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Si’s December Produce Update

The winter weather has hit the Bay Area and after the recent cold weather and rain, local crops like strawberries and raspberries are official done for the season.  However, with every crop that disappears with the weather, something new like the Olsen Organic Clementines  comes along to make our taste buds happy.


As we head deeper into the winter months, citrus is the main fruit crop throughout California; we love to celebrate all of the sensational varieties in our produce department. Varieties like Satsuma and Clementine mandarins usually kick off our local citrus season.  Satsumas are the first mandarin variety  harvested in Northern California, and have a short season from November to early January.  These seedless, easy-peeling pieces of fruit offer the perfect balance between sweet and tart. We just started getting Satsumas from Terra Firma Farm in Winters and will have them through the New Year.

Cara Caras, aka red navels, have become one of the most popular pieces of citrus the past few years.  The combination of the sweet, low-acid and firm, juicy texture makes the Cara Cara super enjoyable.  Beck Navels have also just started up and they’re so juicy and sweet.  Both of these navels will only get more flavorful as we get closer to the end of the month.

The Mandarinquat from Deer Creek Ranch in Porterville is a small tear-drop piece of fruit that’s a little bigger than a kumquat.  The tart flesh and sweet, edible skin make for a delightful combination of flavor.  They’re the perfect holiday garnish, and throwing them into the freezer makes an awesome ice cube for your cocktails.  Deer Creek Ranch also grows beautiful yellow Sweet Limes which are super juicy and have a low acidity compared to regular limes.

Although the first Blood Oranges have been spotted at the SF produce market, most of the organic growers are still waiting for their crops to ripen up. Like most fruit, it’s very important to let the citrus develop their sugars on the tree and not harvest them too early.  Unfortunately, due to supply and demand, a lot of the large growers harvest early just to beat the rest of the growers to the marketplace.  We always taste the new citrus when it hits the scene to make sure the flavor is there before we bring it on to our shelves.  Stay tuned for Bour annual “Citrus Bomb” which will explode with over 20 varieties later this winter!

Apples and pears are at this point coming out of storage as most of the California crops are finished, but we’re very lucky to still have sources of local apples and pears for the holidays. Farmer Al from Frog Hollow has been bringing his Bosc and Warren Pears, which eat great out of hand and bake up nicely.  Johan form Hidden Star Orchard just started bringing us his late season Nagafu Fuji, and the Pink Lady Apples have been eating so well.  With the end of California apples and pears in sight, we’ll set our sights on amazing fruit from the Northwest like Jazz and Pacific Rose Apples.

With the winter local fruit selection less bountiful, we keep our eyes open for unique fruits.  Over the past couple years, more and more growers are harvesting flavorful crops like Passion Fruit and Pineapple Guava aka Feijoas, which add a nice tropical touch to fruit platters and cocktails.   A Bi-Rite staff favorite, the Black Sphinx Dates from Arizona just arrived; these rich and creamy dates are such a special treat and will make any cheese platter come alive.


Porcinis & Matsutakes!

We’ve been working really hard to source specialty varieties of California avocados.  This year the Sir Prize avocado, grown by the 5th generation Tenalu Orchard in Porterville, makes its Bi-Rite debut.  The Sir Prize is a large avo with a small seed, which means a lot of yummy high-oil, creamy flesh.  The skin turns dark black when the fruit is ripe and ready to eat.

Rain earlier this month finally got the wild mushroom season going.  We’ve been fortunate to have a steady supply of local Porcini Mushrooms from an old-school forager who knows how to find the nice and firm, bug- free mushrooms. The Matsutake Mushrooms have also been very abundant this year and the price has been very reasonable.  A few Matsutake mushrooms thinly sliced can go a long way in a gratin or risotto; they’re extremely aromatic with hints of pepper and nasturtium.

Greens, greens and more greens! This is the time of year for healthy, extra-flavorful greens; they’re one of the only crops that get better with the cold weather.  The Lacinato, Green and Red Russian Kale from Tomatero Farm in Watsonville have been beautiful and the nice big bunches go a long way.

Winter at Bi-Rite has become an Escarole party the past few years.  It seems to be the best green for salads when local farmers are having a hard time growing baby lettuce in the cold rain.  Escarole is a broader leaved, less bitter member of the endive family and makes a great substitute for romaine in a Caesar salad.  Escarole is an awesome green to braise and add to soups.  We will have escarole from the Bi-Rite Farm in Sonoma through January.

