, bringing back staff and re-opening their doors.

Although news coverage has died down, there’s still so much to be done for Hurricane Sandy victims. In short of volunteering your time, financial contributions are best. To learn how you can help, click here for a host of options.  Be sure to listen to Heritage Radio Network and check out Added Value’s road to recovery. And let us know how you’re helping out!

Kiko’s Food News: 11.16.12

Goodbye Twinkies, Wonder Bread (and sorry Dad, goodbye Ding Dongs)! Hostess is liquidating its 82-year-old business due to a national strike on top of increasing consumer preferences for healthier food; a co-worker informs me that Amazon is almost sold out of Twinkies as of my writing this: (Wall Street Journal)

Mark Bittman laments how money played the leading role in preventing food movement triumphs in last week’s election, defeating both Prop 37 and the proposed soda taxes, and is confident that food mega-companies will continue spending to squelch local attempts to curb their dominance: (New York Times)

Oprah’s made millions on her food and health recommendations; her next venture may be her own line of frozen organic vegetables: (Forbes)

The sad human toll of factory farming was revealed by a study by the University of California, Davis which estimated that 254,000 people in the Tulare Basin and Salinas Valley, prime dairy producing regions, were at risk for nitrate contamination of their drinking water due to runoff from animal waste lagoons: (New York Times)

I spoke with Supermarket News about why we’re calling our new line of preserves, sauces, pickles, oils and more PUBLIC: (Supermarket News)

Today we’re taught to eat breakfast or else, but this historical review shows that, somehow, humans survived for centuries without it! (BBC)

Whole Foods Market has launched a travel company designed for active food lovers to experience “what travel should taste like”; Whole Journeys will offer guided trips through Europe, China and the U.S.: (Supermarket News)
Think your family has silly turkey day traditions? Check out some of the dishes US presidents have eaten at Thanksgiving: (Buzzfeed)

A Local Gift Giver’s Paradise: Join us at the SF Made Holiday Fair

For the first time, we’re setting up shop at SF Made’s annual Holiday Gift Fair!

Join us at Herbst Pavilion in Fort Mason Center on Sunday, December 9th from 10am-6pm. Entry is free, and you’ll find a bounty of products manufactured in San Francisco, including some of our favorites:
  • A selection of our PUBLIC Label products including Spiced Bartlett Pear Butter, Vanilla Bourbon Pumpkin Butter, and more.

Mark your calendar and see you there!


Si’s November Produce Update

November is by far the most exciting time of year at Bi-Rite Market, due to our most food-centric holiday of the year coming at the end of the month. We’re very grateful to be able to provide so much amazing local produce for our guests’ Turkey Day celebrations!  The weather this past month has been perfect for most of the farmers in Northern California–the combination of hot sunny days with a little rain here and there really make the vegetables growing in the field happy.  Most local summer crops like tomatoes, eggplants, squash, and peppers are usually gone by November, but this year a handful of farms are still harvesting these crops.  Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the fresh veggies and fruits that will be on our shelves for Thanksgiving week.

Fall Fruits

Balakian Farm in Reedley has been driving over 250 miles each way over the past 10 years to supply us with their pomegranates.  Everyone should have at least a few of these for their Turkey Day fruit basket.  They’ve been eating so well this year and are extra juicy!

The Fuyu Persimmons that we get from our favorite farms are always tree-ripe and great for eating out of hand.  Although most Fuyus look the same, there are always subtle differences in flavor, so our produce crew loves to taste and compare the Fuyus from different farms; this year the Fuyus from the Bi-Rite Family Farm in Placerville are the front runner for best flavor, but the season isn’t over yet….

Hachiya Persimmons are similar in flavor to Fuyus, but usually sweeter and completely different in texture. Hachiyas are ready to eat when the texture of the flesh is soft like pudding; they’re a great piece of fruit for pudding or persimmon cake.  Hachiyas are harvested firm and usually take up to two weeks to ripen, so we take it upon ourselves to ripen them up for our guests.

