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Kiko’s Food News, 10.25.13

A recent study shows that Oreo cookies can be as addictive in lab rats as cocaine or morphine: (Los Angeles Times)

Meanwhile, new research suggests that bombarding people with ads for junk food may not be brainwash them as critics thought; it finds that people who look at too many pictures of food will find it less enjoyable and eventually, stop buying it due to satiation: (Fast Company)

Mark Bittman argues that to avoid and handle salmonella outbreaks like the recent one from Foster Farm, the F.D.A. must disallow the use of prophylactic antibiotics in animal production, and the U.S.D.A. must consider salmonella an “adulterant” whose presence on foods is sufficient to take them off the market: (New York Times)

More than $1 billion in compensation is going out to black farmers who faced discrimination by the U.S.D.A. in the past, when they were denied loans for farm operation, ownership, and equipment: (NPR)

A McDonald’s employee of ten years was arrested recently for asking the president of the company to talk about why wages are as low as they are; she’s a leader in the movement to get a raise in the minimum wage: (Upworthiest)

Japan’s Prime Minister wants to turn the nation’s reputation for expensive but high-quality foods into a new export opportunity to combat a shrinking domestic market; just as France exports fine wine, his aims for Japan to become world famous for its painstakingly cultivated fruit, rice, beef and sake: (Wall Street Journal)


Matt R.

October Winery of the Month – Birichino

birichino

Besson Vineyard 101-year-old Grenache vine

Birichino means “mischievous” in Italian, and although Birichino founders Alex Krause and John Locke definitely have a glint in their eyes, they are dead serious about making delicious wine. They are both are alums of Randall Graham land at Bonny Doon (have you been paying attention?), and his wine-making philosophies have definitely rubbed off on them: the wines share a similar balance of fruit expressiveness, texture, and earth.

Alex and John are really into the expression of old vine sites, which is one of the most exciting things going on in California these days. Old vineyards like the Besson vineyard near Santa Cruz and the Bechtold Vineyard in Lodi not only produce tiny amounts of super-concentrated fruit for making fantastic wine, but also hold in their trunks the built-up stories of the people that eked an existence out of the land long before there was such a thing as a ’boutique winery’. John and Alex honor those stories by making wines with a sense of place: earth and dust. Their first major commercial release was the 2010 vintage, but the much-hailed 2012s are here now and tasting great. All of these wines are great for the autumn dinner table and pair well with everything from roasted delicata squash with farro and a light salad to a full-on daube Provençal with braised prunes and mashed potatoes. Let us know what you think!

BirichinoPinot22012 Birichino St. George Pinot Noir  –  $19.99

Fruit-forward, fresh, and bright, this is real CA Pinot, but with the restraint and elegance of an old-world wine. They balance the natural spice and sappiness of these vines by using a partial whole-cluster fermentation which tends to yield a lighter, fruitier wine. It’s delicious with everything from Fall vegetables to a hearty winter feast.

2011 Birichino Old Vine Besson Vineyard Grenache  –  $19.99BirichinoGrenache3

The Besson vineyard was one of Alex and John’s first sites. The vines are 100+ years old, but still yield wines that are spry and versatile at the table. Flavors of sour cherry and black pepper fold into a lush texture with a blend of other red fruits. Perfect with a roast chicken, side of root veggies and zesty gremolata. Let your imagination run wild!

BirichinoCinsault22012 Birichino Old Vine Bechtold Vineyard Cinsault  –  $17.99

The incredibly old (sensing a theme?) Bechtold Vineyard was planted in 1886 in deep sandy soils, which make it inhospitable to the phylloxera louse that ravaged many of the original CA plantings. It produces a tiny amount of concentrated fruit. These guys make delicious rose from it, but this red is perhaps the most honest representation of the wild fennel, black cherry, and earth that is inherent to Cinsault and to the ripe wines of Lodi.