Local organic Brussels Sprouts can be hard to come by, but our favorite growers are about to be swimming in brussels.  We are currently getting brussel sprouts from Rodoni in Santa Cruz and later this month both Bluehouse Farm in Pescadero and Swanton Berry Farm in Davenport will be harvesting.  There is nothing like a fresh picked brussels sprout that is harvested small to medium in size, before they lose their tenderness. When shopping for brussels most people look for sprouts with a solid green color, but the ones that are a lighter shade of green/white have been blanched by the outer leaves of the plant, which usually signals more flavor and tenderness.


Hooray for the Hoopla!

The holidays always make me thirsty for festive cocktails. The sound of a cocktail shaker clanging signals the start of a great party and brings the guests together.

So in preparing for the holidays this year, we asked our friend Jonny Raglin, co-owner of Comstock Saloon in North Beach, to come up with an amazing cocktail made with our exclusive Charles Neal Domaine d’Ognoas Armagnac (we’re the only store Charles has sent this to, and we’re offering it for $39.99–a crazy deal on a vintage Armagnac!)

Jonny came up with a twist on an old classic from the Savoy cocktail book called the Hoopla, substituting Armagnac for Cognac. The Hoopla is very similar to a Sidecar but with an addition of Lillet Blanc, a fortified wine, which adds a subtle floral dryness that softens the strong flavors of the Armagnac and lemon juice and really lightens the drink.

Here’s the recipe if you want to make it at home!

Announcing the Good Food Awards Finalists…Our PUBLIC Label Kohlrabi Kraut included!

Aren’t we fortunate? The Good Food Awards team announced this year’s finalists and not only does the list includes our own PUBLIC Label Kohlrabi Kraut, but we’re proud to stock about 15 of the other finalists on our shelves! Hmmm, now I’m thinking how cool it would be to gift a bag of all of these for the holidays….here’s the full list of finalists you can find on our shelves:


Bi-Rite Market PUBLIC Label Kohlrabi Kraut

Emmy’s Pickles and Jams Bread n’ Butter


La Quercia Borsellino Dry Sausage


Askinosie Chocolate Dark Milk Chocolate Bar + Fleur de Sel

Dandelion Chocolate Dominican Republic 70% & Madagascar 70% & Venezuela 70%

Lillie Belle Farms Most Awesome Chocolate Bar EVER

Rogue Chocolatier Hispaniola & Sambirano


Sightglass Coffee Ethiopia – Yukro Gera


INNA Jam Pretty Spicy Fresno Chili Jam

Sosu Srirachup


Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, Petit Frere

Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., Bay Blue

Uplands Cheese Company, Pleasant Ridge Reserve


Bear Republic Brewery, Racer 5 IPA

View the full list of 2013 Good Food Awards Finalists here. 

Finalists are those entrants that rise to the top in the Blind Tasting and are also able to clearly articulate how they fit the Good Food Awards industry-specific criteria of environmental and social responsibility. Finalists attested to responsible production by detailing their efforts to eliminate or reduce pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers, source ingredients locally where possible, implement water and energy conservation, ensure traceability to the farm level, practice good animal husbandry and exercise fair and transparent treatment of workers and suppliers.

This year’s 182 Finalists were chosen from among 1,366 entries from 31 states in nine industries. In geographic trends this year, Washington, D.C. is emerging as a hub of Good Food, with 14 Finalists hailing from its food shed of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Colorado (10), Washington state (10), Wisconsin (9) and Texas (9) all had strong showings. California had the largest number of finalists (43), followed by Oregon (22) and New York (16).

The Good Food Awards celebrate the kind of food we all want to eat: tasty, authentic and responsibly produced. For a long time, certifications for responsible food production and awards for superior taste have remained distinct—one honors social and environmental responsibility, while the other celebrates flavor. The Good Food Awards recognize that truly good food—the kind that brings people together and builds strong, healthy communities—contains all of these ingredients.

The 100 winners will be announced in a 400-person ceremony at the Ferry Building on January 18, 2013, followed by a 15,000-person Good Food Awards Marketplace on January 19. Winners will sample and sell their winning products at the public Marketplace, which takes place alongside the renowned CUESA Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Tickets and details will be available at www.goodfoodawards.org in mid-December. See you there!