Apple Pie Time! DeVoto Gardens in Sebastopol is just finishing up the harvest and their availability is starting to dwindle.  Stan did promise us that he’ll have plenty of their fresh picked Rome apples for Thanksgiving week, which are great for pies.   Hidden Star Orchard in Linden just started bringing us beautiful Pink Ladies, and we have a good supply of their Fuji and Granny Smiths.  Late season apple varieties form the Northwest are about to start up, so keep an eye out for more unique apples.

Frog Hollow Farm in Brentwood always has the best pears for fruit platters and desserts.  The Warren Pear is perfect for a fruit platter,  its silky smooth flesh and sweet flavor always a treat.  The Bosc Pear is probably the best cooking pear from Frog Hollow and has good sugar even when firm.

Last year we started a new farm-direct relationship with Vincent Family Cranberries in Oregon.  They’re a small family farm that dry-harvests extra-sweet cranberries for both the fresh berry market and their own bottled cranberry juice.  Cranberries are one of the crops that have been taken over by large companies like Ocean Spray, and it’s really challenging to know exactly where the cranberries we consume come from.  The Vincent Family is one of the only farms in America that actually makes juice from the berries they grow. Most cranberry juices are made with berries that are sourced from growers throughout the country.  This Holiday season we will have two Vincent Cranberry juice blends: Cranberry/Blueberry and Cranberry/Agave Nectar, both which have a mild-sweetness and are perfect for cocktails.

We’re waiting patiently for the start of local citrus season!  Usually the first citrus is the Satsuma Mandarin from Side Hill Citrus in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas.  This easy peeling, seedless mandarin offers the perfect balance between sweet/tart and kids love them.

The Veggie Scene

Yams are often mistaken for orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, but they’re not even related to the sweet potato. Instead, yams are thick, white tubers with a lot less flavor than sweet potatoes, and are rarely available in the United States.  Sweet potatoes originated in South America and over a dozen varieties are cultivated for the marketplace.  This year we’ll be highlighting several varieties of sweet potatoes from Doreva Farms in Livingston, including the dark red-skinned Red Garnet, along with the light skinned Hannah Sweets. All of these sweet potatoes offer classic flavor and texture; don’t be afraid to cook them up together.

Brussels Sprouts are one of the more challenging crops to grow organically, as they’re very susceptible to pests and take a lot of labor to harvest and clean.  We’ll be getting over 400 lbs. of organic brussel sprouts from Rondoni Farm in Santa Cruz.

At the Bi-Rite Farm in Sonoma, we’re tending to our baby lettuce and chicory crops on a daily basis to assure that they’re perfect for Thanksgiving week.  Escarole, the least bitter of the endive family, has leaves that are very tender and sometimes a bit crunchy. Escarole is perfect in a salad and really delicious when braised or added to soup.

Yes, we still have local dry farmed tomatoes from Dirty Girl Farm in Santa Cruz County!  The flavor is awesome and hopefully the rain that’s falling as I write this won’t end the harvest. Come on, sun!

Last but not least, everyone’s favorite cold weather veggie: winter squash! Full Belly Farm has been harvesting all kinds of perfectly ripe winter squash.  The Delicatas have been so yummy and roast up great, skin and all.  Butternut squash is plentiful and our kitchen’s been all over them, making their butternut and apple soup.  The Acorn, Kabocha, Spaghetti and Red Kuri Squashes are all yummy and very versatile. We also have some locally grown heirloom pumpkins like the Cinderella and the Musquee De Provence. These beautiful pumpkins can be used as decoration, then roasted up and turned into a delicious soup.