2012 Birichino Malvasia Bianco  –  $14.99BirichinoMalvasia3

Malvasia is not so well-known these days, but was one of the most famous grapes in the world back in the Age of Exploration. Alex and John wait to harvest the grapes just when the floral and sweet citrus notes come out, but while the grapes still have a lingering mint character that balances out the flavor cocktail. A delicious choice for those open to varietal exploration, but would be a great stand-in for Pinot Grigio lovers, too!

Upcoming Events:

November Wine Blitz!! – Monday, November 11 – Sunday, November 17

*18th St. Location Only*

December Wine Blitz!! – Monday, December 9 – Sunday, December 15

*18th St. Location Only*

Upcoming Tastings:

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

November Wine Blitz Preview Tasting – Thursday, November 7, 6-8PM, Drop-In

Sancerre Tasting with Pamela Busch – Wednesday, November 13, 7:00-9:00PM, Ticketed

December Wine Blitz Preview Tasting – Friday, December 6, 6-8PM, Drop-In

Tasting Seminar: Champagne and Sparkling Wine – Monday, December 9, 7-9PM, Ticketed


American Cheese Month Week Three – Tarentaise

For each week of American Cheese Month, Bi-Rite Market is celebrating one of our favorite American cheeses. Last week we discussed an excellent cheese made, in partnership with two of their neighboring dairies, by Vermont’s Spring Brook Farm. This week we’re celebrating Spring Brook’s very own farmstead cheese, Tarentaise.

Tarentais 2With its unusual and sexy concave-curved rind, Tarentaise was inspired by the legendary French cheese Abondance, a gem from the Savoie. The first cheese made by Spring Brook Farm, it was originally produced at neighboring Thistle Hill Farm and proved so successful that Thistle Hill cheesemakers John and Janine Putnam partnered with Spring Brook (and the affiliated Farms for City Kids Foundation) to expand production.

Though Spring Brook’s central Vermont locale might seem a world away from the French Alps, Tarentaise and Abondance share a number of similarities. Both are made, using traditional recipes and equipment, with raw milk from cows that graze on fresh grass seasonally and on dried hay in the winter. Vermont even has a number of plants in common with the lower altitudes of the Savoie, including clover and buttercups. However, the two cheeses are made with milk from different breeds of cow and their different production environments and microbes ensure that, while Tarentaise pays dutiful tribute to the old-world cheese that inspired it, its personality and flavor are distinctly American.

This flavor is beautiful and delicate with creamy paste, notes of cooked cream and toasted nuts and a slightly spicy finish. It pairs beautifully with cured meats or with tomato, but is also great on a baguette or enjoyed as a decadent delight on its own. Stop by our Markets on 18th Street or Divisadero, see the unique curvature of the rind and ask us for a taste.


Kiko’s Food News, 10.11.13

Do you shop at Cracker Barrel or Whole Foods, and what does that say about your politics? Interesting to think about why the businesses we patronize may correlate with our allegiances: (NPR)

California’s cities will have a new policy tool to support urban agriculture come January, thanks to the new Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones Act: (CUESA)

The juicing trend has officially passed the tipping point, with Starbucks opening a $70-million factory to churn out 140,000 gallons of juice a week for their Evolution Fresh brand: (Los Angeles Times)

The UK’s food and drink federation is requiring manufacturers to open their doors to school children as part of its new “see inside manufacturing” program; the production line at Coke, Mars, and Nestle should open some eyes! (Food Navigator)

Speaking of Nestle, the one that ends with a short “e”–public health advocate and famous school lunch lady Marion Nestle–has written a new book, Eat, Drink, Vote, in support of a national food system that prioritizes health and the environment over corporate profits: (Civil Eats)

P.S. I know I sound like a broken record, but please consider donating to Civil Eats! Less than a week to reach their Kickstarter goal, and I truly believe that future Americans will eat better if they survive: (Throw em a bone HERE)


American Cheese Month Week Two – Reading Raclette

For the second week of American Cheese Month, Bi-Rite Market celebrates an American cheese with great flavor, and a great mission.