Kiko’s Food News: December 14, 2012

After decades of rising childhood obesity rates, several US cities are reporting their first declines; as of today, 17% of children under 20 have a body mass index at or above the 95th percentile, qualifying as obese: (New York Times)

But that still feels high–to further this progress, the USDA announced their first-ever Farm to School grants, which totaled more than $4.5 million for 68 different projects around the country: (Slow Food USA)

Remember being offered “ABC (already been chewed) gum” as a kid? What if you were offered “already been digested” coffee? An exotic new brew is made from beans eaten by Thai elephants and plucked a day later from their dung: (San Francisco Chronicle)

While the number of Hispanic farmers grew by 14% over the past five years, Hispanic farmers comprise only 2.5% of all farm operators. The Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) is giving farm workers, most of whom are first generation Latino immigrants, the chance to move up the job ladder, teaching them crop planning, marketing and distribution: (Huffington Post)

Remember my last week’s article about the dismal compensation for food workers across the country? Well this National Diner’s Guide to working conditions in US restaurants aims to involve consumers in pushing the conversation with industry management on fair pay and better working conditions: (Restaurant Opportunities Center)

An NRDC report on fresh produce losses at the farm and packing level revealed that up to 30% of fruit and vegetable fields aren’t harvested in some years, and up to 30% of some crops go unsold because they don’t meet cosmetic criteria: (Natural Resources Defense Council)

Most of the conversation surrounding climate change revolves around reducing emissions–not how to modify agriculture–but in the absence of a global treaty that provides incentives for farm adaptation (and with the world population expected to rise by another one billion people in 15 years), many governments are not waiting for an international consensus before taking action: (New York Times)


Calling All Local Santas: Our First 18th St. Holiday Joy Drive

Want to help bring some holiday cheer to Mission families this season? Join us and our fellow 18th Street elves for our first ever 18th Street Joy Drive! We’re collecting toys for Arriba Juntos’ “La Posada” Celebration on December 22, 2012. Arriba Juntos expects 1,500 families for the gifts, food, games, music and hourly piñata breaking this year – we need your support! If you’re down to be local Santa, we’re looking for new and unwrapped

Arriba Juntos staff with last year's gift collection

-toys (for kids 12 and under)
-sports equipment (e.g. basketballs and soccer balls)
-art supplies

You can drop off these goodies in the barrel at the entrance of the Market from December 17th to December 20th, 9AM to 9PM. On the 19th from 4 to 7pm, I’ll be accepting donations in front of the store – swap a toy for some hot cider, Christmas cookies and a high-five!

We’re lucky to have so many great neighbors and we’re hoping to create a happier holiday for families in need. With your help, we’ll make it a bit easier on Santa and his elves this year.

Excited? Have questions? Email me!

La Posada 2011


Cooking in the Outdoor Classroom…with Kaiser’s Support!

One of the most pressing issues facing our children and communities today is the obesity epidemic.   In San Francisco, as in other areas throughout the country, the obesity epidemic disproportionately impacts low-income communities. Among low-income San Francisco youth ages 5-19, 43% are overweight or obese according to the San Francisco Childhood Obesity Task Force.  The city’s Latino and African American children have the highest rates of obesity, at 28.3% and 24.6% respectively. Furthermore, in San Francisco, only 25% of kids eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables each day, as reported by the 2009 California Health Interview Survey.

We believe that we can change these statistics, and with Kaiser’s support, we are going to put our beliefs into action.

18 Reasons is honored to be part of Education Outside’s Grounds for Healthy Kids Project, which just won a $20,000 grant from Kaiser Foundation Hospitals! Over the past year, we have developed a cooking and gardening curriculum together called Cooking the Common Core, which we can now fully implement in ten San Francisco Unified School District elementary schools , thanks to this support from KFH. We couldn’t be more excited!!

Launched in Spring 2012 in partnership with 18 Reasons, Cooking the Common Core is the first SFUSD teacher training series to promote garden-based cooking in order to inspire kids to prepare and eat healthy food.  This new garden-based cooking series, geared towards 4th and 5th grade teachers and outdoor educators, is focused on using the art and science of cooking to teach the new Common Core academic standards.  As we have discovered, cooking is a fun and creative way to bring subjects such as math to life for students and teachers in their green schoolyards, all while instilling a love for growing and preparing healthy food.

The Cooking the Common Core pilot workshops took place in Spring 2012 and were a huge hit among the 48 teacher participants, with 100% of participants reporting increased knowledge of outdoor classroom teaching techniques, ecological concepts, and confidence in implementing the Cooking the Common Core standards-based content.  One participant remarked, “This training was extraordinary!  Great content, inspiring, well-delivered, exceeded my expectations.  I will teach both lessons in the near future.”

