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Daphne Zepos Teaching Award

Photo by Chester Higgins, Jr./The New York Times

Photo by Chester Higgins, Jr./The New York Times

Bi-Rite is once again mobilizing to support the Daphne Zepos Teaching Award (DZTA) and we need your help.

Followers of this blog will recall last fall’s announcement of Bi-Rite’s commitment to the funding campaign for the DZTA. Our own Sam Mogannam co-founded the award with a group of cheese retailers and educators from across the country to commemorate and honor Daphne Zepos and her immense contributions to cheese-craft in San Francisco and throughout the wide world of cheese. Daphne co-owned The Cheese School of San Francisco and lived in San Francisco’s Mission District, so the palpable absence left by her death last July has resonated for us professionally and personally. Before she passed, Daphne conceived of an award to help a selected cheese professional travel and share knowledge at the annual American Cheese Society conference, and beginning in 2012 the cheese community has worked to make Daphne’s vision of this award a reality.

L'Amuse Gouda

L’Amuse Gouda

The founders of the Award set an ambitious fund-raising goal of $250,000 by the end of 2012, and Bi-Rite resolved to support this goal with a portion of our cheese sales. These sales, combined with an in-kind donation from Sam himself, allowed Bi-Rite to contribute $5,000 to the campaign. But the effort to commemorate Daphne and her contributions to the cheese-making and cheese-educating community goes on, so this fall we are reigniting our campaign in support of that effort – and by working together with our marvelous cheese vendors and amazing guests, we believe we can exceed our contribution from last year. During October, November and December of 2013, we will donate 25% of our sales of Essex St. Comte and L’Amuse Gouda (both cheeses that Daphne selected, imported and introduced to our selection) to the campaign.

Comte: The first cheese Daphne imported through Essex St., hand-selected from among the 60,000 wheels slowly and coolly aging in the caves at Marcel Petite Fort St. Antoine. Herbaceous, fruity and kissed with deep, heavy cream, it’s delicious in sandwiches or simply served with fruit, nuts or bread.

L’Amuse Gouda: This two-year-old aged Gouda, made at the Cono cheese-making facility in the Netherlands, is a great example of the flavor that comes from aging at a higher temperature (as opposed to a cooler one that suppresses bacterial activity). It’s also a stirring testament to affinage, the art of gracefully bringing a young cheese to mature ripeness.

Essex St. Comte

Essex St. Comte

Since the DZTA campaign began last year, we have opened a second market location on Divisadero Street, and with twice the cheese-selling capacity, we’re excited at the prospect of exceeding our contribution goal. But we still need your help! Please stop by either  of our Market locations to taste these fantastic cheeses. And if you would like to honor the memory of one of the greatest cheese educators in America but can’t make it in to our Markets, please consider donating online. We ensure that 100% of your money, minus credit card fees, will go to the endowment, which is managed by a President and Board of Directors from the cheese industry. All funds are safely invested and their annual returns fund the scholarship.

Thank you for sharing these wonderful cheeses with us, for your continued enthusiasm and support and for helping us to commemorate a great individual and the professional community to which she contributed so much. We’ll see you at the Market!

Kiko’s Food News, 9.27.13

Crazy but possible that in our lifetime, instead of cooking up dinner, we may be able to print it!? (New York Times)

A report showed how food that’s allowed to rot is creating billions of tons of greenhouse gases, with an interesting spotlight on what kind of foods are wasted in various regions of the world: (NPR)

It’s this kind of information that has led the former president of Trader Joe’s to open an inspiring new market that will prepare and repackage produce that’s slightly past its sell-by date–but still edible!–at deeply discounted prices: (NPR)

Drones (aka unmanned aerial vehicles), formerly a thing of military use, will soon be used by farmers to see their corn, wheat and other crops from a new angle and thereby react to changing conditions more quickly: (Fast Company)

A Gallup study showed that lack of access to food in and of itself doesn’t matter when it comes to obesity; having a lower income is the dominant factor in an American’s increased likelihood to be obese: (Gallup)

The world’s most celebrated chefs met with seed breeding specialists at what might go down in history as the genesis of the seed-to-table movement; the ability of these breeders to create nutrient-rich, flavorful new breeds could be an old-school alternative to genetically modified plants: (New York Times)

Rogue River Blue has Arrived!

RRBnewcutFor the cheese-mongers and cheese-lovers around Bi-Rite Market, a sure sign that it’s mid-September  is the arrival of the 2012 vintage of Rogue River Blue. A very special seasonal cheese from Rogue Creamery, Rogue River Blue is made for only six weeks each year (the exact dates shift, but they’re always right around the autumnal equinox), and with such fine quality and limited production, RRB’s fall release is always eagerly anticipated.