Jersey Girl

Spring Brook Jersey Girl

Located on 1,000 lush acres in Reading, Vermont, Spring Brook Farm produces beautiful jersey milk that, in combination with milk procured from nearby jersey dairies owned and operated by the Lewis and Miller families, produces Reading Raclette. This mountain-style cheese, modeled after European ancestors, is crafted by cheesemaker Jeremy Stephenson in copper kettles using traditional methods; at 20 pounds, the resulting wheel is smaller and flatter than some of its alpine brethren and boasts a beautiful salmon hue. The flavor profile of this cheese is dominated by creaminess and nuttiness and accented by notes of grass, and the texture also makes it a perfect melting cheese.

 

Lewis Herd Crossing

the Lewis Herd

Neither the Lewis nor Miller farms use silage (a type of livestock feed that can be environmentally toxic), and Spring Brooks provides the dairy farmers with target fat and protein ratios for the milk to ensure consistency in the cheese. Sourcing additional milk has allowed for great availability of Reading, especially here on the West Coast.

Spring Brook is also home to orchards, vegetable gardens and 3,000 maple trees, all of which are part of the teaching tools for their Farms for City Kids Foundation program. Proprietors Karli and Jim Hagedorn were inspired by a trip to England where they encountered a program that teaches farming to children from the city. Once home, they bought Spring Brook and in 2008 launched their own program for 4th-7th grade students from inner cities schools – many coming from as far away as Boston or New York.

The best part is that all of Spring Brook’s profits from cheesemaking go to the foundation, helping to further the foundation’s educational mission.

Swing by the markets to enjoy a delicious cheese and help support a worthwhile cause!


Kiko’s Food News, 10.4.13

Wondering what the governmental shutdown means for food safety and access, for farmers, and for the environment? (Civil Eats)

That article, along with many of my most juicy food headlines, comes from Civil Eats, a food policy news source that’s raising money to sustain; please consider donating so my friends Naomi and Paula can keep up their important reporting! (Kickstarter)

Once we understand what expiration date language really means, we may be able to throw out less food while still eating safely; the “better-safe-than-sorry” blanket rule can be wasteful, so this glossary will help: (Businessweek)

I’ve got to get my hands on the new Working Class Foodies’ Cookbook; not only does it include tasty, affordable recipes for under $8/person, but also info on how to stock a $40, $60, and $100 pantry: (Nab it!)
It may seem obvious that Americans’ obsession with size, where volume equals value in supermarkets and restaurants, is making us bigger…but I like how Frank Bruni puts it here: (New York Times)
Philabundance, America’s first non-profit grocery store, is ready to open its doors;  shoppers with annual incomes equal to or less than twice the federal poverty level can accrue store credit each time they shop: (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Simon

Fall Produce Arrives!

The changing of the seasons always means there’s a lot of new, exciting stuff going on in the produce aisle at Bi-Rite. Since opening Bi-Rite Divis in spring, we’ve had the opportunity to stock displays with local farm-direct produce at not one but two market locations. We’re excited to welcome the very first fall crop for our new Divisadero produce department and guests this year.

The new produce team at Divis, the veteran crew at 18th Street, and our loyal produce-craving guests at both locations all get excited about fall for the same reasons. Fall means that the produce Holiday Season has officially begun. It’s time to issue a fond and grateful farewell to the fun stone fruit that graces our shelves each summer and take a hearty bite out of the crisp, stately fall fruits that come in to take their place.

apple scruffs

Fuji apple totes from Hidden Star

 

When many of us think of fall fruits, apples are the first thing to leap to mind. This season we have an especially bountiful selection, including tote bags brimming with crunchy Fuji Apples from Hidden Star Orchard for $10 per bag—the perfect apple to grab for a juicy snack with a well-balanced flavor. All told, we have fourteen varieties of apples on the floor this season, including the eagerly-anticipated Ashmead’s Kernal which will be arriving soon from Oz Farm in Mendocino.  Oz Farm specializes in unique, antique apple varieties, and these rare apples have a citric acidity and aroma that brings to mind fine wines.