In 2013, we look forward to offering three Cooking the Common Core workshops aligned with English language arts and math Common Core Standards, and expect to serve approximately
60 teachers in SFUSD.  We will be serving some of San Francisco’s most under-served children.  The initiative’s target population includes 4,000 students, 200 teachers, and 5,000 parents from the following San Francisco public schools: ER Taylor (Portola); Bret Harte (Bayview-Hunters Pt.); Fairmount (Bernal Heights); Buena Vista/Horace Mann K-8 (Mission); Hillcrest (Excelsior); Jefferson (Inner Sunset); Sanchez (Mission District); New Traditions (Western Addition); Alvarado (Noe Valley); and Sherman Elementary (Marina/Cow Hollow).

I’ll be leading the 2013 workshops along with Joyce Lin- Conrad and Rachel Pringle of Education Outside , who together have more than a decade of experience teaching and developing cooking-related garden programming for youth. Each stand-alone workshop will provide teachers with all of the skills, lesson plans, inspiration, and supplies needed to implement two basic cooking lessons with their students in the garden classroom. At the end of the workshops, each teacher or team of teachers will receive a cooking kit to bring back to their school. The kits will contain the majority of the equipment, tools, and non-perishable supplies needed to execute the outdoor cooking lessons with a class of 20 students. Equipment and tools include a portable stove, cutting boards, knives, vegetable peelers, graters, and mixing bowls.

Want to join in on all this fun? We could use more support for Cooking the Common Core and the rest of our youth programming including culinary career courses at the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco,  career readiness mentorship with NextCourse and cooking and gardening summer camps at the Sanchez School.  To donate please click here and thank you!

Matt R.

Stock Up On Champagne At Our Holiday Wine Blitz!

Today marks the 79th anniversary of the signing of the 21st Amendment, which as you may know repealed the 18th Amendment, effectively ending Prohibition!! How are we going to celebrate? By officially kicking off our final 2012 Wine Blitz tomorrow!

This is the perfect chance to stock up on bubbly for New Years and gift bottles for all those wine lovers in your life. Whether it be wine for the seasoned wine collector, Champagne for a 2013 toast, or simply a host or hostess gift for a holiday party, we’ve got you covered. Grab these while you can:

2010 Cedric Bouchard Inflorescence Champagne  –  $64.99; Blitz Pricing  –  $51.99

What’s the difference between grower Champagne and a Champagne house? Well as the term suggests, grower Champagnes actually have their own vineyards and grow the grapes that go into their wines. While this may seem commonplace, it’s actually a rarity these days. Most large Champagne houses (Vueve Cliquot, Moët et Chandon, etc.) purchase their grapes from other growers. However, more and more growers are going independent and doing it really well! Cedric Bouchard’s name is now synonymous with some of the highest quality grower Champagne coming out of France. He’s known for going against the grain by not using any wood aging, not fining, not filtering, using no dosage, and bottling only single-vineyard, single-varietal Champagnes – all anomalies in Champagne. The Inflorescence is 100% Pinot Noir from a small 1.5 hectare plot and is immensely complex. Beautiful floral aromas give way to mouthwatering minerality and a soft yet crisp texture. This bottling could definitely be drunk now, but will only get better with age and is available in very limited quantities!

Perfect Pairing: Honey glazed beet and burrata crostini

2011 Arnot-Roberts Santa Cruz Chardonnay  –  $29.99; Blitz Pricing  –  $23.99

Winemaking duo Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Lee Roberts have quickly made a name for themselves as some of the best natural winemakers in California. Avid cyclists, they’ve biked all over California in search of the most unique vineyard sites, choosing smaller, cooler-climate, single-varietal lots. Nathan is a second generation cooper (barrel maker) and hand crafts all the Franch oak barrels they use for aging the wines. They have strong relationships with the farmers of their vineyard sites and are committed to organic farming, using native yeasts, and minimal additions of sulfur. The wines speak for themselves and this Chardonnay from a cool plot in the Santa Cruz Mountains could easily be mistaken for Chablis. Fermented in stainless steel and aged in neutral French oak, this wine has crisp lemon and lime notes with a long minerally finish. Drinkable now, but also suitable for a wine collector to lay down. Oh, and they only made 12 barrels of it!