Kiko’s Food News, 11.9.12

We knew our YES on 37 camp was the underdog, but are inspired by the 4.2 million Californians who sent a clear message about GMO labeling Tuesday; in the end, the world’s leading pesticide and junk food companies outspent us by more than 5 to 1: (New York Times)

A weed-laced meal at Roberta’s in Brooklyn convinced one author that following Colorado and Washington in legalizing pot would, in addition to engendering medical miracles and rendering moot a large sector of illegal-drug-related crimes, allow quantum leaps in the world of cooking: (GQ)

A study found that that if a penny-per-ounce tax was applied to soda, cuts in consumption would result in an 8% decline in diabetes cases among blacks and Latinos, who currently face the highest risks of diabetes and heart disease: (KQED)

This provocative opinion piece argues that food has replaced art as high culture, but shouldn’t as “it is not narrative or representational, does not organize and express emotion” (I beg to differ): (New York Times)

The Head of Sustainability at packaged food giant Unilever believes that low food prices leads to food waste (at least in developed countries), since they encourage people to buy too much and end up throwing out so much: (Huffington Post)

Beekeeper and advocate Robert Mackimmie, who tends to our rooftop hives, explains how city beekeeping is becoming an integrated way of life for Bay Area businesses: (Wall Street Journal)

On family-owned coffee farms in Africa, about 70% of maintenance and harvesting work is done by women, but only rarely do women own land or have financial control; the International Women’s Coffee Alliance is trying to change that by giving “sisters of coffee” access to training and networking: (NPR)

18 + 2: 18 Reasons’ Outdoor Classroom Educator Training

18 Reason’s mission is to deepen our relationship to food and each other through educational programming. Over the past year we’ve worked with our friends at Education Outside to incorporate food education into San Francisco’s public school curriculum. To reach kids we need not only to work directly with them, but also work with their educators. We believe training the educator is a great way to expand our impact on the eating habits of young people. Since 2001, Education Outside has spearheaded the effort to transform San Francisco’s asphalt school playgrounds into living green schoolyards designed to improve student learning, foster the next generation of environmental leaders, and cultivate healthy kids.

Matt R.

Hard to Find Wines (That are Easy to Find at our Wine Blitz!)

The Wine Blitz is here–starting tomorrow, you can save 20% off 12 or more bottles of wine, mix-and-match, with free delivery in San Francisco! It’s the perfect time to stock up on bottles for Thanksgiving and the upcoming holiday season.

Today’s newsletter is all about rare and collectable wines. You may not have known this, but our ‘top-shelf’ wines don’t always get displayed on the floor. Why? Well for several reasons, but partly because the temperature is more controlled in our ‘cellar’ than on the sometimes too warm ‘top-shelf’, and partly because these wines are so rare that we hold them back for release at special times like right now. The following three producers are iconic for their extremely small-production and hand-made wines. We have a few other bottlings from these producers available so be sure to ask Trac or myself what we have hiding in the back!

2010 Dard and Ribo Crozes-Hermitage Rouge  –  $34.99; Blitz Pricing  –  $27.99

René-Jean Dard and François Ribo are a renowned winemaking duo in the Northern Rhone. They are pioneers of the natural wine movement having farmed and made wine with minimal intervention way before the term ‘natural wine’ was ever uttered. They met in wine school in Beaune in their teens and have remained a duo since launching their winery in 1980. Their wines have gained a cult-like following for their purity and pristine expression of Syrah. Having started with about only 1 hectare, they’ve gradually obtained more vineyard sites now totaling 8.5 hectares – still incredibly small but they’ve definitely made a large impression on the wine-scene. Their Syrahs are not as bold or heavy-handed as others in the region and are meant to be drunk younger. This Crozes-Hermitage is light and very pure with floral, complex red fruit qualities and long, elegant depth.

2010 Dagueneau Blanc Fumé de Pouilly  –  $69.99; Blitz Pricing  –  $55.99

Didier Dagueneau was a meticulous, outspoken, and rouge winemaker who helped to revitalize the reputation of Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé. I sadly say ‘was’ because Didier died tragically in a plane crash in 2008, leaving his reputation behind and the fate of his winery uncertain. Didier’s son Louis Benjamin has since taken over and has stepped into his father’s shoes gracefully. Combining old world traditions with experimental and modern techniques, the wines produced by Didier, and now Benjamin, are widely recognized for their pure expression of Sauvignon Blanc. For example, when there is risk of frost, wireless meteorological sensors in the vineyards message Benjamin’s cell phone so he can act quickly to set up wood burning stoves underneath the old windmill on the property to circulate warmer air. iVineyard app anyone? The Blanc Fumé de Pouilly is a blend grapes from chalk and silex vineyard sites. Ripe floral and stone fruit aromas give way to intensely mineral and layered flavors. You’ve never had Sauvignon Blanc like this!