Rogue Creamery has been in operation in Oregon since the 1930s. Since taking over the Creamery in the new millennium, owners David Gremmels and Cary Bryant have received numerous industry awards and accolades for their fine cheeses, and Rogue River Blue is undoubtedly among their finest. Made with milk from the Rogueview Dairy, this hand-crafted raw cow’s milk cheese develops a beautiful natural rind as it’s lovingly turned and tended in special aging rooms for eight to twelve months. Wheels are wrapped in Syrah grape leaves harvested from Carpenter Hill Vineyards in the Rogue River Valley that have been macerated in Clear Creek’s Pear Brandy, then tied with raffia. The grape leaves add additional complexity to the terroir-driven flavors of the cheese and preserve its moist, creamy texture. You’ll find notes of earthy cellar in perfect concert with bright, juicy fruit and your tongue will be tickled by the creamy-yet-granular paste. Rogue River Blue is currently available at our 18th Street and Divisadero Market locations, so come in and ask for a taste. This cheese is not to be missed.

Kiko’s Food News, 9.20.13

Habits like eating more fruits and veggies, meditation and yoga were found to reverse signs of aging; these lifestyle changes increase the length of telomeres, the ends of chromosomes linked to aging: (Bloomberg)

But we yogis who love our homemade kombucha also gotta laugh at ourselves sometimes: (Huffington Post)

House Republicans narrowly pushed through a bill that slashes billions of dollars from the food stamp program, dashing hopes for passage this year of a new five-year farm bill: (New York Times)

Michelle Obama is convening the first White House summit on food marketing to children; she also kicked off a campaign to encourage people to drink more plain water! (Time)

I get knocked for my blanket preference for eating food cold, but maybe I’m not so crazy: studies on taste nerves demonstrated that the perception of taste decreases when the temperature rises beyond 95° F: (The Guardian)

And one more study found that football fans’ saturated-fat consumption increased by as much as 28% following defeats of their favorite team and decreased by 16% following victories; the association was particularly pronounced in cities with the most devoted fans, and nail-biting defeats led to greater consumption of caloric, fatty foods than lopsided ones: (New York Times)

Matt R.

Fall Featured Cocktail: Le Samourai from Locanda

LocandaMany of you very familiar by now with our next door neighbor on 18th St., Delfina, and their newer restaurant Locanda. But perhaps you haven’t yet discovered the great cocktails being mixed up behind Locanda‘s bar. Bartender Alex Phillips crafts intriguing drinks, many of them Amaro-based, perfect for sipping before or after dinner!

Amaro is a family of Italian herbal-infused liqueurs. Many of you San Franciscans have probably indulged in one of Italy’s more well-known Amari without even knowing it – Fernet Branca! Alex’s ‘Le Samourai’ cocktail is a twist on a Manhattan with spicy Bulleit Rye, herbal Cardamaro, and the floral French wine-based liqueur, Byrrh Grand Quinquina. Check out Alex’s recipe and swing by either Market to grab everything you’ll need to mix up this autumnal elixir!



Bulleit Rye Whiskey  –  $27.99
If there’s a whiskey that doesn’t need much explanation, especially to San Franciscans, it’s Bulleit Bourbon. But don’t overlook their more recently released Rye Whiskey. It’s made in small batches from 94% rye and 5% malted barley, giving it more structure and spice than their Bourbon. Perfect to warm you up on those chilly San Francisco nights!


Bosca Tosti Cardamaro  –  $22.99
Bosca Tosti has been making this Amaro in the Piedmont, Italy for more than a century. Its base is Moscato wine infused with cardoon, thistle, and a secret blend of other herbs and spices. The liqueur is aged in oak casks for six months, rounding out its texture and giving it a softer edge than many harshly bitter Amari. Perfect for sipping on its own or in a cocktail!


Byrrh Grand Quinquina  –  $21.99
Originally produced in 1873, Byrrh (‘beer’) Grand Quinquina is a French wine-based liqueur. A Grenache and Cinsault base-wine is infused with South American Quinquina (quinine), coffee, bitter orange, colombo, and cocoa, and then aged in oak casks. The result is a fruit-forward liqueur with a refreshing balance of herbs and spice. It can also be enjoyed on its own, simply chilled with a slice of lemon!

Upcoming Tastings:

18th Hour Cafe – Every Thursday, 6-10PM, Drop-In.