Perfect Pairing: Fresh dungeness crab, frisée, and watermelon radish salad


2011 Marcel Lapierre Morgon  –  $29.99; Blitz Pricing  –  $23.99
I’ll give a gold star to anyone who knows exactly how many times I’ve mentioned Marcel Lapierre in a newsletter, as it’s probably been a lot! And for good reason – Marcel Lapierre was one of the most influential winemakers in Beaujolais in the last century. He’s responsible for mentoring and influencing the next generation of producers now on the forefront of natural winemaking in France. His methods, at the same time revolutionary and traditional, call for using only old vines farmed organically or biodynamically, rigorously sorting the grapes, and using minimal to no sulfur. Sadly, Marcel passed away at the end of the 2010 harvest, leaving the estate to his son Mathieu, whose been active in the family winemaking for a number of years now. This Morgon comes from 60 year old vines on granite soils. It’s had extended aging on the lees in old oak barrels. Bright floral and cherry aromas are followed flavors of cranberry, minerals, and a silky texture. Again – drinkable now or age-able!

Perfect Pairing: Herb crusted pork loin with cranberry chutney


Cheese of the Week: Redwood Hill Farm’s Cameo

Gift giving doesn’t only have to be about wine! Redwood Hill Farm’s Cameo is a soft ripened goat’s milk cheese in the style style of Camembert, artfully topped with peppercorns and lemon verbena. This small 8-ounce wheel is the perfect size to gift, and the creamy, oozy paste is pleasantly sweet with a touch of peppery and tangy flavors. We have it available in half or whole wheels. Come by and ask us for a taste!


Christmas and New Years Menu 2012

Have you called us yet to order your Christmas, New Years, or Whatever-Holiday-Tradition-You-Choose dishes? We’re all ears, taking orders for our full menu at 415-241-9760; just make sure you call at least 48 hours before you’d like to pick up!

Printable Christmas and New Years Menu (pdf)

Make like you’re at In-N-Out Burger and order off the menu! We have a secret item to share with you: our Savory Bread Pudding with Wild Mushrooms and Gruyère ($14.99) serves 6.

We also have you covered on holiday meats like Five Dot Ranch’s pasture raised prime rib (their 100% Cali-born and bred cattle are never fed corn or soy!), Grimaud Farm’s fresh Whole Geese, and more–check out page 10 of our Holiday Guide.

And don’t forget to place your order for the Creamery’s fresh baked Christmas Stollen or Buche de Noel before it’s too late–more details on page 13 of our Holiday Guide.



18 Reasons Gallery Opening: From the Source

We’re celebrating our next 18 Reasons gallery exhibition this Friday, December 7th from 5-8 pm:

From the Source: A Visual Survey of Local Food
new works by Michael Lamotte

Food photographer Michael Lamotte’s black and white images of products from local purveyors, artisans and farmer’s markets will grace our gallery from December 7th thru January 25th. Treating food products as formal objects, Lamotte’s exquisite large format prints will be accompanied on opening night by tastings from several vendors featured in his work. The producers behind INNA Jam, Josey Baker, Dandelion Chocolate, and more are expected to be in attendance, highlighting the mutual support felt and shared between local food photographer and local food artisan.

The Gallery at 18 Reasons
3674 18th St


Sweet Gifts During Sweet Weeks

Sweet Weeks is upon us!  Today through December 16th we’re giving you 10% off any 6 or more confections or chocolates to make them that much more gift-able.  This includes any of the items in our tantalizing wall-o-chocolate (the gauntlet you walk by on your way to the registers).  The sale also includes chocolate and caramel sauces, drinking chocolate, marshmallows, and hard candies.

Here are a few of my absolute favorites made special for the holiday season–stock up on stocking stuffers and host gifts while we’re sweetening the deal!

Askinoise Peppermint Bark $29.99/300 g $14.99/150 g

Made from single-origin dark chocolate, layered with buttery white chocolate and topped off with crushed bits of natural peppermint, this bark is hand-crafted in small-batches and packaged in rustic boxes.

Michael Recchiuti Dragée Winter Sampler $29.99/12 oz

Toasted nuts and dried fruits are coated with custom blended chocolate, burnt caramel and fleur de sel in this box of Michael Recchiuti’s four most popular dragées: Burnt Caramel Almonds, Cherries Two Ways, Burnt Caramel Hazelnuts, and Peanut Butter Pearls – each in their own compartment within the box.  Made in San Francisco.

Pralus Barre Infernale $24.99/160 g

This chocolate bar contains handmade hazelnut cream, making it so smooth and creamy it immediately melts in your mouth. It’s such an addictive chocolate that it’s referred to as the “infernal” bar.  Available in LAIT with toasted hazelnuts or NOIR (75%) with toasted almonds.

Droga Gingerbread Chookies $16.99/4.5oz

Chookies (chocolate covered cookies) are made with soft, delicately spiced gingerbread covered with rich dark chocolate.  Dressed up in limited-edition, festive boxes with hand-drawn designs!