2008 Clos Rougeard “Les Poyeux”  –  $74.99; Blitz Pricing  –  $59.99
There’s a reason every three star restaurant in France struggles to get a small allocation of Clos Rougeard’s wines. They arguably produce some of the greatest Cabernet Francs in the world. Few outside of France have heard of them, but their wines rival the great houses of Bordeaux. Brothers Charlie and Nadi Foucault have made wine on their small 10-hectare plot since 1969. They have several bottlings from single vineyard sites, the “Les Poyeux” coming from a 45-year old Cabernet Franc vineyard planted on red clay soils. They are traditionalists to the max, using only natural yeasts, fermenting and aging in oak barrels, never fining or filtering their reds, and letting the wines ferment very slowly in their cold cellars. The ‘Poyeaux’ is aged in used oak barrels for about 2 years before bottling. It has a powerful, yet silky and smooth texture. It’s robust yet maintains a finesse and concentrated fruit quality. We have a few – grab them while you can!


Flower Arrangements for Your Thanksgiving Table

We’ve always offered bright and beautiful California-grown flowers, but we recently decided to take our assortment to the next level by hiring a professional florist to help us improve the quality and sustainability of our selection. Eleanor Gerber-Siff has been working in the San Francisco floral industry for the past 6 years, creating gorgeous wedding arrangements and spectacular centerpieces for restaurants. Eleanor’s really excited to help our flower selection blossom and offer new floral services to our guests.  In the near future we plan on offering floral designs for weddings and pre-ordered custom bouquets…in the meantime, we’re thrilled to offer three pre-order flower arrangements for Thanksgiving! Order by phone at 415-241-9760 or in person at the Market, 9-9 every day. Check em out:


Do the Turkey Tango: Pre-Order Yours Today!

Can you believe Thanksgiving is just two weeks and two days away!? Are you ready to cook your bird and dig into some cozy fall dishes?

Come by the Market today from 4-7 to taste our roasted BN Ranch Heritage Turkey, along with favorite side dishes on our Thanksgiving Menu (including several veggie-friendly), available for pre-order now. And don’t forget the Creamery’s famous Pumpkin Bundt Cake and pies!

Have you ordered your turkey yet? We have five fresh turkey options available for pre-order–check them out on page nine of our Holiday Guide!

We’re here to help, 9 am – 9 pm every day (call us at 415-241-9760).

And while you still have a couple weeks to plot your course, check out our authoritative guide to making your bird and side dishes shine!

Kiko’s Food News: November 2, 2012

Don’t forget to vote Yes on Prop 37 Tuesday–and to visit the Creamery Saturday or Sunday for a 37-cent scoop of non-GMO Caramel Apple!

One side effect of the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Sandy is a new unintentional fleet of “emergency response” mobile food providers: New York City’s food trucks are serving areas of the city that remain without power: (full story, Business Week)

Did you know that oysters once protected the New England coastline from storm surges? As storms like Sandy grow stronger and more frequent, our shorelines have become more vulnerable as the bivalve population has diminished: (full story, New York Times)

It’s been a year since Occupy Oakland–so what remains of the movement? Our own Sam Mogannam and Brahm Ahmadi of People’s Community Market penned this op-ed which presents a new kind of grassroots investment for community change: (full story, San Francisco Chronicle)

Heritage seed-inspired fashion? The couple who runs the largest mail-order heirloom seed business in the US is bringing back pioneer chic: (full story, Grist)

The biggest Italian dinner in history: Parmigiano-Reggiano promoters are organizing a national sit-down dinner in homes and restaurants across Italy to  revitalize the Parma region and its cheese making tradition: (full story, NPR)