 

Frog Hollow Gold Bosc pears

Frog Hollow Gold Bosc pears

We’re also really into this season’s crop of pears, including:

Seckel pears from Valley View. They are firm and tannic with notes of vanilla.

Warren pears from Frog Hollow. These will surprise you with their downright candy-like sweetness.

Gold Bosc pears from Frog Hollow Farm. Our firmest variety of pear with a mild smokiness. Great for baking!

Taylor’s Gold pears from Frog Hollow Farm. Softer, grittier and bursting with juice.

Persimmons are coming into season as well, and we’re excited for the ones coming in next week from Blossom Bluff Orchards – the first farm-direct persimmons of the season. But already on the floor are the excellent farm-direct pomegranates from Balakian Farms, with whom we established our very first farm-direct relationship more than ten years ago. Their pomegranates are rich and exploding with juice.

Delicata squash

Delicata squash

Be sure to try some farm-direct squash, great roasted with pasta or for textural contrast in an arugula salad. If you want a gluten-free pasta substitute, spaghetti squash is the best thing out there. Delicata squash tastes great roasted and with the skin left on. Gio from our produce department likes it with butter and maple syrup.

 

Vincent

Vincent Family Dried Cranberries

If your palate runs more to the sweet or tart, we love the apple-sweetened dried cranberries and cranberry juice from Vincent Family. Their juice is the only one on the market that is made by actual cranberry farmers!

If you want to learn more about these fruits or farmers, stop in at either of our Market locations for a taste. Tasting sustainable, local, good produce is pure pleasure, and one best shared among friends. Come on by!


Celebrating American Cheese with Moses Sleeper from Jasper Hill Farm

Moses Sleeper 2 In honor of North America’s delicious and diverse array of cheeses and the farmers, cheesemakers, retailers, cheesemongers and chefs who bring them to your table, The American Cheese Society has designated October as American Cheese Month. To celebrate, the cheese teams at Bi-Rite Market 18th Street and Bi-Rite Market Divisadero are going to give special weekly shout-outs to some of our favorite American cheeses.

As a cheesemonger, I’ve learned over the years that there are certain words that seem either to entice or repel the average cheese-craving Bi-Rite shopper. Categorical, overly-simple, vague terms like Swiss, Pecorino and Brie are among the three that I hear most often. It is for this reason that I want to ring in our celebration of American Cheese Month with a delightful cheese that reminds us that a well-made farmstead cheese can challenge our biases about the quality and diversity of American cheeses.

Moses Sleeper

Moses Sleeper, an elegant but accessible offering from Vermont’s Jasper Hill Farm, is indeed a cheese to be celebrated. Named for a Revolutionary War scout, it is made in a style similar to the small-format Camembert-style cheeses that once dominated family farms in Normandy. Made with milk from Jasper Hill’s herd of Ayershire cows, this snowy, bloomy-rinded cheese brings beautiful and meaningful flavor back to a style of cheese that has too often (though not always unjustly) been written off as insipid. Moses Sleeper’s flavor profile changes with age, so when we have young wheels, we celebrate the cheese’s bright, lactic milkiness. In more mature wheels, the cheese has a stronger, deeper flavor redolent of cruciferous vegetables. Moses Sleeper is an incredible snacking cheese – nice with fruit when young and better with savory meats and pickles as it ages.

Moses Sleeper is one of many reasons to celebrate the visionaries and cheesemakers at Jasper Hill Farm who continue to raise the bar for American cheese and radically reshape the landscape of American cheesemaking. We’ve just got a handful of cases, so stop in soon for a taste at either Bi-Rite Market location and join us in the celebration. American Cheese Month has begun!