Mini Wine Blitz – Friday, September 20th, 6-8PM, Ticketed and Drop-In

Kiko’s Food News, 9.13.13

Trader Joe’s is dropping health benefits for part-timers and will instead cut each of them a check for $500 to apply towards Obamacare’s new insurance exchanges; is this precisely what’s supposed to happen with Obamacare? (Huffington Post)

Tips, a custom that originated from the acronym T.I.P. for “to insure promptitude”, are a part of dining out that we take for granted; now a spate of restaurants are doing away with tipping: (Los Angeles Times)

If lobster were super cheap, would it taste as good? This case study explores the link between food price and value perception: (New Yorker)

This fun roundup of young chef trailblazers who learned their work ethic and taste for great food from chef parents includes a couple of my favorites in San Fran (the Lee brothers of Namu) and DC (Nic Jammet of Sweetgreen): (New York Times)

Technology continues to creep into grocery stores, from digital signs that update prices and offer promotions, to fingerprint scanners for checkout, to self-propelled “smart” shopping carts; in an industry built on human interaction, could this be too much tech, too fast? (Los Angeles Times)

Matt R.

September Winery of the Month: Bonny Doon Vineyards

GrahamVinous Renaissance man Randall Grahm has been on the vanguard of California winemaking ever since he founded Bonny Doon Vineyards in 1981 in the Santa Cruz Mountains. A founding member of the Rhône Rangers, a group of winemakers dedicated to expanding Californians’ palates in the direction of Southern France, he made his own reputation with the release of Le Cigare Volant in 1986, an homage to Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Unfortunately, his original planting of vines in Bonny Doon succumbed to a rare and fatal vine ailment called Pierce’s Disease, but this did not deter him. Fast-forward 25 or so years; he is now one of the elder statesmen of forward-wine-thinkers, but his craft is still ceaselessly experimental, wide-eyed even in the face of the possibilities of California winemaking.

The wines that we are featuring this month carry on the goals of the original Rhône Rangers, but bring them into the 21st century. Randall now quests far and wide for his fruit, sourcing from such diverse places as Santa Barbara, Contra Costa, Monterey, and Santa Cruz, looking for the best fruit and for wines of diverse and complementary flavors in order to craft blends of complexity and finesse. Also, while making some of the tastiest premium wines in California, he continues to craft great everyday drinking table wine that will pair with just about anything. So come on in and check out the selection. You’ve haven’t Been Doon until you’ve Been Doon.


BD12008 Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant  –  $29.99
This is Randall’s flagship wine, now in its 25th iteration. The name references a 1954 law passed in Châteauneuf-du-Pape banning the passage of UFOs over the village for fear of the damage they might inflict on its fabled wines. Although it’s suspect whether the village’s jurisdiction extends to interplanetary travelers, there is no doubt that this New World blend achieves the balance of fruit, earth, spice, and chewy ripe tannin to call itself an homage, however alien. It’s full of rich notes of mulberry, woods, black raspberry, and loamy earth.


2012 Bonny Doon Contra  –  $14.99
BD2If the Cigare Volant is the raised pinkie of Grahm’s collection, Contra is the middle finger. Composed of the thoroughly unknown Carignane from a crotchety 100 year old vineyard in Contra Costa County (not wine country) blended with Mourvedre and some bits and bobs of other varietals, it is a wine meant to be savored for its simplicity, straightforwardness, and utter drinkability. No snobs allowed. It has bright aromas of cherries, licorice, baking spices, and cassis.


2012 Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare –  $15.99
This is Randall’s classic Provençal-style Vin Gris. This lovely light pink/grey rosé is made using grapes specifically harvested for making rosé rather than as a by-product of red-wine making (the way that most CA rosé comes about). That means that it has brighter acidity, zestier fruit flavors, and a more delicate texture than most. Enjoy with a hunk of Brillat-Savarin on all of those warm late-Summer nights that are surely on their way!


Upcoming Tastings:


18th Hour Cafe – Every Thursday, 6-9PM, Drop-In.


Mini Wine Blitz – Friday, September 20, 6-8PM, Drop-In and Ticketed


Harvest Beer & Food Pairing Class with Master Cicerone Rich Higgins – Wednesday, October 16, 6:30-9:30PM, Ticketed


Kiko’s Food News, 9.6.13

Anyone fancy a Union Jack made of scones, cream and jam? Flags are always fun to look at, but best when constructed from food characteristic of its country: (Visual News)

To explain how chefs pair ingredients, scientists created a flavor map with lines connecting foods with common components; it shows that Western chefs tend to pair ingredients with shared flavor compounds, while recipes from East Asia tend to combine ingredients with few overlapping flavors: (Scientific American)

This guy took the US map, pinged Google Maps for the nearest grocery store at regular intervals, and drew lines ending at the nearest; long lines denote areas with fewer grocery stores, a sign of food deserts: (Flowing Data)

Google is using data analysis to get its employees to drink more water and eat less M&Ms; even though management believes food brings people together, they don’t want staff to eat so often that it reduces their efficiency! (Daily Mail)

Cultures throughout history have ritualized the food that should be eaten at funerals; this is an interesting tour of “sad food”, from Belgian dark chocolate cake to Amish raisin pie: (Utne Reader)